The Historical Legacy and Classical Beauty of Lahore
“I exist as an enigmatic existence, shrouded away from the public eye, veiled by thirteen grand entrances. While I have relinquished some elements, I retain the riches and grandeur of bygone eras, bestowed upon my edifices and thoroughfares by past leaders. I am the historic Lahore, the encircled urban center; I represent vitality, heritage, and tradition.”
Undoubtedly one of the oldest settlements, Lahore’s walled city is a world of monuments, havelis, bazaars, cuisines, and customs that combine to create a living history museum. Within thirteen gates, this city is a marvel with an unparalleled way of life.
Some Historical Background
Lahore has a rich history, beginning as the birthplace of Prince Loh and later being known as Brahmanabad. Over the centuries, it witnessed numerous invasions and rule changes. Subuktagin invaded it, Mahmood of Ghazna captured it, and Shahb ud din Ghauri conquered it. It faced the devastation brought by Mongol incursions and came under various dynasties’ control.
The city experienced a period of immense splendor during the Mughal era, especially under the reign of Emperor Akbar. He revitalized the mud fort and erected thirteen gates along with a robust thirty-foot high fortification wall. These gates, like Delhi Gate, Yakki Gate, Sheranwala Gate, and others, became iconic landmarks.
Lahore’s charisma continued into the Sikh rule, marked by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh’s ascension to power as ‘Sher-e-Punjab.’ The Sikhs made substantial additions to the city, constructing havelis, religious sites, and notable structures like Gurdwaras and Janam Asthans. Some renowned havelis from the Sikh period included those of Dhyan Singh, Nau Nehal Singh, and Jamadar Khushhal Singh.
With the advent of British rule, Lahore underwent significant changes. The Kohinoor diamond was taken, the city’s fortifications and gates were dismantled, and a circular road and garden were introduced. Later in the early 1900s, the British rebuilt some gates with different architectural styles, resulting in only six gates that remain standing today.
International Renown Monuments
Lahore, a walled city, is home to numerous world-class monuments, including the Lahore Fort, Shahi Hammam, Wazir Khan Mosque, Badshahi Mosque, Mariam Zamani Mosque, Neevin Masjid, Samadhi of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, Janam Asthan Guru Arjun Ram, Oonchi Masjid, Golden Mosque, Moran Sarkar Masjid, Baoli Bagh, and Shahi Hammam.
The city also boasts rich havelis, including those of Dina Nath, Mian Sultan, Mian Khan, Bej Nath, Nau Nehal Singh, Jamadar Khushhal Singh, Dhyan Singh, Shamsher Singh, Kharak Singh, Kabuli Mal, Noori Manzil, Qamar Manzil, Barood Khana, and Faqir Khana. The world’s largest picture is housed inside Lahore fort.
Coexistence, Peace, and Tolerance
The walled city of Lahore has a well-integrated neighborhood pattern with people living in close proximity to one another and participating in daily life. No caste, religion, race, or faith is excluded from the customs and celebrations. The sky touches the quaint rooftops of havelis housing pigeon cages, and people support one another after finding out about one another’s personal and familial struggles. The maze-like streets of Androon Lahore, narrow, winding lanes with peculiar street names derived from famous people, professions, or locals, astound modern urban designers. These streets’ intricate layout and defensive design were intended to make it difficult for outsiders to enter the city. The city’s distinct charm is enhanced by the well-developed neighborhood system and connection to the entire city.
Cuisine of Lahore
A range of traditional cuisines and sweets are available in the walled city of Lahore, such as Pathoora, Das Qulcha, Qatlama, Khatai, Paye, firni, kheer, Lassi, Sardai, Elaichi Sharbat, and Sandal. While savoring these delicacies, guests can take in the charm of the city, such as the fort road food street with its rooftop views of historical buildings and bygone eras.
The Sleepless Bazars of the City
Lahore’s walled city is well-known for its vibrant and eye-catching bazaars, which include marketplaces selling goods like clothing and food. Many bazaars can be found in the city, including the fish market, birds market, Akbari Mandi, Lahnga Mandi, Moti Bazaar, Kinari Bazaar, Kasera Bazaar, Waan Market, Bangle Market, Gumti Bazaar, Sarafa Bazaar, Siriyan Wala Bazaar, Sheikhupurian Bazaar, and Waan Mandi. Ancient Lahore’s chowks, particularly those in Lohari and Rang Mehal, offer a unique window into both day and night life. The city is a thriving, round-the-clock center of culture.
Lahore: an eclectic city with mouthwatering street food, world-class monuments, incredible people who extend unending friendliness, and a center of culture. It’s a city that truly comes alive around the clock!