Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan, is considered to be the heart of the country. The city is a good combination of past and present, traditions and modernization, culture and hip hop. The city is full of historical monuments, museums, parks, shopping areas and modern architecture. A tourist might need weeks to discover Lahore. There are hotels of all standards available for tourists in the city. It is highly recommended that those Pakistanis who can afford to visit just one place, should opt for Lahore. It is a common saying that “Jinnay Lahore nahi takya au jamya hi nahi” (The one who has not seen Lahore, is yet to be born). Even if the history and historical monuments in Lahore are properly protected and taken care off, the city can attract as many international tourists as Rome, London, Cairo or Delhi etc. It is strongly advised the city should not be visited in summers, as it is extremely hot and humid. The following are few of the tourist attractions of the provincial capital of the Punjab:
Right beside the newly constructed Azadi chowk interchange and in the center of the Iqbal Park, stands a tall monumental minaret called the Minar-e-Pakistan, also known as the Eiffel tower of Pakistan. The monument was built in commemoration of the Lahore Resolution, passed by the Muslim League on March 24, 1940 on this very site, demanding the creation of separate state for the Muslims of the subcontinent. Each part of this building is a self-narration of the history of this particular event and the Muslim’s struggle for Pakistan.
This beautiful monument was designed and supervised by Nasreddin Murat Khan and Abdur Rehman. The foundation was laid on March 23, 1960 and it took eight years to complete it. The minaret reflects a blend of Mughal and modern architecture and is representative of the spirit of the Pakistan movement. The overall height of the structure is approximately 60 meters. The platform of the structure takes the shape five pointed star, enclosed in a crescent shaped pool. The base of the minaret is raised approx. 4 meters from the ground and forms a sculpted, flower like shape. From this point beyond, it tapers as it rises. It is constructed of reinforced concrete with the walls and floor made of stone and marble. The base comprises of four platforms. The lower portion is made of uncut Taxila Stone that indicates the initial tough days of independence and the humble beginning, the second portion is made of hammer dressed stones whereas the third and upper most portion is constructed of smooth chiseled marble pointing towards the success of the Pakistan Movement and gradual development and prosperity of the country. At the base and all around the minaret are placed ten marble slabs with 99 names of Allah written. Other inscriptions include excerpts from the speeches of Quaid-e-Azam, national Anthem and verses from Iqbal in Urdu and Bengali. In addition, various Quranic verses have been inscribed on the walls and main entrance of the Minar. Leading to the top of the minaret, are 324 stairs and a lift. The first balcony is 30 feet high and the second is at 50 feet. However, the top of the minaret is closed for the general public due to the increase suicide rate from the top of the building. Moreover, a separate ‘Chabootra’ of about 12 feet height is also constructed at some distance from the minaret with the inscription of Quranic verses.
The Park around the minaret is a lush green garden with fountains and artificial lake. Also, at the courtyard of the monument is the resting place of Hafeez Jalandari, the writer of Pakistan’s National anthem. A huge number of people visit the park both because of its historical significance and for entertainment purpose on daily basis between 9 AM and 9 PM.
2) Badshahi Masjid
Symbolizing the beauty, passion and magnificence of the Mughal era, the Badshahi Mosque is Lahore’s one of the most famous landmarks and a major tourist attraction. It is located right next to Minar-i-Pakistan and it hardly takes ten minutes to cover the distance on foot. It is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia, and the fifth largest in the world. The mosque is capable of accommodating 5000 worshippers in its main hall and a further 95,000 in the courtyard and the porticoes. Inside the main entrance, on first floor of Eastern Corridor there is also a small museum established by the Government of Pakistan. It contains relics of Prophet Muhammad SAW, his Son in Law Hazrat Ali RA & daughter Hazrat Farima RA. The museum contains a turban and hair of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), a turban of Hazrat Ali (ra) and other incredibly moving items for Muslims.
The Badshahi Mosque was built by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1671 under the direction of Muzaffar Hussain and completed in duration of three years. It is one of the most significant architectural monuments built during that era. The building was originally planned as a Shrine to protect a strand of the Prophet’s hair but was later turned into a mosque. The prominence of the mosque in imperial vision was such that it was constructed just a few hundred meters from the Lahore fort and the space between the fort and the mosque was used as a parade ground where Aurangzeb would review his troops and courtiers.
The architecture of the mosque is a mix of Islamic, Indian, Persian and central Asian design and is similar to the Jama Masjid (Delhi), also build by Emperor Aurangzeb. The interior of the mosque has rich embellishment in stucco tracery (Manbatkari) and the paneling is inserted with marble, with a fresco touch whereas the exterior is adorned with stone carvings and marble inlay on red sandstone. The skyline of the mosque is furnished with beautiful ornamental merlons inlaid with marble lining, which further adds to the beauty of the mosque. The various features of the mosque e.g. the courtyard, side aisles, four minarets, prayer chambers etc. are enumerated with the history of mosque architecture development of the Mughal era before 1673. The walls of the Badshahi Masjid are built with small kiln-burnt bricks laid with kankar.
