TRAVELS in 2001 & 2010 to


Travels to Pakistan



I traveled in Pakistan for the second time this spring to research various kind of architecture; Buddhist, Islamic, and colonial. Here I will write on the wooden Islamic architecture in the Swat Valley and the masonry one in the Multan district.
The Swat Valley lies in the north of Gandhara where Hellenistic Buddhist Art once flourished and has left a lot of ruins and remains. Lower Swat is its continuous region, while upper Swat is the area of Islamic culture.

Since I was fascinated by wooden architecture in Himachal Pradesh in northern India, I had been wondering whether that culture continued to the northern part of Pakistan across Kashmir region. As I could not afford to visit Gilgit and Skardu districts in Pakistan this time, I settled on researching wooden architecture by going upstream of the Swat Valley from Peshawar.
Without enough information about the condition of its regional architecture I brought only Kamil Khan Mumtaz's "Architecture in Pakistan" with me when leaving Japan. However, I was able to obtain some books on the wooden buildings of Pakistan on the way to the Swat Valley, which made me understand roughly the situation of wooden heritage in the region. (Ahmad Hasan Dani's "Islamic Architecture, The Wooden Style of Northern Pakistan," etc.)

Folk house
A ‚”ypical house in Upper Swat


A unique characteristic of Himachal architecture in India is the walls piled up with timber and stone layers alternately to resist earthquakes' horizontal forces. Such a structural system is hardly seen in the adjacent Kashmir region, but its existence in the remote Nuristan region in Afghanistan had been confirmed in the book, Albert Szabo's "Afghanistan, An Atlas of Indigenous Domestic Architecture." Then, what about in between in Pakistan was my main interest.

As a result of observations and books, I became acquainted with that method being main stream in the past in the Swat Valley too. Old mosques and houses had no columns except for on balconies, but made their walls by stacking wooden frames as horizontal components and filling with stones in between.
Their flat roofs sound strange. Why didn't they have pent roofs even though they had a large amount of precipitation throughout the year, as you can see from background mountain forest in the photo? One of the reasons might be that the roofs are often used as terraces for upper level houses on hillside agglomerations.

Old Jumat___ New Jumat
Old and New Jumat (Friday Mosque), Madyan

The first town to meet in the Upper Swat Valley, which is also referred to as Swat Kohistan, is Madyan. There ought to have been a Jumat (Friday Mosque), the courtyard of which would have been surrounded by wooden hypostyle halls. Turning into the old quarter from the thoroughfare under children's guidance, I arrived there and found in surprise a newly constructed mosque with concrete painted brightly. Unfortunately just four years before, it was rebuilt, changing the structure from timber to concrete.
Barely a dozen or so timber columns are partly preserved and set in a facade facing a street and on pillars surrounding the courtyard, but the total figure of the mosque is terrible.

Nevertheless an antique townscape of wooden houses still remains in the old quarter around the mosque. The most magnificent private house is the century old Subedar House, the columns and portal of which are carved delicately. I especially paid attention to the columns' brackets, on which two or three scrolls are carved each. On the entrance door there are curvings similar to the column's two stretching arms form as a decoration. I would gradually comprehend that is an architectural leitmotif in the Upper Swat.

Subedar house___ Wooden carving
Portal and its Wood Carving of Subedar House, Madyan


Next to Madyan is the small town of Bahrain, where there also ought to have been a wooden mosque. However this mosque too has been demolished and rebuilt in concrete, what is more all the timber columns and wall panels were sold. What on earth has the Archaeological Survey of Pakistan been doing? Are they only looking on with folded arms whilst such a precious cultural heritage is being lost?
The towns along the Swat River must have consisted fully of wooden houses and would have made a harmonious scenery with surrounding verdurous nature. But now they are being replaced by concrete buildings one after another and their townscapes are being transformed into promiscuous ones. Although there is an old quarter in Bahrain as well, with the progression of these changes I fear that traditional wooden buildings in the Swat Valley will completely disappear within 20 years.

Going upstream on the Swat River, I arrived in Pishmal where I could visit a wooden mosque at long last. It has a peculiar minaret with a single timber column, as if it were a birdcage. I was told that not one wooden minaret with a spiral staircase remains in Pakistan.

Mosque___ Interior
Exterior and Interior of the Wooden Mosque, Pishmal

The structure of this mosque is periphery walls piling timbers and stone layers alternately and two enormous wooden pillars as thick as a meter standing outside of the eastern wall and at the center of the worship hall. Those pillars extending their brackets with three continuous scrolls each on both sides and supporting an enormous girder have an overwhelming presence.
This capital design appears in many varieties distributed in northern Pakistan and they suggest the derivation from symbolical imitation of a tree spreading branches.
However, the ancestor of this design surely was the Ionic capital that was brought from Greece to Gandhara in ancient times. It was brought from Kashmir to ladakh in the Buddhist era iAlchi Gompa's Sumtsek etc.j, then to Himachal region in the Hindu era iSandhya Gayatri temple at Jatatsukh etc.j.
However I have not seen such a powerful and majestic capital of timber column in India.

