Restoration of Shish Mahal completed
* Shalamar Gardens to be revamped
* Other old buildings, mausoleums being neglected
LAHORE: The roof of Shish Mahal, which once threatened to collapse with the ravages of old age and rain water, has been strengthened and restored, saving a valuable part of Lahore’s Mughal heritage.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the government of Norway, which also provided the much-needed technical expertise that enabled the repair and renovation of the old building, financed the project.
Shish Mahal is the main attraction for visitors to the Lahore Fort. The highlight of the palace is the light from a small lamp reflected by thousands of little mirrors embedded in the walls and ceiling, which in a closed room, creates the impression of a revolving, starry sky.
The Shish Mahal restoration was only part of the massive Lahore Fort renovation. The entire project is being carried out by UNESCO and is going to take three to four years to complete. The international organisation is also going to revamp the Shalamar Gardens as part of the boundary wall is crumbling and the buildings in the garden require urgent repair.
The control, maintenance and upkeep of both the Lahore Fort and the Shalamar Gardens has been handed over from the Ministry of Culture to the Punjab government by the federal cabinet. The provincial government and UNESCO signed the agreement for their repair and renovation a few days ago.
The Parks and Horticulture Authority has been directed to pay immediate attention to putting the lawns and greens of both the Fort and the gardens in shape within three months.
This was the first of Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi’s directives about the two Mughal monuments. He feels that with the two monuments spruced up, they will add to Lahore’s attraction for tourists. Women and children have free entry into the gardens since January 1.
Building museums in the bigger cities of the province is the next project that the Punjab Government plans to undertake. So far there is only one general museum in Lahore. There are also two museums in Taxila and Harappa, but they are exclusively for the finds unearthed at the two excavation sites.
Elahi wants a comprehensive programme for the restoration, renovation and conservation of the entire historical and cultural heritage of Lahore and other parts of the province. In a meeting, he said that concerted efforts will be made to finalise the programme, so that the special identity of Lahore as a repository of monuments can be highlighted, with other ancient cities like Multan receiving similar attention.
The fact is that while the Mughal structures are always in the public eye, there are innumerable other buildings of earlier periods in Lahore which are usually neglected, including the mausoleums of royal personages and of Sufi saints. app