Friday, August 11, 2017

Sheikhupura Fort


Sheikhupura Fort is a Mughal-era fort built in 1607 near the city of Sheikhupura in Punjab, Pakistan. The fort was designed by Sikander Moeen and built during the reign of Emperor Jahangir. The fort was drastically altered during the Sikh-era, with numerous buildings constructed - some with equisite Sikh-era frescoes.

The fort is located near the Hiran Minar, built as a memorial for the pet antelope of Emperor Jahangir. The fort currently is not open to tourists as it is heavily damaged.

The construction of Sheikhupura Fort is traditionally accredited to Emperor Jahangir, but there is no conclusive evidence of this. The fort certainly dates from at least the early Mughal era or earlier, and is the product of numerous modifications over the centuries. In its present form, the fort is a rough square measuring 128 meters north to south and 115.5 meters east to west, with walls averaging 11.5 meters in height. It presents a formidable appearance, and rises easily above the cityscape in southeastern Sheikhupura where it remains a distinctive landmark.

The traditional attribution of the fort to Jahangir is partly due to the proximity of the Hiran Minar tower and hunting retreat which was definitively built by Jahangir beginning in 1606. The Badhshah Nama records multiple visits to the area by Jahangir and his son, the Emperor Shah Jahan. All of these visits took place between 1606 and 1646, after which the area was briefly held by Shah Jahan's son, prince Dara Shikoh. The fort would likely have been used as a camp for the Emperor and his retainers, providing more suitable accomodations than the exposed baradari and other pavilions at Hiran Minar. One remnant of this period may be the ruined halls and basement chambers at the northeast corner of the fort, which Jahangir and Shah Jahan may have used as a royal residence.

The most impressive buildings inside the fort are the magnificent havelis (mansions) that were largely the product of the Sikh period and the latter Mughal era (the mid 17th to early 19th centuries). One famous occupant of the havelis was Maharani Datar Kaur (died 1838), the wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Sikh Empire.

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