(PS) I traveled in Himachal Pradesh, India, this September, when I found an unexpected thing at Tabo Gompa (Tibetan Buddhist monastery). Tabo is the oldest gompa in Spiti district near the Chinese border, 4,550m above sea level. It is said that Rin-chen Zang-po (958-1055), the great 'translator,' established it in the 10th century. This important gompa consists of six halls, inside of all which are covered in wall paintings and sculptures and considered as a treasure-house of the mediaeval Tibetan Buddhist art in western Tibet alongside of Alchi Gompa in Ladakh.
The outer walls of these halls are made of mud, while the inside structures are made of wood with rows of timber columns. Although most of those columns have been replaced by new ones in later ages, the columns in the Kyl-khan (the Mandala Temple), which number two, are original or close to and surprisingly the design of their capitals is completely the same as aforementioned ones in the Swat Valley. They have three continuous scrolls each engraved on their two brackets, even if their scales are smaller.
This capital design which originated in the Ionic Order in Greece came to western Tibet from Gandhara with a little transformation, and long afterward it might have been brought to the mosques in Islamic Pakistan.
Regrettably the inside of Tabo Gompa had been prohibited from being photographed due to the supervision by the Archaeological Survey of India since the former year. Therefore a photograph of those capitals cannot be shown here.___(21/12/2001)

Jumat (Friday Mosque) in Kalam

The deepest of the Swat Valley towns is the town of Kalam, at an altitude of 2,070m. As a bustling summer resort It has many new hotels, but to my disappointment there was not even an old quarter, having lost all trace of a kingdom of the days gone by.
The renowned Jumat (Friday Mosque) has also been much transformed. A second floor has been added with balconies around and a galvanized sheet iron roof, and its old wooden minaeret has been lost. But fortunately the ground floor is intact, in and out of which pillars with two stretching arms stand and a delicate woodcarving is preserved at its portals.

Wood carving
Wood Carving at Friday Mosque, Kalam

Incidentally it surprises us as at Pishmal that this mosque also is divided by a wall into two separate halls, each of which has a Mihrab in the direction of Makka. In spite of a first feeling of confusion as to which is the main worship hall, actually one is a summer mosque and the other is a winter mosque. A summer mosque is usually open to its courtyard, through which breezes go, while a winter mosque is closed and provides a large stove to warm up. In short, these are the double mosques in a cold region that are hardly seen in other regions in a vast extent of Islamic world.


Another major objective of this travel was to photograph the early Islamic legacies left in the Multan region in central Pakistan. Though it was in the early 13th century that the first Islamic political power was established in Delhi, India, it was from the 8th century that Islamic armies repeatedly invaded what is currently Pakistan. The 14th century when characteristic Islamic architecture flourished in Pakistan corresponds to the age of the Tughluq Dynasty, the second Delhi sultanate in India.
I flew to Multan, the central city of that culture, and stayed in Sindbad Hotel in the tranquil new section, where well designed modern buildings have been built, adopting the region's traditional feelings. Historical buildings are scattered even in the suburbs, but most of them are concentrated on a central hill of the old section. That is the old citadel referred to as Qasim Bagh, standing on which is Sheikh Rukhni-Alam Mausoleum, the representative work of the Multan style architecture.

Multan___ Delhi
Left : Mausoleum of Sheikh Rukn-i-Alam, Multan
Right : Mausoleum of Ghiyath-ud-Din Tughluq, Delhi

It soars in large precincts accompanied by a small mosque, showing a harmonious whole with a lot of elaborated details. It is said that was erected by the sultan of the Tughluq Dynasty in Delhi, Ghiyath-ud-Din, who built his own mausoleum too at almost the same period in Tughluqabad, a southern suburb of Delhi. Actually those two are quite similar iwith their inclined massive walls with few apertures and the white bulky domes, as the early works of Islamic architecture in South Asia.
However the materials are different in Multan and Delhi. Due to the lack of good quality stones in Pakistan, an alluvial plain of the Indus River, they have been constructed with bricks since the ancient ages of the Indus Valley Civilization. In order to embellish the brick surface, they used glazed tiles influenced by Persia. So the Sheikh Rukhni-Alam Mausoleum has a colorful exterior view, but whiteness of the dome is created simply with paint. On the other hand, in Delhi, they combined white marble and red sandstone sumptuously and therefore made a foundation of the later Mughal architecture.

