LAHORE: While going on with the preservation and conservation works at Deewan-e-Aam in Lahore Fort, a hidden basement of Deewan-e-Aaam has been discovered by the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA), whereas the previous usage of the basement is yet to be identified by the WCLA team, Pakistan Today learnt on Friday.
It was further learnt that while the conservation team of WCLA was inspecting the floors of Deewan-e-Aam for preservation purposes, a tile was dislocated underneath which a staircase was visible and with further digging a huge basement was revealed.
Previously a basement in Barood Khana area was discovered while a royal bath (Shahi Hammam) was revealed during the excavation process behind Jahangir’s quadrangle, however, the WCLA is working on the documentation of both the sites.
According to WCLA Deputy Director for Media and Marketing Tania Qureshi: “Deewan-e-Aam building was constructed by Emporer Jahangir in front of the Jharoka of Daulat Khana-e-Khas, built by Emporer Akbar, occupying the middle of the northern side.”
“The marble work in the state balcony in this area appears to be the earliest structure existing at the Lahore Fort,” Tania said, adding that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan ordered the construction of forty pillars in the Deewan-e-Aam and it was completed in three years under the supervision of Asif Khan (brother of Noor Jahan, the empress of Shah Jahan’s father, Jahangir).
“The classic building is constructed on a raised platform bounded by a stone railing. During the reigns of Akbar and Jahangir, the Diwan-e-Aam was enclosed with velvet canopies, shawls, ornaments and the floor was covered with rich carpets.
She also mentioned that some additions were made in this structure during the British era whereas the remains of the original Mughal brick floor can be seen in one part of Deewan-e-Aam and are distinguishable from the remaining floor.
“Deewan-e-Aam collapsed when Sher Singh, son of Ranjit Singh, bombarded Lahore Fort by light guns fighting against Chand Kaur the widow of Kharak Singh, the elder son of Ranjit Singh. The British rebuilt it after their occupation of the fort in 1849. The spacious lawns in front of Diwan-e-Aam were covered all over by a number of barracks and quarters. Diwan-e-Aam itself was used as a hospital after adding a long verandah to its façade on the south,” she added.
While talking about this discovery, Authority’s Conservation Director Najamussaqib: “A slab of Deewan-e-Aam floor was being fixed when a staircase was revealed. The team started moving on in the staircase, which was a little dangerous as well because there was no light. During that time the team came across this amazing basement.”
“It is a very early stage to identify the usage of this basement. The floor levels are being marked and we have also come across chambers in this basement. There are interlinked rooms and we are working out to know where they lead to. The team is working on the drawings, documentation, cross-section views and complete survey of the three rooms found.
“First, we will first complete the documentation of the place during which the usage of the place will also be identified. The conservation of this basement will be planned once the documentation is complete and experts are consulted over it,” he said.
While speaking to Pakistan Today the WCLA Director-General Kamran Lashari said that Lahore fort was one of its kind structures in the world which has twenty-one monuments in it.
“This is an amazing site; the more we are working on it the more we are coming across new discoveries. Royal Kitchens and Barood Khana have also been an amazing experience and I am sure that this basement will also surprise everyone,” Lashari concluded.