The prayer chamber of the mosque is deep and divided into seven compartments by rich engraved arches carried on very heavy piers. The steps leading to this chamber and its podium are laid in multicolored marble. Of the seven compartments, three have double domes finished in marble while the rest have curvilinear domes with a central rib in their interior and a flat roof above. The structure is structured in such a way that the sound of the Azan in any of these compartments can be heard in the entire mosque without any voice amplifier.
During the Sikh rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the mosque’ courtyard was used as a stable and the hujras around the perimeter were occupied by the soldiers. The mosque was also used as an exercise ground for the Sipahi Infantry. During the same era, Lahore was struck by a moderate earthquake which collapsed the delicate marble turrets at the top of each minaret.
After the British took control of Lahore in 1846, the mosque was still used as a military garrison; however, in 1852 it was handed over to the Badshahi Mosque Authority by the British to direct the restoration of the mosque and was later returned to Muslims for worship. The repair and restoration of the mosque continued until 1960.
Entry to the mosque is free and it remains open for the tourist and religious visitors from sunrise to sunset. People from all religions are allowed to enter the mosque however, only modest dressing is allowed. Shorts, sleeveless etc. inside the mosque are strictly prohibited. Shoes are also not allowed in the mosque area.
Besides the majestic Badshahi Masjib in the Hazuri Bagh, lays the resting place of Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the great poet, philosopher and thinker of the subcontinent. Besides the historical significance of the mazar, it is also important from architectural point of view. Designed by an Afghani architect Nawab Zain Yar Jang Bahadur, the tomb is a mixture of Afghani and Moorish architecture. The Mazar is constructed of red sandstone and is a simple yet impressive structure. The rectangular shaped mausoleum has two entrance ways, one on the eastern and the other on the western side. Both the entrances are inlaid with marble. The grave is made with beautiful white marble that was presented as a gift by Afghanistan whereas; the gravestone is made of lapis lazuli (a deep blue semi-precious stone) with Quranic verses engraved in calligraphy. On the inside of the walls, six couplets of Iqbal’s Persian psalm, Zabur-e-Ajam are carved. The red stone used on the outside of the mazar is brought from Rajputana, India. Also, on the outside, there is a small yet beautiful garden that is distributed into small pots.
The entry to the mazar is free and it remains open for the general public though out the day.
4) Shahi Qila
To the northwestern side of the walled city and right in front of Badshahi Mosque, stand one of the oldest and the most magnificent architectural artistry of the Mughal era, Shahi Qila or Lahore fort. The Lahore fort covers an area of more than 20 hectares of the land and within this space it gives a complete narration of the rise and fall of the Mughals, the Sikh and the British rule. In 1981, it was also enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fort is one of the better maintained historical monuments in the city. To many, Lahore fort is even a better place to visit in comparison with Agra Fort and Red Fort, Delhi.
Although its origin is ambiguous yet according to some records it was constructed on the bank of river Ravi during the days of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Jahangir extended the construction, but it was during the days of Shah Jehan that esthetic touch was given to an otherwise crude building. The archeological department, Government of Pakistan, is trying its best to maintain that huge monument.
The fort has been divided into various notable structures and monuments reflecting the architectural styles of Emperor Akbar to Aurangzeb. Following are the few examples:
The Akbari Gate, also known as the Masti Gate was built by Akbar In around 1566 A.D. The word Masti was derived from Maseet, which means Mosque. It was named so because of the Mosque built outside this gate in 1614 A.D. The fort of Akbar originally had two gates, one being the Masti gate and the other was replaced by the the Alamgiri gate in 1673 A.D.
The Alamgiri gate was built for the military purpose and was built by Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir in 1673 A.D. It has two semi-circular bastions that are decorated with lotus petal designs at the base. The gate opens in the Hazoori Bagh and illustrates a blend of vigor and majesty.
Diwan e Aam
In the fourteenth year of his rule, Shah Jahan constructed the hall of forty pillars for the general public. This building was warped when the Sikh Emperor bombarded on the fort while fighting against the widow of Kharak Singh. It was later reformed by the British after it was occupied by the British in 1849 A.D. The marble work in the Balcony of the Diwan is amongst the earliest structures in the Shahi Qila.
Diwan e Khas
The Diwan e Khas is an arched marquee, built completely with semi-chaste marble with its walls being fashioned with pietra dura work. There are also carved marble screens with a marble cistern in the middle. It was constructed by Shah Jahan in 1645 A.D.
The Jahangir’s quadrangle is built on the Hindu temple design. On the east and west of the building, there are rows of dalans (porticos) encircling it. The red sandstone front of the porticos is carved with rich Hindu art depicting drawings of animal figures. In the center of the north region lies Jahangir’s sleeping space which also has a square marble Mahtabi (platform) placed in the middle for the music and dancing purposes. This sleeping room is currently being used as the Mughal Museum. The Quadrangle was started in Akbar’s reign but completed by Jahangir in 1618 A.D.
