Lahore, in Pakistan is the capital city of Punjab province. Lahore is a metropolitan and the second largest city in the country. Before partition and formation of Pakistan Lahore was a part of India and therefore has a long and rich cultural history dating back over a millennium. After partition the city has developed into a leading economic, political, education, entertainment and cultural hub. Often called as the cultural heart of Pakistan, Lahore is home to the musical, arts, culinary, literature and film-making culture of the country.
The city has a rich history. It served as the regional capital during the reigns of Shahi, Ghaznavi and Mughal kingdoms. It is referred to as the “Mughal city of Gardens” due to the presence of gardens all over the city which were built during the Mughal period. In the 19th century Lahore was the capital-city of Sikh Empire and continued to be the capital of the Punjab Province during the British Raj. Having been subjected to various administrations and various cultural ideologies Lahore served as the canvas on which various cultural portraits were painted.
Regarding reaching Lahore, it is considered to be the most accessible city in the country. The Allama Iqbal International Airport serves thousands of passengers travelling to and fro the city. There is an older airport that caters to the pilgrims visiting Mecca. There are frequent trains and buses that serve the public and tourists visiting Lahore.
If you are travelling from India to Lahore you will need to have valid visas from both countries. There are buses that run from New Delhi to Lahore. Sometimes there is a train running between Amritsar and Lahore through Wagah Border but it is heavily escorted by police officers, the relations between the countries being vulnerable and sensitive.
Once you are in Lahore, you are in a cultural paradise. There are magnificent examples of Mughal Architecture, beautiful gardens and the delicious Mughlai cuisine.
You can’t call your trip to Lahore complete until you have exhausted this list:
The Badshahi Mosque was completed in 1674 under the reign of Aurangzeb and is one of the last of the best of Mughal Architecture. It stands opposite to the main gateway of Lahore Fort. Among one of the largest mosques in the world, Badshahi mosque can house around 100,000 devotees. You will be expected to wear humble clothing; women must cover their heads with a scarf.
The Lahore fort has been built and demolished several time until it was given its present from by the great Mughal emperor Akbar in 1566 when he decided to make Lahore as the capital of his kingdom. It is one of the most prominent buildings in the old city of Lahore. Do see the palace’s mirrors and climb the huge steps constructed for the emperor’s elephants to move inside and outside the fort.
The tomb is located in the north eastern part of the city. The sandstone is beautifully ornamented. The tomb was built by Shah Jahan, the son of Jahangir. It is rumoured that it was designed by Jahangir’s wife Nur Jahan in memory of whom the Taj Mahal was built. The building is built in marble and has inscriptions in Arabic calligraphy.
The city is referred to as the “Mughal city of Gardens” because Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built three gardens in the northeast of the city out of which only one has stood the test of time. The gardens are very popular with the locals of Lahore.
Located on the Mall Road, also referred to as the Central Museum, Lahore Museum is a prominent attraction of the city of Lahore. The building is carved in the style of Mughal Architecture. Inside you will witness galleries which contain Buddhist art and Islamic artefacts ranging over a period of time. Though a part of the collection was moved to India after partition the Lahore Museum continues to be the largest and the most impressive museums in the country.
Mughlai cuisine is synonymous to the style of food in Lahore. The brilliant and delicious cuisine which reached its perfection during the Mughal era contributes to most of the delicacies to savour in the city. Dishes such as Afghani Kebab, Biryani and various others are sure to bring pleasure to your taste buds. Lahore is also a prime centre for the Pakistani-Chinese cuisine with a large number of Chinese outlets operating in the city. One must eat at Coco’s Den. Apart from a mouthful of delicious food this place also offers a mouthful of history and culture. The place is located right in the middle of the city’s red light district. The restaurant is run by an artist whose mother used to be a dancer. Exquisite paintings featuring dancing girls of all ages adorn the walls of the restaurant. The place also gifts a beautiful view of the Badshahi Mosque.
The best place to shop in Lahore would be Anarkali Bazaar located in the heart of the Old City. The market is named after Mughal emperor Jahangir’s lover who was said to have been buried alive. The market offers varieties of saris, textiles, wood and metal crafts, books and even second-hand clothes. This place is not about buying at M.R.P but to showcase your bargaining skills. You will be surprised by what you could haggle for.