Lahore is the second largest city in Pakistan after Karachi. It has a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. It is a fine place to watch the world rush. The improbable mix of painted trucks, cars, bullock carts, buses, handcarts, scooters with whole families aboard—mum riding sidesaddle at the back, holding a baby, a toddler standing in front of dad, holding on to the steering, and possibly more children too, lodged precariously. Motorbikes carry at least three youths, sharp dressers—skinny knees sticking out in a row. There are tongas, scooter-rickshaws with engines pop-popping madly as they weave perilously through the other traffic. There are women in purdah and women not in purdah carrying enormous bundles on their heads. The bullock carts are often loaded, overloaded with metal. Heavy industry seems to use primitive transport.
Lahore is undoubtedly ancient. Legend had it that it was founded by Loh, son of Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. Some others think that the name means Lohawar, meaning a “Fort as strong as Iron”. Muslim rule began here when Qutub-ud-din Aibak was crowned in Lahore in 1206 and thus became the first Muslim sultan of the subcontinent.Lahore is a darling city for the historians because Mughals, Sikhs and the British ruled here.
It is widely considered the country’s cultural capital. 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.
The Badshahi Mosque is undoubtedly one of the splendors of the city. It was built by Aurangzeb Alamgir in 1674 and is a fine example of Mughal architecture. The building, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is approached from the Hazuri Bagh by a handsome flight of 22 steps that lead to a grand Mughal gateway. The elegant marble domes and tapering minarets mark one of the largest mosques in the world. The courtyard can hold some 60,000 people. The mosque is beautifully lit and night. Badshahi Mosque. It is a known fact that the Mughal architecture is the most elegant manifestation of the building art of the Muslim world. This architectural style has been acknowledged as the blending of grace, strength and harmony. The design of the mosque is bound by conventions. It is a building of very strong and resolute character. Apart from its architectural magnificence the Badshahi Masjid is also one of the largest mosques in the world.
Lahore came into its own towards the end of the sixteenth century, when Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great moved his capital to the city, which remained the seat of Mughal Empire for 14 years, during which was built the famous Lahore Fort with its massive walls with holding an area of over 42 acres. The fort in fact predates the Mughals but it was Akbar the Great who rebuilt the original structure and erected towering walls with their massive gates. He also built Lahore’s famous city walls which survive to this day with their famous twelve gates including the popular Akbari Gate. There are numerous myths and legends behind the various divans of the fort. You can feel them, sense them, provided you have an eye to see and an ear to listen as emperor Jahangir put in his memories.
The meaning of “Shalamar” has been variously interpreted, most popularly of all as “abode of bliss” or “light of the moon”. The most possible interpretation, however, seems to be that the word “Shalimar” is a corruption of original “Shalamar”, composed of “Shali” (rice paddy) and “mar” (black loamy soil), in the Kashmiri Language. With its triple terraced gardens covering an area of 16 hectares decorated with marble pavilions, this is one of the world’s finest Persian style gardens, laid on the July 12, 1641 and completed on October 31, 1642 A.D by Emperor Shah Jahan. The first terrace is known as Farah Bakhsh (bestowed of pleasure). While the second middle terrace known as “Faiz Bakhsh” (bestowed of plenty) and the last third terrace is known as “Hayat Bakhsh” (bestowed of life). It is an enchanting piece of landscape where an imaginative gardener’s fancy has come into full bloom.Shalimar-garden this romantic Mughal monument takes its name from the Ancient word Sholah Mah means (the light of the moon). I amongst all the Mughal monuments, it stands out as an apostle of romanticism. It may have lost its glory to the ravages of time but it still retains an aura of romance that permeates all its corners. Due to its universal value the Shalamar Garden has been declared World Heritage cultural site by UNESCO IN 1981.
The tomb of Jahangir is believed that it was designed by Jahangir’s beloved wife Noor Jahan. However, it was built by his son Shah Jahan in 1637 A.D, who had a great love for architecture. The building of the tomb with four tall minarets looks like a big jewel set in the heart of verdant garden, the profusion of marble ornamentation, magnificent exterior, tasteful decorated interior, expensive perspective of the landscape all indicate the excellence of the builder’s taste and craftsmanship. Jahangir’s Tomb, however, is magnificent and decorated with pietra dura. The 99 names of Allah are inlaid which admit patterns of light.