In therms of visual effect, instead of simple and cubic shape in Delhi, they established an excellent style in Multan, piling two octagonal layers, making a turret stand up on each corner, and covering the top with a great dome. On the whole, it can be said Multan might be superior to Delhi.

Dome___ Interior
Dome and Interior of Sheikh Rukn-i-Alam

Inside of the mausoleum tombs are densely gathered; the large one of the Sufi saint, Rukn-i-Alam and other small tombs. Though this building seems like two storied from outside, the inside of it actually is a single voluminous space with a great dome on top, from the drum of which high-side-lights fall. Making a 16 sided polygon by circularly continuing pointed arches on the thick walls of its octagonal plan, then converting it into a thirty-two-sided polygon (almost a circle) above that, the whole forms a superb transitional zone from its octagonal body to the hemispherical dome.
A scrupulous inspection makes it clear that on the each corner of the octagon a timber is put across, which is supported by another timber cantilevered from the wall at a right angle. This system is repeated in smaller scale in the above layer, a sixteen-sided polygon, and the next layer, a thirty-sided-sided polygon has a molding of delicate wooden dentil.
Thus one can see that such a brick edifice uses wood in detail structurally or ornamentally. One can also see in the photograph of external view that timbers are inserted in the brick walls to reinforce them. In short, the architecture of Multan creates captivating effects in combining bricks, wood, and tiles.


As Uchch, 140 km south of Multan, is a sacred town possessing a celebrated Dhargah (Sufi saint's mausoleum), it is referred to as Uchch Sharif too. The main buildings are a complex of a mausoleum of a saint in the Suhrawardi order, Jalaluddin Surkh, and a mosque. Both of them are wooden buildings in spite of the outer appearances of brick walls. Once inside the mausoleum, one finds a breathtaking interior with a forest of wooden columns supporting joists by their sculptural brackets and painted delicately.

Jalaluddin Bukhari
Shrine of Jalaluddin Bukhari

A bit strangely, the main tomb, which has a canopy, among tombs settled in rows is not positioned on the central axis from the entrance, but quite deviated to the western side. Therefore, as seen in the above photo, the passage from the entrance to the main tomb is winding. It resembles Japanese aesthetics in avoiding central axes deliberately, but the true reason is unclear.
Although the timber parts in this mausoleum must have been repaired many times, the total structure retains the original features of wooden architecture with a flat roof of the 13th to the 14th century.

There are three dome-type mausoleums near here, on the mound of the old fort. The mausoleum of Bibi Jawindi from the 15th century follows the Multan style, covered on top with a large dome with turrets on each two-tierd corner of the octagonal edifice.
Even though its proportion is somewhat thickset in contrast with the mausoleums in Multan, its exterior view is splendid, clad with glazed tiles in brilliant colors, and its white glazed brick dome shines intensely against the azure sky.

However, when looking from behind, we are surprised to find the rear half of this edifice has been completely lost. Actually, the flood of the Sutrej River destroyed it together with the upper parts of the turrets in 1817.
As a result of that however, we can distinctly see the cross section of the structure that shows its interior made as a single space in spite of the outer appearance looking as if it were a two-storied building.

Bibi Jaundi___ Backside
Front and rear sides of Mausoleum of Bibi Jaundi, Uchch

In a dome structure made of stones or bricks piled radiately, a force that is referred to as 'thrust' operates to widen the span toward its final collapse. How to resist and annihilate this thrust is the skill of arch builders.
In the case of Multan style, they made the lower part of buildings thicker than the upper part in order to oppose the thrust, and expressed it in the stepped outer form. The corner turrets also had a role like buttresses in Gothic architecture.
Thus architectural expressions always develop with integration in the pursuit of structural rationality.

Bibi Jaundi
Three Mausoleums in Uchch

Close to this Bibi Jawindi Mausoleum two other mausoleums stand in half collapsed state too. One of them is dedicated to an architect by the name of Nauria, who designed the other two mausoleums.




Nine years after the above-recounted journey, I again traveled to Pakistan, visiting relatively southern areas this time. India, which Pakistan considers a competitor, has seen vast economic development over the past 20 years, becoming, along with China, a major economic power, while Pakistan has fallen greatly behind, giving one an impression of almost stagnation.

