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HERITAGEIssue 12

Who was Hakim Ilmuddin Ansari?

Hakim Ilmuddin Ansari, the Governor of Lahore built the Shahi Hammam in 1634 AD.

There is an interesting tale that comes to light when one goes into the backstory of who this Hakim was and why he was attributed with such a grand title. According to an old tradition, Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor (r. 1605- 1627 AD) was extremely distressed with the untreatable illness of his beloved wife Noor Jehan when he was advised to call upon one of the great physicians of the time, Hakim Sheikh Ilmuddin Ansari, to his court for her treatment.

The physician was able to diagnose and then cure the illness by making the queen walk over burning sand. The Emperor was considerably pleased with the successful treatment of his queen thereby inviting Hakim Ansari to serve at his royal court and awarding him the title of Wazir Khan, meaning “high court official.”

Wazir Khan continued to serve at the Mughal court as the throne later descended from Emperor Jahangir to his son Emperor Shah Jahan. As before, he remained close to the successive monarch, during whose reign this stately structure was built.

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