We are no other than a moving row
Of visionary shapes that come and go
Round with this sun illuminated lantern held
In midnight by the master of the show
It is situated near the tomb of Jahangir, he was father in law of Shah Jahan the father of Mumtaz, the lady of the Taj Mahal at Agra in India. He was brother in law of Jahangir the brother of Nur Jahan. Asif Khan’s tomb has retained little of its original splendor.
Jahangir’s wife, Noor Jahan, was a power in the court and apparently much loved. It is said that when Jahangir was a young man he handed the lady two of the royal pigeons to hold. While pigeon-flying may not be a cult in many countries, it is a sport enjoyed by the gentlefolk of the subcontinent. When Jahangir returned for his birds, one had flown. He was surprised. “But how did it fly?” he asked. “Like this!” She laughed and let go the second bird. They say that from then on he was enchanted. The real name of Noor Jahan was Mehrun Nisa begum. She was given the title of Noor Jahan (light of the world) by the king when she was married to Emperor Jahangir in 1611. Noor Jahan was the only empress whose name appeared on the Mughal coins. She died in 1645 AD. Eighteen years after Jahangir’s death and was buried near her husband’s tomb. She is said to have built her mausoleum during her lifetime. Her tomb originally was exquisitely embellished with glazed lime plaster bearing beautiful floral fresco painting, but time treated this building cruelly. Today what remains is hardly enough to remind one of its original splendors but now the department of Archaeology is taking a keen interest to restore and preserve it.
She was also a poetess it was said by her about herself:
Upon my grave when i shall die,
No lamp shall burn nor jasmine lies,
No candle, with unsteady flame,
Serve as a reminder of my fame,
No bulbul chanting overhead
shall tell the world that i am dead.
The Lahore museum is regarded as one of the oldest and the most authentic in Pakistan was built during the times of the British in 1864 and opened to the public in 1894. Lahore museum has been constructed in the Mughal Gothic style the ceiling is decorated with Sadequain, the late Pakistani artist -cum-calligrapher decorated the ceiling with his illustrations of Iqbal’s poetry.
It is a treasure house containing unique materials of almost all ages displayed in several galleries Islamic Hindus an Jain wood carving and Islamic works such as illustrated manuscripts Qurans rugs an metalwork paintings are arranged there are statues of Buddha in various postures including the priceless piece of hantine fasting Buddha and various pieces of sculpture of the Gandhara period moreover the valuable treasure of Lahore museum included collection of Mughal paintings, coins and another unique feature is the collection of stamps issued by the government of Pakistan during the past decades.
The walled city is located to the south of river Ravi, which once used to flow along the walls of Lahore Fort .In the past, access to the walled city was possible only through one of its imposing gates, which date back to the days of Akbar the Great who held his court in Lahore for 14 years. Till the day of Ranjit Singh the ruler of Punjab, these gates were closed at night. The wall around old city was falling into decay when Ranjit Singh rebuilt it in 1812 A.D. He also surrounded it with a moat which was earth filled during the British Raj and fine gardens were laid out there. This fascinating area is a maze of interconnecting alleys and multi-storied houses. Let us walk through its picturesque and crowded bazaars.
Royal Bath is inside the Delhi Gate and built during the period of Emperor Shah Jahan in 1634/35 by Wazir Khan, it was used as a public bath containing cold and hot water and steam baths.
It is hidden within the old city and built by the same guy Wazir Khan who built Shahi Hammam in 1634/35 A.D at that time he was a governor, this beautiful mosque is called “The Architectural Ornament Of Lahore”. It is decorated with mosaics and frescoes of infinite variety and colors. Over the entrance is written, “Remove thy heart from the gardens of the world, and know that this building is the true abode of man”. There are two graves, one outside and one inside the mosque. The one inside of that of Miran Shah is is a 14th-century holy man. If the length of the grave is any indication, he must have been an extraordinarily tall man. The outside grave is of Syed Souf.
Fakir Khana Museum is located inside the Bhaati Gate the largest private antiques collection & Sikh museum in south Asia, is the honor and pride of the well known Fakir Family whose vibrant history can be amazingly traced back hundreds of years. This Private family museum is basically inside an early 20th century house carrying a kaleidoscope of unimaginable pieces. From gems & stones, portraits & miniatures to original manuscripts of holy Quran and Relics of Islam including the relics of the Holy Prophet, it is a place full of history, memories and treasures. Every single artifact at Fakir Khana Museum has a story. Entering the arches of the Fakir Khana Museum you truly get to know that not only this family is the proud bearer of the relics and the antiques collection but it’s also a part of an eventful history.
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