To locate this 17th century Mughal tomb, you will need to travel south on Multan Road, well past the junction known as Samanabad Mor, or Samanabad Junction. Since it is hemmed in between shops on the left (east) of the road, it is easy to miss the tomb attributed to the eldest and most celebrated daughter of Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. The tomb itself is set back from the road, behind an iron fence with a large tree standing guard.
The tomb is rare for its plan and
design of roof. The pyramidal dome, curvilinear
externally and hemispherical internally, is a
specimen of its own class.
Originally, the tomb was
constructed in the centre of a garden furnished with
handsome buildings and summer house, about five
kilometres south of the walled city. There are other pieces of the garden composition
such as two corner towers and a central gateway, all
three of which will need a bit of sleuthing to
discover, hidden and dispersed as they are in view
of the residential area that has sprung up in the
intervening space of the garden. The ten-acre garden
would have been enclosed by another set of two
corner towers and a central gateway, none of which
The area is known as Nawankot (the village of Nawankot), which attained much prominence during the late 18th century, when it fell to the share of Sobha Singh, one of the Sikh triumvirate governors ruling Lahore. The Nawankot village was founded by Mehr Mukham Din who also looked after the garden on behalf of Sobha Singh. In 1763, Mehr Mukham raised a fortified brick fort, remains of which still exist. Prior to it, a garden and a tomb had existed on the site built by the end of Shah Jehan's rule.
There is some controversy as to who is buried in this tomb which is commonly ascribed to Zeb-un-Nisa, the eldest daughter of Aurangzeb. Zeb-un-Nisa would have been only eight years old during the last days of Shah Jehan and could not have conceived and executed the construction of a garden tomb of this scale. Besides, there is evidence that Zeb-un-Nisa had died in the Salim Garh Fort, a residential area of the Red Fort at Delhi in 1701 and was buried in the garden of "Thirty Thousand Trees" outside Kabuli Gate. In 1885, her tomb was shifted to Akbar's mausoleum at Sikandra when the railway like was laid out in Delhi. Most historians suggest that the tomb may actually belong to the same Mian Bai (also known as Fakhr-un-Nisa) who was gifted the Chauburgi garden by Jahan Ara, the daughter of Shah Jehan. In addition to Chauburji garden, she was also entrusted to look after the Mughal garden in Nawankot and upon her death; she was buried in this tomb in Lahore.
Square on plan, the tomb stands on an elevated brick platform. The chamber measuring 26 feet 9 inches on each side, is crowned with a double dome, pyramidal from the outside and hemispherical on the inside. Each facade of the square tomb is punctured with a central peshtaq cusped arch in the centre, flanked by cusped arch insets and low height doorways, through which the internal chamber containing the unmarked grave is visible.
No contemporary source records the original decoration executed on the tomb. However, it is related that the edifice was once among "the most beautiful Mughal edifices at Lahore, decorated with costly stones, and furnished with pavilions, fountains and reseervoir." Latif believes that Ranjit Singh removed its costly materials to construct his summer house in Hazuri Bagh (adjacent to Lahore Fort).
Although once accessible from the tomb, today, with
dense development surrounding it, to view the
remaining extant architectural elements of the
garden tomb, you should be prepared to begin a
journey of discovery to locate them. Traveling a
couple of hundred meters further south on the main
road a turning to the left (north) at the Chappar
Bus Stop leads into the main bazaar of Gulzeb Colony
leading to the monuments. It is best to stop the car
in the bazaar, from where the pedestrian street on
the left leads you to the first tower, which is in
the form of an octagonal burj (tower). This tower
which has hardly a few meters detaching it from the
surrounding houses, marks the southeast end of the
original Mughal garden.
The corner towers are octagonal with one arched
opening in the basement. These are surmounted by
octagonal domed pavilions with eight sides in golden
yellow enameled terracotta tiles separated with thin
lines of green colour. The distance between the two
towers once forming the northeast and southeast
corner of the vanished garden is 600 feet and gives
an idea of the extent of the old garden, which no