Lahore is the capital of the province of Punjab, and is the second most densely populated city in Pakistan. It is also known as the Gardens of the Mughals or City of Gardens, after the significant rich heritage of the Mughal Empire. In most popular culture Lahore is known as the Heart of Pakistan. It is located near the rivers Ravi and Wagah close to the Pakistan-India border.
Ancient Lahore Edit
A legend based on oral traditions lacking in authenticity states that Lahore was named after Lava, son of the Hindu god Rama, who supposedly founded the city. To this day, the Lahore Fort has a vacant temple dedicated to Lava. Likewise, the Ravi River that flows through northern Lahore was named for the Hindu goddess Durga.
The oldest written authentic document about Lahore was written by an anonymous writer in AD 982 and is called Hudud-i-Alam. In this document, Lahore is referred to as a small 'shahr' (City) with "impressive temples, large markets and huge orchards". It points out to "two major markets around which dwellings exist", and it also points out to "the mud walls that enclose these two dwellings to make it one".
There are only a very few references of Lahore until it was captured by Mahmud in 10th century. During 1021, Mahmud appointed the throne to Ayaz, making Lahore the capital of the Ghaznavid Empire. Malik Ayaz, son of Aymáq Abu'n-Najm, was a Turkic slave who rose to the rank of officer and general in the army of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni.
His rise to power was a reward for the devotion and love he bore his master. The Sultan is seen as an example of the man who, because of the power of his love, becomes "a slave to his slave." Ayaz became the paragon of devotion, and a model of purity in Sufi literature. The two, Ayaz and Mahmud of Ghazni have gained pride of place among the favorite pairs of devoted in Persian literature.
In 1021 the Sultan raised Ayaz to kingship, awarding him the throne of Lahore, which the Sultan had taken after a long siege and a fierce battle in which the city was torched and depopulated. He rebuilt and repopulated the city. He also added many important features, such as a masonry fort which he built in 1037-1040 on the ruins of the previous one, demolished in the fighting, and city gates. The present Lahore Fort is built in the same location. Under his rulership the city became a cultural and academic center, renowned for poetry. It is said that in old age "Sultán Mahmúd . . . spent his whole time in the society of Malik Ayáz, neglecting the business of the state." The tomb of Malik Ayaz can still be seen in the Rang Mahal commercial area of town.
After the fall of the Ghaznavid Empire, Lahore was ruled by various dynasties known as the Delhi Sultanate including the Khiljis, Tughlaqs, Sayyid, Lodhis and Suris. When Sultan Qutb-ud-din Aybak was crowned in 1206 here. It was not until 1524 AD that Lahore became part of the Mughal Empire.
Lahore touched the peak of architectural glory during the rule of the Mughals. The Mughal emperors beautified the city with some of the finest architectural buildings and gardens that have survived the hazards of time.
In 1585 AD Mughal emperor Akbar decided to make Lahore the capital of the Mughal Empire. From 1524 to 1752 Lahore was part of the Mughal Empire. During Akbar's rule, Lahore was the capital of the empire from 1584 to 1598. During this time a massive fort, the Lahore Fort, was built on the ruins of an older fort. A few buildings within the fort were added by his heir and son, Jahangir, the Mughal emperor who is buried in the city. Shah Jahan, his son, was born in Lahore. He, like his father, extended the Lahore Fort and built many other structures in the city, such as the Shalimar Gardens.The last of the great Mughals, Aurangzeb, who ruled from 1658 to 1707, built the city's most famous monuments, the Badshahi Masjid and the Alamgiri Gate next to the Lahore Fort. This attracts many tourists yearly and is used by the Government to address the nation or social events.
The land of Lahore also played host to one of the most brutual tortures in the history of mankind. The fifth Sikh Guru (prophet) Guru Arjan Dev was martyred in lahore. On the 16 June of every year since 1606, the Sikhs have commemorated the martyrdom of their first martyr, the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev. Sikh history until then had been peaceful and non-violent. All the Sikh Gurus had taught the message of compassion, love, dedication, hard work, worship of one God and the commitment to peace and harmony for all the peoples of the world.
