The emperor Jahangir died in camp on a return journey from Kashmir in 1627, and was buried at Shahdara, 3 miles north-West of Lahore at that time. The tomb of Jahangir stands beside a former bank of the Ravi in the midst of a large garden 1,500 feet square, enclosed by a brick wall with a monumental gateway in the middle of the West side. Brick-paved causeways divide the garden into 16 square flower-beds, with an ornamental tank and fountain at each intersection; and in its prime the “paradise” must have provided a beautiful and fragrant resting-place. It is recorded to have been originally the garden of Jahangir’s celebrated queen, Nur Jahan, and the emperor was buried there at his own request.
The tomb of Jahangir itself is also square, with sides of 325 feet, and consists of an arcaded platform with tall octagonal corner-towers and a projecting entrance-bay in the midst of each side. The external walls, including the lowest stage of the towers, are faced with Mathura sandstone, the red colour of which is dominated by a rich panel-decoration inlaid in white and black marble. The panels are partly geometrical and partly of the Persian “niche” design, with representations of vases in some of the niches. The corner-towers are of five stages of which the three intermediate stages are decorated with horizontal zigzag inlay, alternately of white and yellow marble separated by black marble lines. The topmost stages are white marble “Hindu” pavilions. The stages are separated by bracketed balconies. The general design of these towers is graceful and effective. Their prototypes in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent are best represented in Gujarat and the Deccan, where the culminating example is the famous Char Minar of Hyderabad (A.D. 1591). But there, as at Champanir and elsewhere, the pavilion of the distinctive “Hindu” type is lacking; and it is rather in the use of low octagonal corner-towers surmounted by “Hindu” pavilions at Akbar’s tomb near Agra (A.D. 1612-13) that the immediate forebear of the North Indian series is to be recognized. Octagonal corner-towers of tomb of Jahangir, relatively taller than those of Akbar’s tomb, were also attached to the charming little tomb of I‘timad-ud-Daula at Agra in 1628, contemporaneously with their still bolder inclusion in the design of Jahangir’s tomb. A few years later, in Wazir Khan’s mosque at Lahore (1634), similar towers or minarets stood detached and emphatic, and at the same time four isolated minarets were being incorporated in the design of the Taj Mahal. Later again, in 1673, four independent octagonal towers defined the courtyard of the great Badshahi mosque at Lahore. In all these, the crowning element is the Hindu pavilion, and the group may be regarded as essentially a part of the Mughal Indo-Iranian complex.
On the roof of the main platform of Jahangir’s tomb is a central podium which probably, again on a general analogy with Akbar’s tomb, carried a marble pavilion. There is evidence of a former (marble) railing round the outer edge of the podium in tomb of Jahangir, but the present marble flooring is a relatively modern patchwork which conceals the exact plan of the superstructure. Like so much else, the latter was doubtless removed by the Sikhs at the end of the eighteenth or beginning of the nineteenth century.
Within the main platform are ranges of ceiled or vaulted compartments with ornamented panels. In the central vaulted tomb-chamber is the marble gravestone, elaborately inlaid with pietra dura floral decoration and the ninety-nine attributes of God.
Although marred by the loss of its culminating feature, the tomb of Jahangir, as a whole, is a majestic structure, its severe lines counterbalancing the exuberance of the inlaid decoration upon which its interest and attraction mainly depend.
The gateway to the garden is of red sandstone, also richly inlaid with white marble and other stones, and the half-dome between the main outer arch and the passageway has honeycombed pendentives. The main angles of the structure are emphasized by pinnacles or guldastas.
Adjoining the tomb-garden on the west, and contemporary with it, is the so-called Akbar’s Serai, with a three-arched mosque of sandstone, marble and plaster in the western side and similarly decorated gateways in the northern and southern sides.