The Lahore that was In some of my previous columns I referred to Lahore as the City of Gardens in the past tense. This is so because there was a time when numerous private and public gardens adorned this metropolis. While Emperor Shah Jehans Shalimar Bagh and the British Rajs Lawrence Gardens continue to survive and provide much-needed beauty to the 'concrete jungle, others have fallen victim to plunder, neglect and the vagaries of time. This weeks column is dedicated to a few of these vanished Gardens of Lahore. Almost all of these gardens dated back to the times of the Mughals, probably because no records or accounts of others from an earlier period exist. The need for a large quantity of water for irrigation, construction of waterways and fountains perhaps dictated that many of these beautiful retreats be laid out along or close to the River Ravi. The earliest of these gardens was constructed on the orders of Kamran Mirza, son of Emperor Babar and brother of Humayun. Today, the elaborately tiled pathways, water channels and fountains have been engulfed by the river itself. All that remains is a shell that was once a magnificent baradari on an island in the middle of the Ravi. There was a time in the 1950s, when one could drive to the spot after crossing the old bridge and enjoy a picnic along with scores of families that regularly visited the place. The baradari was then fairly intact and one could see the exquisite tile work in the archways and also recognise the remains of fountains, water channels and walkways hidden amidst the shrubbery. The spot was however not without a serious hazard in the shape of quick sand, a small strip of which ran on the side that sloped down to the river. I remember seeing a dog straying into the area to retrieve food thrown by a callous visitor. It took the combined ingenuity and strength of a crowd to rescue the poor creature from certain death. A garden known as Dilawez was laid out on the orders of Emperor Jehangir across the Ravi perhaps on the site that is now the great Mughals last resting place. This was one of the spots much favoured by the monarch, who spent many festive days there with his harem and emirs. Another beautiful place on the banks of the Ravi was known as the Garden of Momin - the Ishqbaz or 'Lover. Emperor Jehangirs autobiography Tuzke Jahangeri describes it as a place with fine plants and tall graceful cypress trees with a beautiful mango plantation. No trace of this garden exists anymore. Gulabi Bagh was constructed on the road to Shalimar in 1655 AD by Mirza Sultan Beg, husband of Sultan Begum, the daughter of Emperor Shah Jehan. All that remained of the Gulabi Bagh by the late 19th century was an archway with glazed tiles. I am told that some remains of this arch can still be seen, which are located a few paces away from the tomb of Shah Jehan and Sultan Begums wet nurse Dai Anga. The Garden of Mahabat Khan, located west of Shalimar Bagh, was relatively smaller in size and enclosed by a high wall. Mahabat Khan was Commander-in-Chief of Jehangirs army with a title of haft hazari. The garden has disappeared under, what is now the sprawling and congested locality of Baghbanpura. The Chauburji structure on Multan Road is a landmark familiar to every Lahori. This was once the gateway to a grand and beautiful garden laid out in 1646 AD on the orders of the Zebun Nisa, daughter of Emperor Aurangzeb and bestowed to her favourite handmaiden Mian Bai. It said that it extended from what is now Nawan Kot to the walls of Lahore City. After gifting the premises to Mian Bai, the Princess ordered the laying out of another garden where Nawan Kot is now located. This premises had handsome buildings, summer houses, pavilions, beautiful fountains and reservoirs. Zebinda Begum also built her own mausoleum here. However, the place was ransacked and destroyed by Ranjit Singhs minions, who transported the precious stones and marble to be used in the Sikh monarchs summer house in Hazuri Bagh. The writer is a freelance columnist.