After the death of Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1605, his son Jahagir became the leader of India. Muslim fundamentalists concerned at the rapid increase in the popularity of Sikhism, moved the new head of state Emperor Jahangir against the Guru. Jahangir himself was also jealous about Guru. He promptly obliged the enemies of Guru Sahib. Many baseless allegations were levelled against Guru Sahib, one of those was helping the rebellious Khusrau, who was Jahangir's son and determined to rule Punjab.
This is what Emperor Jahangir wrote in his diary called the "Tuzuk-i-Jahagiri", which translates to "Memoirs of Jahangir"
"In Gobindwal, which is on the river Biyãh (Beas), there was a Hindu named Arjun,’ in the garments of sainthood and sanctity, so much so that he had captured many of the simple-hearted of the Hindus, and even of the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners, and they had loudly sounded the drum of his holiness. They called him Guru, and from all sides stupid people crowded to worship and manifest complete faith in him. For three or four generations (of spiritual successors) they had kept this shop warm. Many times it occurred to me to put a stop to this vain affair or to bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam.
At last when Khusrau passed along this road this insignificant fellow proposed to wait upon him. Khusrau happened to halt at the place where he was, and he came out and did homage to him. He behaved to Khusrau in certain special ways, and made on his forehead a finger-mark in saffron, which the Indians (Hinduwän) call qashqa, (Tilak) and is considered propitious. When this came to my ears and I clearly understood his folly, I ordered them to produce him and handed over his houses, dwelling-places, and children to Murtaza Khan, and having confiscated his property commanded that he should be put to death."
Accordingly in late May 1606, Guru Arjan Dev was arrested and brought to Lahore where he was subject to severe torture. He was made to sit on a burning hot plate while hot sand was poured over his head and body. It is said that Mian Mir tried to intercede on behalf of Guru Sahib but Guru ji forbid him to interfere in the "Will of the Almighty". Guru Ji body was blistered and burnt but shockingly he didn't even utter a word in pain apar from reciting the name of true lord God. For several days, the Guru was subjected to this unrelenting torture. Subsequently, Guru Arjan Dev demanded for a bath in the river, Ravi. As thousands watched he entered the river never to be seen again. Thus Guru Sahib embraced martyrdom on Jeth Sudi 4th (1st Harh) Samvat 1663, (May 16, 1606).
The martyrdom of Guru Sahib changed the entire character of the revolt radically from a passive people to courageous saint soldiers.
17th and 18th CenturyEdit
During the 18th century, as Mughal power dwindled, there were constant invasions. Lahore was a suba, a province of the Afghan Empire, governed by provincial rulers with their own court. These governors managed as best they could though for much of the time it must have been a rather thankless task to even attempt.
Sikh rule by Sher-e PanjabEdit
The 1740s were years of chaos and between 1745 and 1756 there were nine changes of governors. Invasions and chaos in local government allowed Sikhs Misls groups to gain control in some areas.In 1799 all Sikh Misls joined into one to from a Sikh Sovreign Sikh State,it was ruled by Maharaja ranjeet Singh from the Royal Capital Lahore, (Ranjeet Singh also known as Sher-e-Panjab, lion of the Panjab). This was known as the Golden Age of the Sikhs.
Ranjit Singh had created a state based upon noble traditions, where everyone worked together, regardless of background, and where citizens were made to look at the things that they shared in common, e.g. being Punjabi, rather than any differences.
Lahore was given the status of being the capital of the Punjab province in the new state of Pakistan. Since 1947, Lahore was heavily affected by large-scale riots between Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs that led to huge structural damages to many historical monuments such as the Lahore Fort. However, the Government of Pakistan was able finance funds to make the monuments return to their former glory. In 1996 the ICC Cricket World Cup final match was held at the Gaddafi Stadium.
Geography and climate Edit
Lahore is bounded on the north and west by the Sheikhupura District, on the east by Wagah and on the south Kasur District. The Ravi River flows on the northern side of Lahore. Lahore city covers a total land area of 404 km², but the city is still growing at a considerable rate. The city lies between 31°15′ and 31°45′ North latitude and 74°01′ and 74°39′ East longitude.