Khawabgah of Shah Jahan
Situated at the southern end of the Shah Jahan’s Quadrangle, the khawabgah comprises of five chambers pierced with screens, clad in white marble. The chiseled galib kari and stucco tracery work on the arches of the building are the main features of this building. Some wall paintings can also be seen on the interior of the khawabgah. It was built by Shah Jahan in 1633 A.D.
Standing towards the north-west corner of the Diwan e Aam and in the forecourt of Jahangir’s palace, the makteeb khana was the entrance gate by Muharrirs (Clerks). It was built by the emperor Jahangir in 1617-1618 A.D.
It is one of the three mosques built by Shah Jahan in Lahore fort, Agra Fort and Red fort Dehli. They all are called Moti Masjid because of the white marble used to make them. The Sikh rulers also used this masjid at treasury and named it as Moti Mandar.
The lal burj is a three storied building standing adjacent to the Diwan e Khas and at the corner of the Shah Jahan’s Quadrangle. The structure was started by Jahangir and completed by Shah Jahan, however, the upper most part was the Sikh addition to the architecture. The exterior is made with tile mosaic and filigree work whereas the interior is decorated with beautiful fresco paintings.
The Kala Burj is like the Lal Burj and was also used as a summer pavilion. The topmost part of the tower was used as bar by the British. The chhajji (roof top) is made with interlocked brick work.
Hammam e Shahi
Built on the Turkish architecture, the hammam was built by Shah Jahan adjacent to the Shah Jahan’s Khawabgah. It comprised of a Jama Khana, dressing room and was facilitated with warm water.
The Paien Bagh was built for the royal ladies for their health and recreation purposes. In the garden, there are paved bath, also, there is a water basin in the middle of a Podium built with beautiful brick work.
As the name suggests the Hathi paer was built by Shah Jahan for the elephants carrying the royals, to and fro the palace. It starts at the hathi paer and ends at the shish mahal. It has a total of 58 low and broad steps with 216 inches length and 8 feet 8 inches width.
The Khilwat Khana is located at the northern side of the paen bagh. it was built by Shah Jahan. The base and door frames of the building are made with white marbles and the roof is curvilinear in shape.
The Ath dara was the court area during the Sikh rule. It was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It has eight doors, thus the name Ath Dara. The court is decorated with beautiful wall paintings and the art reflects the style of Kangra School of Painting. The ceilings are embroidered with beautiful wood and mirror work. The ath dara is constructed at the original entrance of the Shish Mahal.
Ranked among the most magnificent places of the Mughal era, the Shish Mahal is a mirror palace located at the North West corner of the fort. It was buit by Shah Jahan in 1631-32 A.D. The palace comprises of a spacious hall in the front with numerous rooms. The palace constituted the ladies portion of the fort. The main features of this palace are the gilt work, pietra dura work, marble perforated screens and the aiena kari with stucco tracery work. Moreover, the multicolored marble stone slabs enhance the beauty of the palace. In the center of the palace stand four jet fountains, all the other buildings in the area are connected with basins through four water channels on each side.
Known for the intricate pietra dura work, wrought in semi precious stone, the Bangla Naulakha is named after the amount of money spent on its construction. The roof of the porch is decorated with looking glass and wooden trellis.
Apart from these, the Lahore fort also has three set of Museums.
- I. Mughal Gallery
Located in the Jahangir’s Quadrangle, the mughal gallery provides the viewer with the Art and Craft of the Mughal era, with manuscripts, coins, miniature paintings, Persian and Arabic calligraphy etc
- II. Armory Museum
The armory museum displays the arms and artillery kept by the British during the time of the Sikh battles. It contains swords, daggers, arrows, spears, helmets, guns, and pistols etc. The Armory Museum is located in Dalan e Surkh of Moti Masjid.
- III. Sikh Gallery
This gallery showcases a rare collection of oil paintings from the Sikh and European artists. The gallery is located in the Haveli of Rani Jindan
Entry fee is only Rs. 50 for the Pakistani citizens and Rs. 500 for the foreigners. The fort opens for public at 8:30 in the morning and closes at about half an hour before the sunset. However, a tourist could enter the galleries only between 9:00 to 12:30 and then 14:30 to 17:00.
5) Ranjit Singh’s Samadhi
Right outside the Lahore fort to the southeastern wall of the Badshahi Mosque stands a magnificent building of the Sikh era. This building is the mausoleum of the one-eyed Sikh emperor Maharaja Ranjit Singh, titled as the Sher-e-Punjab (Lion of Punjab). Besides being an historical architecture, Ranjit Singh’s Samadhi holds a great religious significance. Sikhs from all over the world visit this place to perform rituals. Rather most of the Sikh pirgrims start their trip by visiting this place. On entering the building, melodious sitar music and sacred hymns can be heard at all times.