Pakistan has suffered various misfortunes: repercussions from neighboring Afghanistanfs upheavals, invasions by Islamic extremists, frequent occurrence of terrorist incidents, the governmentfs collaboration with Americafs war against terrorism and the instability of the political situation, and as a further setback, various natural disasters such as the record-breaking heavy rain and great flood in 2010.
The electricity often fails, the number of foreign tourists has sharply plunged, and in addition, the air pollution continues to get worse. In spite of the fine weather day by day during my journey in the dry season, I was not able to see an azure sky as I had nine years before, it was as if always hazed over, giving an impression that the whole country might be wrapped in smog.

Mohenjo-daro___ Mohenjo-daro
Remains of Mohenjo-daro in the morning and day

Though not Islamic sites, I report here the current state of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, which represent the Indus Valley Civilization. I revisited the former for the first time in 33 years, staying one night at the site as before. Though I was to get a room in the new on-site PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation) Motel, it had been closed for some years, because almost no foreign tourists were coming. During my foreigner registration at the police office, I found in the register that I was the first foreigner in nine days.
Even among Pakistanis, only one group came that day, and the other people were some site guards in the vast archaeological site, which was extremely quiet. It is said that the number of recent tourists to Mohenjo-daro is 500 to 1,000 a year. Since the income through entrance fee to the ruins and museum is almost nothing, not only the costs of restoration but also the cost of maintenance cannot be raised.

Only 1 km from Mohenjo-daro airport, all the facilities are just before the entrance to the ruins, such as the Rest House (Dak Bungalow), Museum, the Office of Department of Archaeology, and the Police Office. I stayed again at the old rest house in which I had stayed 33 years ago, and I was their first guest for some months. Time seemed to have stopped for 33 years; everything was the same as before, the room, the food, peoplefs appearances, the exposition in the museum, and the ruins. I wondered if peoplefs lives had much changed from a restored scene of the age of the Indus Civilization on a large mural drawn at the piloti of the museum.

Mohenjo Daro Museum

These facilities are in the style of Le Corbusier. When constructed to the design of Michel Ecochard, the French architect, they were representative pieces of modern architecture in Pakistan, but they are now quite in disrepair after half a century has passed.

As for the ruins from about 2.500 B.C.E. themselves, while excavations and restoration works were ardently implemented before, nothing has been done since the beginning of this century, making me suppose that the ancient city of Mohenjo-daro will not ever be fully elucidated forever. Now erosion by salt is proceeding in the deeper underground areas, bringing the entire remains into a critical state.

I walked around the archaeological sites thoroughly without haste, accompanied by one of the site guards as a guide cum porter for my heavy camera bag. I was photographing again the excavated quarters after a lapse of 33 years, when I noticed afresh the half crumbled Buddhist Stupa giving the site a quite symbolic effect. It was constructed in the Buddhist age, the Kushan period, on the top of the citadel mound, destroying a part of the remains of Indus Civilization in fact, but if this Stupa was not there, official pictures of Mohenjo-daro would ironically be far less attractive.

harappa___ Harappa
Granaries quarter and a ruin of a mosque in Harappa

On the other hand, I had not visited the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization at Harappa, although I had been hoping to go there at least one time to fully look and take photos of the site, out of sense of obligation, over a period of many years.
The reason I did not visit it for such a long time is that in spite of it being the first discovered large scale site of the Indus Civilization, the site of Harappa was stripped of most of its surface bricks to be used as paving material for the construction of railways from Lahore to Multan in the age of British rule and almost exhaustively demolished, before it was recognized as such an important archaeological site. In addition to that, both transportation and accommodation at Harappa were inconvenient (while there is a flight connection to Mohenjo-daro from Karachi, there is none to Harappa).

At last I could visit Harappa, but even so I did not stay at the spot or the nearest town, Sahiwal. I chose to hire a taxi for the whole day, departing Lahore early in the morning, staying in Harappa (ruins and museum) for four hours, and arriving in Multan late in the evening. A magnificent highway connects Lahore and Multan nowadays, which one can drive through nonstop in five hours.

In Harappa, there is no spot from where one can get a whole view of the ancient city, but small excavated places scattered around, so one cannot take spectacular photos. As the outcome of excavation of each place is also not abundant, it is difficult to imagine a clear figure of the original city. Some of the places, such as area F to the north of the citadel mound, which is supposed to have been made up of granaries, the foundations of which are regularly arranged, are impressive.

While there is a Buddhist stupa of later period in Mohenjo-daro, Harappa has remains of a mosque from much later ruling Islamic age in the area AB. It is not located at a conspicuous spot like the Stupa of Mohenjo-daro and only a portion is left, so it cannot be a symbolic element for photographs of Harappa.
The mosque might have been erected in the 16th century before the Mughal Dynasty to commemorate a saint (Baba Nur Shah Wali?) as an Idgah (an open air mosque for the festivals of Eid). A Qibla wall with five Mihrabs and peripheral walls were built with brick taken from the ancient remains. Originally, two minarets might have been erected at both sides of the Qibla wall.
Since Harappa can be visited in a day-trip from Lahore or Multan, more tourists come here than to Mohenjo-daro. Even so, excavation and preservation work has also been discontinued for a long time.


