Sunday, August 6, 2017

Prince Pervez Tomb


This massive tomb stands in the locality of Kot Khwaja Saeed, Lahore, Pakistan and is generally attributed to Prince Pervez, son of Emperor Jahangir. According to Kanhaiya Lal, Prince Pervez was buried in this tomb after he was slaughtered by the order of Asaf Khan, when he returned from Kashmir. However, this view is incorrect as Prince Pervez died at Burhanpur in his 37th year on October 28, 1625, from where his body was brought to Agra and buried in his garden there. 

Some accounts also attribute this tomb to Dara Shaikoh but Dara Shaikoh is reported to have been assassinated at Delhi and buried there in the complex of Humayun's tomb. According to Abdullah Chughtai, the area of the tomb was originally a garden owned by Prince Pervez and the surrounding area was known as Mandi Pervezabad. After the death of Prince Pervez, the garden was transferred to his daughter, Nadira Begum, wife of Prince Dara Shaikoh. According to Chughtai, Merh Shaikoh, son of Dara Shaikoh lies buried in this tomb; however, this statement has not been historically proven.

According to Latif, it was the burial place of Pervez's two sons who were murdered at Lahore along with other princes of royal blood, by the order of their uncle Shah Jahan, on his accession to the throne. Latif also does not provide any contemporary source for his information. Whosoever is buried there, it is apparent that he was a royal personality as the tomb has been built befitting to a royal status.

Details of the construction of the tomb are not known. However, some writers of the 19th century had made some reference to its history and architecture. Chishti wrote in 1864 that "originally, the tomb was wholly in white marble and its eight openings were furnished with marble door frames, but Maharaja Ranjit Singh removed all the marble to use it in the Darbar Sahib at Amritsar." Kanhaiya Lal, writing in 1884, records that "the tomb originally was in marble, including its floor. 

All its four sides had magnificent gates. Maharaja Ranjit Singh removed its marble and got it repaired in brick. The brick repairs done by Ranjit Singh had also decayed by his time, and the tomb was in a very bad condition of preservation and was then repaired by the British Government."

Latif described the tomb in 1892 as standing eminently in the midst of cultivated fields on a circular platform resting on another platform of octagonal base, of the height of a man. The dome rose gracefully from an octagonal platform duly supported by arches. 

Muhammad-ud-Din Fauq visited the tomb in 1923 and according to him, "the tomb was octagonal in shape and the grave was set inside. The white marble Taweez (sarcophagus) was missing. To approach the grave, on the east, north, and south of the platform, there were two sets of stairs flight to the platforms, seven and five in numbers respectively. The platform was five feet high from the ground level. In front of the stairs, on the north, the floor of the terrace was badly in wreck. The ground around the platform was in depression. The traces of a canal were visible which led to the garden of Sardar Teja Singh."

Octagonal on plan with the inner diameter of 22 feet 2 inches and outer diameter of 31 feet 4 inches (wall thickness of 4 feet 7 inches), the tomb stands on double platform. The lower platform measures 95 feet 6 inches in length and the upper 66 feet 6 inches. Around the lower tier of the platform there are remains of kankar lime terrace about 3 to 4 inches thick. Modern houses have encroached over the whole area and on the west they even touch the structure of the lower platform. 

Kanhaiya Lal had mentioned that there were magnificent gates on all four sides of the tomb. Perhaps these gates were at the extremity of the terrace which might have been the base of the geometrical pattern brick pavement in hexagonal and octagonal forms, whose sufficient remains still exist on the lower and upper tiers of the platform. The structure of the tomb is built in small Lahori bricks of the size of 8 inches by 5¼ inches by 1 inch – a size of Shah Jahan’s period. 

The interior of the tomb was once decorated with the usual fresco work whose traces are still extant here and there. At the top of the platform, a terracotta frieze in two tiers in the form of a leaf design has been applied by the way of decoration. Such a terracotta decoration on a Mughal monument at Lahore is seldom met and is, therefore, rare. 

The dome appears to be single storey, but the measurement of height of the soffit in the interior and at the outer apex there is a difference of some 14 feet. From this, it can be inferred that actually it is a double dome, but the usual small opening which is provided between the two domes has not been kept for some reason or maybe it was blocked some time later. 

The tomb has a high neck like that of Ali Mardan Khan's tomb with which it has some similarity in expression. The possible date of its construction falls in the fourth decade of the 17th century – from 1630 to 1640. 

The tomb is in a lamentable state of neglect. Its arches which take the load of the heavy dome are broken, and the structure is in danger of a sudden collapse. Most of the pavement on the interior and of the platforms has disappeared. The stairs to the platforms are mostly dilapidated and there is wild growth all over the dome itself which allows leakage of rain water to the core. Currently, the tomb is almost hemmed in by modern houses.

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