Archaeological treasure

September 25, 2022

The discovery of Akbari Hammam in Lahore Fort is a cause of great excitement

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itizens of and visitors to Lahore will soon have access to Akbari Hammam in Lahore Fort as the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) has completed the restoration and conservation of the site.

The discovery of Akbari Hammam in Lahore Fort has been an exciting archaeological find in the provincial capital.

Akbari Hammam was accidentally discovered when WCLA were removing debris behind Jahangir’s Quadrangle in the Lahore Fort.

The royal bath is a part of Akbar’s Palace. Its kankar lime plaster, ghalib kari and skylights and layout are similar to that of the Shahi Hammam situated inside Delhi Gate.

Experts say the materials used in the construction of the bath are related to Emperor Akbar’s period. They say water and steam channels in the bath have been found intact.

They say the difference between Delhi Gate’s Shahi Hammam and Akbari Hammam is that Shahi Hammam has intricate works with beautiful frescos while Akbari Hammam is simple and smaller.

“After the discovery of this historical site, the WCLA started the conservation of Akbari Hammam, which was undertaken in two phases”, says Najamus Saqib, the conservation director.

“In the first stage, we focused on the excavation and cleaning of basements.” He says around Rs 5 million was spent on this activity. In the second phase, Rs 9 million was spent on the conservation of the Hammam area.

He says the scope of work included archaeological excavation, 3D scanning, architectural documentation, removal of debris, surface cleaning, repair/ consolidation of arches, meshes and doorways, repair of drainage system inside the Hammam, floor work, roof treatment, skylight, inside plaster works, access to the Hammam by removal of the steel staircase, exploration of water tank-allied chambers on Jahangir’s Quadrangle (outside), clearance of pavements and walkways, plinth protection and boundary wall, repair of the foundation of the structure, wooden doors, structural consolidation and landscaping.

Saqib says that during the exploration of Akbari Hammam new chambers were discovered. This increased the quantum of work. He says that the initial work has been completed at the site and it will soon be opened to the general public.

Archaeological experts of the WCLA say that it will be no exaggeration to say that the spa system which is to date the most popular and healthy form of public bathing system in the contemporary Western world also traces its roots to strong imprints left over by the Ottoman/ Turkish civilisation.

The edifices of these Turkish baths are quite similar to the Roman thermae. The only divergence is be found in the utility of the scheme.

In Rome, the public bathing system was mainly implemented for amusement. In Ottoman/ Turkish Hammam the pivotal end in the establishment of Hammams was to provide public places where ablutions could be performed.

“Akbari Hammam is a gem found hidden under layers of dirt and debris. Its excavation, restoration and conservation has been a technical challenge,” says Tanya Qureshi, a senior official of the WCLA. She hopes that the Hammam will attract local as well as foreign tourists.

The writer is a senior reporter at

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