At the time of the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who ruled the Punjab from 1801 to 1839, his son Kharak Singh undertook the task of the construction of his father’s mausoleum. However, he died prior to the completion of the tomb. The tomb was later continued by Sher Singh and was eventually completed in the time of Dulip Singh’s reign in 1848. The Samadhi portrays the Sikh architecture and is substantially a mixture of the Hindu and Muslim designs. The building is made of plain stones and the entire structure is made with gilded fluted dorms and cupolas and an ornate balustrade round the top. The front of the doorway has images of Hindu deities namely Ganesh, Devi and Brahma made with red sandstone. The ceilings are ornamented with convex glass mirrors, set in white cement.
At the center of the Samadhi, there is a lotus shaped marble urn, set beneath a canopy, that covers the ashes of the Maharaja, and the similar smaller flowers around the big lotus are in the memory of his four wives and seven slave girls and carry their ashes. These urns were however, replaced by simple slab in 1999. The crowned knobs represent the queens while the remaining simple knobs signify the slave girls. In addition to these, two more knobs are present which are symbolic of the two pigeons that are said to be burnt accidently in the mass of flames from the dead maharaja.
There is also a baradari of devi which was gifted by Maharani Jindan, mother of Dulip Singh to the Samadhi. Inside the building chambers and on the walls of the Mausoleum there are marble images of the Hindu gods as well as portraits of the Maharaja and the Dulip Singh. To the southern side of the mausoleum are two doomed buildings, these are the memorials of Kharak Singh (Son of Ranjit Singh) and Nao Nihal Singh (grandson of Ranjit Singh) and their wives. Both these architectures are simple and made exactly on the style of the Samadhi.
Though the entry to the Samadhi fee, yet because of the security reasons it is not an easy thing to visit this historical monument.
6) Jahangir’s Tomb
People from all around the world are desperate to visit Taj Mahal, Agra, constructed by the architectural emperor, Shah Jahan. However, the people of Pakistan and even the residents of Lahore are hardly even aware of the fact that the Jahangir’s tomb located in Shahdara, near the railway line is also one of master pieces of the architectural might of the same admirer of architecture. Though the gardens and even the buildings are not well maintained and only a few tourists visit this place, yet those who visit this heritage cannot ignore to admire the beauty and design of the monument.
The entrance of the monument is through two gigantic gateways which are opposite to each other and leads to the center of the monument which is known as ‘Akbari Serai’; it is a square like chamber and it leads to another hallway which is placed at the western side and it gives a full view of the gardens; which is passing through the bricked canals rushing through the center. It consisted of many dancing fountains but now they are dried up and it is broken and out of order.
The tomb consists of a single floor and has a square shape. There is projecting entrance in the middle of each side and consists of a tower in tall, octagonal shape. The architecture is beautiful and has elegant and eye catching designs of red sandstone clad and the panels are of marble motifs. The four corners surrounding the tower are of 100 feet (30 m) rise and are made of white marble belfry with a zigzag pattern of yellow and white marble. The building consists of a series of domed compartment and the inside of each compartment is made of amazing flower decoration and subtle set in work and hand arts of different colors of marble. The heart of the tomb consists of an prominent grave of white marble and all the four sides are fashioned with flowers assortment in the same historic style as that in Taj Mahal( Agra), India. On the two sides of the coffin the ninety-nine names of Allah are inlaid in black.
The tomb remains open for the public from 10:00 in the morning to almost sun set and the entrance fee is nominal for Pakistani citizens.
7) Noor Jehan’s Tomb
Shahdara is in the outskirts of Lahore a place where the royalties roamed and elephants carried the princess and princess. Now only tomb remain and a bleak silence. Besides Jahangir and his brother in law Asif, lie buried Noor Jahan – one of the most powerful royalty of the Mogul empire and the beloved wife of Emperor Jahangir. The tomb was made by Noor Jahan herself. The actual grave is one tale construction without any domes or minarets. It offers arched hallways. You will discover a pair of graves, Noor Jahan’s along with her beloved daughter Ladli Begum. This particular grave got the pebble cenotaph which she got developed herself through her life span. During the Sikh guideline, just like other Mughal buildings, this particular grave had been likewise cruelly plundered in addition to looted regarding its pretty tiles, pebble in addition to crimson stones. Inside the British isle time period this remained Coal Store regarding Railway. Gardens adjoining her grave & grave regarding Jahangir were being intended & individually laid out through her. Most of these home gardens usually are interesting regarding both regional & foreigner travelers. Noor Jahan developed an extremely modest tomb for her very own closing home, as well as the verse our lover wrote correctly is usually to be the area of the selection of the one particular with any kind of trace in the history involving Mogul Empire.
A visitor to Jahangir’s tomb must spare some time to see his beloved wife’s tomb as well.
8) Asif Ja’s Tomb
Asif Khan was the brother of Nur Jahan, the famous queen of India. The tomb is located in Shahdara. It is octagonal in structure. The paintings on the ceiling of the tomb is so intricate that it cannot be copied. The tomb is made out of beautiful marble, and has verses of the Holy Quran written on it. The tomb is not properly maintained and thus could not attract a huge number of tourists.
