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Architecture is the expression and manifestation of culture. The use of cultural elements on landmarks and buildings is an age-old practice. This week, we are celebrating the story of architectural heritage of Pakistan. The story that began thousands of years ago. How it evolved and what factors were responsible for the transition.
Pakistan has a rich history in terms of civilisation which goes back to thousands of years. The Indus Valley and the Mehrgarh civilisations thrived in this part of the world as early as 5000-7000 BC. The remains of these civilisations suggest that these were planned cities, with canal systems and mapped out quarters.
The architectural tradition of Pakistan is multi fold. The region has come a long way. But in terms of architecture, 3 major phases seem to influence the overall architectural domain of Pakistan. These include Mughal Architecture, British Architecture and Modern Architecture.
Mughals ruled the Indian Subcontinent for over 700 years. They had a massive influence on local arts, culture and the overall lifestyle. The Mughals established forts, palaces, bazaars and saraais across the country.
Mughal architecture brought home Turkish and Irani architectural influence to the Indian Subcontinent. The amalgamation of all these elements with a local architectural touch paved way for a new form of architecture.
The Lahore Fort, Tomb of Jahangir, Hiran Minar, Badshahi Mosque, Shalamar Bagh, Masjid Wazir Khan, Naulakha are some of the most important landmarks of the Mughal Architectural period.
The Lahore Fort, whose foundations were laid in the 16th Century by Mughal Emperor, Akbar.
Hiran Minar, completed in 1620. Constructed by emperor Jahangir in honour of Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s beloved antelope named Mansraj.
The Naulakha Pavilion. Built by emperor Shah Jahan in 1633 as a summer house. It is called Naulakha because Rs. 900,000 went into its construction.
Masjid Wazir Khan, completed in 1641. It was built during the reign of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and was named after the Chief Physician of the Mughal court, Wazir Khan.
The Badshahi Mosque, built in 1671 by the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb.
It is an interesting fact that the majority of these landmarks were designed by Turkish and Persian architects but they made sure to give all the buildings an indigenous touch. Like similar dome structures, minarets and hallways.
With the East India Company, the British began a new wave of development in the subcontinent post the demise of the Mughal empire. They brought with them the Victorian and neoclassical style of architecture. Plethora of buildings were built on these particular patterns.
During the mid-19th century, a new wave of Indo-Saracenic architecture began. A remarkable thing about this style was the fact that it was a mixture of British and local Indo-Islamic architecture.
Lahore High Court building. Constructed by the British Raj during the 1860s. The building takes inspiration from British and Mughal architectural styles.
Frere Hall, Karachi. Built in 1865 by the British, originally as Karachi’s Town Hall. An example of neoclassical architectural brilliance.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Karachi. Consecrated in 1881. Another neoclassical architectural masterpiece of the British Raj.
Montgomery Hall, Lahore (now Quaid-e-Azam Library). Established in 1886 on the lines of Neoclassical architecture.
Clock Tower Faisalabad. It was completed in 1905 by the British Raj. Built in Indo-Saracenic Architecture style, a mixture of both British’s and the region’s own building style.
State Bank Museum, Karachi. Jodhpuri style building constructed by the British during the 1920s. First Monetary museum of Pakistan. A classic neoclassical architecture.
Post partition, a new national identity was on the rise. Coincidently, the modern architecture was strongly correlated with this new sense of nationalism. National monuments were constructed in abundance across the length and width of the country.
The Minar-e-Pakistan (Lahore) , Quaid-e-Azam's mausoleum (Karachi), Pakistan Monument (Islamabad) and Faisal Mosque in Islamabad were all constructed as means of reinforcing the national identity. The new age architecture seems to be following a new trend of using vertical orientation in construction.
The idea of skyscrapers, using glass in buildings has been taken up by majority of urban builders. Examples include The Arfa Tower (Lahore), Icon Tower (Karachi). With the construction of Metro stations, underground subways for transport and overhead bridges, the country seems to be following the trend of metropolitan architecture in urban centers.
Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore. Completed in 1968. Post partition, it was the first national monument to be constructed.
Faisal Mosque of Islamabad, established in 1987. Funded by the King Faisal of Saudi Arabia as a token of love to the people of Pakistan.
Arfa Tower, Lahore. Built in 2009. The tower is owned by the Punjab government. It highlights the advent of modern & urban architecture in Pakistan.
Centaurus Mall, Islamabad. It was completed in 2013.
Pakistan has a remarkable architectural history. From humble beginnings in the form of mud houses to glorious palaces, cathedrals and now urban skyscrapers, we have come a long way. Through this piece of write up, we want to own and celebrate the diverse tradition of architectural brilliance of Pakistan.
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