–WCLA conservation & planning director says historical site will be opened for tourists after successful restoration
LAHORE: The Western suites of Lahore Fort’s Jahangiri Quadrangle – also known as the guest house – are being conserved by the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) at a cost of Rs5.33 million, which is expected to be completed by March 2019, Pakistan Today has learnt.
According to details, the Western suites of the quadrangle were a neglected part of the fort, which over the time, had hidden behind wild plantation. It had also been declared a no-go area owing to its dilapidated condition.
“The structure of the suites had run down whereas its cracked ceilings and other parts needed immediate attention,” sources told Pakistan Today, adding that the site had not remained tourist-friendly as the flooring and ground outside the suites were also in a terrible condition.
There are several other places inside the fort that have been closed for public but with some areas being restored, including the Royal Kitchens and Musaman Gate, there is hope for the revival of other spots, they said.
“It is a beautiful place and needs proper maintenance. I’ve been told that several spots inside the fort are inaccessible to tourists because of their derelict condition and the government should take necessary measures in this regard,” said Qasim Khan, a tourist at the fort.
WCLA Media and Marketing Deputy Director Tania Qureshi, while speaking to Pakistan Today, said that Jahangir’s Quadrangle is located behind Deewan-e-Aam.
Talking about its history, the WCLA official said, “The quadrangle consists of several splendid structures like a sleeping chamber, Seh Dari building with three openings, Harem (guest houses), Dalaan and fountain areas.”
“The construction of this place began during Akbar’s rule and was completed by Jahangir in 1617-18 AD at a cost of seven hundred thousand rupees. Historians claim that the sandstone work depicting animal heads are the works of Akbar which reflect his policy of tolerance towards all religions, especially Hinduism,” she said.
She further mentioned that during the Sikh period, the Bari Khawabgah area was used as Ranjit Singh’s harem and the haveli of Kharak Singh was added to the quadrangle.
“During the British period, the garden was turned into a badminton court after filling up the tank and fountains. The sleeping chamber of Jahangir was used as an arms store. A hospital and a dispensary were established by the army in the quadrangle.”
She said that when WCLA took over the administration and maintenance of Lahore Fort, the quadrangle was not in a good condition and a lot of horticulture works were carried out while the conservation of the deadliest place, which is the Western suites, is now being carried out by the authority’s Conservation Wing.
“We will be completing the conservation of the Western suites of the Jahangiri Quadrangle by March next year as we are still awaiting some funds,” WCLA Conservation and Planning Director Najamus Saqib said.
“Almost 60 per cent of the conservation work has been completed,” he told this scribe and also shared the details of the jobs being carried out on the site, which include structural consolidation of the entire building, replacement of broken stones, tile-roofing over wooden battens and conservation of original components, to name a few.
Saqib was of the view that it was one of the most important structures inside the fort but was earlier neglected by the authorities concerned.
He also announced opening it for the public after successful restoration.