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. Founded in legendary times, and a cultural center for over a thousand years, 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.
Lahore is the city in Pakistan with a population of roughly 8.5 million. The traditional capital of Punjab for a thousand years, it had been the cultural center of Northern India extending from Peshawar to New Delhi. The origins of Lahore are shrouded in the myths of antiquity but Lahore is undoubtedly ancient.
Today, Lahore is certainly worth a visit – but don’t come expecting a tranquil city overflowing with history, art and culture – these qualities do exist but are hidden under the surface of a sprawling south Asian city. Forward planning is recommended if the tourist is going to get the most out of what Lahore has to offer – the time of year to visit, the choice of hotel, the restaurants to dine at, the art galleries and the shopping areas to frequent are all key to getting the most out of your stay.
Lahore is a friendly and socially liberal city. There is an old saying, that in every Lahori, there is a Mughal prince. The city has known ages of cultural, intellectual, musical, literary and humanistic evolution, which has consequently led to the fermentation and over fermentation of this rich brew we call Lahore.
The Walled City of Lahore is one of the oldest cities in the world and comprises of the following places for sightseeing.
The Lahore Fort is a huge mass of a structure where the Mughals built their imperial quarters, followed by the Sikhs. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. 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 Sikh ruler, Ranjit Singh, is also located in Lahore. The 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. The 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 heads. Remove shoes before entering.
Right in front of the Fort and Badshahi Mosque is a park with Minar-e-Pakistan or the Eiffel Tower of Pakistan. It was built on the site where in 1940 the creation of a separate state for Muslims was recognized.
The Inner City is full of little shrines and palaces, of which the most impressive is the Imperial Baths and the Asif Jah Haveli (recently restored).
Wazir Khan Mosque is an exquisite tiled mosque located near Delhi Gate.
Gates of Inner City
In the Mughal days, the Old City was surrounded by a 9-meter high brick wall and had a rampart running around it which served as a protection for the city. A circular road around the rampart gave access to the city through thirteen Lahore Gates. Some of the imposing structures of these gates are still preserved.
The Raushnai Gate, or the “Gate of Light” is between the royal mosque and the citadels. There is a very famous gali (row or narrow street) commonly known as the Shahi Mahala. The name Shahi has been given after the Shahi Qila. People living here are simple. There are various food shops located around the gate. The Kashmiri Gate is so-called because it faces the direction of Kashmir. The Masti Gate. The Khizri or the Sheranwala Gate. The river in former times flowed by the city walls, and the crossing was near this spot. The gate was named after the name of Khizr Elias. The Yakki Gate. The original name was “Zaki,” which was derived from the name of a martyr saint, who, according to legendary tradition, fell fighting against Mongol invaders. The Dehli Gate is so called because it faces the direction of Delhi. The Akbari Gate is named after Muhammad Jala-ud-din Akbar, who rebuilt the town and citadel. The Mochi Gate might be called after the name of Moti Ram, an officer of Akbar, who resided here at that time. The Shah ‘Almi Gate is named after Muhammad Mo’azzam Shah ‘Alam Bahadur Shah (the son and successor of Aurangzeb). He was a mild and generous Emperor, who died in Lahore on the 28th February 1712. The Lahori Gate also is known as the Lohari gate has been named after the city of Lahore. The Mori Gate is the smallest of the gateways and, as its name implies, was in old times used as an outlet for the refuse and sweepings of the city. The Bhatti Gate was named after the Bhatis, an ancient Rajput tribe who inhabited these quarters in old times. The Taxali Gate was named after the Taxal or royal mint, which used to be in its neighborhood in earlier times.
Lahore Museum (which displays the Fasting Buddha of Gandhara)Take Guided tour of the Museum with an authorized Tour Guide from Government of Pakistan tollinton market now converted into a museum Lahore Art Gallery General Post Office Lahore High Court Lahore’ University of Punjab (Old Campus) National College of Arts of which Rudyard Kipling’s father was the principal, and offers a thesis show every winter. Kim’s Gun is outside the NCA Lahore Zoo Located in the heart of the town and set in modern style is the Lahore zoo founded in 1872. It is one of the oldest Zoos in the subcontinent. The material used in some of the construction even bears the marks of 1853. The Lahore zoo attracts a large crowd throughout the year. Driving along the Sharah-e-Quaid-e-Azam, just ahead of the charring cross and opposite to the WAPDA House is the main gate of the Zoo Lawrence Gardens & Library, also known as the Bagh-e-Jinnah, It is opposite to Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It is amongst the biggest gardens of Lahore. WAPDA house building The WAPDA House building is an example of a modern office block, with a glass dome and a roof garden. Summit Memorium is in the locale more commonly known as Charing Cross. Few know the presence of a library/museum below the Charing Cross roundabout that is all about the OIC and Islamic Summit and is a treat to visit. Punjab Provincial Assembly Building Shahdin Manzil Al Hamra Arts council Lahore Fortress the Fortress Stadium is an attempt to combine the architecture of a fort-like Rohtas with a sports stadium. Many exhibitions held here. The Stadium is the site of the famous Horse and Cattle Show in March. Joyland amusement park is also located here. Masjid-e-Shohada