9) Kamran’s Baradari
Kamran’s Baradari, is unique place and could attract many locals as well as tourists provided it is properly maintained. This beautiful but not well preserved building was constructed by Emperor Babur’s son, Kamran for recreation and hunting. Royal guests used to love to stay in this beautiful compound of lush green gardens and deep blue pounds. In order to reach this historical monument, one needs to cross river Ravi by boat.
10) Walled City
Walled city or Androon-e-Shehar is the old city of Lahore which reflects the past glory of this city. It is surrounded by famous 13 gates which were built for the defense purposes at the time of Mughal Emperors. It is a densely populated area and the streets in the city are narrow, and at some places, even it because difficult for two persons to walk in the street side by side. To see the life of Lahore in true spirit and the culture of the city, one must visit to this area. However, you cannot go through the old city in car. The best way to have true feel of the walled city is to walk around the streets. However, motor bike can be a good alternate for those who cannot walk. Hiring a horse cart can also be a good mode of entertainment in some areas.
Most of the gates were built at the time of Mughal emperor, Akbar in the period of 1584-1598. The gates existed till 1849 when the British came to sub-continent. At the time of Ranjit Singh the walls of the city were repaired which was fallen by some destruction. Expect the Roshni Gate all the Gates were demolished when Britishers conquer this city. Amongst those 13 Gates only 6 of them are present these days that’s includes Roshnai gate, Dehli Gate, Shairanwala Gate, Bhati Gate, Khasmiri and Lahori Gate.
These gates were built for the safety of the city from the enemies. There were 13 huge gates made up of wood and iron along with 9 meter high brick wall which surrounded the Old city.
- 1. Mochi Gate
It is located at the south of the city. According to some historians the name of this gate derives from a Urdu word “Moti” which means pearl and some its derives from “Morchi” which means a Trench Soldier. There are famous streets which still exist here like Mohalla Teer-garan( arrow craftmen) and Mohalla karam-garan.
- 2. Lahori Gate
This gate is situated in the south of the city and was named after the city Lahore. During the time of Hindu Raj “Ichra” a place in Lahore supposed to be actual Lahore so the Gate faces towards it that’s why it’s called Lahori gate. Other historians believed that name of the gate derived from an urdu word “Loha” which means Iron.
- 3. Shah-Alam Gate
This gate was named after Mughal Emperor Aurangzaib’s son Shah alam 1 before that it was called Bherwala Gate. Today it is located towards one of the busiest market of Lahore.
- 4. Kashmiri gate
This gate is situated towards the north of the Old city and faces towards Kashmir valley so it was called Kashmiri gate. There is huge market in this gate called Kashmiri Bazaar and also leads toward Asia’s number one cloth market, Azam Cloth market consisting of about 16000 shops of clothes.
- 5. Delhi Gate
Delhi Gate situated on east side of walled city and faces towards the capital of Mughal dynasty at that time. This was called the busiest gate of Lahore at that time. On the left side of this gate, there was a famous building “Shahi haram” built by hakim Ilmuddin, which was the Royal washroom at that time. There are various historical building including the famous Wazir Khan Mosque, tomb of Hazrat Meran Badshah etc.
- 6. Akbari Gate
It was named after the Mughal Emperor Jalal-Ud-Din- Muhammad Akhbar located on the eastern side of Old City. At that time Akbar established a market known as “Akbari mandi” which is still the biggest wholesale market of Lahore.
- 7. Bhatti Gate
Bhatti gate is located on the west side of Walled City and was named after an ancient Rajput tribe known as “Bhat” (Bhatti). There are various historical buildings and markets located inside this gate including an old museum, Onchi Masjid, bazaar-e-Hakiman and the study hall of Allama Iqbal.
- 8. Masti Gate
This gate is located on the eastern side of Old City. According to historians the name of this gate was based on mosque of Marium Makhani, the mother of Emperor Akbar, which is located beside the gate. Some says there was a guard Masti baloch who was appointed at this gate. Today the area inside this gate is filled with various shoe venders.
- 9. Yakki or Zakki Gate
Zakki Gate is located on the eastern side Old City and was named after a great martyr saint, Zakki who died in a famous war against Tataraies. Today there are various ancient Havelis and Hindu temples located in and around this gate.
- 10. Mori gate
This gate is located between Lahori Gate and Bhati Gate and is the smallest gates of the walled city. The purpose of this gate was to remove the waste and disposal material from the city that’s why it does not got very much importance like other gates. The meaning of the word Mori in Urdu is a small hole. It is said that it was the only passage to access to the walled city when other twelve gates closed in evening.
- 11. Texila Gate
This gate is located on the west side of walled city and also known as Taxal (Royal Mint). This gate is also famous for the food market, musical market and shoe market. There are historical and sacred palces of Sikhism followers, Pani wala Talab and Gurdwara Khoh located near this gate.
- 12. Roshnai Gate
Roshnai Gate is also called the Gate of Light because it is the only gates that is still in its original condition and remained save from all the destruction and wars. Location of this gate is on the south of walled city lies between famous Shahi Qila and Badshahi Mosque. It was named “Raushnai Darwaza” because it lit up in the evening. Next to this gate is a famous garden, Hazuri Bagh.