The weather of Lahore is extreme during the months of May, June, and July when the temperatures soar to 45 degrees Celsius which is the hottest time of the year. Following the end of July the monsoon seasons starts with heavy rainfall throughout the city as well as the province. December, January and February are the coldest months when temperatures can drop to −1 degree Celsius.
The City-District of Lahore comprises nine administrative towns and one separate military cantonment but there are also some historic neighborhoods of Lahore.
According to the 1998 census, Lahore's population was nearly 6.8 million. Mid 2006 government estimates now put the population at somewhere around 10 million, which makes it the second largest city in Pakistan, after Karachi. It is considered to be one of the thirty largest cities of the world. Also according to the 1998 census, 86.2%, or 6,896,000 of the population are Punjabis, 10.2% or 816,000 are Muhajir. There are known to be more than a million Pashtun in Lahore. Finally, the Seraikis at 0.4% number about 32,000. Figures are unavailable for the migrants from Iran who have permanently settled in Lahore but where not included in the census.
The Architecture of Lahore reflects the history of Lahore and is remarkable for its variety and uniqueness. There are buildings left from the centuries ago rule of the Mughal Dynasty. In addition, there are newer buildings which are very modern in their design. An interesting fact about Lahore's architecture is that much of Lahore's architecture has always been about making a statement as much as anything else.
Lahore's most famous tech-bazaar is the Hafeez Center located on the Gulberg Main Boulevard and Electronics Market at Hall Road. Here one can find the latest computer systems, accessories, mobile phones and music CDs. Other well known and popular shopping areas are the Liberty Market in Gulberg and at the Fortress Stadium. There are also many smart shopping malls in Gulberg, Model Town, M.M. Alam Road and Cantonment. Apart from these are many new shopping areas being developed in many of Lahore's brand new suburban developments, such as Bahria, Lake City, and the cantonment.
For traditional shopping, the Anarkali and Ichhra bazaars are the most popular of the city’s many bazaars. The alleys and lanes of this bazaar are full of traditional wares like leather articles, embroidered garments, glass bangles, beaten gold and silver jewellery, creations in silk-anything that your wish for a bargain. Anarkali is named after the famous courtesan of Akbar’s court called Anarkali (Pomegranate Blossom). The grave of Sultan Qutbuddin Aibak, who died falling off his horse while playing polo is located in Anarkali. Mahmud Ghaznavi's General Malik Ayaz lies buried in the commercial area of Rang Mahal.
Restaurants and cafés Edit
Lahoris are known for their love of food and eating. While Lahore has a great many traditional and modern restaurants, in recent years there have been the appearance of Western fast food chains, such as McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Subway Sandwiches, Dunkin Donuts, Nando's and Kentucky Fried Chicken all over the city. A recent tourist attraction in Lahore is the famous Food Street in the historic locales of Lahore (Gawalmandi, Anarkali, and Badshahi). Food Streets have undergone restorations and are cordoned off in the evenings for pedestrian traffic only, with numerous cafés serving local delicacies under the lights and balconies of restored havelis (traditional residential dwellings).
Some of the trendiest restaurants in Lahore are concentrated on the M M Alam Road in Gulberg. Here, dozens of high-class culinary outlets, ranging from western franchises to very traditional, ethnic, or theme restaurants, attract all classes of Lahore's citizens. New restaurants are constantly opening, and the business is extremely competitive. It is said that eating well is a peculiarly Lahori attribute, and the innumerable crowded, boisterous restaurants of Lahore that are open late into the night are a visible testament to this passion.
It is located opposite the old University Hall, a Mughal style building on the Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam. The Museum contains some fine specimens of Mughal and Sikh door-ways and wood-work and contains a large collection of paintings.
Tollinton Market is one of the earliest Raj buildings on the Mall. This building was hastily constructed for the Punjab Exhibition of 1864, and was not intended to be permanent; but want of funds has prevented hitherto the erection of a more suitable structure. The exhibition displayed both specimens of the antiquities, arts and manufactures of the Punjab, and specimens of its raw products, vegetable, mineral and animal. Later, it became the most important municipal market outside the Old City selling fresh fruit, vegetables and other consumable items.
