HISTORICAL PLACES OF PAKISTAN
Badshahi Mosque , Lahore
If you are intrigued not only by the Islamic religion but also about its architecture, Pakistan offers some sacred destinations that both cater to your cultural curiosity as well your love for fine art. One such structure is the Badshahi Mosque. Also referred to as the “Emperor’s Mosque,” this structure was constructed in 1673. It was built by Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor. Located in Lahore, this mosque symbolizes and epitomizes the elegance and splendor of the Mughal Empire. Badshahi Mosque is now one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city of Lahore.
The mosque has the capacity of accommodating 55,000 worshippers. In Pakistan, this makes it the second biggest mosque in terms of capacity, after Islamabad’s Faisal Mosque. For its design, it was patterned after the Jama Mosque located in Delhi, India. The Jama Masjid was constructed 25 years earlier than Badshahi by Emperor Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb’s father. When he was still alive, the famous Koranic recitor Qari Basit used to recite the Koran here.
The interior of the mosque is richly embellished in Manbatkari or stucco tracery and a touch of fresco paneling in bold expression. The interior is also floored in marble. The exterior of the mosque meanwhile is decorated with carvings in stone as well as inlay in marble placed on sandstone in red. Loti form motifs in imposed relief decorate the walls. Influences of Indian, Central Asian, and Indo-Greek styles are found in the motifs and embellishments.
Muslim architecture is prevalent in the features of the mosque such as the dalans or the side aisles, the four minarets in the corner, the opulent entrance gate and the spacious courtyard. If you are a non-Muslim, inquire about tours specifically catering to you. Also, remember to observe proper attire if you plan to go make a visit.
Lahore has been seat of every successive government in India and specially the Punjab. Therefore one comes across a plentiful of structures and monuments that dot the landscape of Lahore. But two specimens of Mogul architecture cannot escape the eye of anyone entering Lahore from Rawalpindi on the Grand Trunk Road; the Badshahi Mosque and the Shahi QIlla or the Royal Fort.
Royal Fort (Shahi Qila), Lahore
Royal fort was initially constructed in 1566 AD by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, on the ruins of a mud fort which existed as early as 1021 AD. The Fort is rectangular and is located in the north western corner of Lahore, adjacent to the Walled City. It has 13 gates. The main gates are located alongside the centre of the western and eastern walls. Located centrally in the city of Lahore, the Lahore Fort is a magnificent fortified palace complex. Its elaborate Mughal architecture is straight out of a storybook of the Mysterious East. The impressive twin-domed entrance leads into elaborately decorated courtyards and pavilions with water features, some with still intact sumptuous wall decorations of inlaid semiprecious stones and painted designs. It's large enough to allow several elephants carrying members of the royal family to enter at one time. There are a flight of stone steps specially built for ceremonial elephant processions. Diwan-e-Aam - Now used by common people for a memorable photograp
The fort as it stands today is not what it was when it was initially constructed in 1566. Every successive Mughal emperor besides the Sikhs, and the British added a pavilion, palace of wall to the Fort. Jahangir, Shah Jehan and later Aurangzeb added modifications of massively fortified walls. Akbar got the Diwan-i-Aam (Hall for Commoners) built in the traditional Iranian style, all constructed in red sand stone imported from Rajistan. Shah Jahan also constructed the Diwan-e-Khas, that overlooked Ravi, in 1631-the same year he started the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan also constructed Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) and his own sleeping chambers. Emperor Jahangir extended the gardens and constructed the palaces in the Jehangir's Quadrangle.
The famous Sheesh Mahal (above left) or Palace of Mirrors, located in the north-east corner of the fort, is the most beautiful palace in the fort and is decorated with small mirrors of different colours set. Sheesh Mahal was constructed by Shah Jahan in 1631. The Sheesh Mahal is the luxurious place of resort particularly during summer months with rest rooms of a long hall at its either end, opening on to the brilliantly dazzling Veranda that looks at the marble paved quadrangle with a fountain in the middle side.
The mirror reflects the stars and the bedrooms presents, in its ceiling, the panorama of a star lit Sky. The exterior wall of the Sheesh Mahal one can see the beautiful mosaic paintings that depict everyday sport of the Mughal princes for the enjoyment of the people who used to gather below the fort not only to have a view of the emperor sitting in the Jharokha but also to admire the brilliance of colours on the wall.
Here one can observe galloping horses, humped camels, elephant ride, hunting scene, animal fights, horse man plying polo, camel fights, figures of angels, demon head sand moving clouds, horse and elephant riders crossing Swords and verities of floral and geometrical designs. From Sheesh Mahal one can have a magnificent view of the Badshahi Masjid built by Aurangzeb on a spot regained after the river Ravi shifted further away and the Minar-e-Pakistan.
Left to Right: Naulakha Pavilion - View from Sheesh Mahal (Badshahi Mosque - Minar-e-Pakistan)
The Nau-Lakha Pavilion (above left) is a marble building located at the Sheesh Mahal courtyard. Its western face provides a panoramic view of the ancient city of Lahore. It was also built by the Shah Jahan in 1631 A.D. at a cost of Rs.900,000, an exorbitant amount at the time. It is therefore called Nau - Lakha as it in Urdu means 'worth 9 lakhs' (one lakh equals 100,000). The brilliance of its precious stone outshone the natural setting of flowers and tree leaves that decorate the walls. Ranjit Singh during his occupation of Punjab had his rest rooms built over the present building of Sheesh Mahal. However, the original building could not bear the additional weight and over a period of time, cracks start to appear in the main building of the Sheesh Mahal. In order to preserve the this magnificent building, recently the upper chambers have been demolished and presently, a major renovation work is in progress to restore the grandeur of the mahal.
