Conservation of Lahore Fort’s Picture Wall to be completed by end of March


–WCLA to complete restoration of one of world’s largest picture walls in collaboration with Aga Khan Trust Cultural Service

–WCLA DG announces arranging special guided tours for people to cherish beauty of heritage site following its inauguration

LAHORE: Following extensive documentation, research and conducting a series of workshops focused on the approach and methodologies for the conservation of the western section of world’s largest picture wall at Lahore Fort, its restoration is to be completed by the end of March this year, Pakistan Today has learnt.

The western side of the wall, which is 350 feet long and 50 feet high, consists of 635 decorated recessed panels composed on three levels.

The conservation project had started in September 2015 after the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) had taken it up in partnership with Aga Khan Trust Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP) with funding from the Royal Norwegian Embassy, AKCSP, the German Embassy and the Punjab government.

“It was one of the most sensitive and vital conservation projects undertaken by WCLA in partnership with AKCSP,” sources said, adding that the documentation of the Picture Wall was started by AKCSP in September 2015.

They said electronic distance measurement devices were used to document the western section of the Picture Wall whereas the site was also recorded with 3D laser scanning.

“Later in 2016, a prototype project was launched to devise a strategy for the wall’s conservation by restoring a selected area which provided an enabling platform to discuss the special conditions and requirements of the conservation at an international workshop held in June 2017.”

The workshop reviewed the prototypical interventions made earlier with an aim to define a satisfactory course for the completion of the conservation work, sources said.

They added that national and international experts from various disciplines, including conservation, architecture, engineering, material sciences, history, archaeology, planning, anthropology and heritage enthusiasts, along with notable policymakers and officials of the federal as well as provincial government departments attended the workshop to finalise the conservation techniques.

Speaking of the historic importance of the Picture Wall, WCLA Media and Marketing Deputy Director Tania Qureshi said it is 1,450 feet stretched of the northwestern original fortification wall of the Lahore Fort and is decorated with tile mosaic, brick imitation work, frescos and cut as well as dressed brickwork.

“Together with the Shah Burj Gate, the wall forms the original entrance to the Lahore Fort. This wall is among one of the most majestic monuments of the fort and largest mural walls in the world. Built by Mughal Emperor Akbar almost 400 years ago and later enlarged by Jahangir and Shah Jahan, it represents the artistic impressions and characteristics of three Mughal emperors,” she said.

Tania added that the Picture Wall imagery includes humans, animals, birds, plants, flowers and geometric patterns along with imaginary creatures. “It is one of the main reasons for the Lahore Fort to be listed as a World Heritage Site (WHS) by UNESCO in 1981.”

A representative of AKCSP said the sequence of developments during different reigns was visible through the progressive variations in the iconography of the Picture Wall’s facade.

“The tile decorations that belong to late Akbari Period have floral motifs, during Jahangir’s rule the tilt-shifted to human and animal figures and later in Shah Jahan’s reign the scale and iconography of the Picture Wall became evidently enhanced and flamboyant both in narrative and decorative styles.”

The representative said that a predominant feature of the wall was the extensive use of glazed tile mosaic work that is also known as Kashikari. “The use of this form of surface decoration within Pakistan predates the Mughal Era and is found in Sindh as well as Multan.”

Speaking to Pakistan Today, WCLA Director General Kamran Lashari said this wall, as well as the Lahore Fort, was the country’s pride and WCLA was grateful to AKCSP for its countless efforts in conserving the Picture Wall along with foreign experts.

“We will be inaugurating the wall very soon and arrange special guided tours for the tourists to cherish the site that was almost a neglected site of the fort.”