Gardens and ParksEdit
Lahore is known as the City of Gardens. There were many gardens in Lahore during the Mughal era, and although some have since been destroyed, many still survive.
The Shalimar Gardens were laid out during the reign of Shah Jahan. The gardens follow the familiar char bagh model (four squares) with three descending terraces.
The Bagh-e-Jinnah were established in 1862. The gardens were organized in an area covering 112 acres.
There are also many other gardens and parks in the city, including: Hazuri Bagh, Iqbal Park, Mochi Bagh, Gulshan Iqbal Park, Nasir Bagh Lahore, and Changa Manga (Artificial Forest Near Lahore in Kasur district).
Lahore is known as the education capital of Pakistan, with more colleges and universities than any other city in Pakistan.
The city holds some of the finest institutes of higher education in the country, including a number of public and private universities. Most of the reputable universities are public, but in recent years there has also been an upsurge in the number of private universities. LUMS, the Lahore University of Management Sciences, is the most renowned business school in Pakistan. The University of Lahore is also a fine university in the private sector. It is located in the industrial area of the city where students have full opportunity to get jobs and internships.
The University of the Punjab is the oldest institute of higher learning in the country and is nationally recognized as a prestigious university.
NCA, the National College of Arts, is the oldest and most renowned arts college of Pakistan. The oldest institution of Pakistan, Government College Lahore (now University) is also situated in Lahore. It was established in 1864.
Lahore is one of the most accessible cities of Pakistan. In addition to the historic Grand Trunk Road, a motorway was completed in 1997, from Lahore to Islamabad. Due to Lahore ever increasing traffic problems the government introduced many underpasses to ease congestion and prevent traffic jams. According to official figures, Lahore has the highest number of underpasses in Pakistan. Lahore still has very high levels of air pollution and smog, mostly due to the industry growing at an ever-increasing rate. Air pollution levels are reaching record peaks and smog is so thick that on some days it is only possible to see a few metres ahead before a huge haze is visible.
The Pakistan Railways Headquarters is located in Lahore. Pakistan Railways provides an important mode of transportation for commuters in Lahore. The railway connects the farthest corners of the country and brings them closer to Lahore for business, sight seeing and education. The Lahore Central Railway Station is also located in the heart of the city.
As air travel has been on the rise, the government built a completely new airport for the city that was constructed in 2003. It was named Allama Iqbal International Airport after the national poet of Pakistan Mohammed Iqbal, and is served by many international airlines as well as the national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines.
The center to Lahore's economy is the LSE, Lahore Stock Exchange, Pakistan's second largest stock exchange; it is closely linked to the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE). The Lahore has offices of all Pakistani government corporations including WAPDA and WASA as well as other public companies such as Deewan Motors, Habib Bank, Pakistan State Oil and Lever Brothers. Lahore also hosts the country's largest IT companies, most of which are located in the IT park, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of the Pakistan's software exports.
Food and restaurant businesses remain open all night long. The shopping markets are usually open late into the night. Lahore is the second largest financial hub of Pakistan and has various industrial areas including Kot Lakhpat and the new Sundar Industrial Estate (near Raiwand).
As Lahore expands, previous residential areas are being turned into commercial centres and the suburban population is constantly moving outwards. This has resulted in the development of the Liberty Market, the MM Alam Road, the new Jail Road which has some of the largest office buildings in Lahore, and the new eight-lane Main Boulevard which has some of Lahore's largest and finest shopping centres.
At present, hand-knitted carpets produced in and around Lahore are among Pakistan's leading export products and their manufacturing is the second largest cottage and small industry. Lahore based carpet exports make up nearly 85% of all carpet exports of Pakistan.
Craftsmen in Lahore have the ability to produce any type of carpet using all the popular motifs: medallions, paisleys, traceries and geometric designs in various combinations. The Lahore Design Centre at the Punjab Small Industries Corporation maintains a separate section of carpet designing to experiment with new designs. Lahore is famous for single-wefted designs in Turkoman and Caucasian style, and double-wefted Mughal types.