The Faisal Mosque in Islamabad is the largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and one of the largest mosques in the world. It was the largest mosque in the world from 1986 until 1993, when it was overtaken in size by the completion of the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. Subsequent expansions of the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) of Mecca and the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) in Medina, Saudi Arabia during the 1990s relegated Faisal Mosque to fourth place in terms of size.
Khewra Salt Mine
The core central place of mining is a Khewra in the Salt Range which is renowned as the largest salt mines in the world. These mines are at 154 kms away from Rawalpindi. The route is Mandra-Dydyal-Chakwal-Choha Saidan Shah-Khewra. A longer route is through Kallar Kahar-Katas. Loacted at the foothills of the Salt Range, Khewra Salt Mines are the oldest in the salt mining history of the sub-continent. At places rock salt is 99% pure, here salt is transparent, white, pink, reddish to beef-color red, in some horizons it is crystalline. In the interior of mine there are some fascinating alternate bands of red and white color salt.
The Khewra Salt Mine is also known as Mayo Salt Mine, in honour of Lord Mayo, who visited it as Viceroy of India. The mine is a part of a salt range that originated about 800 million years ago, when evaporation of a shallow sea followed by geological movement formed a salt range that stretched for about 300 kilometers (185 miles). The salt reserves at Khewra were discovered when Alexander the Great crossed the Jhelum and Mianwali region during his Indian campaign. The mine was discovered, however, not by Alexander, nor by his allies, but by his army's horses, when they were found licking the stones. Ailing horses of his army also recovered after licking the rock salt stones. During the Mughal era the salt was traded in various markets, as far away as Central Asia. On the downfall of the Mughal empire, the mine was taken over by Sikhs.Hari Singh Nalwa, the Sikh Commander-in-Chief, shared the management of the Salt Range with Gulab Singh, the Raja of Jammu. The former controlled the Warcha mine, while the latter held Khewra. The salt quarried during Sikh rule was both eaten and used as a source of revenue. In 1872, some time after they had taken over the Sikhs' territory, the British developed the mine further. They found the mining to have been inefficient, with irregular and narrow tunnels and entrances that made the movement of labourers difficult and dangerous. The supply of water inside mine was poor, and there was no storage facility for the mined salt. The only road to the mine was over difficult, rocky terrain. To address these problems the government levelled the road, built warehouses, provided a water supply, improved the entrances and tunnels, and introduced a better mechanism for excavation of salt. Penalties were introduced to control salt smuggling. While working with Geological Survey of India in the 1930s and 1940s, Birbal Sahni found evidence of angiosperms, gymnosperms and insects from the Cambrian period inside the mine.
A stunning mosque made of different shades of rock salt bricks have been constructed inside the Mine, hollow walls of salt bricks when lighted gives an amazing look. A large chamber called “Assembly Hall” measuring more than 250 ft in height is the main attraction for the tourists. There are certain chambers filled in with saturated brine solution. These ponds when enlightened with colorful lights give awesome view. There is an area of transparent salt of light pink color known as “Shish Mahal”. Different chambers are connected with salt bridges over water ponds and when illuminated with lights show spectacular reflection of different colors of salt.
Faisal Mosque, Islamabad
Faisal Mosque is conceived as the National Mosque of Pakistan. It has a covered area of 5,000 m2 (54,000 sq ft). It can accommodate 10,000 worshippers in its main prayer hall, 24,000 in its porticoes, 40,000 in its courtyard, and another 200,000 in its adjoining grounds. Although its covered main prayer hall is smaller than that of the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca (the world's third largest mosque), Faisal Mosque has the third largest capacity of accommodating worshippers in its adjoining grounds after the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) of Mecca, the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) in Medina. Each of the Mosque's four minarets are 80 m (260 ft) high (the tallest minarets in South Asia) and measure 10 x 10 m in circumference.
The Faisal Mosque is named after the late King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, who supported and financed the project.
The Faisal Mosque in Islamabad is the largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the sixth largest mosque in the world. It was the largest mosque in the world from 1986 to 1993 when overtaken in size by the completion of the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. Subsequent expansions of the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) of Mecca and the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) in Medina, Saudi Arabia during the 1990s relegated Faisal Mosque to fourth place in terms of size. Faisal Mosque is conceived as the National Mosque of Pakistan. It has a covered area of 5,000 m2 (54,000 sq ft) and has a capacity to accommodate approximately 300,000 worshippers (100,000 in its main prayer hall, courtyard and porticoes and another 200,000 in its adjoining grounds). Although its covered main prayer hall is smaller than that of the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca (the world's third largest mosque), Faisal Mosque has the third largest capacity of accommodating worshippers in its adjoining grounds after the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) of Mecca, the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) in Medina. Each of the Mosque's four minarets are 80 m (260 ft) high (the tallest minarets in South Asia)
RaniKot Fort PAKISTAN
RaniKot is the Largest Fort of the World.....!!!
Ranikot Fort is the world’s largest fort with a circumference of about 29 km or 18 miles. Since 1993, it has been on the list of tenative UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
It is located in the Kirthar Range, about 30 km southwest of Sann, in Jamshoro District, Sindh, Pakistan. It is approximately 90 km north of Hyderabad.
Who constructed it first and why? Is an enigma yet to be resolved by researchers. Some archaeologists attribute it to Arabs,possibly built by a Persian noble under the Abbasids by Imran Bin Musa Barmaki who was the Governor of Sindh in 836 CE. Others have suggested a much earlier period of construction attributing to at times the Sassanians Persians and at times to the Greeks. Despite the fact that a prehistoric site of Amri is nearby, there is no trace of any old city inside the fort and the present structure has little evidence of prehistoric origins.
