The Roads
Beyond Lahore

Other Regional Routes

The Grand Trunk Road from Lahore to Peshawar
The Ancient Southern Road from Lahore to Multan
Kos Minar Distance-Marker

The Grand Trunk Road from Lahore to Peshawar

Many of the small towns along the old route of the Grand Trunk Road that ran from Kabul in Afghanistan to Dhaka in what is now Bangladesh had historic gardens dating to the Mughal period. These gardens contributed to a linear landscape of caravanserais, shops, and baths for travelers, along with fortress, palace, and tomb-gardens for the prominent citizens and saints in towns along the way.

Eminabad Garden

The town of Eminabad, for example, lies along the old Grand Trunk Road, about 12 kos (30 miles) northwest of Lahore. The original route displays remnants of Mughal bridges and tall distance-markers known as kos minars. The town of Eminabad has a remarkably extant fabric of mohallas, tanks, tombs, and gardens that typified pre-colonial Punjab. Garden design continued to prosper through the Sikh period, and fragments of its historic gardens and waterworks survive.
Eminabad Garden Complex

Gujrat Town and District

Traveling further west, we reach Gujrat, which lies on the right bank of the Chenab River and marks the intersection between the Grand Trunk Road and a major road north to Kashmir and its gardens. Legend has it that two lovers, Sohni and Mahiwal, met each other across the river here until they were tragically drowned. In addition to the square fort, walled town, baths, and tombs of Gujrat town, outlying baradaris at Hafiz Hayat and tombs such as Helan had extensive garden complexes. An Akbari period garden has been recently identified just across the Jhelum River near Nandana (Rehman and Wescoat, 1993).
Baradari of Hafiz Hayat

The road continues past Rohtas Fort built by Sher Shah Suri in the mid-16th century, through the deeply eroded Potwar Plateau, until one passes by the encampment and tomb-complex of Sultan Sarang at Riwat. Although not a Mughal site or garden, as such, this enclosure incorporates garden elements in its layout.

Fortified Palace at Riwat

Wah Garden

Just beyond modern Islamabad and not far from the Buddhist city of Taxila, lies the extraordinary Mughal garden known as “Wah!”  

Wah Garden

See Wah Garden Web Page
Attock Fort on the Indus River


The Grand Trunk Road meets the Indus River at the historic crossing of Attock. Here Akbar built a large fort on the left bank of the river with a water gate on the floodplain below and a ferry that had to contend with dangerous whirlpools. A hammam (public bath) had a tunnel to the fort gate, and a caravanserai (traveler’s rest stop) north of the fort has a garden-like layout.

Caravanserai at Attock Fort
Vallai Terrace Garden


A surprisingly secreted site exists near the village of Vallai, outside of the city of Nowshera in the Northwest Frontier Province. Also known as Rang Mahal (“Painted Palace”) for its decorated central structure, this complex had a spring-fed tank that channeled water through a formal garden. Built in the late seventeenth century, this garden has many of the spatial elements found at Wah Garden.

Vallai Garden Pavilion
Sayyid ka Bagh Complex in Peshawar

The city of Peshawar has ancient origins on account of its location in an irrigated valley favorable to both commerce and cultivation. It has some ten famous gardens dating from the Mughal period to the early nineteenth century, all of which have little-known histories and mixtures of Mughal and other sources. Only the four below survive to any substantial degree today.
Central Tomb of Sayyid ka Bagh
Sayyid ka Bagh, the “Garden of the Sayyid,” lies west of the old city of Peshawar. It has a beautiful structure but uncertain history. Attributed to Nawab Sayyid Khan, a Mughal governor of Kabul several times during Shah Jahan’s reign who died there in 1651, it has a lovely masonry tomb set on a brick-paved plinth, surmounted by the only extant double dome in Peshawar. It is surrounded by a garden whose boundaries and layout extended to include the Dabgari gardens but are now lost. Indeed, even the identity of this Mughal tomb-garden is obscured by its conversion to a colonial residence, then a Christian mission church, and now a hospital. Even so, it stands as the most “Mughal” of the surviving gardens in Peshawar.
Heavily Renovated Shahi Bagh
Shahi or Shalamar Bagh. The garden known today as Shahi Bagh, or King’s Garden, formerly extended into what is now the Jinnah Bagh on the northern outskirts of Peshawar. Interestingly, it was earlier called Shalamar garden and attributed to the Mughal governor Ali Mardan Khan, as were gardens later given that name in Lahore, Delhi, and Srinagar. The British officer Elphinstone described its elaborate terraces, fountains, and plantings in the early nineteenth century. Traces of its rectangular, symmetrical layout survive, but it has suffered from destruction and heavy-handed restorations over the past two centuries.
  Another Garden of Ali Mardan Khan. Perhaps his Persian origin accounts for the many stories of Ali Mardan Khan’s celebrated role in garden and canal-building during Shah Jahan’s reign. However, he spent considerable time in Qandahar before defecting to the Mughals, and later as governor of Kabul. His garden in the far western suburbs of Peshawar had a three-story building but went through many transformations to become a “company bagh,” due to its proximity to the British cantonment.
Wazir Bagh

Wazir Bagh. The last famous surviving historic garden of Peshawar is known as the Wazir or royal advisor’s garden. Begun in 1802 by Fateh Khan, it postdates the Mughal period by several decades, but it emulated many of their qualities of axial waterways and layout characteristic of late-Mughal gardens. It, too, has been frequently and heavily restored.

