A fresh attraction for Lahore Fort visitors

Akbari Hamam opened for citizens three years after discovery

Asif Mehmood September 09, 2022
Three years after it was discovered and after a long restoration process, Lahore Fort’s Akbari Hamam is now open to the public. Photo: Express


Akbari Hamam, one of the oldest monuments of Lahore Fort, has been opened for tourists after restoration and decoration.

There are a number of monuments in the Shahi Qila, covering several acres, which are reminiscent of the kings who made it their residence in the past five centuries and their eras.

Most of the monuments in the fort are attributed to three Mughal emperors, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb Alamgir, while many constructions and changes were made during the Sikh and British periods.

The traces of Akbari Hamam were revealed in 2019. There were quarters of employees of the Punjab Archaeology Department and heaps of garbage near the place.

The restoration work began last year and now the spot has been opened for tourists. Nimra Amin, a citizen who had come to visit the fort, said while speaking to The Express Tribune that there were many monuments at the historic site but the way the Walled City of Lahore Authority had discovered the baths and renovated them was a very good initiative. "This fort is not just a monument of Mughals but it is a living evidence of our history. This is our heritage."

Another visitor, Khazima Zara, said Shahi Qila was more than a place of entertainment. "It is a great source of learning for students of archaeology and history. There is a history of 500 years in the design and construction of the walls and the place. We get an opportunity to understand the architecture and culture of different eras."

The Walled City authority's experts claim that the baths were among the oldest structures of the fort, which were built during the reign of Emperor Akbar.

Chambers were built between the walls of the baths to vent steam and smoke.

The main hall has closed niches on both sides, while there are drains on the floor. The baths had hot and cold water tanks, while there are also signs of a swimming pool.

All these monuments have been restored to a large extent.

Walled City of Lahore Authority Conservation and Planning Director Najam Al Saqib said the construction style of the underground baths was different from the Shahi Hamam at Delhi Gate.

"The Shahi Hamams are large and have different designs including fresco painting, while these are small and principles of geometry have been used in their construction. Such constructions were done during the reign of Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar," he added.

Experts also believe that as these baths were built underground, it is possible that there are more constructions underground, but the part of the monument now has employees' quarters.

A garage was also built by making changes in the construction of the fort during the British period.

The conservation director said more changes were made in the fort during the Sikh period than the British era. The traces of the alterations are visible.

The official said there had been a lot of tampering with the fort but it had not been damaged as much as the Lal Qila of Delhi and the Fort of Agra. "We have preserved many artefacts for years to come."

He said there were still many unknown relics hidden in the Shahi Qila, which would continue to be discovered with time.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2022.


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