It is Lahore, which was once the capital of the Mughal Dynasty, that holds the richest Islamic architectural heritage in Pakistan. The third emperor, Akbar the Great, moved his capital from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri, and then to Lahore, constructing a town and a fort at each location. Even after the capital was returned back to Agra and Delhi, the successive emperors continued construction in Lahore, as an important military position in the western region in India.

I revisited Lahore also after an interval of 33 years. The town, which had been calm and tranquil erstwhile, had become prosperous and bustling as the capital city of the Punjab, and Pakistanfs next largest city after Karachi. However, since there are no streetcars, to say nothing of a subway, everybody relies on buses, cars, taxis, and auto-rickshaws for transportation, so their exhaust fumes, along with factory emissions, has brought about severe atmospheric pollution. Making the mistake of not wearing a gauze mask, I bitterly hurt my throat.

There are no ancient remains in Lahore but various monuments, ranging from medieval Islamic architecture to British modern colonial facilities. I will introduce here the main Islamic edifices in the city and its neighborhoods one by one.


The northern part of Lahore is the old area developed in the Mughal period and its northernmost point is occupied by the Lahore Fort. It was a vast Mughal fortress to rank with the Agra and Delhi fortresses, originally surrounded with strong ramparts and moats, most of which have been demolished and filled in. A lot of palaces and gardens are arranged closely on the premises, mainly due to the fourth emperor, Jahangir, putting his Court here from 1622 to 27, and the architect-emperor, Shah Jahan, constructing many white marble palaces and mosques, as he did in Agra and Delhi.

Lahore Fort___ Lahore Fort___ Lahore Fort
Diwan-e-Am and Jahangir's Quadrangle in Lahore Fort

Every garden is geometric, based on the principle of the traditional Charbagh (four quartered garden). The largest is naturally the Charbagh in front of the Diwan-e-Am (Public Audience Hall), where citizens were able to enter freely, royal declaration was shown, the emperor had audiences with courtiers and foreign envoys, and trials were conducted. As the Diwan-e-Am built by Shah Jahan embraces 40 columns, it was called eChehel Sotun (Palace with 40 columns) like a famous palace in Isfahan, Iran. Its inner rhythmical space with continuing pointed arches is a magnificent open space, suitable for the scale of a multitude of people.

In the rear of this palace is Jahangirfs Quadrangle (square garden with cloisters), where Jahangirfs Khwabgah (bedchamber) and slightly modified enormous Charbagh, centering on a pond, are surrounded with cloister-like rooms. One can notice that various animal figures are carved on the brackets of the cloisters. Although images of creatures are never depicted in religious buildings, it was overlooked in palaces. Such figurative carvings are also seen at the Jahangir Mahal in Agra Fort.

Lahore Fort
Tile mosaics on a rampart of Lahore Fort

Likewise, on the northern ramparts of the fort, colorful tile mosaics depict not only geometric and foliage patterns but also figurative scenes of elephants, soldiers, and so forth. Apart from miniatures and wall paintings looked at in private rooms, such figurative drawings in public places are quite uncommon. It can be said that the tradition of Indian culture before the advent of Islam would have crept into the Mughal art.

In Shah Jahanfs Quadrangle, smaller than Jahangirfs, stands the Diwan-e-Khas (Private Audience Hall) of white marble, resembling the Khas Mahal in Agra Fort, only differing in some aspects; its columns are more slender, having no Chhatris on the roof, and it is not accompanied with Bangardar roofed pavilions on both sides.
On its floor is set an excellent fountain basin of white marble, which spouts water into the air, like in the patios of the Alhambra in Spain, functioning as air cooling facility, the water of which runs to the frontal Charbagh.

Lahore Fort
Marble fountain in the Lahore Fort

Shah Jahan, who had a deep predilection for white marble, built a small-scale Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) of that material as a royal oratory, not to be confused with the mosques of the same name in the Delhi and Agra Forts. However, in Agra Fort, the similar royal oratory is the Nagina Masjid (Jewel Mosque), and the mosque designated as Moti Masjid is a much larger one on high ground, having been Agrafs Friday Mosque until the Jami Masjid was constructed outside the fort.

