Tuesday 30 January 2018

081 - Jandiala Sher Khan (An Old Baoli & A Mosque)

Jandiala Sher Khan is well known for being the birthplace of famous Punjabi poet, Waris Shah, the writer of the most famous love story of this region, Heer Ranjha. He was born here in 1722 and died and buried here in 1798. It has a beautiful mausoleum of this poet, who is known as the Shakespeare of Punjabi language. His mausoleum situated in the same town, which I visited on 24.03.2011.

Jandiala Sher Khan is an old town and during the Mughal period, it was a significant place. During my first visit almost eight years ago, I did not know about the existence of a baoli and an old mosque in the town. The purpose of my second visit was with the specific aim of exploring this baoli and the adjacent mosque. I was informed by a local man that the baoli and the adjacent mosque were almost a ruin and had been restored only recently. That was indeed a happy news. The baoli is located at  31°49'8.00"N;  73°54'53.01"E, in district Sheikhupura.

A view of the Baoli in Jandiala Sher Khan from the west. (23.07.2017)

A closer view of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

View of the baoli and an old mosque from the south side. (23.07.2017)

View of the baoli from the east side. (23.07.2017)

View from the north east. Entrance to the steps. (23.07.2017)

In front of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

Another beautiful view of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

The actual well. Covered with an iron grill. (23.07.2017)

The baoli. 
The well. (23.07.2017)

Dome of the baoli from inside. (23.07.2017)

Steps leading to the water level. (23.07.2017)

Steps of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

Interior view of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

The water level. (23.07.2017)

The lofty interior of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

Another view of the interior. (23.07.2017)

Dome from inside. (23.07.2017)

A cupola on the roof. (23.07.2017)

Another cupola. (23.07.2017)

Umair Riaz. (23.07.2017)

View of the well from the roof of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

The mosque from the roof of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

Inscriptions beside the baoli. Including the copy of the original plaque (on the left). 

In search of some information about the baoli or Jandiala Sher Khan I found a website, which gives a lot of information about this monument. The link is given below:


بعہد شہنشاہ اکبر لقب ۔ ۔ ۔ ہمایوں نسب خسرو کامیاب
بفرمودہ سید غزنوی۔ ۔ ۔ رفع المکان خان عالیجناب
محیط سخا و کرم شیر خان۔ ۔ ۔ لہ ابرار کف ہمتش بردہ آب
بنا کرد وائے زمین کرم۔ ۔ ۔ ۔ لہ شد رشک بر چشمہ آفتاب
زد لوش بودد لوگر دوں خجل۔ ۔ ۔ ۔زچرخش بود چرخ در پیچ و تاب
مہ نخشب از شرم ناید بروں۔ ۔ ۔ ۔اگر یکشب ایں وای بیند بخواب
از تاریخ آن گربہ پرسد خرد۔ ۔ ۔ ۔ بہ از چاہ نخشب بگو در جواب

In the reign of Emperor Akbar, the successful king, from the blessed genealogy.

on the precept of Syed Ghaznavi the prestigious and distinguished Khan.

Sher Khan the embodiment of generosity, from whose open hands the sky got its glow.
From his philanthropy, constructed a step-well, from which the Chashma-e-Aftab (Spring of the Sun) also stood envious.
Seeing the bucket of this step-well, the bucket of the sky (the Sun) is embarrassed and facing its pulley, the sky, is distressed.
If the Mah-e-Nakhshab (Legendary moon of Persia which rises from a well called Nakhshab) sees this step-well in the night, due to hesitation, would not try to come out of its well.
If wisdom would discover its Tareekh, then say in response ”Beh az Cha-i-Nakhshab" (Better than Nakhshab). 
(Tareekh refers to a date using Abjad numerals, which corresponds to the year 976 A.H., or 1564 in the Gregorian calendar).
An old mosque near the baoli. (23.07.2017)

Another view of the mosque. (23.07.2017)

Interior of the mosque. (23.07.2017)

Mehrab of the mosque. (23.07.2017)

Another view of the interior of the mosque. (23.07.2017)

View of the mosque from outside the boundary wall. (23.07.2017)

Courtyard of the mosque. (23.07.2017)

On of the three wooden doors of the mosque. (23.07.2017) 

Mausoleum of the Syed Waris Shah can be seen from the roof of the baoli.  (23.07.2017)

The design of the step-well is quintessentially Akbarian. The groundplan is conceived as a central domed chamber surrounded by eight smaller rooms, a motif known as hasht bihisht ("eight paradises"), a Mughal innovation derived from Timurid precedent. In Akbar's era, the hasht bihisht motif was employed in all manner of buildings, such that "Ideas of funerary and residential architecture were almost entirely interchangeable" (Koch, p. 46). However, palace dwellings, gatehouses, and other non-mortuary buildings usually employed a flat roof rather than a projecting central dome, a rule maintained here. The profile of the roof was typically enlivened with multiple chattris that substituted for domes; at times these took the form of highly refined pith-helmet like structures such as those found at Fatepur Sikri, whereas those at Jandiala were less refined and more substantial.
Sher Khan's endowment of the baoli was immortalized by a plaque in Persian calligraphy that used to hang on the site, but was moved to the Lahore Museum for safekeeping in 1971 (for photos, refer to the final two images in the series above). The plaque describes when the baoli was built and praises its construction in poetic and flowery language: 

 According to drawings prepared by the Department of Archaeology, the superstructure of the baoli measures 21.62 meters on each side. The baoli itself has an internal radius of 7.54 meters.
As late as 2010 or thereabouts, the baoli was in extremely poor condition and partially collapsed. It was recently restored with a total reconstruction of the destroyed portions. Although the reconstructed pieces lack the ornamentation and elegance of the original design, they allow the visitor to experience the scope and grandeur of Sher Khan's vision. 

