Empress Noor Jahan lies buried in a tomb not far
from that of her husband, Emperor Jahangir. Once
part of the Jahangiri cluster, the estate was
bifurcated when the railway line was laid. To reach
it today, you will need to travel west along the
road that runs past Jahangiri Serai and the tomb of
Asaf Khan. This road leads to a recently constructed
underpass, traveling through which you will arrive
at grade. However, instead of proceeding towards G.T.
(Grand Trunk) Road you should take the turning to
the left, which will lead you to your destination.
Once Noor Jahan's chahar bagh had adjoined that of
Asaf Khan's, but today Noor Jahan's tomb is situated
across the railway line, to the southwest of the
tombs of her brother and husband.
As you walk the tree-lined street leading to the
tomb garden, the sepulcher, a low key single-storey
structure can be seen in the distance amidst a grove
of date palms. This is the abode of the most
powerful Mughal empress, constructed by herself
before her death, today aloof from traffic and the
noise and bustle of people.
Mehr-un-Nisa (1577-1645), titled Noor Jahan Begam
(Light of the World) and later Noor Mahal (Light of
the Palace), was the daughter of Khwaja
Ghiyas-ud-Din Muhammad Ghiyas Beg Taharani, a
migrant from Persia, who along with his family had
fled to Hindustan, and rose to exalted positions in
the cosmopolitan court of Akbar. She married
Jahangir in the sixth year of his reign, and,
because of her abilities, soon became the
fountainhead of authority at the Mughal court. She
is the only Mughal empress under whose name imperial
receipts were issued and silver coins "struck in the
name of the Queen Begam, Noor Jahan" were minted.
She first became influential as a staunch ally of
Prince Khurram (later Emperor Shah Jahan), the
husband of her niece Arjumand Bano Begam or Mumtaz
Mahal as she is better known.
A great patron of architecture, Noor Jahan had an
abiding impact on the culture of the Mughal court. A
poet and aesthete, she erected impressive edifices
and gardens utilizing the enormous wealth at her
disposal from the revenues of her jagirs (fiefs).
Although she remained supremely powerful until the
death of Jahangir, she lost to Shah Jahan in her
struggle to maintain her ascendancy, in spite of the
fact that she had Ladli Begam, her daughter from her
first marriage married to Shahryar (1605-27),
Jahangir's youngest son. As is well known, the last
act of the drama for the acquisition of Mughal
throne was played out in Lahore, when Shahryar was
assassinated and Shah Jahan emerged victorious.
Noor Jahan, along with her widowed daughter Ladli
Begam, lived in Lahore until her death in 1645, Shah
Jahan having settled an annual allowance of two
lakhs of rupees on her.
Although no longer evident due to filling around it,
Noor Jahan's tomb was a chahar bagh rauza following
the arrangement in the other two tombs of the group,
and in the same manner it also stood on a podium.
Built on a smaller scale, the form of the sepulcher
echoes the arrangement of Jahangir's mausoleum in
its 20' high arcaded square marked with octagonal
corners. The same arrangement of a slightly
projecting central portion in each of its 134' sides
is also reminiscent of the earlier edifice, though
the corners, instead of rising like the impressive
towers seen in the earlier structure, today stop
short at the same height as the remaining building.
Early photographs of the mausoleum show its ravaged
condition, where the bare shell, shorn of its
decorative facing, with some traces of delicate
fresco in internal muqarnas could be seen.
It was believed by 19th century writers that the
marbles and other costly decorative items were
removed from the sepulcher during the Sikh rule and
utilized in the decoration of the Sikh temple at
It is said that half the splendour of the Sikh
temple in Amritsar is due to marble plundered from
this mausoleum. Even the subterranean chamber
containing the graves of Noor Jahan and her daughter
Ladli Begam were desecrated, as was the marble and
pietra dura of the sarcophagi.
The original marble cenotaphs have disappeared. The
existing cenotaphs and the marble platform are 20th
In recent years, however, in an attempt to restore
it, the monument has been made to look completely
new, having lost the subtle traces of floral and
geometric flourishes she so loved.
courtesy of Loh Kot Heritage and Cultural Society