The Moti Masjid in Lahore Fort is a little difficult to find, entered not from the front but through a small flight of stairs in the flank, giving a softer feeling to the steps, which might indicate that it was a royal mosque for court ladies. Though its scale is slightly larger than the other two, consisting of five spans in width, compared to the three spans in both the Moti Masjid in Delhi and the Nagina Masjid in Agra, it is not easy to take photos because of the narrowness in the depth of its courtyard. From the point of formative art, it can also be said to be a little subdued.

Lahore Fort___ Lahore Fort
Pearl Mosque, Naulakha Pavilion in the Lahore Fort

The westernmost part of the fort is an area called Shah Burj, where the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) stands in front of a Charbagh, but a side building called the Naulakha Pavilion is more noticeable. This is a mysterious building with the characteristic curved eaves of a Bangaldar roof, but it actually is not a real Bangaldar roof, as its inward part is flat.
In the center of the courtyard is a small circular pond (now dried up), into which water flows through four channels; so this is a Charbagh after all, in spite of having no vegetation. In the Mughal empire, people loved such water gardens, in which one goes to the central seating area across a bridge over the surface of the water. There are many examples of this, such as the Anup Talao in Fatehpur Sikri, the Shalamar Gardens in Shrinagar and Lahore, and the Hilan Minar near Lahore.


On the west of Lahore Fort, across the Hazuri Bagh (garden), is the largest mosque not only in Lahore but also in the Indian Subcontinent, the Badshahi Mosque. As its area is 160m by 160m in size, 100,000 people can worship together, lined up also in its vast courtyard. It was constructed by the sixth emperor, Aurangzeb.

The founder of the Mughal Dynasty, Babur, called himself Badshah (Padishah, meaning Great King) while the kings of the past Delhi Sultanate had called themselves Sultans. As his successors followed this custom, Mughal kings are called emperors in English, and Jahangir named his great mosque the Badshahi Mosque. This is one of the four greatest mosques of the Mughal Dynasty, along with those of Delhi, Agra, and Fatehpur Sikri, and as it was the last one, it is on the largest scale and best preserved.

Lahore___ Lahoreƒ‹
Badshahi Mosque in Lahore

While I had ascended the left minaret behind the worship hall 33 years before, this time I got permission to ascend the diagonally opposite northeastern minaret which I had desired a long time, and I was able to take photos of the mosque from the best angle from a height of 50m.
When looking down from there, it reminded me of St Markfs Basilica in Venice. That is, this extremely vast space in Lahore looks like a grand square rather than a courtyard, and the worship hall looks like an independent monumental edifice soaring in a plaza. Combined with the symbolic figures of its three domes, this mosque can be regarded as the final apogee of the eIndian Typef mosque design.

As at the Taj Mahal, these magnificent domes of white marble have no function other than as decorations intending to make the external appearance greater. The actual domical ceiling is placed at the level of the central domefs foot. White marble domes exist only in the Indian Subcontinent, likewise it can be said that the esculptural architecturef through self-display with excessively bold double-shell domes is also a characteristic product of Indian civilization.


There is a group of Mughal mausoleums at a suburban village, Shahdara, across the Ravi River, 3km north of the Lahore Fort. Among the tombs of the Great Moguls, that for the second emperor, Humayun, is in Delhi, the third emperor, Akbar, is at Sikandra near Agra, the fifth, Shah Jahan, along with his wife, Mumtaz, is in the Taj Mahal in Agra, the modest one for the sixth, Aurangzeb, is at Khuldabad in southern India, and then here in Lahore is one for the fourth, Jahangir, because he loved the city of Lahore and expired here.

The district called the Shahdara Complex consists of three Charbaghs; the larger square one on the east of the central rectangular Akbari Serai is for the mausoleum of Jahangir, and the western smaller square one is for that of Asaf Khan.

The tomb garden of Jahangir, originally a pleasure garden called the Bagh-e-Dilkusha set up by his wife, Nur Jahan, is a vast Charbagh of 460m square in size, rivaling the Charbagh of Akbarfs tomb at Sikandra at 480m square. Although the location of the mausoleum in the center of the enormous Charbagh is the same as the cases of other emperorsf tombs, it gives some feeling of lack, due to it not being surmounted with a dome. Judging from the fact that it has as many as four minarets, which are unnecessary for a tomb, at a height of about 30m, it might have been unfinished.

Shahdara___ Shahdara
Mausoleum of Jahangir at Shahdara

While the mausoleum of Jahangir was constructed by order of his son, Shah Jahan, it was designed by the empress, Nur Jahan. It is said to have been modeled after the just prior Mughal mausoleum in Agra for her father, Itimad-ud-Daulah.
A cenotaph in the central tomb hall is set on an unprecedented monumental catafalque. It is an excellent craft work with epietra duraf (inlaid work with stone pieces of various colors) delicately depicting flowers of cyclamens and tulips.

