GHULAM HUSSAIN

LAHORE – About 450 metres in length and 17 metres in height the Murals Wall of the Lahore Fort, which is decorated with men, fairies with wings, elephants, lion, dragons, scenes of animal fighting, men playing polo and various other games dating back to the Mughal era, is in very deteriorating condition. It needs repairing badly and quickly. The condition of mosaic tiles and fresco paintings is also very bad. This scribe visited the Lahore Fort and examined the pictures wall.

History tells that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had completed the pictures wall in 1631-32, whereas, Emperor Jahangir had started the murals work.

According to the Deputy Director of Lahore Fort Maqsood Ahmad Malik, in early 2006 a meeting was held among the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), Punjab and Norwegian government’s officials, in which it was decided to repair and conserve the murals wall.

He said Unesco’s technical committee and structural consultants had submitted the proposals for the pictures wall’s conservation and also the repairing work of the fort. But, even after the span of six years, the conservation work on the murals wall of fort has not started yet.

The meeting was informed that the Punjab government had a conservation plan for Lahore Fort monuments costing near about Rs300 million and the mural was part of the project, he disclosed.

He said that the pictures wall is damaging mainly because of the pollution of the smoke of more than one lakh and twenty five hundred vehicles which passed through the Lorry Adda daily, which is nearest to the fort, then the August September’s rain, daily dust and severe weather winds. After water dissemination in the wall and the surface of the mosaic tiles, water goes down vertically and the wind pushes it through cracks and through the material itself, he added.

The wall was cracked from several places and the cement used to keep the mosaic tiles in place had weakened. It will be interesting to mention that Sheesh Mahal is erected right on this murals wall. One can imagine that how this murals wall is so vital for the safety of magnificent Sheesh Mahal. About 80 per cent of the wall needed restoration, it is calculated.

The Archaeology official said though it was decided in 2006 about the conservation of the other portions of Lahore Fort and the murals wall. Still the work on murals has not yet been started.

But now the repairing work of the murals will start this year and it will take three years to be completed. He said however, the conservation plan of the Lahore Fort is continuing under the Conservation Master Plan and repairing of other portions like Deewan-i-Aam, Deewan-i-Khaas, Khawab Gha (Emperor’s Shah Jehan’s sleeping chambers), front portion of Sheesh Mahal, moat area and fortification of the walls of fort is continuing.  While the 50pc of the repairing work has been done. An amount of Rs 85 lakh has been spent on the repairing work till now, the official disclosed.