- 13. Shairanwala Gate
This gate was also called “The Gate of Lions” made by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Ranjit Singh places two lions both sides of the gate as a symbolic gesture to warn any invader. It was also called Khizri Gate after a great saint Hazrat Khwaja Khizr Elias, who used to live at this place.
11) Masjid Wazir Khan
The Mosque of Wazir Khan is commonly known as Masjid Wazir Khan situated near the famous Delhi Gate in the Walled city of Lahore. This elegant mosque was built at the time of Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan. The construction of the mosque started at 1634 AD and it took seven years to complete it in 1641. The Mosque got the name from the governor of Lahore, Ilam-ud-Dinansari, who was known as Nawab Wazir Khan. The mosque also has grave of one of the famous saint Syed Muhammad Ishaq who died in 14th century in the main courtyard. Area of the mosque is around 279.5 by 159 feets in which prayer hall cover 131.2 by 42 feet of an area. The prayer hall is further dived into five compartments supported by four arches and there are five turnip shaped domes at the top. The structure of the mosque is built with bricks, front with gaily-colored glazed mosaic tiles and interior is decorated with colorful fresco and tiles. From the eastern side the main entrance, there are various numerous inscriptions of the kalima going up to the ceiling in Kashikari. The walls of the mosque inside are decorated with remarkable pottery. The floor is decorated with thirteen different geometrical patterns in dressed brick paving. There are 107 feet high octagonal minarets with 69 steps made up of mosaic tiles at the corners. There is a famous 22 shop bazaar inside the Masjid premises and the shops are in two parallel rows with a brick paved passage in between.
12) Sunehri Masjid
The Sunehri Masjid or Golden Mosque is also known as the Taliya Masjid located at the center of famous old city Lahore in Kashmiri bazaar. The construction of the Mosque took place at the time of rural, Muahmmad Shah in 1752 A.D by Nawab Syed Bhikari who was the son of Mr. Raushan-ul-Daula the Deputy Governor at that time. It is one of the lovely places to visit in Lahore where prayers are held five times a day as well as Jummah prayers and worshippers facilitated with all resources of a mosque. The mosque elevated on a higher plinth surrounded with old bazaar. The main court yard of the mosque is around 161 by 160 meters with a beautiful gateway of 21 meters long. There are four huge minarets a height of 55 meters having outer circumstances of 20 meters at each corner.
13) The Lahore Museum
The Lahore Museum is perhaps the best museum in Pakistan with the largest collection of antiques, paintings and artifacts. It was originally established in 1865-66 and was later shifted to its present site located on The Mall, in 1894. John Lockwood Kipling, was one of the earliest and most famous keeper or custodian of a museum. The current building of Lahore Museum was designed by the well-known architect Sir Ganga Ram. The museum contains a fine selection of paintings and weapons, and is particularly well known for its collection of artifacts from the Indus civilization, Gandhara civilization and Graeco-Bactian period. It also has collection from Tibetan and Nepalese items. The museum also has some fine samples of Mughal, Sikh and British eras. The museum is full of ancient jewelry, textiles, pottery, armory and musical instruments. Probably the most famous exhibit is the spectacular Fasting Buddha. The ceiling of the entrance hall features a large mural by renowned Pakistani artist Sadequain. There is a special section in the museum that covers the history of Pakistan Movement.
Besides the treasure that lies inside the museum, its building its self is a master peace of colonial architecture. The entrance fee is nominal and the museum remains open from 9:00 to 16:30.
14) Shalimar gardens
Lahore was known as the city of gardens. One of the oldest gardens that still exist in the city is the historical Shalimar garden construction in 1641 – 1642 during the reign of Mughal emperor Shahjahan. This garden is situated near University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Mughalpura, a place located at a distance from other historical monuments of the city. The garden is a beautiful place to visit because of its fresh trees, flowers, and fountain and also it shows the taste of royal architecture. The total area covered by garden in 80 acres and at that time 0.6 million rupees was spent to build that garden and its adjacent buildings. Shalimar garden were included as UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981.
Shalimar garden was made for the recreation of the royal family during their visit to Lahore. The custody of the garden was granted to Arain Mian family of Baghbanpurah, who actually possessed the land on which the gardens were built. Administration of the place remained under the same family for more than 350 years. It was in 1962 that the garden was nationalized by Gen. Ayub Khan and since then is under the control of the Government of Pakistan.
Shalimar garden is in rectangular shaped and is surrounded by high brick walls with fretwork designs on them. The gardens are designed in a way that they have three descending terraces which are 12-15 foots above each other. First terrace is called ‘Farah Bakhsh’, second as ‘Faiz Bakhsh’ and third as ‘Hayat Bakhsh’. This garden consists of 410 fountains which discharge water in wide marble pools and these fountains and flowing water keeps the environment cool as the temperature of Lahore exceeds 50 degrees in summers.
