Hazuri Bagh

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Hazuri Bagh Baradari  is located midway between the Alamgiri Gate of the Lahore Fort and the eastern entrance of the Badshahi Mosque. This rectangular garden is known as the Hazuri Bagh forms a sort of a basin between the elevated mosque on one side and the raised Fort on the other. The white marble structure is known as the Hazuri Bagh Baradari or Ranjit Singh’s Baradari.It was constructed in the year 1818 under the orders of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The word baradari literally meaning; ‘with twelve doors’ signifies a square structure with three entrances on each side, making twelve entrances altogether. The Hazuri Bagh pavilion, though it has more than three entrances on each side is still nonetheless referred to as a baradari, for the basic plan is nonetheless that one of the baradari. The side of the baradari which faces the Badshahi mosque and the one, which faces the Raushnai Gate, has four entrances, whereas the other two have five entrances. The baradari has been constructed on a raised platform with two sets of stairs providing access from each side. The façade of the baradari has been totally rendered in white marble, which was gathered by plundering various Mughal monuments in and around Lahore. The ornamentation technique used on the façade is mainly relief work (A decorative technique where stone or wood is carved out to create images), with jali work being employed in places. Elaborate arches have been carved out on the exterior of the baradari. These arches boast delicately rendered images of fruit dishes, vases and peacocks.

The ceilings within the baradari have been made out of plain planks of wood, except for the ceiling of the central portion of the baradari; which has been beautifully rendered in Sikh period ainakari(mirror work). The flooring within the baradari in similar fashion to the ceiling; has not been laid out in white marble; rather, it has been made out of stone.

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Robert Montgomery calls the Hazuri Bagh baradarithe architectural chef d’aeuvre of Ranjit Singh’s reign (Montgomery). Within this baradari, Ranjit Singh used to sit in state and transact the business of the empire with his ministers and his sardars. When the British assumed control of Lahore, they made this pavilion a bandstand from which music was played regularly on Sunday afternoons. Following on, the upper storey of the pavilion collapsed suddenly on the 19 of July, 1932. The debris was removed to the Fort and since that time it has been reduced to a single-storied level (Aijazuddin).

Often accused that Sikh period architecture did not have much to boast in terms of architectural achievement unlike the Mughals. But, despite this fact Ranjit Singh’s Baradari stands proud amidst the Imperial Mosque of Lahore and the Lahore Fort as a reminder of the glorious rule of the Lion of Punjab. Presently, it is one the few structures within old Lahore, which are meticulously preserved and guarded. At nighttime it is lit up with green and blue lights; which make its white walls shine in the darkness of the night.