Asaf Khan was Nur Jahanfs brother, thus, Jahangirfs brother in law, and the governor of Punjab. As the capital of Punjab was Lahore, his tomb was set right next to the mausoleum of Jahangir. It stands in the center of a Charbagh the size of just one fourth of Jahangirfs garden. While the Persian style finishing with glazed tiles on its walls has been almost all lost, its dome seems to have been finished with white marble. The excessive bulbous shape of the dome is said to have been an alteration made in later ages.

Shahdara___ Shadhara
Mausoleums of Asaf Khan and Nur Jahan at Shahdara

A little distance from the Shahdara Complex, across the current railway, is the Mausoleum of Nur Jahan, the empress of Jahangir. She was daughter to Mirza Ghiyas Beg (Itimad-ud-Daulah), a minister of Akbar the Great, and through marriage to Akbarfs fourth son, Jahangir, became a Mughal Empress. One of her nieces, a daughter of Asaf Khan, was Mumtaz Mahal, the chief consort of the fifth emperor, Shah Jahan. From Jahangirfs incapacity by illness in 1622 until his death five years later, it seems that she mightily governed the empire.

She also planned this, her own, mausoleum herself during her life time. She did not place a dome on the tomb as at her husbandfs mausoleum, nor constructed any minarets for embellishment, making it quite modest, though its scale is grand at 38m square. Among the mausoleums of Mughal empresses, it is second only to the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Bibi-ka-Maqbara (Mausoleum of Aurangzebfs wife) in Aurangabad.
It was originally a grand Charbagh, but the British government constructed a railway in its precincts, destroying most of the garden. The stone used for finishing was also stolen from the now abandoned mausoleum, and later it was refinished with the current red sandstone, in somewhat modern patterns.


Returning into Lahore city, one find the most important mosque in the old town area, the Wazir Khan Mosque, so called after the financial contributor, Shaikh Ilm-ud-din Ansari who had the title of Wazir Khan. Unlike the Badshahi Mosque, it is a Persian-type mosque with a courtyard of 40m by 50m firmly surrounded by buildings and four Iwans. The worship hall, as fully wide as the courtyard, has not the usual three domes but five. It is curious that they are double-shell domes despite being shallow ones; what was the effect they were aiming for?

It can be said the main feature of this mosque is in its colorful decoration, such as the glazed tiles on its surfaces throughout. As the colors are time-worn now, the mosque has a sober beauty inside and out. The patterns and color combination of its tile mosaics differ from the Persian manner, and tile mosaics are relatively rare in India, so it can be regarded as Lahore style.


Lahore___ Lahore___ Lahore
Wazir Khan Mosque and Hamam

Here too, I was able to climb the northeastern minaret to take a good picture of the mosque. The road on the right side of the photo is the Kashmir Bazaar. Walking along this road about 250m to the Delhi Gate, one can reach the largest Hamam (public bath) in Lahore, the well preserved Wazir Khan Hamam.


An enormous garden in the northeast of the city is the renowned Shalamar Bagh (Shalimar Garden), constructed by the architect-emperor, Shah Jahan, at huge expense, under the same name as the largest Mughal garden in Kashmir, India. The principal notion of this garden was to materialize on earth a celestial garden promised to pious followers, depicted in the gKuranh (Koran).

The project started with the drawing of water through a canal from the Ravi River, while the garden itself in the site was completed in a year and six months from June 1641. It is considered a masterpiece of Mughal gardens, consisting of two extensive Charbaghs and a large cistern in between, and forming a three-leveled terraced garden with a variety of views. Its total size reaches 300m by 690m. Water flows from the higher right on the plan to the lower left through water channels, and each intersection point makes a square tank.

Plan of the Shalamar Bagh, 1642

A four quartered garden is called Chahar Bagh in Persian and Charbagh in Urdu, spoken in India and Pakistan. It principally indicates a square garden divided into four quarters with water channels or garden paths crossing in the center. In the case of a large-scale garden like the Shalamar, it is necessary to draw water channels more densely to irrigate the entire garden, dividing each quartered garden into four smaller quarters, and then further repeating this pattern. It is theoretically possible to repeat it infinitely; a Charbagh could consist of innumerable smaller Charbaghs.
People in other civilizations tend to feel it too monotonous to repeat a four quartered square garden endlessly, although in the Islamic world, when making an official garden, they would feel uneasy unless arranging it in the form of Charbagh.