15) Lawrence Garden / Bagh-e-Jinnah
The huge garden spread over 140 acres of land is situated on the Lawrence Road directly across from the Governor’s House on the Mall next to the Lahore Zoo. The park contains huge green area for trees, flowers and shrubs. There are two famous libraries, Quaid e Azam library and Darulsalam situated in beautifully constructed Victorian style building. There are entertainment and sports facilities, open air theater and food courts. The park was built as botanical gardens modeled on the pattern of Kew Gardens, London. It is ranked as one of the most beautiful gardens in Pakistan having around 150 varieties of trees, 140 types of shrubs, 50 types of creepers, 30 palms and various varieties of flowers. It was amongst first few parks to grow chrysanthemum in maximum varieties. The name of the garden is changed to Bagh-e-Jinnah, yet it is still popularly called as Lawrence Garden.
The name of this park was given after John Lawrence who was Viceroy of India from 1864-1869. Previously his statue was installed in this park. Now it has been moved to Foyle and Londonderry College in Northern Ireland. In the premises of the park huge number of visitors comes to the Tomb of Great Saint named Peer Sakhi Abul Faizul Hassan who was also known as Baba Turat Muraad Shah. In 1970s and 1980s park receives a nostalgic mention in Bano Qudsia’s remarkable Urdu novel Raja Gidh.
One of the famous places in this garden is Lahore Gymkhana Cricket Ground, which is operational since 1885. The purpose of this ground at that time was to provide entertainment for the government officers and civil servants. Later on after the independence it hosted various official and unofficial fixtures against some international teams like India, New Zealand, England and West Indies who visited this venue. It certainly lost its Test status after construction of famous Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
16) Race Couse Park
During 1980s the government once again turned Lahore in to city of gardens. New parks like Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Model Town Park, Nawaz Sharif Park etc. were built. But the one that gained the maximum public attraction was Jilani Park, popularly known as Race Course Park. It is located on the Jail Road in front of famous Service Hospital in Lahore. It is famous for annual horse racing competition which is held in this park as well for floral exhibition and artificial waterfall. The area of the park is around 88 acres and 6 canals containing two cricket grounds, 5 canteen, gym and fitness centers, a study hall, a beautiful lake, small open areas, walking and jogging tracks and lots of trees, flower and shrubs. The park has beautiful gardens containing a lot of flowers which gives a nice and pleasant fragrance by entering in it. People usually visit early in the morning for a walk, jogging and exercise whereas at evening they enjoy time here with their families and friend. Some of the major attractions in the park are:
It is basically a tube well which distribute water for the whole park. Water from the well is pulled up to an artificially made waterfall and is made to run from there which create a gorgeous look and a good point of entertainment.
Dancing fountains with colored waters were introduced for the first time in Pakistan when this park was renovated by the government in 1980s. These fountains gather the attraction of all those who visit the park in the evening.
- Walking and Jogging Tracks
The walkway tracks in the park are made up of hard tiles and almost 5.5 km long while jogging tracks are made up of pure mud and clay and its length is approximately 2.75 km. These tracks are one of the largest walking and jogging tracks in Asia.
The landscaping of the park is based upon Japanese nature which reflects complete beauty of nature. There are around 80,000 different plants and flowers are planted in area of 6 canals which includes both foreign and local variety.
- Trees and Shrubs in the park
There are almost 200 different types of trees and shrubs which are imported from different part of the world which are very rare and expensive. Most of them are imported from India, Bangladesh, South America, Africa, Egypt, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal etc. Some of the famous trees in this park include Devil’s Tree, Safaida, Ashok, Jaman, Sheesham, Shehtoot, Bottle Brush, Peepal, Patajan, Indian Willow, Sukh Chain, KHatti, Khatta, Saru, Mulsari, Gaab, Kachnar, Alocha, Chirri Poncho, Keeker, Gulecheen, Rubber Plant etc.
The shape of the lake is like the map of Pakistan which enhances nationality and love for our country. Tourist visit here and enjoy boating in this lake with their families and friends.
Behind the lake there is an artificial hill which is decorated with different plants and stairs made up of hard stones. The hill has different paths to climb up; the visitors usually love to go on the top of the hill. Between the two tops of the hill a clock is formed which gives a beautiful look.
17) Lahore Zoo
Lahore zoo, established in 1972 and located in the heart of the city on The Mall, is one of the oldest zoos in the world, and without any doubt the best in Pakistan. It started as small Aviary which was donated by Lal Mahundra ram. Gradually the collection of animal increases and now it has 1381 animals, 138 species and of which 996 are birds of 82 species and 49 reptiles of 8 species and 336 mammals of 45 species. Animals in the zoo are kept in cages but an attempt is made to give them some natural environment. The major attractions of Lahore Zoo are Fancy Aviary, Lion House, Tiger House, Elephant House, Giraffe House, Deer House, Bear House, Monkey House, Crocodile Ponds, Duck Ponds, Birds house and Snake House. There are swings and food courts in the zoo. The zoo, without any doubt is the most visited places in Lahore. A child living anywhere in Pakistan should at least visit the zoo once in his or her early years of life. Even grown-ups enjoy their trip to the zoo. One could see many honeymoon couples visiting Lahore zoo.
