Kamran's Baradari

The earliest extant structure belonging to the Mughal Period in Lahore is believed to be the Baradari (pavilion) of Mirza Kamran, son of Babur the Chaghatai, the founder of the Mughal Kingdom in India. Mirza Kamran was a step brother of Emperor Humayun and the first Mughal Governor of Lahore. The baradari was part of the garden laid out by Kamran, where he received his father, the emperor Babur, on his visit to Lahore.

Kamran's BaradariIt was in Mirza Kamran's garden that the first-born of Emperor Jahangir, a rebellious Khusraw, was brought into the former's presence, "weeping and trembling......his hands tied and chains on his legs from the left side after the manner of Chingiz Khan," and Jahangir, in no mood to show leniency, declared, "Kingship regards neither son nor son-in-law. No one is a relation to a king."

Until the 18th century, the garden remained a recreational place for the Mughal imperial family, when the emperor and his entourage would arrive here by boat to enjoy the verdant scenery.

If you would like to visit the historic setting, it is best to combine it with a visit to Shahdara, since it is reached from the south end of a comparatively new bridge linking Lahore with Shahdara.

It was originally built on the right bank of the river Ravi but now stands in the middle, unaffected by the ebb and flow of the river. At the beginning of the bridge a flight of steps leads down to the river bed, from where one can hire a boat for a trip to the baradari, visible on the left in the centre of the river Ravi. The riverbed is often dry, and you should be prepared to walk some of the distance to the monument.

The baradari structure itself is a testimony to the engineering skill of Mughal builders. At the end of 19th century, Latif recorded "for more than half a century has the impetuous current of the ancient Ravi struggled to annihilate its walls, whose feet it washed, but with the exception of a portion washed away at a time beyond the memory of the living generation, the edifice stands quite unaffected by the ebb and flow of the majestic river." The river that once flowed close to the city walls changed course during the first half of the 18th century, and destroyed the edifices and gardens laid by Mughal nobility. Mirza Kamran's garden shared the same fate, although a few traces of old garden paths can still be seen.

The structure built of massive brick masonry, consists of an octagonal central chamber 24' wide, and four corner octagonal rooms 11' wide, the core encircled by an 11' wide arcaded veranda. The 80' sides of the square structure are punctured by 5 cusped arches—a central 17'6" wide arch flanked by two 9' arches on each side. Almost half of the northern portion has been washed away and has been totally reconstructed, and so have the decorative features; due to which the original character of the monument has been compromised—an example of over-zealous 'restoration' in a attempt to preserve.

*Photo courtesy of Loh Kot Heritage and Cultural Society Lahore.

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