Archaeologists point to 17th century CE as its time of first construction but now Sindh archaeologists agree that some of the present structure was reconstructed by Mir Karam Ali Khan Talpur and his brother Mir Murad Ali in 1812 CE at a cost of 1.2 million rupees (Sind Gazetteer, 677).
Fort Ranikot is located in Lakki Mountains of the Kirthar range on the right side of the mighty River Indus at a distance of about 30 kilometers from the present day town of Sann. A mountainous ridge, Karo Takkar(Black Hill), running north to south, forms its western boundary and the ‘Lundi Hills’ forms its eastern boundary. Mohan Nai, a rain-stream enters the fort from its rarely used western ‘Mohan Gate’, where it is guarded by a small fortification, changes its name to ‘Reni’ or ‘Rani Nai’ or rain-stream and gives the fort its name. Ranikot is thus the ‘fort of a rain stream’ – Rani. It runs through it, tumbles in a series of turquoise pools to irrigate fields and leaves the fort from its most used ‘Sann Gate’ on the eastern side. It then travels about 33 kilometers more to enter the Lion River – Indus.
Most of the twenty kilometers long wall is made of natural cliffs and barricades of mountainous rocks which at places rise as high as two thousand feet above sea level! Only about 8.25 km portions of its wall are man-made, built with yellow sandstone. This was first measured on foot by Badar Abro along with local guide Sadiq Gabol. As one enters the fort, one can find hills, valleys, streams, ditches, ponds, pools, fossils, building structure, bastions, watchtowers, ammunition depots, fortresses – all inside Ranikot, adding more to its beauty and mystery. A spring emerging from an underground water source near the Mohan Gate is named as ‘Parryen jo Tarr’ (the spring of fairies).
According to a tale told by the local inhabitants, fairies come from far and wide on the Ponam Nights (full moon) to take bath at this spring near ‘Karo Jabal’! Splashing sounds of water falling on the rocks can be heard at another spring, Waggun jo Tarr or “the Crocodile Spring”, named so as crocodiles once lived there.
Within Ranikot, there are two more fortresses – Meeri and Shergarh, both have 5 bastions each. Meerikot takes its name from the word ‘Mir’ meaning top (for instance the top of a hill, chief of any Baloch tribe, etc.). Both the main Ranikot and the inner Meerikot have similar entrances – curved, angulated with a safe tortuous path. “The bridge in front of Ranikot resembles to a smaller bridge in front of a fortress in Verona, Italy” writes Ishtiaq Ansari, the writer of ‘Sindh ja koat aaein qillaa’ (Forts and Fortresses of Sindh) and a member of Sindh Exploration and Adventure Society. From the military point of view, Meerikot is located at a very safe and central place in the very heart of the Ranikot with residential arrangements including a water-well.
Talpur Mirs used Meerikot as their fortified residence. One can explore ruins of the court, harem, guest rooms, and soldiers quarters inside it. Its 1435 feet long wall has five bastions. Every structure in the Ranikot has its own uniqueness and beauty. Looking up from Meerikot one can find another fortified citadel – Shergarh (Abode of Lions) built with whitish stone, it too has five bastions. Though its location at 1480 feet above the sea level makes this fortress a unique structure, it also makes it equally difficult for supply of water, which can only be had from the brooks and rain streams, hundreds of feet below.The steep climb up to Shergarh gives a commanding view down over the whole fort and its entrance and exit points. On a clear day one can even see Indus, 37 kilometers away to the east.
Beside the Mohan Gate and the Sann Gate, there are two more gates, rather pseudo gates. One is towards the side of ancient town of Amri. This ‘gate’ is called the ‘Amri Gate’. Certainly it takes its name from the prehistoric ruins of Amri, but it must have taken this name much later than the times of Amri as the fort itself doesn’t appears to be as old as the Amri itself. In fact there is a bridge over rain stream ‘Toming Dhoro’ exiting from the fort called ‘Budhi Mori’. The breach in fort wall due to the river stream has been referred as a gate. Similarly, the Shahpir Gate to the south also appears to be a pseudo gate taking its name from a limestone rock with a rough shape of foot imprinted on it. The sacred footprint supposedly belongs to Hazrat Ali or some other religious personality and is venerated by locals. It seems to be a later breach in the fort wall instead of a formal gate because one can’t find any bastion or watchtower or their remains at the site, needed to guard any formal entrance or exit points.
A mosque found in the fort appears to be a later modification of a watchtower or a later construction. Scattered animal skeletons and prehistoric fossils can be found on the top of Lundi Hills. One of the three graveyards has about four hundred graves made of Chowkundi like sandstone with engraved motifs of sunflowers and peacocks. Whether we can call them as theriomorphic and phytomorphic motifs is an open question.
Another one appears to be a graveyard of Arabs. The third one, about a mile away from the Sann Gate, had sixteen or seventeen graves earlier but now there are only four graves. The local inhabitants call it the Roman’s graveyard.
Hiran Minar, Sheikhupura
Hiran Minar or (Minate of Deer) is situated in Sheikhupura, Pakistan. It was constructed by Emperor Jehangir as a monument to Mansraj, one of his pet deers.
Rohtas Fort, (Qila Rohtas) , Jhelum
The gigantic fort is founded on steep rocks jutting into the river Kahan, its ramparts protected on the west and north sides by the river and by high hills on its east and south. It was never taken by assault and survives intact to the present day. The main fortifications consist of the massive walls, which extended for more than 4km; they are lined with bastions and pierced by monumental gateways.
