Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chauburji Lahore


For every Lahori, this beautiful monument is a familiar structure and now lies in the middle of a thriving commercial area. Shops, restaurants and offices circle the intersection where Chauburji stands reminiscent of Princess Zeb-un-Nissa’s once grand and extensive gardens.


Built around 1646 AD by Zebinda Begum or Princess Zeb-un-Nissa, daughter of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir, Chauburji’s current dilapidated state is not a new sight. Go to the Shalimar Gardens; Emperor Jahangir’s Tomb; Queen Noor Jahan’s Tomb, all these places were once crown jewels among the ‘City of Gardens’ i.e. Lahore’s green heavens and now there hardly is anything left in color there.

Chauburji or Chouburji was the grand entrance to a lovely Mughal garden on Multan Road in Lahore. The garden, which is no more, is said to have been laid out by Princess Zeb-un-Nisa Makhfi, daughter of Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir and a recognized poetess of her time.

Princess Zebinda Begum or Zeb-un-Nisa:

Princess Zeb-un-Nisa is an intriguing figure. She never married, but legend has it that she fell in love with an Afghan soldier whom Aurangzeb had killed. Zeb-un-Nisa, or Zebinda Begum, as she is also known to historians, was a highly talented woman. She wrote poetry and took a deep interest in architecture. In 1646 she decided to have a beautiful garden laid out in Lahore.


The porcelain mosaic which decorates the walls, though most of it has been chipped away, is of high quality. The outer walls are brilliantly enamelled and decorated with blue and green encaustic tiles and frescoes of exquisite beauty. The motifs most used are those of willowy cypresses, bowls of fruit, and winding trellises. Originally, the gateway had four towers, as well as a central dome, but over the years the dome collapsed and one of the hexagonal towers crumbled away, leaving a truncated gateway with chipped enamel and four rooms within. From these, not just the frescoes but even the plaster vanished.

The uppermost part of the building has a passage from the Holy Quran inscribed on it in Arabic letters of blue colour worked in porcelain. At the end is written the year of its foundation, 1646 AD. Above the arch are inscribed the following verses in Persian: "This garden, on the pattern of the Garden of Paradise, has been founded. The garden has been bestowed on Mian Bai. By the bounty of Zebinda Begum, the lady of the age." On either side of the arches north and south of the middle arch is inscribed the word "God" in bl
ue Arabic letters enclosed by a circle.

Meaning of Word Chauburji:

The gateway has recently been restored, and a roundabout has been constructed. The fourth tower has also been rebuilt, as without it the building would never have also been a Chauburji, which means "four minarets."

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