Compiled by Sameera Ehteram
There is no dearth of travel destinations in Pakistan. In fact Pakistan can easily be a dream destination for any traveler, except for Lahore.
Lahore is not a city for travelers; it’s a city to visit. Hence it is for visitors.
People who visit the city are welcomed, embraced, taken care of, entertained and bid farewell with tears, memories, life long memories, new friends and promises of future visits.
What’s more; there’s magic in the city air. One cannot be, but enchanted by it. It’s one of those metropolises in the world with a thriving history not only embedded in its past, but flourishing in the current era as a city of steel and concrete.
What You Get to Experience in Lahore?
These Three images say it all.
Source: Tumblr, Location: The Mall
Source: Tumblr, Location: Lahore Fort
Source: Tumblr, Location: The Old City
Chic malls, fashion savvy people, a pretty decent traffic system, an impressive Metro bus system are the modern day highlights of this city of Mughals with its impressive 11th Century Shahi relics, 16th Century architecture and 19th century relics of the Sikh rulers. Put these all together and you get the exotic city of Lahore.
Worth Visiting in Lahore
There is no place like the Shahi Qila or the Lahore Fort to take a trip back in time. The faded grandeur bespeaks the splendors of the glorious past. Looted and plundered by those following the Mughals, it is a hint of its former glory; yet still stands magnificent in its breath-taking beauty. A walk through the fort enables one to envision what the courtly lives of the Mughals would have been like centuries ago. Words cannot describe the enchantment of the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), the Deewan-e-Khas and Deewan-e-Aam (the courts for the nobility and the public) and the acres of gardens paved with ancient stones and lined with lush flower beds and beautiful fountains.
The Badshahi or the Royal Mosque is an intriguing as well as impressive piece of architecture that dates back to 1673. The second largest mosque in Pakistan after Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad and the fifth largest in the world can accommodate 100,000 worshipers at a time.
The huge mosque was designed with mind-baffling engineering and didn’t require any microphone or other sound technology for the sound of prayers and religious addresses to reach far and wide.
The Shalimar Gardens were built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and cover an area of approximately 80 acres. The stone boundary, the terraces and the intricate layout of the fountains is a sight to behold. The magnificent gardens were Shah Jahan’s replication of the exotic gardens of Kashmir.
The Gates of Inner City
In the Mughal days, the Lahore’s Old City was surrounded by a 9 meter high brick wall that had 13 Gates that gave access to the great city.
However, only 6 of those gates exist now. The Raushnai Gate, or the “Gate of Light,” the Kashmiri Gate facing Kashmir, the Lahori Gate, the Khizri or the Sheranwala Gate, the Dehli, Mochi and Bhatti Gate are just a few of them.
The Mausoleums of Jehangir and Noor Jehan
Just outside the city of Lahore is the tomb of Noor Jehan (Light of the World), one of Mughal era’s most famous women.
Surrounded by Mughal gardens, this building of red sandstone is worth a watch and leaves one wondering about the life and times of the great empress, the beloved of Mughal Emperor Jahangir.
Within the large walled garden of Noor Jahan lies the King himself. Though stripped of its former glory and the precious adornment by revelers like Lahana Singh, Maharajah Ranjit Singh and Sultan Muhammad Khan, it is still impressive and awe-inspiring.
Though built in the 20th century, the minar or the tower has great historical value as it is a monument to the memory of the Pakistan Resolution, passed on March 23, 1940 which was detrimental in the creation of Pakistan.
Wazir Khan Mosque
Situated in the old part of the town, off Kashmiri Bazaar is by far the most beautiful Mosque in the sub-continent. The mosque contains some of the finest examples of Mughal era tile work.
The border between the once united India and Pakistan is not only one of the most sensitive border areas but one that attracts many sight-seers as well. It is also the only road border crossing between the two countries. It lies on the Grand Trunk Road between the cities of Amritsar in the Indian Punjab and Lahore in the Pakistani side of Punjab.
It is particularly known for the elaborate Wagah Border ceremony that happens at the border before sunset each day.
Shrine of Daata Sahib
One of the main and most revered attractions of the lively city is the shrine of Daata Sahib, Abul Hassan Ali Hajvery commonly known as Daata Ganj Baksh, a great sufi saint.
Attached to the Shrine is a beautiful mosque. Visitors from far and wide as well as all religions and castes come to the shrine that is famous not only for its spiritual experience but also for the dhamal (spirited whirling dance of the malangs or devotees of the shrine.
The Cultural Experience
Lahore isn’t called the cultural heart of Pakistan for nothing. It hosts most of the arts, cuisines, festivals, music, film-making, gardening and intelligentsia of the country.
For visitors the possibilities of experiencing the colors and culture, especially the food and festivities is a foregone conclusion. The locals love their food and if there is anything that surpasses their love for food is their hospitality.
The Food Experience
There is no dearth of well known eating establishments in the city. But when it comes to the cultural experience of it, two places stand out the most:
The Colorful Food Street
Lahore’s Food Street situated in the Gawalmandi area is the hub of Pakistani food and architectural glory. The street is surrounded by centuries-old buildings and places like landa bazaar, Mayo Hospital and Baansan-wala Bazaar, a monument to Kashmiri- Persian architecture. Visitors are advised to enjoy the traditional Hareesa, Chapli Kabab and Qulfi there.
Located opposite the Badshahi Mosque and the Lahore Fort, Cooco’s Den is not just a restaurant but a historic experience as well.
Apart from a food experience that can be any food lover’s dream come true is the surrounding scenery especially at night with the grand Badshahi Mosque lit up, the view from the roof top is breath taking. Owned by a famous local artist Mr. Iqbal, the building itself is a traditional eyeful laced with local artifacts and paintings by the artist himself – indeed a mini museum.
The Tawa Chicken, Mutton Chops and desserts there are highly recommended.
Visitors lucky enough to be visiting the city in season for various festivals like Basant or Spring Festival, held during February and March; the Mela Chiraghan or Festival of Lights, a three day annual festival to mark the death anniversary or Urs of the Sufi poet and saint Shah Hussain in Baghbanpura, old city; and the famous Horse and Cattle Show held in November each year are bound to be experiences to last a lifetime.
Always finding fulfillment in writing, Sameera started writing full time in 2012 after 8 years as a content producer at a local TV channel. Her passion for writing coupled with the habit of always saying what is on her mind makes it a perfect career change. She can be contacted at email@example.com