ANĀRKALĪ, the oldest Mughal tomb in Lahore, was built between 1605 and 1615 by Emperor Jahāṅgīr for his former favourite dancing girl Anārkalī. The tomb was surrounded by extensive gardens enclosed within a high protective wall, and several buildings and palaces were erected in the gardens by Mughal princes and nobles. In 1799, Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh put up his headquarters there while besieging Lahore. Subsequently, he offered Anārkalī to his eldest son, the heir-apparent Khaṛak Siṅgh.
In 1822, Raṇjīt Siṅgh gave this monument to his French generals, Allard and Ventura, as their personal residence and headquarters of the Fauj-i-khās. The generals soon built a new, classical-style residence between Anārkalī's tomb and a Mughal palace which has since disappeared. This new residence was embellished with paintings and mirrors inserted in golden frames, descriptions of which have been left by numerous travellers (Jacquemont, Hugel, Barr, Von Orlich, etc.). The headquarters of Fauj-i-khās was in a part of this new building. In another wing were the private apartments of General Allard and Bannou Pān Deī, while General Ventura established his flourishing harem in the tomb itself.
Outside the garden, towards the east, was the champ de manoeuvre (operational headquarters) of the Fauj-i-Khās, and further east were the French Lines, or cantonments, of the troops under Allard and Ventura. It was the most comfortable and modern building of Lahore during the 1830's and 1840's. South of the champ de manoeuvre and the French lines was the small bārādarī of Allard and his wife, profusely decorated by Punjabi artists; that was the "country" seat of the Allard family. It is in this latter garden that Allard and his wife buried two of their children, and in the same tomb Allard himself was buried in 1839.
In 1846 Henry Lawrence, the British Resident, moved into the house of Allard and Ventura in Anārkalī - hence its present name: the Residence. Lord Dalhousie, the British Governor-General of India, however, refused Ventura's demand to be paid the price of the building. It occupies today a section of the Punjab Government Secretariat, and the tomb of Anārkalī has been transformed into the Punjab Records Office with a small, but interesting museum and Library organized by H. L. O. Garrett by the 1930's.
J. M. Lafont