RUTHLESS DISMANTLING OF MUGHAL MONUMENTS
THE SERAI OF NAWAB WAZEER KHAN UNDER BRITISH AXE
Nothing was safe from them
The British bureaucracy today presents us with a very healthy image of themselves. Like saviours of a vanquished race, they soft peddle us on everything. But most people would hesitate in believing anything about them. However the fact remains that after the pillage of thousands of Islamic monuments by Sikhs, the British were equally responsible for this carnage to our heritage. Who would believe that tenders were issued for the marble of the Taj Mahal itself ? The bulldozers were there in the compound to take it down. When marble of other monuments were sent for sale to Italy, they did not fetch a good price and the prospects of dismantling more, remained in limbo. It was Lord Curzon who came to the rescue of the Monuments of Hindustan and we give him full credit for his contributions.
Some of the greatest Mughal monuments in history of Lahore were destroyed in the process. Mention is made of the Sheesh Mahal of Nawab Asif Khan, which was there in Sikh times. Ainah Khanah of Prince Dara Shikoh met the same fate. The City Walls as well as many Gates of Lahore were raised to the ground. Conquering civilizations are ruthless and know no mercy. Such is also the fate of the SERAI OF NAWAB WAZEER KHAN outside Delhi Gate Lahore, which was more commonly known as GOLA SERAI. In historical records mention of the Serai is there. But nobody knew where it was and what it looked liked in all ways! In 1904 a traveler passing through Lahore made some photographs and with that contribution, we have two visual images of the Serai in Lahore.
E.D. Maclagan in one of his writings around 1910, talks of the dismantling of the Gola Serai and adds that there were tile mosaics on it. He says the Gateway to the Serai had Angels on both sides of the Gate. We find similar angels in the Hammam of Nawab Wazeer Khan, as well as the tile Mosaics of the Lahore Fort. Our idea gets complete and further consolidates the fact that most of the tile mosaics of Lahore Fort are the work of the period of Emperor Shah Jahan. Living history is often reduced to references in books, and even those books are lost in time. But that is life. When people give up their freedom, they lose many things. Culture and aesthetics are a small part of it. The fourth generation war has brought Cultural Terrorism too. We write about it all the time.