Wazir Khan Hammam

Commonly known as Shahi Hamam, the Wazir Khan Hammam was built by the Governer of Lahore, Sheikh Ilmuddin Ansari, in 1634.  It is located just inside the Delhi Gate.  Hammams (or public baths) were introduced into the subcontinent by the Mughals, and this is among the rare examples of this building type that are now extant.

As you enter the enclosure, on the right is a row of small rooms, which lead to the hammam. Since only a section of this large hammam (size 140.5' x 80.5') is open to visitors, it is not possible to gauge the full extent of this remarkable structure, now used as a tourist information centre. Unfortunately the original tanks of the hammam have been filled up. However, from its ground plan consisting of two large octagonal halls and scores of small cubicles, it is evident that the hammam was equipped with essential constituents of a Mughal hammam. There would have been separate sections for men and women, and for each section a reservoir with fountains, a cold room, hot room and dressing rooms in addition to latrines and stores with arrangement for heating water and piping etc. would have been provided.

Since the halls and some other rooms are totally enclosed from all sides, an ingenious system of roof lights, which also acted as an exhaust for warm air, was devised which provides natural light to all the important halls and rooms. A narrow staircase leading up to the roof allows you to view this exciting scenery of conical rooflights of varying sizes providing sunlight to the interior of this impressive structure.

An admirable piece of Shahjahani architecture, Wazir Khan's Hammam demonstrates a sophisticated system of arcuate construction relying on an effective utilization of muqarnas (stalactite squinches). The building is a combination of Turkish and Persian style. It reminds one of the traditional Persian hammams which are still vogue in Iran.

The original fresco paintings on the walls have lost their form and color at many places due to the negligence of the custodians of the building. In the entrance of the hammam a lighted display panel carrying images of historic monuments seen through the eyes of nineteenth century travelers provides you with interesting glimpses of historic Lahore.

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