Although built for purely military purposes, yet a few of its twelve gates were exceptionally fine examples of the architecture of that period. The Sohail Gate, guarding the south west wall, is in fair condition even today and it is being used as a rest house. This gate is an example illustrating that how a feature built for strength could also be made architecturally graceful. As it is more than eighty feet in height so it provides a grand entrance to the magnificent fort complex. Every part of its structure has been carried out in broad and simple manner, each line and plane has a sober and massive elegance, while the whole is aesthetically competent. Within the fort a small town has developed and several thousand people live here
History of PAKISTAN through the centuries.
|Professor Dr. Ahmed Hasan Dani|
|Painted Pottery from Kot-Diji|
As in many other countries of the world, man in Pakistan began with the technology of working on old stone by using quartzite and flint found in Rohri hills and stone pebbles found in the Soan Valley. The oldest stone tool in the world, going back to 2.2 million years old, has been found at Rabat, about fifteen miles away from Rawalpindi, thus breaking the African record. The largest hand Axe has also been found in the Soan Valley. Although man is still hiding in some corner, the Soan pebble stone age culture show a link with the Hissar Culture in Central Asia. Later about fifty thousand B.C. at Sangho Cave in Mardan District man improved his technology for working on Quartz in order to chase the animal in closed valleys. Still later he worked on micro quartz and chert or flint and produced arrows, knives, scrapers and blades and hunted the feeling deer and ibexes with bow and arrow. Such an hunting scene is well illustrated on several rock carvings, particularly near Chilas in the Northern Areas of Pakistan along the Karakorum Highway - a style of rock art so well known in the trans- Pamir region of Tajikistan and Kirghizstan. However, the first settled life began in the eight millennium B.C. when the first village was found at Mehergarh in the Sibi districts of Balochistan comparable with the earliest villages of Jericho in Palestine and Jarmo in Iraq. Here their mud houses have been excavated and agricultural land known for the cultivation of maize and wheat. Man began to live together in settled social life and used polished stone tools, made pots and pans, beads and other ornaments. His taste for decoration developed and he began to paint his vessels, jars, bowls, drinking glasses, dishes and plates. It was now that he discovered the advantage of using metals for his tools and other objects of daily use. For the first time in seventh millennium B.C. he learnt to use bronze. From the first revolution in his social, cultural and economic life. He established trade relation with the people of Turkamenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and other Arab world.
He not only specialized in painting different designs on pottery, made varieties of pots and used cotton and wool but also made terracotta figurines and imported precious stones from Afghanistan and Central Asia. This early bronze age culture spread out in the country side of Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and North West Frontier Province.
And this early beginning led to the concentration of population into small towns. Such as Kot-Diji in Sindh and Rehman Dheri in Dera Ismail Khan District. It is this social and Cultural change that led to the rise of the famous cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappra, the largest concentration of population including artisans, craftsman, businessmen and rulers. This culminated in the peak of the Indus Civilization, which was primarily based on intensive irrigated land agriculture and overseas trade and contact with Iran, Gulf States, Mesopotamia and Egypt. Dams were built for storing river water, land was Cultivated by means of bullock- harnessed plough - a system that still prevails in Pakistan, granaries for food storage were built, furnace were used for controlling temperature for making red pottery and various kinds of ornaments, beads of carnelian, agate and terracotta were pierced through, and above all they traded their finished goods with Central Asia and Arab world. It is these trade divided that enriched the urban populace who developed a new sense of moral honesty, discipline and cleanliness, and above all a social stratification in which the priests and the mercantile class dominated the society. The picture of high civilization can be gathered only by looking at the city of Mohenjodaro, the first planned city in the world, in which streets are aligned straight, parallels to each other, with a cross streets cutting at right angles. It is through these wide streets that wheeled carriages, drawn by bulls or asses, moved about, carrying well-adorned persons seated on them, appreciating the closely aligned houses, made of pucca bricks, all running straight along the streets. And then through the middle of the streets ran stone dressed drains covered with stone slabs - a practice of keeping the streets clean from polluted water, for the first time seen in the world.
