The world’s largest picture wall is right here in Lahore Fort and the good news is that after being conserved, it will be opened for tourists by end of March this year. I am sure that this will be great news for heritage lovers and tourists as it was one of the neglected sites of Lahore Fort and thus remained away from the tourists and they took it like any other wall of the fort.Let me tell you a little about the picture wall. It’s 1,450 feet stretch of the northwestern original fortification wall of Lahore Fort. Built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar almost 400 years ago, it was later enlarged by Jahangir and then Shah Jahan completed it in 1631-32 AD. This wall represents the artistic impressions and characteristics of three Mughal emperors. Together with the Shah Burj Gate, this wall forms the original entrance to the Lahore Fort and actually can be called as a curtain wall. This majestic wall is festooned with tile mosaics, brick imitation work, frescos and cut and dressed brick work. This gigantic glazed tiled wall of Lahore Fort is the representative of the Mughal era architecture, insignia and colours. It is said to be exceptional because of its dimensions, fabrication and colours.Historians claim that this style of art and decorative features came to this region from Iran. It’s said that in Muslim monuments such features of glazed tiles with ornamentation were brought in from Samarkand and also the Chinese influence came and all this can be seen through the colours and patterns in the picture wall. Appealing and attention-grabbing feature of this wall is that there are not only the geometrical patterns made on it but other designs like floral patterns, human figures, scenes of sports and amusements explicitly depict the life at that time. This wall also tells us that the Mughals were a remarkable lover of arts and during their reign the art of painting flourished and touched its peak.The decorative panels on the wall are reminiscent of the determination of line artistically and perfection of drawing and colour which is only achievable by experience and education but at the same time, the passion of the artisans who built it cannot be overlooked. The magnitude of the picture wall tells us that there were separate artisans, in huge numbers, who were engaged for various decorations of geometrical borders, designing layouts and execution of figurative works. Researches and studies show that the scenes of fairies, dragons, camels and horses appear to be the first attempt of the artists. This wall surely is an amalgamation of the masterminded workmen and brilliant artisans who put together the diverse styles of decorative features which included ornamental art and mural making.Now come to the scenes depicted on this wall. Well, many of the pictures portray the courts scenes of the kings, sports which they liked and favourite hobbies or pastimes. If we observe this wall we will get to know through the imagery that the favourite pastimes could be the elephant fights, horse and camel dance. The dark blue elephants are most visible on the wall and the action of these heavy animals is expressed with dynamism. The elephant speeding up after the horseman is also an exciting scene depicted on the wall. Several panels of the picture wall show similar scenes and thus it can be said that it was the favourite activity of the Mughals. Elephants also show two men ‘Muhavat’ sitting on them during the fight scenes while the other human figures that are moderating the fights, or wrestlers are also seen. The pictures show horses as tamed and not meant much for fighting like the elephants and men playing polo on horses can also been seen. The Royal caravan camels are also seen on the wall and the fighting bulls will also grab your attention. There is one very interesting picture on the wall which is the goat and the monkey. This majestic wall is festooned with tile mosaics, brick imitation work, frescos and cut and dressed brick work. This gigantic glazed tiled wall of Lahore Fort is the representative of the Mughal era architecture, insignia and colours. It is said to be exceptionalThese unique elements became the principal reason for the Lahore Fort being declared a United Nations Educational Scientific & Cultural Organisation World Heritage Site in 1981.The arches are also seen on one side of the wall which were once opened but are closed now and historians claim that those were closed during the British rule whereas another version of historians is that Ranjit Singh got them closed as he was using that place on the other side of the wall as his residence. Here you will see the angels in the pictures which are stunning and have wings with floating garments. These could also be the imaginary humans having wings. You will also see the figures carrying candles and flowers.The Sikhs have left their signs in the form of bullet marks on the wall and if you are taking the guided tour of the fort, the guide can show you those parts. The fort was bombarded twice, first in January 1841 on the accession of Sher Singh who had besieged Gulab Singh and his Dogras for five days and in September 1843 on the succession of Dulip Singh.It’s said that on the first siege Sher Singh placed almost 40 mochi (marksmen) on the minarets of Badshahi Mosque which was being used by the Sikhs as a powder magazine. It’s said that the each marksman was paid Rs 10 to Rs 20 and their position enabled them to damage the garrison inside the Fort. These marks continue on the western wall of Shah Burj gate.Realising the dilapidated state of the picture wall, which was a result of neglect and aging, the Walled City of Lahore Authority in partnership with Aga Khan Culture Services Pakistan started the documentation of the wall in 2015 after which in 2016 a proto type was carried over a 45 feet high and 30 feet wide panel on the western segment of the Picture Wall.Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Walled City of Lahore Authority involving the experts from Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and Sri Lanka started this process which led to the final conservation of the wall.Finally, the conservation of the western side of the picture wall will be completed by the end of this March and this patch which has been conserved is 350 feet long in length and 50 feet high on average whereas it consists of 635 decorated recessed panels composed on three levels. All these decorative features have been creatively conserved keeping in view the International practices of conservation. I’m sure that this site, once restored, will be a unique tourist spot for tourists exploring Lahore Fort and it’ll surely open up another vista for researchers as well.The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in Daily Times, March 7th 2019.