–Rs10 million allocated for restoration of Mughal-era structure
–Archaeology Department deputy director says conservation expected to be completed in 18 months
LAHORE: Punjab Archaeology Department has finally taken up conservation of the Tomb of Nadra Begum, located near the Shrine of Hazrat Mian Mir, and an amount of Rs10 million has been provided to the department in this regard, Pakistan Today has learnt.
According to sources, the Tomb of Nadra Begum was in shambles owing to the negligence of authorities concerned and there had been no check on its use by the general public earlier. “Despite its dilapidated staircase, visitors had access to the tomb’s rooftop, which could lead to any untoward incident,” they said, adding that the main water channel and fountains area around the tomb was also being used as a cricket pitch.
“A large number of people, including children, were damaging the monument by also littering the heritage site.”
The marble pavilion of the tomb had been turned into a drug den by addicts and nomads were also using the same to sleep at during the night, sources said. “The walls of the tomb were covered in graffiti whereas its entire structure, including the pavilion, had cracks in the lime plaster,” they stated further and added it was high time the authorities took up its restoration as it could’ve collapsed any moment now.
“Nadra Begum was the wife of Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh, the brother of Aurangzeb Alamgir. In 1659, Dara Shikoh was defeated by his brother Aurangzeb in a battle for the throne after which both Dara and Nadra tried to flee to Iran,” a tourist guide, Muhammad Javed, told Pakistan Today.
“She [Nadra] died on their way to Iran and Dara ordered his troops to take the body to Lahore for burial. He also ordered the troops to bury his wife near the shrine of Sufi Saint Hazrat Mian Mir, whom both of them considered their spiritual guide.”
A historian and writer, Tania Qureshi, told this scribe that the tomb was a 17th-century monument.
“The Mughals built tombs in a garden with a dome on the structure, but interestingly Nadra Begum’s tomb was built within a water tank, which bears the flat parapet on all four sides. It stands on a raised platform in the centre of the water tank.”
During the Sikh period, the tomb was raided and all its embellishments, including marble and semi-precious stones, were taken away, she said.
“During the British Raj, the water tank was dismantled by a contractor and he used the bricks for erecting buildings in the Lahore Cantonment.”
Archaeology Department Deputy Director Malik Maqsood told Pakistan Today that a scheme of more than Rs10 million had been approved by the Punjab government and the funds had been released to the department.
“We are in the tendering process and the work on the tomb will soon be started. The time needed to complete its conservation is about 18 months,” he said, adding that the conservation of the entire monument would be carried out by experts.
“The jobs that will be carried out as part of the conservation process include strengthening of the structure, its consolidation along with the restoration of lime plaster, fresco, floors and other parts. The monument will be protected by placing a fence around it and the water channels, as well as the fountains, will also be restored.”
The tomb, he said, will be converted into a tourist spot and guards will be deployed so that no one causes any damage to the site again.