The Indus Civilization is the first literate Civilization of the subcontinent. The cities were centres of art and craft. Where the artisan produced several kinds of goods that were exported to other countries. Sailing boats sailed out from Mohenjodaro and anchored in the port of the Gulf, which region was perhaps known as Dilmin. However, it was the city administration that managed the urban life in strict discipline and controlled the trade in their hands. The discipline is derived from the strict practice of meditation (yoga) that was practiced by the elite of the city, who appear to have trimmed their beard and hair combed and tied with golden fillets. The body was covered with a shawl bearing trefoil designs on them. Such a noble man with a sharp nose and long wish eyes shows a contrast with a bronze figurine of a dancing and singing girl, plying music with her fully bang led hand, as we find today with the Cholistan ladies having bangled hands. Obviously there were distinctive ethnic groups of people in Mohenjodaro but the dominant class of rulers and merchants appear to be distinctive from the rest of the population. It is these literate people who inter- acted with the Arabian people and continued to maintain strict discipline in the society. It is they who developed astronomy, mathematics, and science in the country along with numerical symbols, weights and measures but they thoroughly intermixed in the society and also believed in the local cult of tree and tree deities and animal totems. The most prominent animals as attested in the seals are bull, buffalo, elephant, tiger, rhinoceros, alligator and deer and ibexes. However, Mesopotamian influences are seen in the figures of Gilgamash, Enkidu, joint statue of the bull and man and other animals with several heads and bodies. However, the unique local concept is that of highly meditative man, seated in his heels, with three or four heads, and combining in himself the power to control the animals probably with a crown of horns or some times a tree overhead. It is this supreme deity, depicted on Seals, that draws the serpent worshippers and overpowers the animals. A part from these there was no concept of nature worship as we find in the Vedas of the Aryans. The ritual consisted of offerings through the intermediary of mythological composite animals to the tree deity. These dose not appear to have been any concept of animals sacrifice nor worship of any idol or idols. The Indus civilization lasted for nearly five hundred years and flourished up to 1750 B.C. when we notice the movements of nomadic tribes in Central Asia. As a result the Asian trade system was greatly disturbed. Consequently the trade and industry of the Indus people greatly suffered with the result that led to the end of the Civilization. The cities vanished, the noble lost their position. The writing finished. The common people met with the influx of new horse-riding pastoralists who hardly understood the system of irrigated agriculture and hence the value of dams. Such nomadic tribes are known from the large number of graves and their village settlements all over Swat, Dir and Bajaur right up to Taxila. In the Northern Areas of Pakistan different group of such tribes, known as Dardic people are known from their graves. The tribes of the plains are recognized as different groups of the Aryans from the hilly tribes of the North- the ancestors of the Kalash people and those who now speak Shina, Burushaski and other Kohistani languages. They had nothing to do with the cities as we find them building small villages nor did they know irrigation. Infect they believed in nature gods, one of them Indra destroyed the dams and spelled disaster on the local Dasyus who differed from them in colour, creed and language. These Aryans conquerors developed there own religion of the Vedas, practiced animal sacrifice and gradually built up tribal kingdoms all over the Indus Valley. The most prominent being that of Gandhara with capitals at Pushkalavati (modern Charsadda) and Taxila, the last having been the older capital of Takshaka, the king of serpent worshippers. Taksha-sila (a Sanskrit word, literally translated in to Persian Mari-Qila) survive in modern Margala. It become the strong hold of the Aryans, whose great epic book Mahabharata was for the first time recited here. Since that time Takshka-sila or Taxila lying on the western side of Margala remained the capital of the Indus land, which was called Sapta- Sindhu (the land of seven rivers) by the Aryans. It because of this central location, en routs from Central to South Asia that the new capital of Pakistan has been established at Islamabad on the eastern side of Margala hill , thus giving a historical link from the most ancient to modern time and new significance to Pakistan as a link between Central and South Asia.
The city of Taxila began to grow from 6th century B.C. onward when Achaemenian kings by name Cyrus and Darius joined this city by road and postal services with their own capital at Persepolis in Iran. Here one can see the Aryan village at Hatial mound lying above the pre-Aryan bronze age capital of Takshakas (Serpent worshippers). One can also visit the Achaemenian city at Bhir mound, where old bazaars and royal palace, with long covered drain, have been discovered. Land rout trade with Iran and the west once again started with the issue of coin currency for the first time in the Indus land. But the most important was the great use of iron technology, which produced several kind of iron tools, weapons and other objects of daily use as known as from the excavations at Taxila. Above all a new writing known as Kharoshti was developed here. At the same time the oldest University of the world was founded at Taxila, where taught the great grammarian Panini, born at the modern village of Lahur in Sawabi district of the Frontier Province. It is the basis of this grammar that modern linguistics has been developed. It is in this University that Chandra Gupta Maurya got his education, who later founded the first sub continental empire in South Asia. He developed the Mauryan city at Bhir mound in Taxila, where ruled his grandson, Ashoka, twice as governor. He introduced Buddhism in Gandhara and built the first Buddhist monastery, called Dharmarajika Vihara, at Taxila. Ashoka has left behind his Rock Edicts at two palaces, one at Mansehra and another at Shahbazgari, written in Kharoshti.
Long before the rise of Chandra Gupta Maurya the Achaemenian empire, that had extended from Pakistan to Greece and Egypt, had collapsed under the onslaught of Alexander of Macedonia. He first finished with the Greek city states, united the Greeks, and dashed forward to annex the Achaemenian empire and hence proceeded to all those places where the Achaemenian had ruled. In this march they come to Taxila in 326 B.C. where he was welcomed by the local king Ambhi in his palace at Bhir mound. It is here as well as at Bhira in Jhelum district that Alexander's remains can be seen. However, he fought the greatest battale on the bank of the Jhelum river opposite the present village of Jalalpur Sharif against Porus, the head of the heroic Puru tribe, whose descendents still supply military personal to the Pakistan army. Alexander's battle place was at Mong, where he founded a new city, called Nikea, the city of victory. The other city which he founded was called Bucaphela after the name of his horse that died here. However, the most captivating site is at Jalalpur Shaif, laying on the bank of rivulet Gandaria, perhaps Sikanaria, where Alexander's monument has now been built on the spot where he stopped for about two months before launching his attack on Porus.
The Achaemenian and Alexander's contacts with Pakistan are very important from the point of view of educational and Cultural history. The Achaemenian brought the learning and science of Mesopotamia Civilization that enriched the University of Taxila. They also introduced their administrative system here, on the basis of which the famous book on political science, called Arthasastra was written in Sanskrit language in Taxila by Kautilya, known as Chanakya, the teacher of Chandra Gupta Maurya. It is this book that was adapted for the administrative of the Mauryan empire. On the basis of Achaemenian currency the Mauryan punch marked coins. So well known in Taxila, were produced. It is their Aramaic writing, used by Achaemenian clerks, that led to the development of Kharoshti in Pakistan and trade with the Semitic world that created the Brahmi writing in India. On the other hand Alexander brought Greek knowledge and science to Taxila and introduced Greek type of coin currency. It is Taxila that philosophers and men of learning of the two countries met and developed science, mathematics and astronomy. Above all Alexander left behind large number of Greeks in Central Asia, who founded the Bactrian Greek kingdom in mid-third century B.C. it is the descendants of these Bactrian Greeks who later advanced in to Pakistan and built up the Greek kingdom here and built up their own city at Sirkap in Taxila. This is the second well planned city in Pakistan. The Greeks introduced their language, art and religion in the country of Gandhara, where ruled thirteen Greek kings and queens. Their language lasted more than five hundred years and their art and religion and considerable influence on the flourish of Gandhara Civilization.
