Lahore is a very, very ancient historical city, said to have been founded thousands of years ago by Lav, the son of Sri Ram Chandra.
It has a chequered history. We, first of all, read of it as ruled over by Raja Jai Pal, a Brahmin. Mahmud of Ghazni invaded his kingdom, and defeated Jai Pal in 1001, and Anand Pal in 1008. Lahore was not then a place of great importance.
During the Mughal period, Lahore was a place of great magnificence. Akbar and other Mughal Emperors beautified the place with gardens, mosques, mausoleums, and forts. It, later on, fell into the hands of the Sikhs, and was the headquarters of Ranjit Singh, whose stamp it still bears. Modern Lahore, with its old associations, numerous historical buildings and modern improvements, is a picturesque place, and a very important educational and political centre in Pakistan. The river Ravi, which flows at a distance of about two miles from the city, adds to its beauty and charm. The city and the neighbourhood contain ancient ruins which invest the place with great historical interest.
The streets are narrow and winding, forming a labyrinth of quaint scenes. The houses are lofty, five or six storeys high, and many are richly decorated. They, with their projecting balconies, which is a beautiful architectural feature of Pakistani houses, look picturesque. The bazars are densely crowded, dusty, and evil-smelling, but full of interest.
There are thirteen gates by which we can enter the city. There used to be a rampart round the whole town for defence, which in these days of peace was no longer considered necessary, and was removed. The Mall and the principal roads outside the city are all coal-tarred to put down dust, and the other roads are all macadamized. Round the city, there are public gardens, and a canal runs through them. The gardens were once full of fruit trees, but they have been turned into parks, and are the favorite resorts of the people of the city morning and evening. They are to the city what lungs are to the human bodyLahore Metropolitan Corporation is very strict in granting permission to people to build new houses. The new houses that are built are better ventilated.
The principal buildings in Lahore are the following: first of all, the Fort, which contains the Moti Masjid, built by Jehangir Close by is a small Sikh temple, built in the time of the Sikhs. There is the Shish Mahal, or the palace of mirrors, and a marble pavilion called the Naulakha. All this group used to be the Palace of Mughal Kings. The baths and other conveniences are still there. Then there are the Diwan-i-Khas, the Chamber Hall, and the Khwabgah (sleeping chamber) erected by Jehangir. These were used as barracks for British soldiers, but now the fort has been handed over to the archaeological department.
Close to the fort are the Hazuri Bagh, and the great Badshahi Mosque, built by Aurangzeb. It is built of red sandstone and stands on a raised plinth. Inside the town there are the Golden Mosque and the mosque built by Vazir Khan in 1634 in the time of Shah Jahan. The tomb of Anarkali, is situated on the Lower Mall. The coloured ornamentation on the Chuburji, the four Towers, which was really a gateway to a garden, still excites wonder. After the rains, it looks as if it has been just painted.
The mausoleum of Jehangir lies on the other side of the Ravi. To the west, in one corner, lies the tomb of Nur Jahan. There are several old temples in the town. All modern buildings and places worth visiting are situated on the Mall. The Education building, the Public Library, the Museum, the Market, the stately buildings of the Post Office, the State Bank, the High Court, and other public offices are the chief attractions of Lahore. The Zoological Gardens, the Lawrence Garden, the Railway Station with its extensive workshop speak of a thriving modern city. The world-renowned Shalamar Gardens are in Lahore. They were laid out by Shah Jahan in 1637.
Lahore is a busy place, full of activity and bustle. It is a great railway junction, and the headquarters of the Provincial Government. There are various factories and workshops. It is the greatest educational centre in Pakistan. The electric light and the water works add to the amenities of life. It is not without good reason that people in villages say that ‘one who has not seen Lahore is not born.’