Another county bordering India is Pakistan. It is officially known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and is a federal parliamentary republic in South Asia. Its coastline runs along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman.
One of the cities we’ll be visiting in Pakistan is Lahore. So sit back and get ready for a most interesting tour. Lahore is the capital city of the Pakistan province of Punjab and is an intellectual, cultural and artistic hub. It is interesting to note that there are cities about which you can just not say enough this is one of them and the amazing and interesting facts about this city just kept leading me onward and onward.
You can get to know Lahore by the delicious smells and tastes found along its Food Street. There you can get a taste of all of the delicious dishes that Lahore has to offer. The MM Alam Road that runs from the Main Market to Firdous Market is a major road that was named after Muhammad Mahmood Alam, a well-known figure in the Pakistan Air Force. This is the place to go when you want to enjoy eating great food in a restaurant.
For an interesting and colorful shopping experience head for the Liberty Market and Anarkali Bazaar where you can find everything from leather goods to silk to footwear.
Looking to have a relaxing time and some fun then an ideal place to go is the Mini Golf Club. You can spend the day playing mini golf and then enjoy the atmosphere of the club and sampling some delicious fusion food.
For more shopping and entertainment check out Fortress Stadium. Here you’ll find play-lands for children like Joyland and Sinbaad. This is the finest shopping mall in Lahore. Among the many shops here is Hyperstar, which is the Pakistani version of Walmart.
In 1566 Emperor Akbar had Lahore Fort built. It has since then gone through many changes and been rebuilt and restored. Today it is the main attraction of the Old City. In 1618 the fort was modified by Jahangir and later it was damages by the Sikhs and the British. Mughal emperors built palaces, halls and created gardens. It is believed that this site includes some of Lahore’s most ancient remains.
Visitors can enter the fort through the colossal Alamgiri Gate, built by Aurangzeb in 1674 as a private entrance to the royal quarters. The gate is large enough so that several elephants carrying members of the royal household can enter at one time.
Moti Mosjid or Pearl Mosque was built by Shah Jahan in 1644 to be used privately by the ladies of the royal household and was restored to its original form in 1904.
In 1631 Shah Jahan built the The Diwan-i-Aam or Hall of Public Audience and Akbar added an upper balcony. Here emperors would make a daily public appearance, receive official visitor and review parades.
To the north side is Khawab Garhi-Jahangir or Jahangir’s Sleeping Quarters, Here is a small museum of Mughal antiquities.
The Shish Mahal or Palace of Mirrors was built by Shah Jahan in 1631. The stucco interior is decorated with glass mirrors. You can see wonderful views of the fort from here.
On the west side is the marble pavilion Naulakha decorated with studded tiny jewels in the intricate floral motifs.
Visitors can exit the fort by going down the Hathi Paer or Elephant Path and through the Shaj Burj Gate. On the outer wall you can see fine painted tile work.
On the site are three small museums (photography forbidden):
The Armory Gallery exhibits items like pistols, swords, daggers, spears and arrows.
The Sikh Gallery displays rare oil paintings.
The Mughal Gallery has exhibits of old manuscripts, calligraphy, coins and miniature paintings among them an ivory miniature of India’a Taj Mahal.
Both Lahore Fort and Shalimar Gardens are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Shalimar Gardens was created by Shah Jahan in the 17th century. This is a Mughal garden with enclosed walls, a rectilinear layout of paths and has flowing water. It is arranged on three terraces and there are elegant pavilions among the poplar and cypress trees which reflect in pools of water.
At the foot of Lahore Fort you’ll find Old Lahore with narrow alley ways surrounded by a 9m-high wall with 13 gates. You’ll be stepping back in time here. To find your way in and out it is best to orientate by one of the main gates – Delhi Gate. In local language the Old City of Lahore is also referred to “Andron-e-Shehr”, meaning Inner City and was fortified by a city wall during the Mughal Period. At this time only six gates are operational.
Near Delhi Gate you’ll find Wazir Khan Mosque, built in 1635 by Wazir Khan, Governor of Lahore. This mosque is famous for its wonderful tile work. At one time it was an important center for training Islamic calligraphers.
Among the oldest and finest havelis or mansions is Mubarak Haveli. It was built by Mir Bahadur Ali, Mir Nadir Ali and Mir Bahar Ali the sons of a well-known “tabeeb” and “hakeem” during the time of Mughal emperor Muhammed Shah. It too three years to built and after the three brothers moved in, Bahadar Ali’s wife gave birth to a sun and this was seen as a good omen after which this haveli was given its name. The family continued to prosper in the fields of business and medicine and after some time branched off into tow major components, the Fakir family and the Syed family.
To the right of Bhatti Gate you’ll find a small mansion that is home to the Faqir Khana Museum. This museum displays the treasures of the Faquir family, who have lived in Lahore since the 18th century. It is said to be the largest private collection in South Asia, with more than 13,000 pieces of art. Among the items on display are relics of the Prophet Mohammed (displayed only for one day during the Islamic month of Muharram), early Qurans and other illuminated manuscripts, miniature paintings, porcelain pieces, old coins, Islamic artwork, carvings, clothes worn by the Mughal emperors, a small armory of Sikh weapons and carpets from the royal courts. Since this is a private collection you must call the curator in advance. No photography is permitted and you should take your shoes off and refrain from touching any of the items.
