Nizam ul Mulk, Asif Jah I

Asif Jah ki Haveli is named after Asif Khan who was Empress Noor Jahan’s half-brother and Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s father-in-law.

According to historians, it was also where Mughal emperor Akbar stayed before rebuilding the Lahore Fort with burnt bricks. Based on its structure and construction, some architects believe that this Haveli dates back to the 17th century, during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, when Asif Khan, also known as Asif Jah, was appointed Governor of Lahore by Jahangir in 1625. Asif Jah actively thwarted Nur Jehan’s plans to rule the empire by offering his loyalty to her stepson, Shah Jahan, who later became his son-in-law.

There are several historical references to the construction of this Haveli, some of which relate to Asif Khan, while others document Dhiyan Singh and Khushal Singh. The 400-year-old haveli served the Mughals, Sikhs, British, and Americans before getting converted into a college within Lahore’s Walled City.

Prior to its current status, the haveli served as the first building for Government College Lahore (now GCU), for a small number of students. Hungarian Orientalist Dr Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner served as its principal beginning January 1, 1864.

image: sanamunir/

According to multiple sources, the haveli also served as a torture cell for the CIA after the creation of Pakistan. It was finally given the status of a girls’ college in 1986 by the then-chief minister of Punjab, Mian Nawaz Sharif.

image by

The main structure associated with the haveli is unlike most Mughal-era structures, with bastions and intricate brickwork. The palki and frescoes depicting Sikh heritage are prominent examples of Sikh architecture. There is a bathhouse, sheesham-wood doors ribbed with metallic plates, beautiful cupola-ed jharokas, and a massive entrance, uncommon even among Mughal-era havelis, giving it the appearance of a small fortress.