Thursday June 30, 2022

Mughal-era monument conservation work completed

November 04, 2018

PESHAWAR: The conservation work on Ali Mardan Villa, a Mughal-era monument located inside the 11 Corps Army Headquarters, has been completed and it was inaugurated on Saturday.

Corps Commander Peshawar Lt-General Nazir Ahmad Butt inaugurated the restored building upon completion.

Directorate of Archaeology and Museums Director Dr Abdul Samad and other officials were present on the occasion.

The Directorate of Archaeology and Museums had launched the conservation and preservation work on the historic building in 2015.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had allocated Rs57 million for the purpose.

Dr Abdul Samad briefed the chief guest about the historic significance of the building.

The Garden Pavilion was constructed in the middle of Ali Mardan Khan’s garden in the 17th century during the Mughal-era, he added.

Abdul Samad said various officers during the Sikh and British rule lived in the building.

He said that General Claude Auguste Court, a Frenchman, converted the garden into a dwelling place where he lived with his family in 1827-43.

In 1847, he said Colonel (later Lieutenant General) Sir George Lawrence, the first deputy commissioner of Peshawar, officially converted the building in to a residency.

Lieutenant (later Lieutenant General) Harry Burnett Lumsden, the founder of the famed Corps of Guides, also lived there. Over the years, the building served as a Garden Pavilion, Residency, Treasury and Record Room (1880s), and headquarters of Peshawar Brigade in 1907 before becoming part of Headquarters 11 Corps in 1975.

The structure of the building had gradually depleted with the passage of time.

In 2015, the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums decided to restore and conserve the building with a grant of Rs57 million.

The physical work was resumed in April 2017 to restore the grandeur of the unique structure, retaining antiquities of all the successive periods.

Ali Mardan Khan served the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan.

Born to a Kurdish family, Ali Mardan was the son of Ganj Ali Khan, who was a military commander and Governor of Kerman, Sistan and Kandahar. He remained governor of Kandahar for six years under Safavid kings and died in 1624 near Ghanta Ghar. Ali Mardan had served as governor of Kandahar under Persia’s Safavid kings Shah Abbas I and Shah Safi.In 1637-38, it is said that Ali Mardan surrendered to Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan due to fear of being killed by Shah Safi after the death of Shah Abbas I as he was sacking the officials loyal to his predecessor.

Due to his expertise and skills, Shah Jehan honoured Ali Mardan and appointed him as the Governor of Kashmir, Kabul and Lahore.

In 1639, Ali Mardan was given the title of Amir al-Umara (Lord of Lords) and nominated commander and assigned crucial role in administrative, political and military affairs.

He was also known in history as an engineer and supervised construction of various royal projects, including digging the Delhi canal, which runs between the Red Fort and the old city and water supply system of Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir (Gulmarg), and a canal from the river Ravi for the supply of water to the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore. He is known to have built gardens and other structures in Kabul, Peshawar and Lahore.

In 1649, he was also granted the then Kashmir province as his fiefdom.

Ali Mardan died in 1657 while on way to Kashmir. His body was transported to Lahore and buried in the tomb that he had built for his mother.