The Shahi Hammam was built in 1045 AH (1635 CE) by Hakim Ilmuddin Wazir Khan, Governor of Lahore, as part of an endowment which included the Wazir Khan Mosque. Historically, the Hammam fell into disuse probably in the 18th century during the decline and fall of the Mughal Empire and the chaos that followed. From the early British period onwards the Hammam building has been used for many different purposes other than its intended one - as a primary school, dispensary, and recreational centre as well as an office for the local municipality. Additional shops were allowed along the length of the building’s northern, western and southern façades.
The Wazir Khan Hammam, or Shahi Hammam, which is located just inside the Delhi Gate in the Walled City of Lahore and was built as public bath house by Wazir Khan during the reign of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan has been restored by the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, through generous financial assistance from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pakistan as part of the on-going project titled “Cultural Development and Environment Management.” A Memorandum of Understanding for project assistance was signed in July 2013 and the work at site started soon thereafter.
Prior to the start of present conservation work, the Hammam was in the care of Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab, and was being used as a tourist information center. Part of the building had remained occupied by tenants as shops, which only got vacated in April 2013. A prior conservation effort done in 1991 had resulted in partial conservation of the monument and exposed previously plastered over wall paintings, but had also “stopped short of fully realizing the original configuration of the bath house, its water works and its floor finishes.” The base of the building remained covered up with marble flooring.
The objective of the present conservation project was to fully explore the nature of the original building and its basic functional qualities as a bath house and to reveal and display those to the visitors in an interesting and historically correct manner. To attain this basic objective, extensive archaeological investigations and analytic studies were undertaken.
After making preparatory arrangements for securing the project site for carrying out proposed interventions, the architectural and photographic documentation to record the as-found condition of the building and its surroundings were initiated which are close to its completion. Archaeological investigations have been carried out inside the building as well as on its east and south sides on the exterior.
These excavations have revealed that substantial parts of the Hammam building were demolished in the past, probably to make way for the construction of Delhi Gate building, which was carried out at some time during the 1860s. These excavations have revealed the water heating arrangements, water disposal system and under-floor remains of its hypocaust constructions. Analyses of Hammam’s water supply arrangements, functional layout including usage of its various spaces and rooms, and other aspects of a functioning bath are in the final stages of completion. Comparative studies with respect to other Mughal period Hammams in the region and literary and archival studies have been completed to better understand the functioning of this long defunct building.
Integrated Planning and Monument Conservation (2013-17). In Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 150-209. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
Khan, Masood. “The ‘Master Conservation and Redevelopment Plan for the Walled City of Lahore’.” Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 153-176. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
In 2017, the ‘Walled City of Lahore: Master Conservation and Redevelopment Plan’ (MCRP) was prepared in response to the mandate of the WCLA as a joint in-house initiative of AKTC and the WCLA proposing an array of strategic goals and corresponding policies to preserve the Walled City’s distinct character and identity and to mitigate external pressures and the threats of negative developments. This plan also includes the development, improvement and maintenance of municipal services and infrastructure.
Rabi, Maryam. “Conservation of the Shahi Hammam.” Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 177-190. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
The Shahi Hammam is a seventeenth-century Mughal-period public bathhouse located just inside the Delhi Gate of the historic Walled City of Lahore. The project to conserve the Shahi Hammam was initiated in 2013. One of the few surviving Mughal-period public bathing establishments, the monument was in an extreme state of disrepair caused over time by neglect and mismanagement. Following documentation and analysis, AKTC rehabilitated the building in anew function as a museum site. WCLA is now responsible for its daily operations and maintenance.
Khan, Masood. “Conservation of the Wazir Khan Mosque and Chowk.” Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 191-209. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
Built in 1634, the congregational mosque of Wazir Khan is one of several monuments that were located along the route that the Mughal nobility traversed as they entered the city and made their way to the royal residence in Lahore Fort. In 2009 AKTC carried out a comprehensive documentation and condition and risk assessment of the mosque. It showed that the building was in bad condition reflecting decades of indifferent management, lack of technical and financial resources, the resulting inadequate conservation and upkeep. Work on the rehabilitation of the seventeenth-century urban square began in October 2015. The original Mughal-period floor was exposed after careful unearthing and restored together with the steps leading up to the entrance. In 2017, the government of Punjab approved a five-year project, consists of the rehabilitation the neighbourhood context, and the conservation of the monument itself. The North Façade conservation was its initial project.