(Lahore to Peshawar)

Dani, A.H. 1969. Peshawar, historic city of the frontier. Peshawar: Khyber Mail Press.

Moorcroft, W.,G. Trebeck, H. H. Wilson, and others. 1841-2000. Travels in India: Himalayan provinces of Hindustan and the Punjab, in Ladakh and Kashmir, in Peshawar, Kabul, Kunduz and Bokhara: From 1819 to 1825. New Delhi: Low Price Publications.

Rehman, A. 1996. The gardens of Peshawar. In The Mughal garden: Interpretation, conservation and implications. Ed. M. Hussain, A. Rehman, and J.L. Wescoat, Jr. Lahore: Ferozsons, pp. 89-92.

Rehman, Abdul. 2002. Historic towns of Punjab. Lahore: Ferozsons.

Rehman, Abdul and J.L. Wescoat, Jr. 1993. Pivot of the Punjab: The historical geography of medieval Gujrat. Lahore: Dost.

Shakirullah. Rang Mahal at Valai. Journal of Central Asia 18, no. 1 (July 1995): pp. 127-133.

Wazir Bagh

The Ancient Southern Road from Lahore to Multan

Ravi River Floodplain at Shahdara
While the Grand Trunk Road was, and is, a great artery of commerce across northern Pakistan and India, the road from Lahore south to Multan takes one back through pre-Mughal eras and centers of history. The Web page on Lahore and Its Garden Suburbs has already introduced the gardens of Anarkali, the Chauburji, and Zebunnisa on the south side of Lahore. Here we continue south toward the medieval Sultanate capital of Multan.
The road along the River Ravi from Lahore to Multan passes through cultivated floodplains subject to periodic catastrophic inundations that change the course of the river and fate of river-front landscapes.
Poet Waris Shah’s Tomb
The rivers of Punjab have built up layers of settlement, folklore, and sacred sites. At Jandiala Sher Khan lies the tomb-garden of the poet-saint Waris Shah, who made the tragic love story of Hir and Ranjha famous throughout Punjab. Although the garden is modern, an old stepwell and water system survive.
Stepwell at Waris Shah’s Tomb
Site of Satghara near Okara
Further south, some of the surviving medieval sites such as Satgahra lie on top of vast proto-historic mounds of Harrappan civilization, which flourished four millennia ago.
Shrine of Baba Farid at Pakpattan
Layers of a different sort occur at the towns of Pakpattan and Dipalpur. Pakpattan (“the ferry of the pure”) contains the shrine of the thirteenth-century Sufi saint Baba Farid Ganj-i Shakar. While it does not have a planted garden, its “paradise gate” opens once a year for the faithful, who hope that passing through it will wash away their sins and lead to paradise. Although purposely chosen for its distance from thoroughfares, it has been a pilgrimage center from Mughal times to the present.
Tomb Complex of Shaikh Rukn-i Alam

The city of Multan was renowned in earlier times for its “heat, dust, and graveyards.” But according to some observers it also had beautiful gardens. The traveler described Bagh-i Begi during his stay as “…cool, well-shaded with orange trees and laid out in the usual manner with reservoirs and fountains. The walks, intersecting each other at right angles, were raised above the parterres and flowerbeds, that they might be dry when the latter are covered with water. There are numerous gardens in the environs of Multan, often formed around the shrine of some Mussulman faqir” (Khan, 1983, 331).
Tomb of Shaikh Rukn-i Alam
Those “faqirs” included some of the most famous Surhawardi Sufis of the medieval period, such as Baha al-Din Zakariya and Shah Rukn-i Alam. Their tombs, decorated with bands of blue glazed tile, are located within the fortified citadel, which overlooked green spaces below.
Tomb of Shams Sabzwari
The tomb of the Ismaili saint Shams Sabzwari lies outside the citadel not far from agricultural fields and gardens even today. Legend has it that when Shams Sabzwari arrived in Multan, Shaikh Baha al-Din Zakaria sent him a cup filled to the brim with milk, to indicate that Multan did not need him, but Shams Sabzwari returned it with a rose floating on its surface. Another legend ascribes Multan’s ferocious heat to a miracle of Shams Sabzwari.
Qasim Bagh Public Garden in Multan
The surviving suburban gardens of Multan, such as the Qasim Bagh and Bagh-i Langah Khan, have been heavily restored as public parks. While they still invite speculation about medieval landscape design and have some parallels with the gardens of Lahore, their paramount importance today is bringing much-needed shade and recreation.

References (Lahore to Multan)

Khan, A.N. 1980. Uchchh: History and architecture. Islamabad: National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research.

Khan, A. N. 1983. Multan: History and architecture. Islamabad: Islamic University.

Khan, Muhammad Wali Ullah. 1985. Mausoleum of Shaikh Rukn-e Alam, Multan. Lahore: Department of Auqaf.

Rasool, Niaz, ed. Archaeological sites and monuments in Punjab. Pakistan Archaeology (special issue), no. 29, (1994-96). Karachi: Pakistan Department of Archaeology.

Rehman, A. 1997. Historic towns of Punjab: Ancient and medieval period. Lahore: Ferozsons, pp. 217-36.