The Nadira Bano’s Enclosure


LAHORE – Nadira Bano was the wife of Dara Shikoh, the eldest son and the ill-fated heir to Shah Jahan’s throne and the crown prince of his Indian empire. When Aurangzeb seized the throne and eventually defeated his moderate and secular brother Dara Shikoh, Dara’s immediate family and all of his supporters were in grave danger, and ultimately decided to escape to Iran.
In 1659 while en route to Iran with her husband, princess Nadira died of exhaustion and dysentery in Sindh. In accordance with her wish to be buried in Lahore near the shrine of his spiritual guide Hazrat Mian Mir, Dara Shikoh dispatched his remaining soldiers to escort his beloved wife’s dead body to Lahore.
Nadira Bano’s tomb is built amidst a water tank without a dome, which bears the flat parapet on all its four sides. In fact, these distinguished architectural features have made it look rather like a pavilion than a tomb. The tomb stands on a raised platform in the center of a water tank, which was large enough to accommodate a lake.
Encroachments have eaten away most of the tomb’s area during the course of history. During the British period, the tank was dismantled by a local contractor Mian Muhammad Sultan and its bricks were recycled in building the Lahore Cantonment. But today the tomb retains a simple and blank facade, shorn of all ornamentation.
It is said to have been robbed of its costly marble and semi-precious stones during the Sikh period. Since independence, its proper conservation has been ignored. The tomb was declared as a protected monument in 1956 and since then its responsibility for conservation lies with the Department of Archaeology and Museum.
In 1956, a comprehensive scheme was framed by the department for its repair and restoration; however it seems nothing has happened since 1956. Princess Nadira Bano remains a silent spectator, watching cricket and soccer balls often being hit into her tomb.