Badshahi Mosque was completed in 1674. It is located opposite the main gateway to the Lahore Fort and is one of the world’s largest mosques. Here you can see huge gateways, four tapering minarets of red sandstone, three vast marble domes and an open courtyard that can hold up to 100,000 people. The rooms above the entrance gate supposedly house the hairs of the Prophet Mohammed and other relics. When illuminated in the evening the mosque looks particularly lovely.
In the courtyard stands the Tomb of Allama Mohammed Iqbal. This is a memorial built with red sandstone to honor the philosopher-poet who in the 1930s first postulated the idea of an independent Pakistan.
No visit to Lahore is complete unless you spend an evening at the Wagah Border. This is the place that marks the border between Pakistan and neighboring, India. Every evening tourists gather here to see the Wagah Border ceremony, a military practice performed by both Pakistan and India at the same time since 1959. The elaborate drill done on both sides is an exciting experience to view.
Jahangir’s Tomb stands in a garden on the northern outskirts of Lahore. It has elaborately decorated sandstone and the tomb is that of Emperor Jahangir. It was built in 1637 by his son, Shah Jahan and it is believed that it was designed by Jahangir’s widow, Nur Jahan. The tomb is made of marble and has trellis decorations of pietra dura bearing the 99 attributes of Allah in Arabic calligraphy. These are inside a vaulted chamber, decorated with marble tracery and with four minarets.
Outside is a sunken passageway where at one time one tunnel lead to Shalimar Gardens and another to Hinar Minar. Today both tunnels stand bricked up.
The entrance to the tomb courtyard lies to the right of Akbar’s Caravanserai, a 180-room resting place for pilgrims, travelers and their animals. It was built by Shah Jahn at the same time as the tomb. The western gateway leads to the Tomb of Asif Khan, Jahangir’s brother-in-law and father to Mumtaz Mahal (the lady for whom India’s Taj Mahal was created.
In Bahria Town, Lahore you’ll find the Grand Jamia Mosque, which is the third largest mosque in Pakistan and the fifth largest in the world. It was built in 2014 in a lovely combination of modern architectural styles.
Looking ahead a few hundred meters from Grand Jamia Mosque you’ll start to wonder just where you are at the moment. This is because there stands a replica of the Eiffel Tower and it has become a tourist attraction in Lahore.
Take the time to visit the excellent Lahore Museum, offering exhibits spanning the recorded history of the subcontinent. This is the biggest museum in Pakistan. There are almost 20 galleries that display items from the Stone Age to the 20th century. Some of the highlights include Gandharan sculpture (especially the haunting Fasting Budhha), manuscripts, Qurans, an array of miniature paintings, carpets, various pieces of art from the Islamic period, articles from Moenjodaro, Harappa and other Indus Valley civilization sites and a wonderful collection of coins from the Achaemenid Empire onwards. At Kim’s Bookshop you can find interesting novels and general-interest books.
Zamzama the mighty cannon sits on a brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Ghar – The Wonder House as Pakistanians call the Lahore Museum. This cannon was made famous in Rudyard Kipling’s classic 1901 novel titled “Kim” and was originally named Zamzama, meaning “Lion’s Roar”. The cannon was used in various battles and later brought to Lahore by Maharaja Ranjit Singh as a symbol of his conquests. Kipling’s father was the first curator of the Lahore Museum and the author himself worked at the now defunct Civil & Military Gazette in Lahore from 1882 to 1887.
Soaring high up into the sky in Iqbal Park is the 60m tall Minar-i-Pakistan. It was built in 1960 and commemorates the signing of the Pakistan Resolution on March 23, 1940 by the All India Muslim League, which paved the way for the founding of Pakistan. There are marble tablets all around the base that record the text of the resolution, as well as the 99 attributes of Allah, passages from the Quran and the works of Allama Iqbal and Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the two most important figures of the Pakistani Independence movement. Unfortunately due to the high rate of suicides the lift and stairs to get to the top of the Minar for awesome views of Lahore have been closed. In the afternoons people enjoy gathering in Iqbal Park to enjoy the weather, take a stroll, play cricket or fly kites.
Prince Kamran Baradari Park is located upon a small island in the Ravi River. Here you’ll find the baradari or summer pavilion of Prince Kamran, the son of the first Mughal emperor Zahiruddin Babur. At the time that this was completed in 1540 the Ravi was just several meters away and the baradari was in a large garden adjacent to the town. Its two stories still open to a 12-columned vaulted veranda (baradari literally means 12 gates).Today few visitors come here but if water levels are not too low there are rowing boats that can seat up to 10 people making the trip from the Lahore side.
Jallo Park or Jallo Wildlife Park was established in 1978. It is a public recreation and wildlife site located in Lahore District, Punjab, Pakistan. It stretches for 461 acres and is one of the three main wildlife parks in Lahore. The other two are Changa Manga and Lahore Zoo Safari. The park has a Forest Research Center, Wildlife Breeding Center, restaurants, coffee shops, a theme park, a sports complex, a swimming pool and a large lake for boating and fishing.
Among the bird population are the common pheasant, Indian peafowl and rock pigeon. Among the mammals are the Asian black bear, Bactrian camel, Chital, Chinkara and Sambar. Reptiles include the Indian cobra and the Muggar crocodile .