History abounds in Lahore. Lahore’s Mughal Empire history showcase excels as windows to the past. It’s history-rich sites connects us to ancient times.
Lahore’s Mughal Empire History Showcase Locations
All sites are within the Lahore metropolitan area. Access is straight forward. Traffic can be bad during rush hours. However, even then patience suffices.
Mughal Empire History Quick-Look
I dare not delve into detailed Mughal Empire history. However, a few key facts provide a quick-look perspective:
- The empire started in the 1500s
- It reached its peak in the 1600s
- It started quickly declining in the 1700s and dissolved by 1857
- At its height of power, the empire controlled almost 25% of the world’s GDP
- Notably, Shah Jahan, one of Mughal’s emperors, commissioned the Taj Mahal construction
For more insight and details, see Mughal Empire history.
Iconic Badshahi Mosque Leads List of Lahore’s Mughal Empire History Showcase sites
Badshahi Mosque is iconic. Emperor Aurangzeb commissioned the construction in 1671. Construction finished in just two years.
Interestingly, Badshahi was the world largest mosque for 313 years. Today, it is the second largest mosque in Pakistan.
One enters Badshahi through its distinctive red sandstone entrance. As with any mosque, one removes their shoes prior to entering. Since I was still walking on a sprained ankle, I welcomed the comfort of wandering through the mosque in my socks!
The courtyard is large and can hold up to 100,000 worshipers.
As with the entrance, the Prayer Hall entrance has a red sandstone with white marble inlay.
The outer walls have large minarets while main building has four smaller minarets.
To read more, see Badshahi Mosque.
Ornate Wazir Khan Mosque
Shah Jahan commisioned the Wazir Khan Mosque in 1634. Construction completed in 1641.
The exterior is embellished with kashi-kari tile work.
I am not Muslim. However, these two young men, below, invited me to sit with them in the Prayer Hall. So, I did. They spoke very little English. And, I do not speak Urdu. However, we enjoyed some time just being together. In the photo below, he is showing me photos of his children. We all have some things in common!
Wazir Khan is adjacent to the Kashmiri Bazaar. Combining the two into a sightseeing trip makes sense.
To read more, see Wazir Khan Mosque.
Lahore’s Mughal Empire History Showcase- Lahore Fort
Lahore Fort is a sprawling site covering almost 50 acres. Several Mughal Emperors contributed to its construction. However, we only had time to see a few highlights. One can spend days here. But, Lahore’s climate is warm and humid – 90 to 100 deg F and greater than 50% humidity. So, we wilted quickly in the heat. As a result, that limited the time we wanted to spend wandering the fort grounds.
My fort visit involved countless selfie requests. I enjoy interacting with everyone. So, I usually try and say yes. However, our guide sometimes wanted us to keep moving to stay on schedule.
To read more, see Lahore Fort.
Shahi Hamman Bath
Shahi Hamman is a Persion-style bath built in 1635. The bath served as a waqf to financially support the Wazir Khan mosque. Modern day Iranian baths seem to be on the decline.
To read more, see Shahi Hamman.
Richly Decorated Tomb of Jahangir
Jahangir was the fourth Mughal Emperor. He ruled from 1605 until his death in 1627. Most noteworthy, his name means ‘conqueror of the world’. Political, economic, and architectural achievements characterized Jahangir’s reign. Also, he applied Islamic law in a progressive fashion, allowing people to retain their own laws and customs when it made sense. For example, he allowed Muslims and Hindus to retain their own laws with respect to marriage.
The exterior is extensively decorated with pietra dura, an inlay technique using polished, colorful stones.
Inexplicably, the tomb area had no lighting. So, we used our cell phone flashlights. Consequently, I shot the photo below with a flash.
Note the intricate inlay work. The inlay consists of actual colored stones.
To read more, see Tomb of Jahangir.
Lahore’s Mughal Empire History Showcase Legacy
The Mughal Empire leaves the world quite the architectural legacy. However, can we or should we learn anything from the empire? Theories abound on the reason for the Empire’s rapid decline starting in the early 1700s. Probably, several factors played a role. Political feuds, runaway expenses, external threats, and inability to change accelerated the decline. Perhaps, our lesson – we should not take our successes for granted.
Lahore’s Mughal Empire History showcase provides a treasure-trove of architecture and history.
For more on Pakistan, see my Pakistan Northern Areas blog post.