“ Lahore was a different world on its own; the busy life, the rich history, the colorful culture, and the unfamiliar faces ”
― Javaria Waseem
Lahore is Pakistan’s second largest city and the capital of the north-eastern Punjab province. It is widely considered the country’s cultural capital. The heart of Lahore is the Walled or Inner City, a very densely populated area of about one square kilometer. Lahore has many attractions to keep the tourist busy. The Mughal and Sikh legacy survives in the Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, and Gurdwara, the Mall is lined with colonial-gothic buildings from the British Raj, and the suburbs of Gulberg and Defence feature palatial mansions and trendy shopping districts.
History of Lahore
- According to the Hindu mythology, the city of Lahore is named after the son of prince Ram chandar whose name was “Loh” and who originated this city (James Taad 1883; Kanhya laal 1882; Sir Richard Temple 1884; Tahqeeq-e-Chisti 1867). There is also a tradition that it was named after “Lohaar chand” who was the nephew of prince Deep chand.
- The city has had a turbulent history. It was the capital of the Ghaznavid dynasty from 1163 to 1186. A Mongol army sacked Lahore in 1241. During the 14th century, the Mongols repeatedly attacked the city until 1398, when it fell under the control of the Turkic conqueror Timur. In 1524 it was captured by the Mughal Babur’s troops. This marked the beginning of Lahore’s golden age under the Mughal dynasty when the city was often the place of royal residence. It was greatly expanded during the reign of Shah Jahan (1628-58) but declined in importance during the reign of his successor, Aurangzeb.
- From the death of Aurangzeb (1707), Lahore was subjected to a power struggle between Mughal rulers and Sikh insurrectionists. With the invasion of Nadir Shah in the mid-18th century, Lahore became an outpost of the Iranian empire. However, it soon was associated with the rise of the Sikhs, becoming once more the seat of a powerful government during the rule of Ranjit Singh (1799-1839). After Singh’s death, the city rapidly declined, and it passed under British rule in 1849. When the Indian subcontinent received independence in 1947, Lahore became the capital of West Punjab province; in 1955 it was made the capital of the newly created West Pakistan province, which was reconstituted as Punjab province in 1970.
Top Destinations of Lahore
The Lahore Fort is a huge mass of a structure where the Mughals built their imperial quarters, followed by the Sikhs. There is a small museum dedicated to the Sikh period of the 18th century. A friendly museum caretaker might agree to take you into the summer rooms underground. The tomb of the Sikh ruler, Ranjit Singh, is also located in Lahore. Entrance fee for non-Pakistanis is Rs 200.
The Badshahi Mosque was built by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and was long the largest mosque in the world. Entrance is free, but you will be asked to pay about Rs 10 (Nov 2006) to the shoe keeper upon exit. Try going late at night, when there are few people there. Since mosques are holy places, do not wear shorts to this or any mosque; women are advised to wear long or half-sleeved clothing and to carry a shawl so they can cover their head. Remove shoes before entering.
Lahore Museum (which displays the Fasting Buddha of Gandhara)Take Guided tour of the Museum with an authorized Tour Guide from Government of Pakistan.
Shalimar Gardens to the northeast of town, about 4km from the main train station, this was one of three gardens named Shalimar Gardens created by Shah Jahan in the 17th century. It’s also the only surviving Mughal garden of several built in Lahore.
Wazir Khan Mosque
Wazir Khan Mosque is an exquisitely tiled mosque located near Delhi Gate. This was once an important center for training Islamic calligraphers. The small, crumbling mosque has an evocative, deserted feel to it and is worth visiting for this reason alone.
Hiran Minar is set in peaceful environs near Lahore. Hiran means deer. It used to be favorite hunting sport of all Muslim kings, especially of Moghals. Jehangir erected this minaret to commemorate the death of his pet deer (Maans Raaj). It served a double purpose as from it top the hunters could locate the habitations of deer. It is a beautiful picnic as well as a historic spot. A high Bara Dari Ghat is constructed right in middle of a Talab. A man made a big lake, boating facility is also available. A good garden layout is surrounding the place.
Jehangir’s Tomb was built in 1637 by Jehangir’s son, Shah Jahan, it’s believed to have been designed by Jehangir’s widow, Nur Jahan. The tomb is made of marble with trellis decorations of pietra dura bearing the 99 attributes of Allah in Arabic calligraphy. These are inside a vaulted chamber, decorated with marble tracery and cornered with four minarets.