LAHORE: The tomb of Mughal Empress Noor Jahan, wife of Emperor Jahangir is going through massive conservation work for which provincial government has allocated Rs 118 million to restore the monument to its original glory and to ensure that it becomes an attractive tourist spot.

She was only the empress of the Mughal era whose name appeared on the coins during the rule of Emperor Jehangir. The tomb took four years to complete and its total area is 16.5 acres.  The last conservation work was done in 1950s and later in 1980s. “This comprehensive conservation work was started in 2014. The three-year project will complete in 2017,” Archaeology Engineer Noor Jahan Tomb Sardar  Sajid told The Nation today. 

The vaulted rooms were all covered with marble wrought with flowers of mosaic which were removed during the Sikh rule in Lahore. The minute paintings executed in intricate patterns in the honey combed cornice of some of the rooms, are of special interest. The inner floor was covered with marble and outer platform was covered with Sang-e-Abri.

The exterior of the tomb was in Red Sand Stone inlaid with floral motifs in white, black and yellow marble. The central vaulted chamber of the tomb contained a marble platform with two cenotaphs, one of the Noor Jahan and other one said is to be of her daughter Ladli Begum.

Deputy Director Punjab Archaeology Department Afzal Khan said three components of the tomb were shared among three public departments. “The conservation work is being done by Punjab Archaeology department; lawn development is underway by Parks and Horticulture Department (PHA) and wall boundary of the tomb’s premises is being constructed by Punjab Communications & Works Department,” he said.  

The present floor of the Noor Jahan’s tomb was built by Hakim Ajmal Khan of Dehli in 1912. The original marble of coffin was of great workmanship and with the attributed names of Allah in same style and size as they are of Jahangir and Asif Khan.

During the Sikh Rule the whole tomb was stripped of its costly ornamental stones. The original coffins of Noor Jahan and her daughter were taken away during Ranjit Singh’s era. Presently, basement of the tomb contains three windows for ventilation and light and the burial side is marked with chains symbolically and just for the indication of the graves.

“My grandfathers told me about the picture of Gateway of Lahore (Shahdara) through which almost every conquer and invader entered Lahore. At that time, there were only great complex residing mausoleums of three Mughal figures. Much later railway line was laid down in British era rule in undivided India”. Muhammad Kamran, a local resident of Shahdara Town said.

Kamran said there was time when people while entering Lahore saw large number of palm trees that reminded them that they were about to enter the city but later as population increased palm trees were cut. Now only a few remain around the tombs.

Floods in River Ravi damaged or weakened the architectural structure. Now a high boundary wall is being built to prevent the flood water from damaging the tomb in future.

Contractor Kabir Hussain of Kabir Enterprises said that team of 60 labourers has been working at the site efficiently and will complete the conservation work in time.