Sheikhupura, on the outskirts of Lahore, derived its name from a nickname for Prince Jahangir. It was one of Jahangir’s princely dominions during his father Akbar’s reign. Just north of Sheikhupura town lies a hunting complex known as the Hiran Minar.
Hunting grounds were an important part of the physical environment of Mughal emperors, and the Hiran Minar is one of the best known and most beautiful of such sites. Its structures consist of a large, almost-square water tank with an octagonal pavilion in its center, built during the reign of Shah Jahan; a causeway with its own gateway connects the pavilion with the mainland and a 100-foot-high minar, or minaret. At the center of each side of the tank, a brick ramp slopes down to the water, providing access for royal animals and wild game. The minar itself was built by Emperor Jahangir in 1606 to honor the memory of a pet hunting antelope named Mansraj.
Hiran Minar Complex
Hiran Minar Complex
Tank complexes such as the Hiran Minar may contain some garden elements, such as the central pavilion and minar here. Unique features of this particular complex are the antelope’s grave and the distinctive water collection system. At each corner of the tank (approximately 750 by 895 feet in size), is a small, square building and a subsurface water collection system which supplied the tank; only one of these water systems is extensively exposed today.
View from the Top of
the Hiran Minar Complex
View from the Top of the Hiran Minar Complex
Another special feature of Hiran Minar is its location and environment: the top of the minar is perhaps the best place in the province of Punjab to get a feel for the broader landscape and its relationship to a Mughal site. Looking north from the top of the minar, one can see a patch of forest which is similar to the scrub forest vegetation of Mughal times, while to the west are extensively-irrigated fields, a product of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but similar in size and appearance to the well-irrigated fields of the Mughal period.