by Yasir Nisar
The Lahore Fort, also known as Shahi Qila, is located in the northwestern corner of Lahore’s Walled City. The majestic edifice is the result of many centuries’ work. According to the Pakistani historian Wali Ullah Khan, the earliest reference to the Fort comes in the history of Lahur (Lahore) compiled by Al-Biruni, which refers to a fort constructed in the early 11th century. Munshi Sujan Rae Bhandar, author of the Khulasa-tut-Tawarikh records that Malik Ayaz, a lieutenant of Sultan Mahmud, built a masonry fort at Lahore and inhabited the city. It is generally believed that present Lahore Fort is the same fort, which was damaged by the Mongols in 1241 and again in 1398 by a detachment of Timur’s army, then rebuilt in 1421 by Sayyid, son of Khizr Khan.
The Fort was extensively refurbished, extended and upgraded during the Mughal era. This is why it is rightly attributed as one of the gems of the Mughal civilization. Emperor Jalal ud Did Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb all added to it. During the period of Sikh occupation, Ranjit Singh added several pavilions on the upper ramparts. Some modifications to the Fort were made during the British period beginning in 1846 for housing facilities for colonial functions. Those modifications have been reverted and efforts made to bring the Fort back in its pre 1846 appearance.