18) Joy Land
Joy land, located in the Fortress Market, is one of the most entertaining place in Lahore to hang out for both children and parents. It was the vision of Mr. Aftab Shamsi (L) to make a magical park. The park was started in 1977 under his personal supervision. Now his legacy is carried forward by his son Mr. Ibrahim Shamsi who has equally inspiring and futuristic approach toward the building of this park. The park is spread upon 4 acres and it has employees up to 200. The park consists of some of the most thrilling rides in the country, which are equally enjoyable for teen aged children and their parents. There are also swings and rides for the younger kids as well. This is said to be the most secure and safe family park in Lahore city. Also it has a distinction that it is ISO 9001: 2008 certified.
19) Data Darbar
The shrine of an eleventh century saint, Hazrat Ali Usman Hajvery (R.A), commonly known as Data Gunj Baksh, is the most visited place in the city. The place commonly known as Data Darbar is one of the oldest shrines in south Asia. Darbar was originally built by the Ghaznavi king Sultan Zakiruddin Ibrahim in the late 11th century, and has been expanded several times. For centuries darbar was visited by Muslims and Hindus in search of his blessings but since the creation of Pakistan, most visitors have been Muslims, although people of all religions are welcome. On special occasions the darbar is illuminated by lights and langar (food) is distributed among the visitors daily.
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A must-see sight for tourists
Entering the Lahore Fort through the British Era Postern Gate and going up the walkway, one can see three white domes shining like a pearl. Crossing the Makatib Khana and the cafeteria ground you can see a narrow staircase leading into a hallway. As you traverse the doorstep of the antechamber, you would surely forget blinking your eyes for a moment, here; you will catch sight of a brightly lit shimmering marble structure boldly proclaiming purity and serenity. This is The Pearl Mosque or The Moti Masjid. One cannot visualise the beauty and tranquillity of the place as the exterior of the mosque is dull and unattractive. It is no doubt a pearl hidden in a shell.
Moti Masjid was built in 1645 by the Mughal Emperor Shahabuddin Muhammad Shah Jahan. As per historic accounts it is stated that the mosque might have been built along with the Dolat Khana Khaas-o-Aam of Shah Jahan. Mosques with the same name are found in Agra and Delhi, as it was common Mughal practice to name mosques after precious stones and personalities like Wazir Khan Mosque. The word “Pearl” also refers to the gleaming marble resembling a pearl, as well as the mosque’s small size. It is one of those two mosques built in chaste marble by Shah Jahan. The second one was built at Agra Fort in 1654 AD. Aurangzeb also constructed a mosque of the same type at Red Fort Delhi in 1662 AD. They are all titled as Pearl Mosque because of their outlook imbued with white marble.
The mosque is exclusively built of Sang-e-Murmur or the white marble which was brought from Makrana, Rajasthan, India. Makrana has always been prominent for the white marble taken from the mines around it. Marble from Makrana was also used in the construction of the Taj Mahal.
The facade of the Moti Masjid is divided into five compartments or bays with the central one slightly extended into the courtyard. The five chamber facade was Mughals’ specialty and can be seen in many mosques of the Mughal era, including the Begum Shahi Mosque. The interior is simple and plain with the exception of ceilings that are decorated and designed in arches and horizontal beams. The mosque has three domes. These domes are in fact double domes, devised for loud acoustics. This feature of the domes enables the sound being heard clearly as in an auditorium.
The facade of graceful cusped arches is finished with astounding pietra dura work. It is the same element that you will also find in the Diwan-e-Khaas in Shah Jahan’s Quadrangle and some other buildings inside Lahore Fort. On one side of the mosque are the prayer rooms for the females. The Hujras are also made on another side for the visitors and those who want to rest there or wait for the prayer times. At one end of the mosque is a very narrow and steep staircase leading to the roof top of the mosque. It is usually closed and visitors are not allowed to go upstairs. If by any chance you are allowed to reach the rooftop, you can clearly see the gorgeous minarets of Badshahi Mosque, Samadhi of Raja Ranjit Singh, Roshnai Gate, Paien Bagh and the entrance of Sheesh Mahal. It is an extraordinary site.
The mosque like many other monuments and the Lahore Fort itself has seen the ebb and flow of time through the centuries. After the downfall of the Mughal Empire, the mosque was converted into a Sikh temple and renamed Moti Mandir during the rule of Raja Ranjit Singh. Later in both the Sikh and British era, the mosque was used as a building for the state treasury. In 1899, on the orders of Lord Curzon the Viceroy of Sub-continent, the building was restored to its former status, and some of the religious remnants were preserved at the Badshahi Mosque.
Moti Masjid, despite being a small mosque and having limited usage, is no less striking than any other Mughal Era mosque. The building has its own valour and splendour, and constitutes all the elements of a mosque in a limited space. It is a masterpiece, a jewel like structure inside the Lahore Fort, and I am glad it is well intact. This is a must see for any visitor going to Lahore Fort.
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