Anarkali’s Tomb, which houses the Historical Records Office of the Punjab Archive, is a majestic example of Mughal architecture. It was built in 1615 C.E and is popularly believed to be a tribute to the great love of Emperor Jehangir, Sharf un Nisa Begum- more famously known as Anarkali. The true story about this tomb and its occupant remains shrouded in mystery although many speculative theories are regularly put forward. During the Sikh, and later the British rule in Punjab, ‘Anarkali’s Tomb’ has been put to various uses.
In the first half of the 19th century, the tomb served as the residence of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s French general Jean Baptiste Ventura. Following the annexation of Punjab by the British in 1846, the tomb was transformed into offices for the clerical staff. Then, in 1857, it was officially consecrated as St. James’s Church and, after some modifications to the structure, became the first designated place for Christian worship in Lahore under the British. At this point, the marble cenotaph marking the grave was removed from the centre of the building and relocated to one of the alcoves. It was in 1891 that the beautiful octagonal mausoleum became a shrine to official records and since then it has been housing important historical documents, exquisite miniatures, manuscripts, treaties and other miscellaneous official records. It is a treasure trove of centuries old paraphernalia relating to the political life of the subcontinent.
The building itself is a fine example of superb masonry work. The structure employs a unique, low double-dome which ensures that the interior says cool during the hot summer days. The central dome gets support from 8 arches from the inside, each measuring 12 feet 3 inches in thickness. The towers on the sides, measuring 44 and 30 feet alternatively, are capped with semi octagonal cupolas. In all respects, it is a masterpiece of early Mughal architecture and a potent symbol of remembrance.