Lahore has so much to offer for a morning person, like me. When life gets boring, and I get tired of scrolling my social media newsfeeds, I go out and tour the gems of my city, Lahore. I believe that I was placed on this earth to shop and eat, LOL. So, last weekend I decided to visit my childhood favorite places in the OLD WALLED CITY OF LAHORE.
LAHORE – My First Love
The cultural capital and the heart of modern-days has always been the hub in historical times, as well. It came to my surprise that the Lahore was named after the Hindu son of god “LAVA,” Lord Rama and Sita.
Lahore has a mix of every ruler it has in the past – The Jains, The Hindus, The Great Mughal Empire, The Afghans, The Sikhs, and the British rule. They all have a role in building this beautiful city, for ages.
Well as we all know that it reached to its peak of architectural glory during the times of the Mughal Rulers. Mughal buildings and gardens have survived the perils of time. The Walled City was bestowed with numerous monuments during the Mughal era, with some of Lahore’s most iconic structures being located in Walled City, such as the lavishly decorated Wazir Khan Mosque (وزیر خان مسجد), the massive Badshahi Mosque (بادشاہی مسجد), Lahore fort (لاہور قلعہ) , Fakir Khana museum (فقیر خانہ عجائب گھر ) and the Shahi Hammam ( شاہی حمام).
Breakfast at the Food Street
The food street of Lahore, where the best Lahori breakfast (لاہوری ناشتہ) is served. Here we have choices of famous Naan Paaye (نان پائے), Nehari (نہاری ), Shahi Haleem (شاہی حلیم), Halwa Poori (حلوہ پوری ), Murgh Chane (مرغ چنے), Lassi (لسسی) and Maghaz Masala (مغز مسالہ) on the menu at every stall. The new food street has great historical importance, and it is housing so many cafes. The top of the list is the Andaz, the Haveli, the Sweet tooth, Cucu’s den and if you walk a few miles ahead, there is a restaurant named the Poet (that is my most favorite among all).
Wazir Khan Masjid
Located on along the southern side of Lahore’s Shahi Guzargah (شاہی گزرگاہ) aka The Royal Road, Masjid Wazir Khan is not only a historical monument but also it is a place to get closer to Allah. This ornately decorated mosque is famous for its Kashi-Kari work (the intricate faience tile work) with the embellishment of the frescoes work. This magnificent mosque was built in the reign of Mughal Emporer Shah Jahan under the commission of Wazir Khan (علم الدین انصاری ).
Visitors also read Fatiha and pay homage to the adjacent shrine of the Sufi saint Syed Muhammad Ishaq Gazruni, also known as Miran Badshah (میراں بادشاہ).
It is located in the walled city, a few steps from the Dehli Gate. It was also a gift from the times of Shah Jahan reign.
The eponymous Mughal governor of Lahore built the hammam. It is undoubtedly worth a visit. Now encircled by the bazaar of some dusty, nondescript old shops, it gives a feel of a hidden treasure. The Aga Khan Foundation and its civil society partners have done a magnificent job in the restoration of the building.
Beside the small reception, the hammam consisted of three areas: the dressing area(جامہ خانہ), the warm baths (نیم گرم ), and the hot baths (گرم حمام ). Each portion is further separated for male and female visitors.
Who doesn’t know about the iconic Badshahi mosque, located in the heart of Lahore, along the west side of the city? I have to mention that the evening view of the mosque is mesmerizing.
This crown jewel was built under the commission of Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s foster brother, and Governor of Lahore at the time, Muzaffar Hussein aka Fidai Khan Koka.
The mosque is bold, alluring and majestic in its expression and features the red stone intricated with marble. It stands across the Hazoori Bagh (حضوری باغ). The entrance, the courtyard, the prayer hall, the, and the domes have a reflection of Persian style resembling Jama Masjid in Dehli. With a capacity of accommodating around 56000 namaazis, the courtyard of the masjid is my favorite place to sit in the evening and feel the tranquility that this ancient building has to offer.
History by Night – Tour of Lahore Fort
The Lahore Fort (شاہی قلعہ) is pretty different from the many fortresses in our region, as it contains a variety of monuments that were built over centuries in close vicinity of its premises. Different rulers built many famous monuments in the fort including Diwan-e-Khas (دیوان خاص), Diwan-e-Aam (دیوان عام), Almaghiri Gate (عالمگیری گیٹ), Shah Burj Gate (شاہی برج گیٹ), Masti Gate (مستی گیٹ), Roshnaie Gate (روشنائی گیٹ), The Pictured Wall, Sheesh Mahal (شیش محل), Moti Masjid (موتی مسجد) and Lal Burj (لعل برج) etc.
You can buy the ticket for the “history by night” at the Roshnaie gate and the tour the area. Starting from 19:30, you enjoy the trip as part of a group guided by the Ameer.
You will enter through the Hazoori Gate and offer Fateha at the Iqbal tomb. Then in front of the large gate, you will be entertained by the flute players. You will ride your way towards the Shah-Burj gate on beautifully embellished shahi-sawari of a rickshaw. There you will see the Famous Pictured wall. I wish I had eight eyes to absorb everything happening on this fantastic piece of art. Next, there will be a short tour of the Gurdwara (گردوارہ ڈیرہ صاحب).
From there you will ride to The Shahjahan quadrangle passing by Diwane-e-Khas and Deewan-e-Aam. A special permisssion is required to enter the Sheesh Mahal, which was built for Shahjahan’s wife. Under the reflection of the thousands of mirrors around you will get a feeling of standing among countless stars. In Shah Jahan’s quadrangle, the Kathak dance is performed, and you are served with special Kehwa (قہوہ) and sweets. You will then move to the basements and then Hathi pai to Roshnaie Gate, where your tour ends.
Images by: Mobeen Ansari