The Sheikhupura Fort was built during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Although, there is no conclusive evidence supporting this, the Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri (Autobiography of Jahangir) mentions that the Emperor assigned the job of constructing the Fort to Sikandar Moeen on his hunting trip to Hiran Minar in 1607AD.
Politically, this fort emerged during the consolidation of Sikh Raj in Punjab. According to Ihsan H. Nadiem, a veteran archeologist and historian, before the Sikhs took over power, Sheikhupura Fort served as a hiding place for bandits looting the countryside.
The Durrani king Shah Zaman, during his invasion of Lahore in 1797, besieged the fort only to purge it of the robbers.
Soon after his departure, the fort was occupied by a dacoit named Inder Singh. Later, Lehna Singhan, an ally of Ranjit Singh invaded the fort and sentenced Inder Singh to death. After him, the fort passed on to the ownership of Bhai Singh.
However, after changing a few more hands, it was in the possession of Sahib Singh and Sahai Singh in 1808 when Ranjit Singh’s forces marched upon it and caused its surrender.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh granted this fort as “Jagir” to his wife Datar Kaur (died in1838) She lived here up to her last day.
In mid 19th century when power turned to the British, the fort of Sheikhupura was used for the ‘house arrest’ of Maharaja’s last queen, Rani Jindan the mother of Maharaja Duleep Singh.
In his letter, dated 9th August 1847, Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence, the Resident of British government in Punjab, had suggested to the Governor General that her highness be banished from Punjab.
On his recommendation the young Maharaja Duleep Singh was sent away to the Shalimar Garden from the palace in the Lahore Fort and the Maharani was imprisoned at Sheikhupura fort.
Now this magnificent piece of architecture is neglected and forlong. A haunting reminder of days long gone.