Lahore Fort Elephant Path
These stairs were built to accommodate royals mounted on elephants.
Because it would be a shame to leave one’s elephant parked outside the citadel, the magnificent Lahore Fort in Pakistan features an entranceway crafted for an entire pachyderm parade.
As the Mughal Empire expanded across the Indian subcontinent in the 16th century, Lahore became an increasingly important stronghold. Its strategic location was key in tying the expanded Mughal territories to the fortified cities of Kabul, Multan, and Kashmir. The city’s fortress was built under the reign of Emperor Akbar between 1566-1605 and housed several Mughal (and later Sikh) rulers over the following centuries.
The two sections of the fort are divided by usage - an administrative portion and a residential portion. The elephant stairs (or Hathi Paer) are part of the private entrance to the royal quarters, and effectively allowed royalty to ascend all the way to the doorway before dismounting. In order to accommodate the lumbering creatures, the stairs were designed with wide treads, but minimal height (a balking elephant can really dampen the mood of a procession).
Although it’s been centuries since a herd of jewel and silk-laden elephants travelled several abreast along this sloping corridor, it was once certainly the most magnificent driveway in the world.
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