Right next to the shrine of Sufi Saint Hazrat Mian Mir the tomb of Nadra Bano is located but sadly the building is in shambles. It is high time that we highlight such places so that they are safe and protected for future generations. The tomb structure is unusual for a Mughal-era building. Mughals usually built tombs in a garden with a dome on the structure but interestingly Nadra Begum’s tomb is built amidst a water tank and instead of a dome the structure bears the flat parapet on all four sides. These distinguished architectural features make it look like a pavilion rather than a tomb. The tomb stands on a raised platform in the centre of a water tank, which is large enough to accommodate a lake. Now let me tell you a sad story about this monument. It is said that during the Sikh period the tomb was ruthlessly robbed and plundered like similar monuments, and all embellishments were pulled off. The costly marbles and semi-precious stones were stolen and the tomb was left in a dilapidated state. Then the British Raj came to the Sub Continent, adding to the misery of the Mughal era monuments. The tank was dismantled by Muhammad Sultan, who was a famous contractor during the British era. His haveli still stands inside the Walled City of Lahore today. It is said that Sultan used those bricks for building the Lahore Cantonment. Sultan is the same person who pulled down the fortified wall and gates of the walled city and used those bricks in constructing the Railway Station and other British buildings.According to Muhammad Latif, a known historian who has documented Lahore’s history, the corners of the tank were marked with pavilions, while the lofty gateways provided access to the tomb from the north and south through a masonry bridgeAccording to Muhammad Latif, a known historian who has documented Lahore’s history, the corners of the tank were marked with pavilions, while the lofty gateways provided access to the tomb from the north and south through a masonry bridge. At present the gateways no longer exists but most of the causeways can still be seen. The encroachments have covered the tomb’s area and with the passage of time the structure lost its grandeur and gaudiness. The old bridge still stands on solid thirty arches. It greatly resembles the tank and Baradari of Hiran Minar in Sheikhupura. A plinth ten-feet high from the surface of the tank, comprises the foundation. The square planned tomb on each side measures forty-four feet. This is a two storied structure and has a height of almost thirty two feet from the grave platform. The pavilion is constructed of burnt bricks and contains deep cusped arched openings. The central openings are arched, while those on the sides are flat. There are four arched openings on the ground floor in the interior around the grave, and above them arches of the same type are built in the upper storey. An interesting feature of the openings is that all the eight corners of the lower and upper levels were executed skillfully by forming a small pavilion in each of the corners. All the four facades of the pavilion are decorated with blind cusped arches and panels. They contain projection over which rises the high parapet wall. All these features of the building are intact but in a derelict condition. The stairs for reaching the upper-storey and roof are located at the southeast and northeast corners. The whole structure of the pavilion is lime plastered but now the cracks show that it’s aging. The grave of Nadra Begum is in the centre of the pavilion. There were small arched holes on the northern end of the grave on a raised portion for lighting up the area with oil lamps. On the northern face of the grave Quranic verses are laid in marble slab in pietra dura in nastaliq characters, while on the southern end, Nadra Begum’s name and her date of demise is inscribed on the marble slab in the same design. At present the building is in poor condition and unfortunately there is no check on its use by the general public.Nadra Bano was the beloved wife of Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh, who was the brother of Aurangzeb Alamgir and the eldest son of Shah Jahan. He served as governor of Lahore during the 1640s. It is said that in 1659, Dara Shikoh was fighting his brother Aurangzeb for the throne. Dara was defeated in the Battle of Deorai (near Ajmer). That was the time when he and his wife Nadra tried to escape to Iran through the Bolan Pass. On their way to Iran, Nadra Begum died unexpectedly because of dysentery and exhaustion. Dara sent the dead body to Lahore with his troops. There he ordered that his beloved wife was to be buried near the shrine of Sufi Saint Hazrat Mian Mir, whom they both considered their spiritual guide. Dara Shikoh attributed most of his poetry and paintings to his wife. Dara loved Lahore and said that his body maybe buried anywhere but his heart was to be buried in Lahore. Nadra’s dream of a peaceful life was shattered as she remained besieged and under attack during her lifetime. Unfortunately her tomb met with the same fate. There is wild plantation all around and no one to look after the building. The shouting people and cricket balls are disturbing her and the stagnant water is a mess. There is ugly graffiti scrawled on the walls, ceilings and pillars of the tomb. Sadly, such wall chalkings are not exclusive to this monument, but are commonplace on other historical sites, including the Lahore Fort. In my opinion, defiling such heritage sites is a crime and heavy fines should be imposed on anyone who indulges in these practices. I also hope the government takes serious steps to ensure that this shameful practice ceases. Published in Daily Times, September 10th 2018.