July / August  2006




August/September Contents 

Sufis - wisdom against

 Sufi poet saints

 50 years of mountain

 Interviews with:
 Ajaz Anwar
Iqbal Hussain
Kamil Mumtaz

 Heritage cities:
 Taxila Dharmrajika
 Bhera - Part I
Bhera - Part II


Cotton - the fibre of

Cotton textiles of
 South Asia

 Handlooms & Dyes

 Hiran Minar


 Lahore Gymkhana

 B2B - Part I

B2B - Part II

Optical Networks I
Optical Networks II

Role of Internet in
 S Asian development

Technology and
 investment in US
 stock markets

Security & Trust in
 Internet banking

 Telecom & software
 - trends & future in
 South Asia

China & India - major
 players by 2025

Pakistan - IT Markets
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV









   about us              back-issues           contact us         search             data bank


  craft shop

print gallery


The Glory that was Hiran Minar


Salman Minhas 



Hiran Minar, Sheikhupura (40 km from Lahore)

 "…..Jahangirpura [now called Sheikhupura from a nickname of the emperor Jahangir] lies about 40 km. northwest of the city of Lahore in Pakistan. Its foundation was laid during the Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s reign 1605-1627. Sheikhupura was the Royal Hunting Ground. The current Tall Minar was built by Jahangir for his favourite antelope "Mansraaj" under Sikander Moin [1015-1607], as written in Tuzk-e-Jahangiri".

The gravestone as per Jahangir’s instruction was built in the shape of an antelope and the epitaph written by Mullah Mohammed Hussain Kashmiri.

……‘ In this beautiful & healthful place, God-thirsty Nuruddin Jahangir captured a deer; in one month the deer left his jungle habits and soon became the king of the Royal Deer .’
Long & Broad [ 890ft x 750ft wide ] – in between a Baradari
[ an Octagonal Pavilion with beautiful painted frescoes ] in 1620 was constructed 13 years after the Minar was built by the architect IRadat Khan . Later as per Shah Jehan’s instructions in 1638 , major changes were made to these structures . The cost of these buildings was Rs. 80,000 in those days ….." ]

The octagonal pavilion

The structures at Hiran Minar evoke a mixture of complete serenity, of man-made and nature‘s grand design blending into a perfect harmony. The almost square water –reservoir/ pond is built from the traditional Mughal thin brick-lined ramps/slopes acting as watering paths for the Royal Deer and other animals in the surrounding Royal Hunting forests [there are still a few scattered remnants of these forests left by man’s insatiable greed ] consisting of scrubs, Shisham and Keekar trees. Monsoon rain water is collected into this water reservoir. The Mughals had perfected the art/science of collecting rain water about 500 years ago and specialized in creating gardens that reflected this mastery. Modern man has recently woken up to this cost-effective technique of preserving water after a series of costly/ disastrous ecological & financial blunders in making mega dams all over the world [ In South Asia – Tehri in UP, Narmada in South India, Tarbela, Mangla in Pakistan – trying to control nature’s most primal energy forces – rivers as they flow towards other rivers and finally to the oceans & seas.

Dust covers the winter sun in its orange glow. A few burnt -sienna coloured egrets stand a patient-detached lonely vigil on the sides of the pond. They are looking for a small morsel of fish in the Hiran Minar’s water pond. Pigeons wheel around in circles before roosting in the Hiran Minar’s [100 foot high Deer-Tower] little pigeon holes where "Mansraaj" the Royal antelope lies buried for the last 400 years. The tower cannot be climbed up. The staircase has been locked by iron gates installed by the local Pakistan Tourism Development Center [PTDC] offices.

 PTDC has placed gaudy coloured fiber glass pedal boats that are rented by avid local tourists to create funds for the PTDC – this is a shining example of the damage that tourism development can wreak.- also local energy-laden youth are allowed to play cricket in the middle of the Barah-dari, the walls of which are destroyed by the etchings of names of local Romeos- Juliets or Heer-Ranjhas, whilst potato chips packages and aluminium foil & plastic bags lie scattered all around the parks, where more youth play cricket with loud whooping noises  .

Floral frescoes inside the pavilion

After 400 years of benign neglect, the Barah-dari-Octagonal Pavilion has still a few remnants left of beautiful floral frescoes on the ceilings. These floral frescoes typify the Mughal’s intense refined and sophisticated sense of aesthetics and an eye for detail in nature’s flower patterns.

Hydraulic Lime–Kankar Mortar Technology of Mughals in South Asia

The Barah-dari- Octagonal Pavilion stands in the middle of the water reservoir, thus making this structure water–proof for about 400 years up till now. It is a testimony to the immense life span of still standing Muslim [Isfahaan-Iran] & Mughal buildings in the subcontinent . All of these buildings were built with Lime Mortar and Plaster. At Hiran Minar the technology of Lime Mortar has proven that it is the best water-proof material beating even the cement structures of modern dams, none of which in any case approach a life of 400 years.

[ For an excellent account of the process of making Lime-Kankar mortar – see the following source with pictures --[ ].

Around the 4th century BC, the Romans discovered the principles of the hydraulic set of lime, which by the addition of highly reactive forms of silica and alumina, such as volcanic earths [ pozzolan], could solidify rapidly even under water. There was little use of hydraulic mortar after the Roman period. However Lime-Mortar was a basic building technology [ along with the use of pure Geometry to take care of loads-stresses] , during the various Islamic Empire dynasties. Starting in 700 AD with the Ummayad-Nasrid- Alhambra in Spain, the Iranian Safavid period that built the spectacular citiy buildings & gardens of Isfahan [ Hasht-Behesht] and the Central Asian cities of Bokahara , Samarkand, Tashkent and lasting well into the Mughals 18th century and the 19th century Ottoman Empire buildings of Turkey [ using their own version of Mortar called Horasan [ with horse hair as binder-strenghthener].

Under the Mughals in South Asia [ India-Pakistan], Lime Mortar and Plaster became the primary technology used in building ordinary Havelis [villas], forts, tombs, bridges and of course the majestic & eternal Taj Mahal .

[see] "………Locally available granite, sand and lime were used in the construction of Qutb Shahi monuments including Charminar- Hyderabad. Lime used for the plaster seems to have been specifically ground and treated to give durable stucco. Generally shell, lime, jaggery – "Gur", white of egg, etc are known to enhance the binding property of lime. The Sio2 /CaO ratio in Charminar’s mortar and plaster (1.61-2.25) indicates that the engineers at that time were probably aware of the necessity of having a higher Sio2 content but were not sure of the optimum value (presently the common practice is to have 3.0) at which the maximum strength of lime cement could be obtained…..


Sometimes in the building of bridges use was made of lentils /daals such as Urad daal which is a sticky daal - this acted as a binder –strengthening material. Other binders used were horse hair, jute cloth, and straw.

Near Lahore, there is a bridge [called the Shah Daula Bridge] near Sadoke on the Dek Nalaa [a small monsoon stream – now almost dry] on the right, going north between Muridke & Kamoke, which lie on the present GT Road. This bridge built by the Mughals, using indigenous technology, on the route of the old Grand Trunk road, still stands today - having withstood the ravages of around 200 to 300 years of monsoons & floods .





Copyright © 2000 - 2006 []. Intellectual Property. All rights reserved.