Friday, August 4, 2017

Tomb of Mai Dai


Mai Dai Tomb (likely built mid-18th century) is located in an alley off the beaten path in the Kot Khwaja Saeed neighborhood of Lahore. In urdu, "Mai" and "Dai" are words that both mean "Respected Lady" and are polite titles used to refer to women. This oral tradition suggests the tomb is associated with a woman, but there is no definitive knowledge of who was buried here. It bears a strong resemblence to the nearby 'Cypress Tomb', which was built by a pious widow who wished to elevate her grave out of site of the public eye. 

Unfortunately, the tomb is not a protected monument and it is currently occupied as part of a house.

This decaying edifice, also known as Khawaja Saeed's Daughter's Tomb, is located to the east of Prince Pervez's tomb in the locality of Kot Khawaja Saeed. As a contemporary to Prince Pervez's tomb, this tomb is unique for its raised platform (similar to Cypress Tomb) upon which sits a quadrangular building surmounted by a dome. Not much is known about the personage buried within. Locals refer to it as "Mai Dai ka Gumbad (dome)", however; historian Latif refers to this monument as the tomb of Khawaja Saeed's Daughter. Khawaja Saeed, after whom the area is named, was a Mahavat (Elephant Driver) of Prince Pervez.

Quadrangular in plan, the tomb stands on a raised platform. The drum on the chamber is raised by means of niches, topped by two shells of the dome in different shapes. The inner shell is hemispherical and slightly pointed while the outer shell is eight sided and elliptical in construction. The eight sided dome is the only example of its type at Lahore. Its origin can be traced to Sultan Ghari’s tomb built by Sultan Iltutmish at Delhi in 1231. 

The corners of the roof are decorated with four small minarets surmounted by small ornamental domes. The contour of the outer dome is slightly bigger than the octagonal drum. A deep crack has appeared on the outer shell showing the cavity between the two shells. On the top of the dome, a lotus base is still retained for pinnacle which has been lost to time. Its architectural features suggest that it must have been constructed in the early reign of Shah Jahan and derived inspiration from the tomb of Prince Pervez which is not far from it in terms of both time and distance. On each side of the walls supporting the dome, were latticed work of red sand-stone, which are no longer extant. 
Regretfully, this important and unique monument of the Mughal period has suffered extensively due to the neglect of the responsible authorities and is in dire need of preservation and conservation. At the present time, it is occupied and used as a dwelling, in utmost disregard for its historical importance.

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