Lahore's economic importance lies also on many government institutes and international companies headquartered in the city.
The city's economic importance also lies due to its historic and cultural importance, even though, unlike other smaller cities, industrial estates are far fewer and smaller. Being the capital of the largest province in Pakistan fetches the city the highest amount of development budget in the country.
Lahore's culture is unique due to its history. Known as the cultural capital or the Heart of Pakistan for the same reason, the city has been the seat to The Mughal Empire, the Sikh Empire and the capital of Punjab in the Mahmud Ghaznavi's Empire (11th century).
Lahore played an important role in Pakistani history, as it was in this city where the declaration for Pakistan was made. It was the largest city in the newly formed Pakistan at the time of independence and provided the easiest access to India, with its porous border near the Indian city of Amritsar, only thirty miles to the east. There was a high proportion of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims living closely in Lahore in the pre-Partition era, and thus it suffered many revolts and demonstrations, as well as bloodshed and mobs. Lahore was also wanted by the Sikhs as it used to be their capital. Initially, Lahore was planned to be made the capital of the newly-formed Pakistan, but the idea was dropped due to the city's close proximity to India; Karachi was chosen instead. Lahore's unique history amounts up to a culture which is among the most rich in the world. The history, institutions, food, clothing, films, music, fashion, and liberal community lifestyle attract many from all over the country.
Lahore is an extremely festive city. The people of Lahore celebrate many festivals and events throughout the year.
Basant is a Punjabi festival that marks the coming of spring. Basant celebrations in Pakistan are centered in Lahore, and people from all over the country as well as abroad come to the city for the annual festivities. Kite flying competitions take place all over the city's rooftops during Basant.
The Festival of Lamps, or Mela Chiraghan, is an important and popular event in Lahore. This is celebrated at the same time as Basant, every spring on the last Friday of March, outside the Shalimar Gardens. People from all walks of life gather to participate.
The National Horse and Cattle Show is one of the most famous annual festivals, it is held in Spring in the Fortress Stadium. During the week long activities, there is a display of livestock, horse and camel dances, tent pegging, colourful folk dances from all regions of Pakistan, mass-band displays and tattoo shows in the evenings.
The World Performing Arts Festival is held every autumn (usually in November) at the Alhambra cultural complex, a large venue consisting of several theatres and amphitheatres. This ten day festival consists of musicals, theatre, concerts, dance, solo, mime and puppetry shows. This has a rich international character with nearly 80% of the shows performed by international performers. On average 15-20 different shows are performed every day of the festival.
Gaddafi Stadium is a Test cricket ground in Lahore. It was designed by Pakistani architect Nayyar Ali Dada and completed in 1959. After its renovation for the 1996 Cricket World Cup, the stadium has a capacity of over 60,000 spectators for high profile matches or events.
Near by is an athletics stadium, a basketball pitch, an Al Hamra open air hall similar in design to the coliseum and the worlds largest field hockey stadium, all of these in a single huge complex.
Sites of interest Edit
- Lahore Fort
- Badshahi Masjid
- Hazuri Bagh
- Data Durbar Complex
- Lahore Zoo
- Gawal Mandi
- Shalamar Garden
- Gates of Lahore
- Tomb of Muhammad Iqbal
- Bibi Pak Daman
- Samadhi of Ranjit Singh
- Tomb of Shah Jamal
- Tomb of Lal Hussain
- Tomb of Anārkalī
- Tomb of Jahangir
- Tomb of Empress Nur Jehan
- Tomb of Abdul Hasan Asaf Khan
- Red light district
- Shahi Mohalla
- Avari Hotel
- Pearl Continental Hotel
- Holiday Inn
- Best Western
- Grand Hyatt (2010)
- Hyatt Regency (2009)
- Royal Palm Golf and Country Club & Intercontinental Hotel
- Casino Hotel
- Shrine of Hazrat Miran Hussain Zanjani
- Shrine of Hazrat Data Gang Buksh
- Shrine of Hazrat Baba Shah Jamal
- Shrine of Hazrat Madho Lal Hussain
- Shrine of Hazrat Mian Mir
- Shrine of Pir Makki