Shahi Hammam Bathhouse


The Shahi Hammam also known as the Wazir Khan Hammam, is a Persian-style bath which was built in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1635 C.E. during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan. It was built by chief physician to the Mughal Court, Ilam-ud-din Ansari, who was widely known as Wazir Khan. The baths were built to serve as a waqf, or endowment, for the maintenance of the Wazir Khan Mosque.

No longer used as a hammam, the baths were restored between 2013 and 2015 by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Walled City of Lahore Authority, with much of the funding provided by the government of Norway. The restoration project was given an Award of Merit by UNESCO in 2016 for the hammam's successful conservation which returned it to its "former prominence.

The Shahi Hammam bathhouse, also known as Hammam Wazir Khan, is the only remaining bathhouse of its type in Lahore. During the Mughal era, hammams (public baths) were introduced based on Persian models and flourished for a time, though their popularity never reached the level maintained in Persia as public baths were not an established cultural institution in the Punjab. Today, the Shahi Hammam is no longer in use and has been converted into a tourist information center.

The hammam was first established in 1634 by Sheikh Ilmuddin Ansari who built it just inside the Delhi Gate along the path to Wazir Khan mosque, under construction at the time. It contained separate facilities for men and women to bathe and also included amenities such as a reception chamber and a small prayer room. In keeping with Persian precident, virtually the entire hammam was illuminated from above with small openings on the roof which also aided ventilation by allowing hot air to flow out from the facility. Since the walls had relatively few windows, merchants were able to set up shops directly abutting the hammam. Although the hammam is no longer in operation, the merchant shops have remained open and even today make it difficult to discern the facades of the hammam.

The interior of the hammam is mostly intact and preserves frescos dating from the Mughal era. Unfortunately, the actual bathing facilities were filled in and tiled over in the mid 1990s when the building was briefly converted to another purpose by its private owners. In recent years the site has been acquired by the Tourist Information Center of Lahore and is being conserved. About 75% of the interior area is now open to the public.












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