Hazuri Bagh and Baradari

Hazuri Bagh, lined with cloisters for mendicants and holy men, was built as a forecourt for the grand mosque. The Hazuri Bagh pavilion that dominates the centre of the quad was built by Ranjit Singh. Opposite (south) is the Hazuri Bagh Gate, which was built as part of a boarding house for scholars and students attached to the mosque. An impressive gateway in the east, the Alamgiri Gateway, was built specially and oriented in the direction of the mosque to provide suitable emphasis when entered from the citadel.

Once known as Serai of Aurangzeb, the Mosque forecourt would be thronged by the cavalcade of the emperor when he came to offer his Friday prayers at the grand mosque. Hazuri Bagh provided the stage on which the pomp of the Mughal emperor was showcased, his train a throng of mace-bearers, omerah, grandees and nobles. The traveler Francois Bernier recorded that the way from the citadel, would be lined by hundreds of soldiers in their dazzling uniforms making a glittering passage for the emperor.

The entrance to the mosque with its lofty plinth, makes it imperative to climb its 22 steps to reach the platform, and provides a foretaste of the grandeur within the mosque enclosure.

The Mughalised attractive marble baradari adorning the Hazuri Bagh was put together on the orders of Ranjit Singh in 1818 to celebrate the capture of the famous Koh-i-Noor Diamond from Shah Shuja of Afghanistan. Its Mughal character is beholden to the material removed from Mughal monuments and reused here.

The pavilion was constructed in 1818 and originally consisted of a basement and two storey above ground. Elegant carved marble pillars support the baradariís delicate cusped arches. The central area, where Ranjit Singh held court, has a mirrored ceiling. Both the garden and the baradari, originally a 45-foot, three-storey  square with a basement approached by fifteen steps, suffered extensive damage during the fratricidal Sikh wars and was only reclaimed and laid out according to the original plan during the British period. On 19 July 1932, the uppermost story collapsed due to heavy rainstorm and lightning. Because of a paucity of funds the top storey was never restored; however, the first floor marble fretwork balustrade, which had also been severely damaged, was rehabilitated three years later.

From contemporary illustrations the design of the top storey is evident: a chamber punctured by cusped arch openings, set in the middle of a large terrace and well set back from the edge of the ground floor roof.

The Baradari was the focus of regal displays during the Sikh rule. Although the takht (or throne) was the citadel, Ranjit Singh used the venue of the baradari for conducting functions of state. After his death, the pavilion continued to be utilized by his successors.

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