BRIEF HISTORY AND HERITAGE OF SHIEKUPURA FORT
Sheikhupra fort dates back to early Mughal era and is attributed to Emperor Jahangir. His autobiography Tuzuk-i-Jahangir, mentions that the Emperor ordered its construction during one of his hunting trips to the area, in 1607AD. The fort was used as a camp for the Emperor and his retainers, providing a secure accommodation during his hunting parties at Hiran Minar, another architectural wonder of the district.
At present, the fort measures 128 meters north to south and 115.5 meters east to west, with walls averaging 11.5 meters in height. It is situated on higher grounds and rises above the cityscape in southeastern Sheikhupura as a distinctive landmark.
It also carries extensive additions and modifications made by subsequent dwellers, including the Sikhs. This includes the magnificent havelis (mansions) that were largely the product of the latter Mughal era and the Sikh period. One famous occupant of the haveli was Maharani Datar Kaur, the wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the leader of the Sikh Empire.
After the fall of Sikh Kingdom, the Sheikhupura Fort was the site of incarceration of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s wife, Rani Jindan. During British rule from 1849 to 1851, the fort was used as an administrative headquarters of Gujranwala district. The fort also housed the police headquarters of the district for number of years. After the independence of the country in 1947, Sheikupura fort was used by the immigrants from Indian Punjab and later fell to land encroachers. In 1967, it was listed as heritage site and was brought under the administrative control of the Department of Archaeology, Pakistan.
Presently, it is at the advance stage of deterioration and the project for its conservation has been shelved. Given its historic significance and precarious situation, C2D undertook detailed digital documentation of the Sheikhupura Fort, with the help of documentation experts.