Tour Pakistan – Chauburji the Garden Gate of the Mughal Era

Chauburji
Chauburji (The Four Minarets), Lahore, Pakistan.

The ‘Chauburji Gate’ is the remnant of the Mughal era garden that once was at the intersection of the now Multan and Bhawalpur Road. It is an awe-inspiring architectural ruin for the art lovers of the Mughal architecture.

The word “Chauburji”, means “Four Towers” in Urdu, a modern term for what would have been merely a monumental gateway to the vast garden at the site in the Mughal period. In time, the garden lost its beauty due to neglect and flooding, and may not have long survived its completion. By the 19th century, the monument was somewhat dilapidated, having lost its northwest tower to an earthquake in 1846. In the 1960s, the Department of Archaeology reconstructed the damaged tower and also restored some of the surviving parts of the monument.The Chauburji is still a mystery to many historians concerning who constructed this beautiful monument. It carries an inscription that is dated 1056 AH (1646) and attributes to ‘Sahib-e-Zebinda Begum-e-Dauran’.

Chuaburji
A picture of Chauburji photographed in the 1880s.

The Chauburji is still a mystery to many historians concerning who constructed this beautiful monument. It carries an inscription that is dated 1056 AH (1646) and attributes to ‘Sahib-e-Zebinda Begum-e-Dauran’. According to the 19th century historian, Syed Muhammad Latif, the inscription read as below.


“This garden, in the pattern of the garden of paradise, has been founded…
(the second line has been effaced)
The garden has been bestowed on Mian Bai
By the bounty of Zebinda Begum, the lady of the age”


Latif also believed that Mian Bai was the favorite attendant of Zebinda Begum, justifying his theory to a story from the ‘Shah Jahan Nama’ (chronicles of Shah Jahan). It stated that the garden was constructed at the request of Zebinda Begum, supervising Mian Bai to complete the task. On one of her visits to inspect the garden before completion, it is said that the princess heard a man call out that the princess was on her way to see ‘Mian Bai’s’ garden. At that instant, Zebinda Begum bequeathed the garden to Mian Bai.

Chauburji art closeup.
The detail on the Chauburji minaret.

While another story says, the inscription on the Chouburji is related to Zeb-un-Nissa, daughter of Aurangzeb, who was born in 1637. It is highly unlikely that she was given this uphill task at the age of eight; another candidate could be Zaib-un-Nissa’s aunt Jahan Ara Begum, one of Shah Jahan’s daughters.Regardless of who constructed this architectural beauty, it is now in ruins. The richly decorated gate with glazed tile mosaics; its four octagonal towers that were once crowned by cupolas supported on pillars reflect the lack of government attention in preserving an iconic monument. These minarets with their characteristic are a stylistic variant found in Lahore. Fortunately, it almost survived the demolition courtesy the construction of Orange Line Metro Train after the civil society’s pressure to uphold the history, art and culture of the city in its true spirit.

Regardless of who constructed this architectural beauty, it is now in ruins. The richly decorated gate with glazed tile mosaics; its four octagonal towers that were once crowned by cupolas supported on pillars reflect the lack of government attention in preserving an iconic monument. These minarets with their characteristic are a stylistic variant found in Lahore. Fortunately, it almost survived the demolition courtesy the construction of Orange Line Metro Train after the civil society’s pressure to uphold the history, art and culture of the city in its true spirit.

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