LAHORE, April 27: The ongoing conservation of Akbari Gate at the Lahore Fort has led to revelation of three floors from the British, Sikh and Mughal periods, officials in the archeology department told Dawn on Friday.

The officials said during relaying of the deteriorated floor of Akbari Gate excavation was being done and during this process three floors were revealed. The workers had now pulled off the conservation work and archeological investigation of the floors was in progress.

The British-period floor is made of small bricks, the Sikh-era floor of burnt bricks and the Mughal-period floor is made of pebbles. Officials said pebble-made floors at the entrance (gates) of the fort had been a normal practice with the Mughals because pebbles were stronger than bricks and could sustain movement of heavy traffic.

The Mughals used to take in elephants and heavy transports on these pebble-made floors, said the officials, who believed that the floor was either of Jahangir’s era or that of Shah Jahan.

Punjab Archeology Department director Shahbaz Khan told Dawn that Akbari Gate’s conservation was part of the Rs300 million project of conservation and restoration of the Lahore Fort, initiated by Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi. He said the chief minister had given another Rs300 million for the Shalamar Gardens which was also on the World Heritage List.

He said the department was lucky enough to have such a big amount for conservation and restoration of the two monuments which had previously been neglected by the federal archeology department that failed to spend that much on their conservation.

He said he had stopped conservation work on Akbari Gate and ordered archeological investigation through excavation.

The Akbari Gate restoration would be carried out according to the design and style in vogue in Akbar’s period, he added.

The officials said as part of archeological investigation another excavation would be carried out for rainwater drainage of the fort which had blocked at different points.

The Lahore Fort is located in the northwestern corner of the city. The origin of Lahore is based on myths and is attributed to Lav, the son of Rama, Avatara of Lord Vishnu of Hinduism, and hero of the Ramayana of epic age (1200-800 BC).

However, during the excavation done in AD 1959 by the Department of Archaeology in front of Diwan-i-Aam, a gold coin of Mahmood of Ghazni dated AH 146 (AD 1025) was found at a depth of 25 feet from the level of the lawns.

Cultural layers continued to a further depth of 15 feet, giving strong indications that people had lived here, long before the conquest of Lahore by Mahmood in AD 1021.

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