Turning then to the west of Lahore , Sheikhupura 35 km is believed to be great antiquity. There are piles of ruins around the area. Pakistan could offer a life’s work for the world’s archaeologists and still have spare capacity. Certainly Jahangir was fond of the spot. The so-called Sheikhupura Fort was constructed by Jahangir in 1619 as a hunting lodge. It surrounds a quadrangle with a watchtower at each corner. The area was subsequently a favored resort of Dara Shikoh (crown prince of Shah Jahan & elder brother of Aurangzeb), and it is said that the place was called Shikohpor after him, which subsequently became Sheikhupura.
In Ranjit Singh’s time, the fort was used as a home by one of his wives, Rani Nakayan, and her private quarters are decorated with beautifully preserved frescoes depicting court scenes, hunts and images of Guru Nanak. But the most interesting building is surely the Hiran Minar (Minaret of the Deer), 4km from the town along the Sargodha road. The octagonal Minar, erected in 1616, is a monument to Jahangir’s pet deer, Mansraj. There is a large tank (as artificial lakes are called in these parts) in front of the tower with a causeway crossing it and a baradari (pavilion) in the centre.
The Hiran Minar gardens are a popular picnic spot. Sheikhupura district produced the two greates poets of the Punjab–Guru Nanak and Waris Shah. Waris Shah’s tomb is at Jandiala, 12km from Sheikhupura. Waris Shah completed his Hir in 1766. It is a living institution. It transcends all barriers. It is a perfect image of the Punjab, captured on paper and often recited and quoted–the physical and spiritual, ephemeral and eternal, the people, attitudes, folkfore, jokes and tragedies.
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