Akbari Hamam, one of the oldest monuments in the Lahore Fort, has been opened for tourists after its restoration and decoration.
There are a number of monuments in Shahi Qila, covering several acres, reminiscent of the kings who made it their residence over the past five centuries and 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.
Traces of Akbari Hamam were revealed in 2019. There were quarters of Punjab Department of Archeology employees and heaps of rubbish near the site.
Restoration work started last year and now the place 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 Lahore Walled City Authority discovered the baths and renovated them was a very good initiative. . “This fort is not just a monument to the Mughals, it is a living evidence of our history. This is our heritage.”
Another visitor, Khazima Zara, said that Shahi Qila was more than just a place of entertainment. “It is a great source of learning for archeology and history students. There is a 500-year history in the design and construction of the walls and the site. We have the opportunity to understand the architecture and culture of different eras.”
Experts from the Walled City authority claim that the baths were among the oldest structures in the fort, having been built during the reign of Emperor Akbar.
Chambers were built between the walls of the baths to ventilate steam and smoke.
The main hall has closed niches on both sides, while there are floor drains. The bathrooms had hot and cold water tanks, while there are also signs of a swimming pool.
All of these monuments have been largely restored.
Lahore Walled City Authority Planning and Conservation 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 geometry principles have been used in their construction. Such constructions were made during the reign of Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar,” he added.
Experts also believe that since these baths were built underground, it is possible that there were more constructions underground, but the monument part now has rooms for employees.
A garage was also built making changes to the construction of the fort during the British period.
The director of conservation said that more changes were made to the fort during the Sikh period than during the British era. Traces of alterations are visible.
The official said the fort had been tampered with a lot, but had not been damaged as much as Delhi’s Lal Qila and Agra Fort. “We have preserved many artifacts for years to come.”
He said that there were still many unknown relics hidden in the Shahi Qila, which would continue to be discovered over time.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9the2022.