The Archaeology Department plans to begin an extensive restoration project in a month or two for the tomb of 17th Century Mughal queen consort Nur Jahan, said officials.
The department is currently preparing a detailed design (PC-1) for the project, which will be submitted to the Finance Department for the release of funds. The budget for 2012-13 includes an allocation of Rs200 million for the project.
Maqsood Malik, the deputy director of the Archaeology Department, said the tomb had undergone minor repairs in the 1950s, 1960s and 1980s, but this would be the first major restoration of the monument. It would take about three years, he added.
Nur Jahan’s resting place is located on 17 acres in Shahdara, close to the tomb of her husband Jahangir, and the tomb of her brother Asif Jah. Together with the Akbari Sirai, these monuments are clustered on a 107-acre site known as the Shahdara Complex.
Malik said the walls, floors and domes of the monument were “terribly damaged”. Floral and geometric patterns lining the tomb’s domes have eroded, while the edges of the marble flooring have been chipped off, he added.
The project will involve recreating the frescoes and restoring the red sandstone façade, walkways and surrounding gardens.
Malik said that artisans would know what patterns to recreate by looking at traces of the wall frescoes and floral patterns of the pietra dura at the base of the pillars.
A boundary wall, destroyed during the laying of railway lines in the late 19th Century, will be rebuilt to keep out intruders, including homeless people who sleep there at night, he said.
He said some historians believed that gemstones embellishing the frescoes were removed during the Sikh reign in the Punjab and installed at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Parts of the chamber enclosing the grave of Nur Jahan and her daughter Ladli Begum were also damaged at the time.
Malik said that water coolers would be installed and a children’s play area and a café would be set up to make it a more welcoming place for visitors. He said restoration work at other monuments at Shahdara was also underway and the whole complex would be finished in about five years.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2012.