Kamran ki Baradari gets breath of fresh air

Punjab government plans to restore and conserve the Mughal recreational site


Imran Adnan December 09, 2019
Smog hangs in the air around Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

LAHORE: Punjab government has decided to restore the historic Mughal recreational site Kamran Ki Baradari’- a building or pavilion with 12 doors, designed to allow the free flow of air. The historic structure is located on an island near the River Ravi.

Chief Minister’s Advisor Asif Mahmood, along with the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) Vice Chairman Engineer Yasir Gillani, PHA Director General Muzaffar Khan and other senior officials, visited the site to inspect the condition of the historic site and encroachment situation. PHA officials briefed the chief minister’s advisor about the site and possible solutions to restore the structure to its original glory.

Mahmood asked the authority to revamp the historic recreational site on the pattern of Greater Iqbal Park by planting a new tree, installing fountains and ensuring modern landscaping. He highlighted that a proposal has been prepared to make it a tourist attraction and picnic spot for the general public.

“The government wants to complete this project for which beautification works and security arrangements should be completed. “The district administration should also vacate all kinds of encroachments, including illegal gypsy neighbourhoods,” said Mahmood.

Talking to the Express Tribune, a PHA spokesperson said that various government agencies, including PHA, Punjab Archaeology Department, District Government, Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP), Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) and others, are jointly working on the project. She highlighted that district administration has been asked to clear encroachments, while LWMC will ensure cleanliness and the TDCP will promote the site as another tourist spot in the city.

Responding to a question, she stated that preliminary meetings are underway and proposals are being discussed to initiate the project at the earliest. Though the authority will require some funds for the execution of the project, budget of the project is not yet finalised.

Kamran Ki Baradari was built in the mid-sixteenth century by Kamran Mirza, a son of first Mughal emperor Babur and a brother of the second Mughal emperor Humayun. Historians believe it is one of the oldest existing Mughal structures in the city and is the only garden in a historic garden area that was not converted into a funerary monument.

Following Babur’s death in 1530, Kamran Mirza seized Lahore and laid a garden in which the Baradari was built in 1540. At the time of construction, the Baradari was on the western bank of the River Ravi in the Shahdara Bagh region, though it now stands on an island in the middle of the river, due to shifts in the river's course. The pavilion remained in use by Mughal royals until the 18th century.

After the British annexed Punjab in 1849, the pavilion was turned into a tollhouse for boats crossing the river. It is also mentioned as Turgurhwallee Baradari in an 1867 map of Lahore, where it was shown located on the western bank of the river.

According to various historians, part of Baradari's eastern façade had been damaged by floods by the 1850s, while its second story had also been damaged or dismantled around the same time. The pavilion sustained further damage by flooding in 1958.

The pavilion has cusped arches, which were commonly used during the reign of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century and onwards.

Research done in 1988 found out that the garden was built using the unit of measurement called Gaz-i-Illahi which was commonly used in Akbar's reign, rather than the Gaz unit of measurement used during the life of Mirza. The structure was reconstructed in 1989 for Rs19.6 Million.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2019.

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