Shalamar___ Shalamar
Shalamar Garden, now and then

Unlike tomb gardens, the protagonist in this pleasure garden is water rather than a building. The flow of water and fountains give the garden liveliness, meaning that the land should be inclined. The Shalamar Bagh has a difference in altitude of 6m from end to end, enough to allow it to be composed in three-leveled terraces, not only allowing water to flow through channels but also to cascade over Chadars (textured water chute of stone) in various artistic patterns. When all fountains, more than 400, are operating, it is a magnificent view.

When I revisited here however, in spite of torrential rain the previous July and August, very little rainfall followed and there was no water in the channels, and the water level in the cistern was too low to shoot water from the fountains, presenting a somewhat cheerless atmosphere.


The historical site of Hiran Minar (literally meaning Deer Minaret) is near the town of Sheikhpura, 48km northwest of Lahore. After Akbar relocated his capital from Lahore back to Agra in about 1600, his son, the future emperor Jahangir, established a hunting base in a forest near Sheikhpura, making an artificial square lake (or huge water tank gathering rain water and snowmelt) as a paradise garden.

One crosses a bridge to the central Baradary (open pavilion), just as in the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. On this central axis, but outside the lake, stand a minaret despite there being no mosque here. The minaret might have been an observation tower, but from which this place came to be called Hiran Minar too. There is also an independent tower of the same name in Fatehpur Sikri, India.

Hiran Minar___ Hiran Minar
Hiran Minar at Sheikhupura, now and then

Although it forms a quite simple composition, only a garden pavilion called Daulat Khana in the center of a square lake of 260m by 225m with a bridge thrown to it, the charm of the Hilan Minar is certainly this simplicity; it can be also regarded as a water garden.
The octagonal pavilion, each side of which is 7.8m wide, is a two-storied building with a small dome on the top, in a sculptural appearance. As it is said that it was Shah Jahan who threw the bridge, Jahangir might have gotten there by boat, which sounds more romantic.

Hiran Minar
Aerial view of Hiran Minar ifrom Google Mapsj


I traveled to the Sindh province in southern Pakistan to research the Buddhist and Muslim architectural heritage in Hyderabad and its surrounding area for the first time, many structures of which were reported in "The Antiquities of Sind" published by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1929 during the age of British rule. However, some of them had been unattractively reconstructed or had disappeared and most of them were dilapidated, leaving it difficult to find any appealing remains.

The Indus River, flowing through Pakistan from the Himalayas to the Pacific Ocean, is called the Sindh River in Pakistan, the lower basin of which is the Sindh Province (named after the river), which includes the largest commercial city in Pakistan, Karachi, facing the Arabian Sea and inland Mohnjo-daro. Hyderabad is 175km east of Karachi, now connected by a highway for two hoursf driving. Those who read Bernard Rudofskyfs book gArchitecture without Architectsh (1964) must have held their breath, looking at a photo of Hyderabad full of Badgirs, or wind scoop towers, standing like a forest, but one can hardly see them nowadays.

Only thing that remains from the Hyderabad Fort is its high impressive ramparts in the midst of the town. The mausoleum of Mian Ghulam Nabi (c.1776) of the Kalhora Dynasty and the two tomb groups of the Mirs (administrators) of the Talpur Dynasty (1784-1843) were not in a good state; much of their finishing materials had peeled off and their domes had become blackened, but restoration work was not proceeding.


Karachiƒ`___ Karachi
Hyderabad and karachi

In the town of Hala, 56km north of Hyderabad, is the mausoleum of Mahmud Sahib, in its suburb are a mosque and tombs, and in the town of Matiari, on the way to Hara, are the tombs of Hasim Shah and others. All of them are in quite similar degree of workmanship; some are dilapidated or reconstructed, but without notable quality.
One of the reasons for that condition is that it was difficult to obtain stone of good quality in Pakistan, though in the neighboring area in India around Jaisalmer in the Thar Desert is a world of fine stone architecture. Here in Sindh, brick has been used as the main construction material, finished with plaster or tile. Since plaster is prone to darken and tile to peel off, historical Pakistani buildings look less impressive on the whole.

In Karachi, there are numerous colonial buildings erected under the British rule from the 19th century to the early 20th as in Mumbai or Chennai, India. They are well maintained because of their continuous usage until now. As I had previously researched those nine years before, I revisited some of them with greater leisure this time.

Finally I would like to introduce a curious urinal that I found in a restroom in Karachi International Airport. It is unusual that in both sides of it form a granite counter on which one can put personal effects, and furthermore, a small showerhead is attached to the wall. Although it is usual to find a faucet and a bowl in a toilet booth in the Indian and Islamic worlds, this is the first time I found a shower faucet beside a urinal. It is for the purpose of washing the organ after urination. It distinctly shows the hygienic philosophy of Islam.

( 01/12/2010 )

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