This civilization was the result of interaction of several peoples who followed the Greeks, the Scythians, the Parthians and Kushans who came one the other from Central Asia along the Silk Road and integrated them selves into the local society. It is under their patronage that Buddhism evolved here into its new Mahayana form and this become the religion of the contemporary people in Pakistan. Under their encouragement the Buddhist monks moved along the Silk Road freely and carried this religion to central Asia, China, Korea and Japan. It is again the trade along the silk road that was particularly controlled by the Kushana emperors, who built a mighty empire with Peshawar as their Capital, the boundaries of which extended from the Aral Sea to the Arabian Sea and from Afghanistan to the Bay of Bengal. It is the dividends of trade that enriched Pakistan and led to the development of Gandhara Art, which mirrors the social, religious and common man's life of the time. It is an art that was blend of the Greek classical and local arts, which created the finest statues of Buddha and Buddhisatttvas that today decorate the museums all over the world. At the same time the sculpture depict the whole life of the Buddha in a manner that is unsurpassed. Many Greek themes, their gods, typical toilet trays, Greek life scenes showing musicians, drinking bouts and love making are presented in there natural fashion. The Kushanas period was the golden age of Pakistan as the Silk Road trade brought unparalleled prosperity to the people of the country.
The luxury items produced in the country enrich the museum at Taxila at that show the Cultural and trends of life of the time. Gandhara art is the high water achievement of the people of Pakistan. Mahayana Buddhism was the inspiring ideal of the time and the Buddhist stupas and monasteries survive in every nook and corner of the hills. It was this time that the country was known as Kushana-shahar, the land of the Kushanas, to which came the Romanships to carry the luxury goods in exchange for Roman Siler and Gold, that were used by the Kushana emperors and as a result their gold currency flooded the country and all along the Silk road. It is these Kushana kings who have gifted the national dress of shalwar and kamiz and sherwani to Pakistan. Their dress and decorations are deeply imprinted on the Indus land, that is now Pakistan.
Then came from Central Asia the Huns and the Turks who gave to Pakistan the present ethnic, their Culture, Food and Adab. The Jats, Gakkhars, Janjuas (Jouanjouan of the Chinese) and Gujars all trekked into Pakistan and made their home here. The Rajput rose and founded the feudal system in Punjab and Sindh in the same way the Pashtuns, who borrowed the surname of Gul and later the title of Khan from the Mongols, their Sardari system in Balochistan, and slowly developed the Wadera practice in the Indus delta region of Sindh. This feudal arrangements, which was the result of confederated tribes of the Huns, led to new administrative system in the country and created a new form of land management that has lasted until today. The tribes have fused into the agricultural society but their brotherhoods have survived and they have given a permanent character to Pakistan.
In the early eight Century A.D. the Arabs brought Islam in Sindh and Multan built up the kingdom of Al-Mansurah in Sindh. At the same time their east ward Sea trade introduced porcelain and called on were from China and popularized glass were from Iran Syria- new materials that can be seen in the excavations at Bambhore in Sindh. With the Muslims Turks came the Sufis and Dervishes from Central Asia. Iran and Afghanistan and they spread Islam all over the country. It is Sultan Mahamud of Ghazni who made Lahore- the city of Data Sahib as his second capital. However, the city of Multan become famous as the city of Saints although it lay en route the camel caravan that carried on trade between Pakistan and Central Asia right up to Baku in Azerbaijan. It is these cities that the famous Muslims monuments of old are to be seen. As a result of the Saintly activity Pakistan become a land of Islamic Civilization. In several villages and cities we now find the Dargah of these Muslims Saints. While Shahbaz Kalandar is a well known in Sindh, Baba Farid Shakarganj resided over Pak Pattan in Punjab, Buner Baba rules over the Frontier region, and Syed Ali Hamdani is the real Sufi Saint in Kashmir. The capital city of Islamabad enshrines the well known Golra Sharif and Barri Imam. It is in these Saints who influenced the development of Sufi literature in all the languages of Pakistan and their monumental tombs that attract the people from all the country. In the old city of Thatta at Makli hill several tombs and Mausoleums are spread over the place that surpass in the beauty of stone carving but much more than this they evidence the historical evolution of architecture from 12th century A.D. to the Mughal time.
