Hiran Minar

Hiran Minar is situated in the Sheikhupura district and is a very prominent historical Mughal monument. It was built sometime in the 17th century. This structure shows the embodiment of humans, pets, and animals. The Hiran Minar is located off the M2 (motorway) en-route from Lahore to Islamabad and is roughly 40 km from Lahore. The Hiran Minar was built by Emperor Jahangir on the spot where his pet antelope died in one of the royal hunting grounds. The hunting reserve was built near Lahore to give the royal family a sense of semi-wilderness. The game-reserve was used as a park where visitors could enjoy the sport of hunting.

The minaret itself was built in 1606 and the compound soon followed but the pavilion was built by Shah Jahan at a later stage. Jahangir’s pet antelope Mansiraj was a favourite pet that used to lure animals to the reserve for hunting. Building a Minar for a dead pet animal is an ancient Persian custom which usually the elite only practiced because it was only the elite who could afford to keep such expensive animals as pets. The complex consists of a Jahangir-era minaret situated next to a larger Shah Jahan-era complex. The minaret is 30 meters tall.  The sides of the Minar are inscribed with a eulogy to the pet antelope.

A massive pool measuring 273 meters by 229 meters lies in the middle of the complex. A sloped path on all four sides leads down to the pool of water which was initially made for animals to walk down to drink water. There is a pavilion in the middle of the pool of water with a causeway built to connect it to the mainland. Although the pavilion and the Minar are both sealed at the moment because of security concerns and no one is allowed to either climb the Minar or go to the pavilion.

The pavilion was surrounded not only by the water tank but also semi-wilderness. The pavilion was thus likely used for recreational purposes.

The uniqueness of the features of this particular complex is the pet antelope’s grave and the distinct and unique to this area, water collection system. At each corner of the tank (approximately 750 by 895 feet (273 m) in size), is a small, square building and a subsurface water collection system which supplied the water tank; only one of these water systems is only extensively exposed today.