Ustad Ahmad Lahori: Master Architect of the Mughal Era

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Ustad Ahmad Lahori was a highly skilled architect who was proficient in the arts of geometry, arithmetic, and astronomy. His son, Lutf Allah Muhandis, noted that he was also knowledgeable about Euclid’s Elements and Ptolemy’s Almagest.

In 1631, Ustad Ahmad Lahori was appointed by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to oversee the construction of the Taj Mahal, one of the most iconic buildings in the world. The construction project involved the labor of around 20,000 artisans, who were guided by a board of architects led by Lahori. The complex was completed after 12 years of work.

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Following the completion of the Taj Mahal, Ustad Ahmad Lahori was relocated to Delhi, where he was tasked with the construction of the new imperial city, Shahjahanabad, in 1639. The project included the construction of the Red Fort which was completed in 1648.

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In 1648, Lahori began work on the construction of the imperial mosque in Delhi, which is now known as Jama Masjid, Delhi. However, Lahori passed away in 1649 before the foundations of the mosque were laid. The project was later completed by the architect Ustad Khalil. Please note Born 1580, Badakhshan

“In 1631, Ustad Ahmad Lahori was appointed by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to oversee the construction of the Taj Mahal.”

Ustad Ahmad Lahori’s contributions to Mughal architecture were significant and enduring. His skill in working with marble and his ability to create intricate designs and decorative elements helped to define the Mughal style of architecture and his legacy continues to inspire architects and designers to this day.

About Ustad Ahmad Lahori

Ustad Ahmad Lahori, also known as Ahmad Ma’mar Lahori, was the chief Mughal architect during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan. Born in a family of architects and civil engineers, Lahori was a skilled engineer who was responsible for the construction of several iconic Mughal monuments, including the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Red Fort in Delhi, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Lahori’s architectural style is a fusion of Indo-Islamic and Persian architectural styles, making it a prime example of Indo-Persian culture. His work earned him the title of Nadir-ul-Asar, which means “wonder of the age,” by Shah Jahan himself.
The Taj Mahal, arguably Lahori’s most famous work, is renowned for its beauty, symmetry, and intricate details. It is widely considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and has been listed among the Wonders of the World. Lahori’s skillful use of marble and his ability to create intricate designs and decorative elements helped to define the Mughal style of architecture, and his legacy continues to inspire architects and designers to this day.

In addition to the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort, Lahori also designed the Jama Mosque in Delhi, which is one of the largest mosques in India and is known for its intricate carvings and inlays. Lahori’s contributions to Mughal architecture were significant and enduring, and his work continues to be celebrated and admired by people around the world.

Ustad Ahmad Lahori Life

Ustad Ahmad Lahori, also known as Ahmad Ma’mar Lahori, was born in Lahore, Punjab, in the Mughal Empire, as indicated by his nisba. While his family later migrated to Delhi, they continued to be referred to as “Lahori.” Lahori’s background is described as being of Persian heritage, although he is also sometimes referred to as a Punjabi Muslim.

Ustad Ahmad Lahori was a highly skilled architect who worked closely with Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who showed a great interest in building magnificent structures. According to the court chronicler Abdul Hamid Lahori, Shah Jahan was personally involved in the construction process and would make alterations and ask competent questions of the architects.


Lahori’s son, Lutfullah Muhandis, mentioned two architects by name in his writings: Ustad Ahmad Lahori and Mir Abd-ul Karim. Ustad Ahmad Lahori was responsible for laying the foundation of the Red Fort in Delhi, while Mir Abd-ul Karim, who had been a favorite architect of the previous emperor Jahangir, supervised the construction of the Taj Mahal along with Makramat Khan.

Ustad Ahmad Lahori had three sons, Ataullah, Lutfullah, and Nur Allah, who were also involved in architecture and mathematics. Lahori’s legacy as a renowned architect of the Mughal era continues to inspire architects and designers to this day.

Again a story that many believe that Shah Jahan got the eyes of Ustad Ahmad Lahori gouged out and his hands chopped off so that he is not able to create another monument like the Taj Mahal is pure fiction. His family’s documents in Pakistan prove that Ustad Ahmad Lahori died a natural death.

“Ustad Ahmad Lahori had three sons, Ataullah, Lutfullah, and Nur Allah, who were also involved in architecture and mathematics.”

What other buildings did Ustad Ahmad Lahori design?

Ustad Ahmad Lahori was a prolific architect who designed and supervised the construction of many important buildings during the Mughal era in India. In addition to the Taj Mahal, here are some of the other buildings that Lahori is known to have designed:

Lahore Fort: The Lahore Fort, located in Lahore, Pakistan, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in the 16th century and later expanded by his successors. Lahori is believed to have designed several buildings within the fort, including the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) and the Naulakha Pavilion.

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Akbari Sarai: The Akbari Sarai, located in Agra, India, is a large caravanserai that was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in the late 16th century. The building features a large central courtyard and a series of rooms for travelers and merchants. Lahori is believed to have designed the building, which is known for its elegant arches and intricate carvings.

Moti Masjid: The Moti Masjid, or Pearl Mosque, is a mosque located within the Agra Fort in Agra, India. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the mid-17th century and is known for its white marble facade and elegant domes. Lahori is believed to have designed the mosque, which is considered one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture.

“Ustad Ahmad Lahori’s work had a significant influence on the development of the Mughal architecture style.”

Diwan-i-Khas: The Diwan-i-Khas, or Hall of Private Audience, is a building located within the Agra Fort in Agra, India. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the mid-17th century and is known for its intricately carved marble columns and arches. Lahori is believed to have designed the building, which was used for private audiences with the emperor.

These are just a few examples of the many buildings that Ustad Ahmad Lahori is known to have designed. His skill and creativity as an architect helped to define the Mughal style of architecture, and his legacy continues to inspire architects and designers to this day.

How did Ustad Ahmad Lahori’s work influence the Mughal architecture style?

Ustad Ahmad Lahori’s work had a significant influence on the development of the Mughal architecture style. Lahori was a skilled architect who worked during a time of great artistic and cultural flourishing in the Mughal Empire, and his designs helped to define the style that is now associated with the era.

Lahori’s work was characterized by a blend of Persian, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. He was known for his use of marble and his ability to create intricate designs and decorative elements. His designs often incorporated elements of symmetry, geometry, and calligraphy, and he was skilled at creating harmonious and balanced compositions.

One of the most significant ways that Lahori influenced the Mughal architecture style was through his work on the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely regarded as one of the greatest examples of Mughal architecture, and Lahori’s design and supervision of its construction helped to establish many of the key elements of the style.

These elements included the use of white marble, the incorporation of intricate decorative elements such as inlays and carvings, and the use of symmetrical and balanced compositions.

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Lahori’s work also influenced other notable Mughal-era buildings, such as the Lahore Fort and the Akbari Sarai. His designs for these buildings included many of the same elements that he used in the Taj Mahal, such as the use of marble and intricate decorative elements.

Ustad Ahmad Lahori’s work had a profound impact on the development of the Mughal architecture style. His skill, creativity, and attention to detail helped to create some of the most iconic and enduring buildings in the world, and his legacy continues to inspire architects and designers to this day.

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