During the reign of Akbar (963-10l4 A.H./1556-1605 A.D.) this important city gained much more prosperity. It was visited by the Mughul Emperor in 994 A.H./1585 A.D., on his return from Kashmir. He stayed there for a few days and visited tomb of Imam Ali Lahiq, the famous saint and general of the Tughluq period,1 and Shah Muhammad Hamza Ghaus, another renowned saint of Sialkot and awarded some villages for the maintenance of the dargah.
Akbar gave the pargana of Sialkot in the Jagir of Raja Man Singh, who took great interest in the welfare of the local people and built a magnificent mausoleum of the saint Shah Muhammad Hamza Ghaus. During his days, some families of Kashmir migrated and settled in Sialkot. These families were expert in making paper and Raja Man Singh helped them to organize the industry. It was because of this patronage that people began to name the paper as Man Singhi Kaghaz.2
Due to these developments, the city became one of the great industrial and commercial centre of the Empire and, to provide facility to the people, Akbar ordered to establish there a mint for minting the copper coins.3
Jahangir (1014-1037 A.H./1605-1627 A.D.) awarded Sialkot to Safdar Khan Khanan. He got the old Fort repaired and also built several other beautiful buildings, among which Shish Mahal and Rang Mahal are worth mentioning. The local people followed the instance and constructed several beautiful houses, mosques and gardens. Unfortunately, none of these buildings are now extant to show the grandeur of the Mughul architecture.
Jahangir also took keen interest in the advancement of paper industry and due to his patronage, the finest quality of paper was manufactured in Sialkot during his reign. It is said that once he came to Sialkot and ordered to prepare a fine quality of paper for royal use. This fine paper was named as Jahangiri kaghaz.4
Due to the efforts of these Mughul governors, Sialkot became a rich and prosperous parganah which was, during those days, called as naulakha paraganah.5
During the reign of Shahjahan (1037-1068 A.H./1628-1657 A.D.) Sialkot became famous for its military importance. There were eight city-gates where military forces were stationed. The names of these city gates were: Kashmiri Gate, Gujrati Gate, Lohari Gate, Dehli Gate and Mori Gate. These gates were in the charge of Sharwani Pathans who were custodians of the city.
Shahjahan entrusted the sarkar of Sialkot to Ali Mardan Khan, the well known engineer who dug a cannal to bring the water from the Chenab to the imperial gardens in Lahore. As the governor of Sialkot, he provided many facilities to the local people and demanded reasonable revenue from the cultivators. He also built some beautiful buildings in Siaikot.
Sialkot was the centre of intellectuals and litterateurs during this period. Maulana Abdul Hakim Sialkoti was particularly one of the greatest scholars of this age.6
Born in 1933, archaeologist and architectural historian, Dr. Ahmad Nabi Khan was educated at the University of the Punjab and the Department of Architecture of the Rome University. He received training in the field of archaeology. museology, numismatics and epigraphy, and preservation and restoration of archaeological sites and historic monuments in the Pakistan Department of Archaeology, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the International Centre for Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property in Rome (Italy).
His main interest has been Muslim Archaeology and Muslim architecture to which he has contributed numerous research papers and monographs.
|First Published:||Mar 23, 2012|