Updated: Jan 11, 2021
Lahore Fort is a beautiful example of Mughal architecture and is a sight of grandeur and splendor. Last time we wrote this article we discussed another Mughal Fort and palace. Lahore Fort is actually older by a total of 82 years.
The first mentions of a fort on the spot of Lahore Fort is a record from the Delhi Sultanate, that references the original fort, which was built purely of mud and was completely wiped from the map in 1241 by Mongol Conquerors in Punjab. Another fortified location was built in 1267 with the support of Sultan Balban, a ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. It was rebuilt, but despite this, yet again, the then fort was wiped off the map by Timur, an ancient warrior and King. Yet again there was a fort on the site that was destroyed, but again in 1526, what was left of the fort was taken from the Lodhi Dynasty and handed over to Babur, a great Emperor of the Mughal Empire. During the era that ensued following the takeover of the Fort by the Mughal Empire, the fort underwent many changes and was put in a form of grandeur that it would not match in the centuries to come. The fort was made into the sight of great architecture known today in 1575, when the Mughal Emperor Akbar completely redesigned the fort into a state of magnificence and redesigned it in the Indo-Islamic Mughal style it is in today. The fort was originally used because of its critical location in the Empire, as it was the gateway to the northern part of the entire Mughal Empire.
It would be built into a grand palace over a long period of time, with each Emperor of the Mughal Empire, Sikh Empire, and later The British Raj, each adding their own additions over time. The next Emperor transformed the fort from a Palace Of Power, into a Palace of Luxuries, A Fortress and a home too. This ruler is Jahangir and he bestowed a great deal upon the palace. He added a major picture wall, decorations of mosaics, paintings, and tapestries. He added areas for sports such as polo, and he also built a Mosque that was attached to the Fortress. After the rule of Jahangir, he would be succeeded by his son, Shah Jahan who began his additions to the fort around 1628, and they would continue all the way until 1645, a total of 17 years! One thing you have to understand about these forts is that there would be a large wall or gate around the fort that surrounded a set of many, many buildings as well as gardens, and more, inside the enclosed area. Shah Jahan contributed a hall for nobility to meet with him, a set of pavilions, and a variety of personal apartments for the Imperial Families personal use. The Final Mughal Emperor to use the fort was the Emperor Aurangzeb who built the famed Alamgiri Gates that have become an iconic symbol of Lahore, Pakistan, and The Fort as a whole.
The loss of this territory by the Mughal Empire and the Gain of it and the subsequent addition of it into the Sikh Empire is a complicated story, so to put it simply: The Mughals lost the fort to the Afghans, who in turn lost it to the Maratha Imperial Forces, and who in turn lost it to a certain Bhangi Misl. Bhangi was one of 12 rulers of the Punjab that were Sikh, and they styled themselves as Misls, and later, Maharajas. After this, it was finally contoured by the armies of Ranjit Singh, a mighty Sikh warrior, who took the fort and was welcomed by the people of the city, many of whom saw Ranjit as a defender. The descendants of Ranjit Singh, the Maharaja Duleep Singh, a famed ruler who inherited the throne as a boy and would later sign a treaty with the British that brought an effective end to the Sikh Empire. Under the British the fort remained a royal place, and when the ruling family would visit they often visited the Mughal Fort. The British Rulers continued to make additions to the fort and on the next page after this article we have attached the blueprints or the layout of the fort on the next page. In recent history, Major Excavations have been undertaken between 1959 up until today to learn more about the fort. It is also a UNESCO world heritage sight (Designated In 1981). All in all this fort is a fort of many structures, a fort of many rulers, and a fort of great history.