Dr. Abdul Rehman Standing
on the Grand Trunk Road
Dr. Abdul Rehman Standing on the Grand Trunk Road

The Tomb of Jahangir
The Tomb of Jahangir

The City of Lahore
Seen from Shahdara
The City of Lahore Seen from Shahdara

A network of roads linked Afghanistan and the Potowar plateau with the Punjab plains. The route between Sheikhupura and Shahdara was a part of a longer route from Delhi to Lahore and beyond to Kabul; and it was also one of the most important routes of communication between these cities. This route was frequently used by the emperors Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan on their way to Kabul and Kashmir.

The complete route comprised various stages. Sheikhupura-Shahdara was the first stage. From there one proceeded to Hafizabad and then crossed River Chenab and reached Qadirabad in Gujrat district. From Qadirabad the road went further on to Rasul, which was a principal ferry landing for the river Jhelum. After crossing Jhelum the road proceeded to Salt Range and then to Tilla Jogian. After Rohtas, the traveler would then take the Sher Shah Suri alignment and proceed to Kabul via Attock and Peshawar.

Shahdara literally means the "principal entrance," as it was the principal stopping point before entering that city and the first halting station after crossing the river Ravi. The Mughal emperors, royal ladies, and other important nobles built gardens in Shahdara, along the banks of the Ravi. The pleasure gardens of Mirza Kamran (brother of Emperor Humayun)and Nur Jahan (wife of Emperor Jahangir) were among the most famous examples of the Shahdara gardens, before the area began the transition to a royal funerary landscape after the death of Jahangir in 1627.

Mughal Bridge
Mughal Bridge

The section between Shahdara and Sheikhupura has always been a fertile plain traversed by a number of perennial streams, which bring water from Jammu and Kashmir during the monsoon season. The most important of these are Nala Dek and Nala Bhed. High water remains in these streams throughout the monsoon season, so permanent bridges were built over them using bricks and lime mortar. The most impressive among these is the one at Kot Pindi Das, which survives in very good condition. This bridge is still being used by heavy trucks. The bridges were flanked by roads paved in brick using a variety of geometrical patterns; traces of these pavements still survive.
Mughal Bridge
Mughal Bridge
Salih Kamboh, a historian of Shah Jahan, mentioned these bridges in connection with the emperor's journey from Kashmir to Lahore: "There were large, torrential rains this year and all the country between Lahore and Sheikhupura was heavily flooded; the bridges constructed recently became innundated, and therefore His Majesty decided to halt a few more days in Sheikhupura."
Baoli or Step–Well
Baoli or Step-Well

This section of the road was supplemented with various infrastructure at expedient locations for the traveler. Trees were planted alongside the road for shade and fruit at convenient spots. Now, only palm trees are apparent at certain locations. The nearby villages provided food and other necessities, but baolis (step
wells) and mosques were also important amenities. Built during Akbar's reign, the baoli and mosque at Jandiala Sher Khan near Sheikhupura were extremely impressive; the structure of the baoli, in fact, is one of the most magnificent among all surviving baolis in Pakistan. Today, however, Jandiala Sher Khan is perhaps best known for its shrine to the poet Waris Shah, famous for his rendition of the Punjabi love story of Hir and Ranjha.

The alignment of this imperial road was changed during the British period, and the historic road sank into oblivion. Today the bridges are located amidst agricultural fields and are inaccessible.