Sketches Drawn by Timothy M Ciccone, ink on mylar based on CAD rendering.

This baoli is a very important building because there are just a few baolis in Pakistan. At the moment I can recall only five; baolis in Rohtas Fort, Wan Bhachran in district Mianwali, near Dina, Wan Tarap district Attock, and another in Wah.

I am very happy that the department of archaeology is now paying attention to the restoration of old historical buildings. After Katas temples, Sheranwala Bagh and Hiran Minar this is the fourth site which I recently visited and found to be completely restored. The concerned department is indeed has done a job. It is very easily accessible as you can see in the map given below.

Tariq Amir

January 30, 2018.
Doha - Qatar.

Saturday 27 January 2018

080 - Sheranwala Bagh In Gujranwala

Gujranwala is comparatively a new city. But has a rich history and historical and cultural heritage. During the Mughal period, Gujranwala was an insignificant place even if it existed at all. Main towns in the area were Hafizabad and Eminabad. The site of Gujranwala fell in Eminabad Pargana.

During the chaotic times after the Mughals lost their grip over Punjab, Charat Singh the chief of Sukerchakia Misl, made Gujranwala his headquarter1765 till his death in 1773. He and his son Maha Singh enlarged this tiny state gradually in the coming decades. Ranjit Singh, born in 1780 in Gujranwala, turned this state into a big powerful kingdom during his reign lasting until 1839. 

Though Ranjit Singh shifted his capital to Lahore in 1799, nevertheless Gujranwala remained an in important town and made significant progress during this time. Famous Sikh general Hari Singh Nalwa too was a resident of this town and took part in its development. The subject of this post, Sheranwala Bagh too was probably developed by Hari Singh. 

The Sheranwala Bagh is situated in the centre of Gujranwala, beside the famous GT Road, at  32° 9'21.04"N,  74°11'19.28"E. It has an area of about five acres. But in the past it was a much bigger garden. Parts of it has been encroached upon from all sides. It is a beautiful well maintained garden. There is a beautiful Baradari or pavilion in the garden. When I visited it on 16.03.2011, it was just a ruin. But a pleasant surprise was waiting for me when I visited it again on 22.07.2017. Now after undergoing a complete restoration, almost a reconstruction, it gives a beautiful spectacle among big trees of the garden. I really appreciate the efforts of concerned department for restoring a historically important structure. 

Baradari in Sheranwala Bagh. (22.07.2017)

Another view of the Baradari in Sheranwala Bagh. (22.07.2017)

Two sides of the Baradari. (22.07.2017)

Inside view of the Baradari. (22.07.2017)

Beautifully painted designs inside the Baradari. (22.07.2017)

 Wooden roof of the Baradari. (22.07.2017)

Another view of the decorative designs in the Baradari. (22.07.2017)

There are small rooms at the four corners of the Baradari. (22.07.2017)

A general view of the Sheranwala Bagh. (22.07.2017)

Another view of the garden. (22.07.2017)

Sahibzada Shah Sultan. (22.07.2017)

Tariq Amir. (22.07.2017)

Samadhi of Maha Singh, father of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, as can be seen from the garden(22.07.2017) 

A section of the boundary wall of the Sheranwala Bagh. (22.07.2017)

A turret on the boundary wall of the garden. (22.07.2017)

Baradari on 16.03.2011.

Baradai on 16.03.2017.

Gazetteer of the Gujranwala District, 1936, mentions the garden in the following words:
To the south of Gujranwala there are the Encmapming ground, the Sadar Police Station, the Government High School, the Mahan Singh Garden (containing the Estcourt Club and the Health Centre) and there are in the city the Islamia High School, the Government High School For Girls, the Khalsa Intermediate College, the Municipal Hospital For Women, the various Missionary Institutions, the Government Industrial School, the Post and Telegraph Offices, and the Cinemas etc. The principal buildings of architectural interest are the smadh of Mahan Singh, father of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and a baradari in Mahan Singh's Garden. Close by is a lofty cupola, covering a portion of the ashes of the great ruler himsel. 
The Gazetteer refers to Sheranwala bagh as the Mahan Singh Garden. I did not see any cupola in the garden. Hower the Samadhi of Maha Singh still exists nearby. 

Almost all the time, at the end of my posts about a historic building, I express my wish for the repair and restoration of that particular monument. However, I am happily concluding this post, on the note that all this beautiful structure, needs is a little care in the future as well. 

Tariq Amir

January 27, 2018. 
Doha - Qatar