You must have heard or visited the Wazir Khan Mosque and Wazir Khan Hammam (Shahi Hammam) in the old Lahore but have you ever thought of the person who gave us these beautiful and majestic buildings? He was a Hakeem of Chiniot and later became a builder. Here I am starting a series of pieces on Wazir Khan and his memoirs in Lahore and other cities but in this piece let me take you to the story of Wazir Khan.
The real name of Wazir Khan was Hakeem Sheikh Ilm Ud Din Ansari and he was called from Chiniot by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir when he was worried with the inoperable disease of his adored wife Noor Jahan. He had tries almost all the physicians and hakeems (herbal doctors) of the area but the disease of his lovely wife was not being cured. Jahangir was advised by his ministers to give another try and to call Hakeem Sheikh Ilm-ud-din Ansari to his court for her treatment. That was the time when Ilm Ud Din was called from Chiniot to the Royal Court of Jahangir. Hakeem figured out the cause of disease and cured it by making the Queen walk on burning sand. It was actually a cyst under the foot of the Queen that had made her uncomfortable since long. Under the burning sand Hakeem had placed small blades and when the Queen walked over it the cyst got a cut and the further walk on the sand healed the wound.
With happiness and gratitude over curing of Noor Jahan, Hakeem Ilm Ud Din Ansari was raised to the position of officer of the hospitals. Recovery of the queen was celebrated in Lahore and the Hakeem was highly praised and queen presented him with her jewellery. From the historic compilation Padshah nama we get to know that the Hakeem received presents of almost twenty lakh rupees when he cured Noor Jahan and was also ranked among the senior and respected physicians of the Mughal family.
If we talk about the early life of Hakeem we get to know from references that he was a Pathan by race and was a resident of Chiniot now in the Jhang district of Punjab in Pakistan. According to historic records about him and also from the famous compilation Padshah nama we get to know that Ilm ud Din Ansari was a student of Arabic and philosophy, and later then learnt Tib (herbal medicine) from Hakim Davi who was among the twenty nine physicians of Akbar’s court.
It is said that Hakeem practiced in Chiniot and later moved to Lahore. Hakeem also went to Delhi and Agra before he gained a place in the Mughal Empire.
Hakeem got the most reputable position when Shahjahan ascended the throne because Wazir Khan remained in friendly terms with him since the time he was a prince. It was the Hakeem who remained with Shah Jahan and taught him several things even about the moods of his father the Emperor Jahangir. Hakeem remained loyal to Shah Jahan and never demanded a single penny from Shah Jahan.
Hakeem was made the commander of 5000 personnel and 5000 cavalry and then he was made Subedar of Punjab. He had gained real significance in the Mughal family and court. Here is another interesting story of the Hakeem. Historic records tell that Sheikh Ilm Ud Din had gained significance in the Royal Court and in the last days of Jahangir, conspiracies of Noor Jahan had created a gap between Shah Jahan and his father, who imprisoned him, while Wazir Khan was appointed as his physician. Asif Khan, the brother of Noor Jahan and father-in-law of Shah Jahan persuaded Wazir Khan to rescue him from the imprisonment and move to Dakkan. The plan was implemented but they were on their way to reach Dakkan when the news of Jahangir’s death arrived, who was on his way to Kashmir.
So on the coronation of Shah Jahan the Hakeem was entitled: Nawab Wazir Khan and was later declared the Governor of Lahore. So this made the Hakeem of Chiniot Nawab Wazir Khan and after this he gained respectable positions.
Having the skills of a physician, unmatchable intelligence, honesty and dedication and tactful understanding of the mood of his Emperor Wazir Khan attained the confidence and respect of the court and the emperor.
This is how a Hakeem of Chiniot entered the Royal Court and became the Governor of Lahore during the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s reign.
According to some references it is said that Wazir Khan while gaining popularity also made enemies who later started poisoning Shah Jahan about Wazir Khan. It is said that while Shah Jahan was in Lahore during a visit he received complaints about Wazir Khan that he was misusing his powers as governor and was not fair with the welfare of the people. Shah Jahan was furious over the complaints and thus sent Wazir Khan to Agra. This account says that Wazir Khan served as the governor or viceroy of Lahore for seven years only.
While he was the governor of Lahore he chose the site for the construction of the Wazir Khan Mosque, which was a central place of Lahore at that time and thus the foundations were laid in 1634.
We still see the remains of buildings built by Wazir Khan in Lahore. he built many outclass buildings in Lahore which include Mosques, gardens, hammams (baths), caravanserais, bazaars and Havelis. A town was also established by him near Gujranwala called Wazirabad after his name. In Lahore, inside the Walled City, he built a Haveli inside Shah ‘Almi Gate, known as Pari Mahal. He built the Shahi Hammam or the Wazir Khan Mosque inside Delhi Gate, the grand Wazir Khan Mosque, another Mosque near Taxali. He also erected many buildings in his home town Chiniot such as ponds, wells, caravanserais, hospitals and bazaars. He also provided his native city, where he yearned to go, with a fortified wall. All the buildings built by Wazir Khan were extra ordinarily decorated and remains can still be seen today. His masterpieces included the tile mosaic and fresco work. He had spent much of his income on the building of Mosques.
It is said that a few months before his death when one day he was entering Agra, while crossing Hathipol his horse stumbled and fell down, Wazir Khan was injured and his condition became serious. The historians state that he wrote his will to give all his property to the Emperor.
The family of Wazir Khan is still living in Walled City of Lahore and his great grand sons have moved to Karachi for business.