Shahi Hammam

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Shahi Hammam
شاہی حمام
The central chamber of the Shahi Hammam
General information
LocationLahore, Punjab Pakistan Pakistan
AddressDelhi Gate
Coordinates31°34′56″N 74°19′34″E / 31.582096°N 74.325974°E / 31.582096; 74.325974
Opened1635 (1635)
ManagementWalled City of Lahore Authority
Other information
FacilitiesFormerly steam bath, hot room, cold room
Frescoes under the main dome have been preserved and restored.

The Shahi Hammam (Urdu and Punjabi: شاہی حمام; "Royal Baths"), also known as the Wazir Khan Hammam, is a Turkish bath which was built in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1635 C.E. during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan. It was built by chief physician to the Mughal Court, Ilam-ud-din Ansari, who was widely known as Wazir Khan.[1][2][3] The baths were built to serve as a waqf, or endowment, for the maintenance of the Wazir Khan Mosque.[4]

No longer used as a hammam, the baths were restored between 2013 and 2015 by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Walled City of Lahore Authority, with much of the funding provided by the government of Norway. The restoration project was given an Award of Merit by UNESCO in 2016 for the hammam's successful conservation which returned it to its "former prominence."[5]


The Shahi Hammam is located just within the Walled City of Lahore, steps away from the Delhi Gate. The Shahi Hammam is the last remaining Mughal-era hammam in Lahore.[6]


During the Mughal era, Persian-style hammams were introduced although they never achieved the same levels of popularity in the Mughal Empire as they did in Persia.[7]


The Shahi Hammam was built in 1635 by Ilam-ud-din Ansari, Governor of Lahore, as part of an endowment which included the Wazir Khan Mosque. The baths fell into disuse by the 18th century during the decline and fall of the Mughal Empire. From the early British period onwards the building was used for different purposes - as a primary school, dispensary, and recreational centre as well as an office for the local municipality. Additionally, shops were built into the building’s northern, western and southern façades.[8]

Excavations as part of restoration works completed in 2015 revealed that substantial parts of the building had previously been demolished, likely to make way for the reconstruction of Delhi Gate building in the 1860s.[9]


Some walls were adorned with Mughal-era frescoes which still remain intact.

The hammam consisted of three parts: the jama khana (dressing area), nim garm (warm baths), and garm (hot baths).[10] The baths were gender segregated, and contained a reception chamber as well as a small prayer room.[11]


In keeping with Persian tradition, the baths were illuminated by sunlight which filtered through several openings in the bath's ceiling which also aided ventilation. Most of the hammam's interior was preserved intact, and several Mughal era frescoes have been preserved. As the façade had few windows, merchant shops were permitted to operate along the hammam's outer walls.[12]


The hammam was recently renovated.

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), with funding from the government of Norway, began restoration works at the baths to conserve the space, restore the original layout of the building, and to uncover and preserve Mughal-era frescoes which decorated the building's walls.[13] Works were completed in 2015, and are the improvements are said to have changed the surroundings "dramatically."[14]

In 2016, UNESCO awarded the Shahi Hamam restoration project an Award of Merit for its "high degree of technical proficiency" and "for returning the ornate Shahi Hammam to its former prominence."[15]

Excavations have unearthed a water heating structure, drainage systems, and under-floor remains of its hypocausts.[16]



  1. ^ Asher, p.225
  2. ^ Shelomo Dov Goitein. Studies in Islamic History and Institutions BRILL, 2010 ISBN 9004179313 p 170
  3. ^ "Masjid Vazir K̲h̲ān". Archnet. Retrieved 25 August 2016. The mosque was founded by Hakim Ilmud Din Ansari, a distinguished physician from Chiniot who received the Ministerial title of 'Wazir Khan' under the reign of Shah Jahan, and was later promoted to the position of Viceroy of Punjab.
  4. ^ "History and Background in Conservation of the Wazir Khan Mosque Lahore: Preliminary Report on Condition and Risk Assessment". Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme. Aga Khan Cultural Services - Pakistan. 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2016. The spectacular monumental ensemble of the Wazir Khan Mosque in the Walled City of Lahore was built in 1634 during the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Its endowment then comprised the congregational mosque, an elaborate forecourt, a serai, a hammam, a bazaar, and a special bazaar for calligraphers and bookbinders.
  5. ^ "Lahore's Mughal-era Shahi Hammam wins UNESCO award". Express Tribune. 4 September 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  6. ^ "Shahi Hammam Bathhouse". Asian Historical Architecture. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Shahi Hammam Bathhouse". Asian Historical Architecture. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Ilmuddin Wazir-built Shahi Hammam restored in Lahore". Business Recorder. 19 June 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Wazir Khan Hammam Conservation". Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  10. ^ Chaudhry, Nazir Ahmad (1 January 1999). Lahore Fort: A Witness to History. Sang-e-Meel Publications.
  11. ^ "Shahi Hammam Bathhouse". Asian Historical Architecture. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Shahi Hammam Bathhouse". Asian Historical Architecture. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  13. ^ Muzaffar, Zareen (8 February 2016). "The Walled City of Lahore: Protecting Heritage and History". The Diplomat. Retrieved 25 August 2016. The Walled City of Lahore program was put into effect in partnership with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. AKTC supports the Walled City Authority in all technical matters in terms of restoration and conservation work being carried out. Other donors include the World Bank, Royal Norwegian Government, USAID, and the German Embassy.
  14. ^ Peter, Ellis (13 November 2015). Leveraging Urbanization in South Asia: Managing Spatial Transformation for Prosperity and Livability. World Bank Publications. ISBN 9781464806636.
  15. ^ "Lahore's Mughal-era Shahi Hammam wins UNESCO award". Express Tribune. 4 September 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  16. ^ "Wazir Khan Hammam Conservation". Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Retrieved 27 August 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Khan, Ahmad Nabi. Islamic Architecture of Pakistan: An Analytical Exposition. Islamabad: National Hijra Council, 1990.
  • Koch, Ebba. Mughal Architecture New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Michell, George (editor). Architecture of the Islamic World: Its history and Social Meaning London: Thames and Hudson, 1978.
  • Muhammad Wali Ulla Khan. Lahore and its Important Monuments Karachi: Anjuman Press, 1973.
  • Mumtaz, Kamil Khan. Architecture in Pakistan. Singapore: Concept Media Pte Ltd, 1985.
  • Rajput, A. B. Architecture in Pakistan Karachi: Pakistan Publications, 1963.