THE LAHORE FORT BEFORE THE FORT BUILT BY EMPEROR AKBAR – SOME RANDOM DESCRIPTIONS, BUT WITH HARDLY ANY IMAGES
A city as important as Lahore, needed for its defense a solid fort. We hear of an inner fort, probably a mud fort, in and around Chuna Mandi. The present gates belong to the Mughal period and later, so that they cannot define Lahore well. Certainly, it was a walled city, and with its surroundings, we can only imagine today. We do hear of a fort in the Sultanate period, and if we imagine the Mazar of Qutb uddin Aibak on one hand, and the area of Chah Miran (Miran de khoi) on the other. Obviously, the Old River Ravi (Buddah Darya) is another clue to the outskirts of Lahore. Kashmeeri Bazaar is another clue, with the Mazar of the warrior saint still there. He was the one who was killed in battle with the Mongols. Then there is the Mazar Shaheedan of the Ghaznavi period, near Mohalla Chabuk Sawaran. And then we know that Masjid Wazeer Khan was built on the site of an ancient mazar (still there underground). The grave of the Nau-guzza in Lahore is another clue. And then there is the area Mahmood Booti which is taken as a dam built on the river by Mahmood Ghaznavi. The ancient Miani qabarastan is another clue to same. The Sultanate mosque in the Serai of Jahangeer’s mausoleum points to ancient times. Diggings in Lahore do confirm existence of ancient mud walls, as well as ancient tunnels and structures.
The most ancient Mughal structure in Lahore, still existing, is considered the Baradari of Prince Kamran Mirza, who also occupied Lahore, and even took out a coin in his name as the Emperor of Hindustan. In the same river Ravi are seen at times ancient Mughal structures fallen into the river in oblivion. A basic design principle can be seen. Emperor Babur had burnt the main shopping center in Lahore twice. No mention of any Fort. The miniatures done during the tenure of Akbar, shows him sitting in a tent or under an awning. No pictures of the mud fort are available. This is fort with central point of Chuna Mandi in Lahore. But coins of Ghaznavid period were found in Lahore Fort, including a very famous gold one. But then who knows what the structure was then?
Some of the images we were able to locate show the Fort in different light. Got instance the visit on 24th February 1555 of Humayun to Lahore, shows a very different Fort, with unclear entrance gate. The drowning of riders, when Akbar got through shows somewhat the same scene. We do know that Lahore was a ghost town without any inhabitants in 1420-21 AD, and the Sayyid brothers gave the go ahead to repopulate Lahore. We hear before that Sarang Khan defeated Sheikha Khokhar, around 1394 AD, and the next day conquered the Fortress of Lahore, and put his brother Kandhu, with the title of Adil Khan, as the Chief of Lahore. In 1420-21 Royal attention was paid to the deserted city of Lahore, and the restoration of the city was undertaken. Engaged in repairing the Fort and other buildings. Malik Hassan was put in charge of Lahore, and fought against Jasarath Sheikha and the fight is referred to be in the Lahore Mud Fort. So only a Mud Fort existed in Lahore at that time. Boundaries unknown but must be outside the flow of the river Ravi. The Mahmood Booti bund is one line, the Aurangzebi bund is another. In any case more and more will be discovered with time. Our view will go on enlarging with time.