‘The built of the tomb is beautiful and reflects the Mughal architecture. If we closely observe it, the dome is decorated with porcelain tiles of blue and yellow colour. Some of the tile work is still extant. You will also see beautiful floral patterns similar to those seen on tomb of Sharf-un-Nisa Begum (Cypress Tomb).’
A city rich in heritage and culture, Lahore has the remains of glorious past and many upheavals in its streets and corners. Heritage is not confined inside the Walled City only but is scattered in all the old parts of Lahore and Baghbanpura is one of them.
Once a small village, Baghbanpura is located east of the Walled City of Lahore along the Grand Trunk Road. Monuments like Shalimar Gardens, Tomb of Dai Anga, Buddhu Ka Awa, Gulabi Bagh and many others were built there during the Mughal reign. Today it is a densely populated residential area. The word Baghbanpura means Town of Gardeners, as the village was originally surrounded by many gardens, but with the passage of time only Shalimar Garden has survived the vicissitudes of time to retain much of its glory.
Anyhow, let me escort you to an interesting location inside this town of gardens Baghbanpura. The place is another tomb – again a disputed one. Different historians have diverse views of who actually is buried there but popularly the tomb is known as Jani Khan’s.
Kanhaiya Lal, a popular historian and considered as one of the authentic ones, writes in his book Tareekh-e-Lahore that this is the tomb of Jani Khan, titled Intizam-ud-Daula, son of Nawab Qamar-ud-Din Khan, and elder brother of Moin-ul-Mulk. According to the historic accounts, Qamar-ud-Din Khan, minister of Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah died while fighting Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1748. Following which, Jani Khan, along with his brother Moin-ul-Mulk instigated a violent attack and forced Ahmed Shah to retreat back to Kabul. Moin-ul-Mulk then became the governor of Punjab and appointed Jani Khan as commander of the army.
‘The tomb and the entire area of Baghbanpura should be declared a heritage town or site. Though there are no traces of any garden there but the history of this Town of Gardens deserves to be under the spotlight and narrated to the tourists and students of history. Why should be such mesmerising places remain hidden and neglected?’
According to Kanhaiya Lal, Jani Khan died in 1778 and was buried here in Baghbanpura. Another historian, also a resident of the Walled City, Syed Muhammad Latif gives a similar account of this tomb but refers to him as Khan-i-Khanan, surnamed Yamin-ud-Daula. Latif also writes that Khan-i-Khanan came to Lahore to settle a dispute between his sister and Nawab Zakariya Khan, to whom she was married, and fell ill and died in Lahore in 1778. So these two authentic historians of the time refer this tomb as Jani Khan’s tomb.
Now let’s move to other opinions about these tombs. Few other historians, views of Latif and Kanhaiya Lal are incorrect because Intizam-ud-Daula, the eldest son of Qamar-ud-Din Khan was assassinated in Delhi in 1759 on the orders of Imad-ul-Mulk and so Jani Khan cannot be Intizam-ud-Din. Historians quote that Jani Khan was the father-in-law of Moin-ul-Mulk (the Mughal governor of the Punjab from April 1748 and died in November 1753) on the account of his daughter Mughlani Begum being married to Moin-ul-Mulk. It is said that Mughlani Begum, herself administered Lahore from 1754-1756 for her infant son after the death of Moin-ul-Mulk. Jani Khan was married to Dardana Begum, sister of Zakariya Khan and was therefore also brother-in-law to one of the most powerful and influential governors of Lahore. In 1748, when Ahmed Shah Durrani invaded Lahore, Nawaz Shah escaped to Delhi. Emperor Muhammad Shah sent Qamar-ud-Din Khan with the Mughal prince Ahmed Shah to drive out Ahmed Shah Durrani. Qamar-ud-Din Khan died during the battle in 1748, however, Moin-ul-Mulk (who took up the command after his father’s death) along with his father-in-law Jani Khan managed to defeat Durrani and regain the seat of Lahore from the invader. The same year, Muhammad Shah died in Delhi and his son, Ahmed Shah made Moin-ul-Mulk governor of Lahore and returned to Delhi to take the throne. Jani Khan probably also died in the same battle or possibly a year after and was buried in Mir Mannu’s garden near the family graveyard of his father-in-law Abdul Samad Khan.
‘It is our heritage and we need to preserve it for the coming generations. I think this tomb should be declared as a heritage site, a ticket should be imposed on it, tours should be conducted there and a proper tourism and information centre should be developed.’
So, here are two different accounts of the same tomb. My point here is not to figure out that who is buried there but to highlight the importance of an abandoned monument.
If we talk about this tomb, it is situated to the southwest of garden of Mahabat Khan in Baghbanpura. The tomb as per historic accounts was constructed during the reign of Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah or his son Ahmed Shah.
The built of the tomb is beautiful and reflects the Mughal architecture. If we closely observe it, the dome is decorated with porcelain tiles of blue and yellow colour. Some of the tile work is still extant. You will also see beautiful floral patterns similar to those seen on tomb of Sharf-un-Nisa Begum (Cypress Tomb). As it was built in Baghbanpura, it is understood that the tomb originally stood in a garden with a beautiful gateway but no trace of them exists now. It is said by the historians that the gateway was demolished in the late 1800s, maybe which was during the Sikh rule. Unfortunately the remaining structure of the tomb is today hidden between some houses on a small plot of land surrounded by a wall. The door to the enclosure is always locked, no tourists and no maintenance, which makes it manifest that it is not a declared monument!
You will see that the arched entrances have been closed up with metallic fence with a door provided through one of the fenced in arches. This is the dilemma with most of the hidden monuments of Baghbanpura. The original floor is also buried under the ages old dust and debris. You can see panels of beautiful floral fresco work on the upper portions of the walls and the corner niches. Even the domed ceiling retains good portions of its floral frescoes laid out elegantly in geometrical patterns. There are three graves inside but due to the paucity of information, it is not known as to which one belongs to Jani Khan.
In my opinion, the tomb and the entire area of Baghbanpura should be declared a heritage town or site. Though there are no traces of any garden there but the history of this Town of Gardens deserves to be under the spotlight and narrated to the tourists and students of history. Why should be such mesmerising places remain hidden and neglected? It is our heritage and we need to preserve it for the coming generations. I think this tomb should be declared as a heritage site, a ticket should be imposed on it, tours should be conducted there and a proper tourism and information centre should be developed. Souvenirs, post cards, giveaways and museums should be developed related to this site in the same locality. In foreign countries all small little heritage sites, trees, stones and bricks are carefully preserved, but I guess here we need to work a lot on getting such a vision and a mindset.