This was a period of great change in the historical integration of the people in Pakistan when the country was brought closer to Central Asia and the Arab world. The mixing of several tribes from both these regions transformed the ethnic complex of the country. Just as in the period of Kushanas of Mahayana type rose here and the Buddhist monks out from this land along the Silk road to carry the massage of the Buddha, now it was the Arabs and the Muslims Saints from Central Asia who came in the reverse direction and flocked in the prosperous land of Pakistan. New trade route were opened in the reverse direction from those countries into the Indus land. From the Huns to the Turks the age of cavalry dominated the life scene. Many Rock carvings in Central Punjab show men riding, even standing on horse back and brandishing their swords and shooting arrows. Hence forward Polo game become common and sword dance was common, as seen in the Rock carving near Chilas. The foundation of Muslims state was firmly laid, in which the dominate position first occupied by the Arabs in Sindh and Multan and later by the Gaznavid and Ghorid Sultans who made the Indus country as their spring board from the onward conquest of India. A beautiful monument in memory of sultan Ghori can be seen at Suhawa on the National Highway. It was therefore in the fitness of things that the first missile made in Pakistan was named after Ghori. Several Muslims kingdoms grew up in this country. Beginning from north we find the Tarkhan ruling dynasty, who came from trans-pamir region here and become supreme in the Gilgit area. The descendent of Shah Mir founded the Muslims Sultanate in Kashmir maintained its independents until the time of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The Pushtun tribes made their movements and asserted their independence in the land watered by the western branch of the Indus River. The Langhas and later the Arghuns become the Master of Multan. The Sama ruling dynasty started a new era of Cultural development and prosperity in Sindh. The Baluchis in concert with Brahuis leapt forward not only to build their kingdom in Balochistan but also migrated eastward and northward. Apart from these political shape of the country, there was an unparalleled development in art and architecture, literature and music, and particularly new social integration took place on the basis of the patronage of local languages, such as Baluchi, Sindhi, Panjabi, Pashto, Kashmiri, Shina and Burushaski. All these languages received literary form with the support of the Muslims rulers and the first time their literatures began to take shape. They received influence from Arabic and Persian and added many themes from the Folklores as well as from those of Central Asia. Such an unusual developments transformed the society with the stories from Shahnama and Hazar Dastan and with the Folk-tales from Lila-Majnun, Sassi-Punnu and Hir-Ranjha. The stringed instruments, the dholak and the dhap and also flute and trinklets gave a new tone to the life of the people of Multan, Thatta, Marha Shrif in D.I. Khan, Swat and Kashmir, and finally Gilgit, Hunza and Baltistan created the finest architecture of the time. That was the period of new religious activity in the country side when Islam become the dominant religion of the people who were directly linked in religious ties with the people of Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and Arab world.
The migrant people had brought the new technology of straining the horse from Central Asia and Iran. Were ever the horse galloped right up the corner of Bengal and Orissa, the Turks and Afghans advanced from Pakistan and established new empires. Here the artisans and craftsman gathered in new centre, cities began to grow with new craft mohallas, and they began to specialise in the products of Shawl and carpets in Kashmir, chapkan, chadar and dopatta in Punjab and Chitral and Northern Areas, tile work in Multan, Hala and Hyderabad, block printing in Sindh and fine carpentry in Chiniot, Bhira and Dera Ismail Khan. As a result several families occupied themselves in traditional crafts and passed them on to their own children.
Then came the Mughal emperors, descendent of Amir Timur, who, following the Mongol ruler Changiz Khan, had embarked on building a new world empire on the basis of organizing a new type of cavalry and making a new disciplined army in the unites of hundred and thousand. The later still survive in the name of Hazara both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The first Mughal emperor, Zahiruddin Muhammad Baber, who had to come out from Farghana, brought a new taste of poetry, baghicha and architectural forms from the natural environment and landscape from Farghana and Samarqand, latter city reflecting the delicious water of Zarafshan (golden) river. Baber built his first terraced garden in Kabul and then choose the beautiful spot at Kalda or Kallar Kahar in Chakwal district and built here Bagh-i-Safa on the very spot marked by this throne seat. It was again terraced garden watered by a near by spring. At the old Bhira on the bank of Jhelum he built a fort and then proceeded to Shah Dara (the Royal pass Gate) that opened his route the city of Lahore. At Shah Dara several garden were laid by by the Mughal noblemen but only one is preserved inside Jahangir tomb that was built by his queen Nur Jehan who lies buried in another mausoleums. The tomb along with the garden is now desolate. There is also Kamran's baradari, without the garden, that still defies the flood of the Ravi river. When the Mughal emperors followed Baber one after the other, they choose the old Lahore on the bank of Ravi to their main Urban centres in Punjab. It was developed as a city of gardens with numerous gardens around but the main Mughal fortress was built in an Island, surrounded by the Ravi on the three sides and only on the east it was joined to the city proper. Here third Mughal emperor Akbar transferred his capital from Agra to meet the challenge of cousin Mirza Hakim. Here he laid the foundation of a typical Mughal citadel with royal residences, called Akbari Mahal and Jahangiri Mahal, with a prominent Diwan-i-Aam built in the traditional Iranian style, all constructed in red sand stone imported from Rajistan. Later Akbar's grandson Shah Jehan, the King of architecture, transformed many buildings and renewed to his taste with white marble. He added Diwan-i-Khas that overlooked Ravi, his palace and Turkish Bath and still more important the Moti Masjid, the gem of monuments, with beautiful decorative designs in precious stones set in marble.
However, his choicest building is the Shish Mahal, the Mirror Palace that was the constructed by the side of a Char-bagh style garden with running water channel and fountains, but later destroyed by the Sikhs, and quadrangles remodelled. Such garden, called Mehtab, can be seen in other quadrangles in the Fort. The Shish Mahal is the luxurious place of resort particularly during summer months with rest rooms of a long hall at its either end, opening on to the brilliantly dazzling Veranda that looks at the marble paved quadrangle with a fountain in the middle side. The mirror reflects the stars and the bedrooms presents, in its ceiling, the panorama of a star lit Sky. On the western side there is a unique building of Bengali style, called Naulakha, whose brilliance of precious stone outshone the natural setting of flowers and tree leaves that decorate the walls. Alas ' the Sikh and British soldiers have robbed many of the precious stones. Even then the Shish Mahal, even in its changed character by the Sikhs, presents a dazzling brilliance in its perfect creation by the Mughal emperor Shah Jehan. It is the climax of Mughal luxury surpassed nowhere in the world.
