Disclaimer: None of the photographs used in this article are by the authors. These photographs have been used for the sole purpose of information, and are taken from national heritage organizations websites, and tourism promotion websites.
How many times have you heard the phrase Jinnay Lahore nai Wekheya o Jamaya ee nai (Who hasn’t seen Lahore hasn’t really been born)? What this means is that this walled city is home to so many delightful places and things to see that are not possible anywhere else in the world. And it is not just the Badshahi Mosque or Minar-e-Pakistan. Whether you are a foodie or a sightseer, Lahore has unlimited surprises in store for you. Let’s take a look at ten such places that you might not even know exist and await to delight you!
Even if you have heard about this place, this list of unique places could not have been complete without mentioning this absolute spectacle of history and culture intertwined with each other. This is going to be a special treat for you if you have the microbes of photography in you. The galzed colorful tiles and mosaic designs of this construction are as overwhelming for the senses as they are soothing for the heart. The floral motifs, and calligraphy in the peaceful shades of blue and green present once in a lifetime sight to the visitors. It took seven years to build this masterpiece, though it may look like it is the work of centuries. When the prayer call comes out of the speakers at the top, the whole building is washed with the nostalgic feelings of how enormously beautiful it would have been during the time of Shah Jehan when the royals, courtiers, and the nobles prayed inside this mosque’s structure.
Talking about Lahore will not be complete without mention of the food markets. Although many modern places have become little heavens for foodies, with the Defence and the Gulberg areas being the most popular for cafeterias and fast food, the delicacies of Punjab’s cuisine still rests with the oldesr food market of the city. In fact, a couple of restaurants including Haveli, Cooco’s Den, and Andaaz, have much more for you in addition to treating your taste buds. Since they are located close to the Red Light area of the city, which is perhaps older than the city itself, these restaurants also provide you a glimpse of this side of the history of Lahore as well. With expensive and stunning carpets on the floor, to mirror covered walls, and bolsters placed all across the rooms, you might as well take a trip right back to the courts of the Kings and Maharajas of Lahore who winded and dined in similar settings.
You might have heard “Maal-o-Maal” in several Lahore songs, but have you come across the phrase “Nehr-o-Nehr”. These two are signatures of the lingua franca of anyone who has had the fortune of living in this crown of the subcontinent city. The Canal, Nehr, of Lahore passes right through the middle of Lahore dividing the city into two parts. Even though the air and water pollution have considerably marred the beauty of the historical treasure, there is still a lot to see in this canal. Especially during festive seasons, the water stream is covered with handmade glims and lamps. When there used to be a proper Basant festival in Punjab, both sides of the canal had huge and colorful kites displayed on them. The trees on the banks of the canal also have such aesthetically pleasing lights wrapped around them as if the stars from the sky have actually come down to look at the canal and the denizens passing by. If you want to see Lahore’s canal in its full glory, visit the canal road at night near Eid, New Years, or any national festival.
Chau means four and burj means tower – Chauburji means four towers. A living monument of Mughal royal architecture and embracing hundreds of years of history within its four pillars, this monument used to be a part of one of the massive gardens during the time of the Mughal era. Chauburji is said to have been constructed as an attribute to the princess Zeb-un-Nissa, the eldest child of Emperor Aurangzeb and his chief consort Dilras Banu Begum. She was also a poet who encapsulated the beauty of the city in many of the writings. The tragedy is that if you stumble upon this place, you might not even be able to comprehend the history, as through the ages the garden around Chauburji has been replaced by noisy markets and is now a busy intersection. If you get the chance to visit this place, take a deep breath and let your mind wander at this remain of an era of splendor and magnificence.
Straight out of a history book, this railway station has been standing upright for more than 150 years. Although some of the tracks have been replaced for continued usage and safety of the trains, the signs of the century old construction are still vividly apparent. If you have enough time on your hands, you can roam around the station and look for small red bricks in some parts of the construction, not covered with cement or preserved with pillars around them. If you are lucky, you might also find a coolie (the laborer who carries luggage of passengers), who can tell you stories of decades ago. This station became one of the earliest means of transportation and cargo that led to the development and prosperity of the region. It was also this same Railway station that was swarmed with hundreds of thousands of people when India and Pakistan were divided. When you walk along the platforms, look up to see the arched structures, with same small red bricks, still standing uptight, proclaiming the pride it once held among the elites of the nation.
Haveli is the traditional local acronym for a large house, and this house is much larger in its history than it is in its appearance. Like Chauburji, Mubarak Begum Haveli is also one of the constructions carrying the splendor of Mughal architecture in it. Located inside another historical place of Lahore, Bhaati gate, Mubarak Haveli has now become a place of religious reverence for the Shia sect of Muslims, and is now known as an Imam Bargah. It was constructed in 1863, and then restored in 1972 because decades of wear and tear had made the building fragile, but the title of the haveli was left original. It was built by Mir Bahadur Ali Mir Nadir Ali, and Mir Bahar Ali. When Bahadur Ali was blessed with a son, whom he named Mubarak, he named this building after him.
You have obviously heard of this in the news, as Lahore always was and remains the center and core of the Pakistani politics. But it might surprise you to know that the building of the Lahore High Court is as much a marvel of architecture as it is of the cases that go on inside it. There are minars on top of the building that used to be the signature for every Muslim construction back in the day when Lahore used to be the Kings’ landing. However, once you have surveyed the beauty of the building that still has incredibly small and innumerable stairs all across the floors, you might want to take a look at the buge bor tree in the enormous courtyard of this High Court. One single tree has a truck large enough to host a small procession under its shadow. It is one of the most favored places for many lawyers to take their breaks and enjoy fresh air, especially in the scorching summers of Lahore.
Although now this historical market has now been merged with the Lahore museum, the beauty and glamour of this place is still unmatched with any other place in the city. This is the everlasting symbol of the hearty and courageous people of Lahore who never stop to shop come what may. Built by the British, originally it was only an indoor market, but over the years the expanding shops and the ever increasing number of thelley in and around the market have made it a more open place. It will perhaps be of pleasant information to you that many buddin gstartuos, especially food and organic food related, take their start from holding an exhibition in this very market. You can get literally everything you may need from this market, including your choice of birds and pets.
This is the place to go to when you wish to take a break from the nonstop hustle bustle of the city. This is most likely the only remaining garden from the Mughal dynasty, and remains the beloved location of those who romance the grandiose of history. It is also included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, and for good reason. The waterfalls, large ornamental ponds and the terraces with lodges built around the place have no parallel in the world. Shalamar gardens have undergone several renovations over the years, but they have been preserved as close to the original form as possible. If you are familiar with the Mughal Empire, you might also be able to breathe in the fragrances of the flowers that have bloomed this garden for decades.
If you are a fan of art and have heard about Abdur Rahman Chughtai, then this will be heaven on earth for you. He died in 1975, the same year this museum was opened to serve as a temporary exhibition of his art. However, the collection of this museum never stopped growing, just like its popularity among those who love and appreciate art. Known for his unique pencil sketches, etchings and more than anything water color paintings, Chughtai and Chughtai Museum continue to be an inspiration for students and art enthusiasts alike. You might also be unaware of the fact that Abdur Rahman Chughtai also designed many postage stamps and coins of Pakistan.
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