The exterior wall of the Shish Mahal one can see the beautiful mosaic paintings that depict everyday sport of the Mughal princes for the enjoyment of the people who used to gather below the fort not only to have a view of the emperor sitting in the Jharokha but also to admire the brilliance of colour on the wall. Here one can observe galloping horses, humped camels, elephant ride, hunting scene, animal fights, horse man plying polo or chaughan, camel fights, figures of angels, demon head sand moving clouds, horse and elephant riders crossing Swords and verities of floral and geometrical designs. There are three gates to enter the fort, all three of them showing different tastes. The Masti (or correctly Masjid) Gate on the east shows Akbar's taste of red sand stone. The Shahburj gate on the west presents the fine mosaic decorations of the time of Janhangir. The last is the Alamgiri gate built by Emperor Aurangzeb, showing tasteful simple entrance with multiple facetted Tower at either end, crowned by Kiosks.
From Shish Mahal one can have a magnificent view of the Badashahi Masjid built by Aurangzeb on a spot regained after the river Ravi shifted further away. Its magnificent Stair way leading to the elegant red sand stone gate way on the east is highly impressive. It is on the left side that later the tomb of Allama Iqbal was built. The gate way, which is preserved the relic of the Prophet and also in one of the copy of the Holy Qur'an with brilliant calligraphy, leads into a wide open courtyard, having a washing pond in its middle, and rows of cells on its sides. On its west is the main prayer chamber of oblong shape marked by four tall corner towers. On its roof are three marble dooms of bulbous shape that attract the eye from a long distance. The interior of the mosque has chaste decoration in the mehrab chamber that opened in to equally well decorated side aisles. It has a Verandah on the front that is again tastefully decorated. But the most elegant are the tall towers at four corners of the quadrangle, from the top of which one can have an unforgettable view of the city of Lahore.
There are two other beauties in the city of which the greatest monumental gems of Lahore. The first is the most chaste fully painted mosque of Wazir Khan, which was once the centre of religious and educational activities during the Mughals period. In its original design the mosque was fronted by an open maidan that presented from a distance a marvellous view of the mosque. It was built by Ilmuddin Ansari, hailing from the old trading city of Chiniot, but later he gave rise to the city of Wazirabad. He was raised to the high post of governor by Shah Jehan for his devoted service and great skill of Hikmat. But of greater importance in his taste of decorative architecture which he has translated into this mosque. The mosque plan, which is typical Mughals style but for its squat domes has tall minarets crowned by tasteful Chhatris. The most attractive is the mosaic ornamentation of the facade, the minars, and particularly the mihrab, which remains unsurpassed in its setting and choice of decorations and calligraphic work. In its charging decoration the mosque symbolises high sense of taste and marks a magnificent attraction in Lahore, to which both Shah Jehan as well as his officials gave a new face of colour and charm.
And yet the greatest jewel of the city of Lahore is the Shalimar Bagh, the unique pleasure resort that has been gifted to the world by the Mughal emperors. With paying a visit to this garden one can hardly understand the Mughal love for pleasances. In its creation what a real pleasure they have bestowed to the people of Lahore. The garden sumbolises the elixir of life that the Mughals alone could imagine. They had long left Farghana but the beauteous charm of its terraced fields lingered behind that has been recaptured in the Char bagh style of the garden in Shalimar, as Taj Mahal in Agra is the symbol of unforgettable love of emperor Shah Jehan, in the form of unique architectural creation, for the beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal, so is the Shalimar, the epitome, of Shala (fire of love), the embodiment of the highest playful joy in life that the emperor and empress could have in this world. The garden is a combination of Char baghs, water channels, fountains, Cascades, water falls and bathing hall in three different terraces, each terrace headed by beautiful pavilions for a pause of pleasurable enjoyment and then to pass on the other ponds of joy, inset with showering fountains, each terrace presenting varieties in scenic complex. Starting from a elaborate gate way in the south , with a water fountain in its middle chamber, we enter the open space, surrounded on right and left, by residential quarters, having long walkways, in the middle of either side of a channel marked by fountain, that join together on the four sides on a watery platform. And then we pass to the first pavilion that looks at a square pond remarkable sitting a cascade of a water falling down below the pavilion, series of fountains around a central seat for musicians and dancers and smaller pavilions at the four corners. From the top pavilion the elite royalties draw their pleasure from the scenic panorama in front and from the corner pavilions guests could roll in pleasance and enjoy the music of the running fountains coupled with the music of the singers and dancers. The next lower terrace begin with a rare bathing hall in the middle with water fountains lower down and lighted lamps in the arched niches of the walls. Here one could cool the legs during summer months- a novel way of cooling the atmosphere in the days when there were no electricity and air conditioners. And thus we find here a thrilling atmosphere where natural art has been channelised in the service of man. What a creation of charming loveliness that is combined with cooling water in various forms to soothe the evening of warm Lahore.
That is not all of Mughal architecture. If one likes to see the Mughal fondness for hunting, one can go to Sheikhupura, not far from Lahore , and admire the construction of Hiran Minar by Emperor Jahangir on the spot where his dearly loved deer died. That minar stands by the side of a tank which has in its middle a three storied pavilion for a general view around. If one is interested to see the defence arrangements of the Mughals, one can go to Attock on the bank of the Indus River, where Akbar built a magnificent fort, made arrangements for crossing the river by boat-bridge and laid a new road south of the Kabul river leading to Peshawar through the Khyber pass to Kabul. And then come to Attock the empress Nur Jahan, who constructed here a caravan serai, known as Begum Ki Serai, with a platform at its four corners and living rooms cooled by the Indus breeze. It is from one of the top platform that one could look at the magnificent expanse of the Indus River, full of flowing life and natural beauty, that perhaps will remain as the lasting memory of the Indus land, that is Pakistan.