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Lahore - Paris of the East

Saleem Shahab

Lahore once called “the Paris of the east” still stays at the summit of excellence owing to reasons more than one. In retrospect, its lavish culture, salubrious climes, fertile lands and to crown it all, its open-minded inhabitants made it an apple of all eyes across the board. From John Milton to Krishan Chander one can find the aficionados of Lahore all over the world. John Milton (1608-74) bracketed Lahore with the finest cities of the world in his renowned book titled Paradise Lost. He says in book 10:

"His eyes might there command whatever stood
City of old or modern fame, the seat
Of mightiest empire, from the destined walls
Of Cambalu, seat of Cathian Can,
And Samarcand by Oxus, Temir’s throne,
To Paquin of Sinaen Kings, and thence
To Agra and Lahore of Great Mogul..."

The present day Lahore is a three-in-one city. That is why, when one visits Lahore; to tell the truth, one finds three different cities - each distinguished from other in one way or other. The old city -existed for at least a thousand years- developed in and around circular road. Similarly, the British built Lahore covers the area from Mayo Hospital to the Canal Bank on the east. Unquestionably, third Lahore which includes various posh localities such as Bahria Town, Defence Housing Authorities along with several others developed after the partition.

A legend tells Lahore was named after Lava, son of the Hindu god Rama, who purportedly founded the city. However, the recorded history of Lahore does not cover more than some thousands years. Since its establishment, various nations such as the Greek, the Persian, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Sikh and the British contributed in the splendor as well as spoliation of the city.

Under Muslim rule, stretching from 1021 to 1756, the city became a cultural and academic center, renowned for almost every form of art and culture. By the time, the Khiljis, the Tughlaqs, the Sayyid, the Lodhis, the Suris and the Mugals ruled this pearl of Punjab. Lahore touched the peak of architectural brilliance during the rule of the Mughals, whose buildings and gardens survived the hazards of time. From 1584 to 1598, the city served as capital of Mughal emperor Akbar.

The great Mughals took keen interest in the development and improvement of the city. Lahore Fort was built during the reign of Akbar. Mughal emperor Jahangir, buried in the city, also added a small number of buildings within the fort. Shah Jahan not only extended the Lahore Fort, also he built many other buildings in the city, including the Shalimar Gardens. The city's most famous monuments such as Badshahi Masjid and the Alamgiri gate were built during the reign of Aurangzeb. After the fall of the Mughals the city suffered the rule of the Sikhs for 90 years. In 1849, the British cast out the Sikhs from Lahore and continued their rule for next 98 years. During their reign, they gave Lahore a new face by constructing buildings of the GPO, the YMCA, the High Court, the Government College University, the museums, the National College of Arts, the Montgomery Hall, th4 Tollinton Market, the University of the Punjab (Old Campus) and the Provincial Assembly. One can find a combination of Mughal, Gothic and Victorian styles in their construction. Now Lahore is in the process of rebuilding with the help of United Nations’ assistance.

At present, Lahore is the second largest city of Pakistan and the provincial capital of Pakistan’s largest province. Owing to its geographic location, Lahore has always been a center of all eyes in one way or other. Since 1889, Punjab University is quenching the thirst for knowledge of the students from all over the country. Shady groves and green carpets of Shalamar Gardens, Jehangir's Tomb, the Jinnah Gardens, the Jallo Park, the lqbal Park and Changa Manga Forests provide the pleasure to a visitor beyond imagination.

Lahore has also been called a city of saints. The people from all over the country whenever visit Lahore, like to visit the shrine of Data Ganj Bakhsh, the patron saint of Lahore. A tourist can not help admire the city’s new landscape that has emerged during the past sixty years — modern buildings, five-star hotels, shopping plazas, broad avenues and boulevards in the uptown accommodations of Gulberg and Defense. An ancient Punjabi saying states, “One who has not seen Lahore, hasn’t been born. Bazaars and market places in the Lahore are unmistakably fêted - the Kashmiri, Suha, Chatta, Dabbi, Anarkali of the old city, and Liberty and Gulberg main market in modern Lahore. The present day Lahore is a place where a high-tech society is stemming from the lap of an ancient culture.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4:59 PM,


At 8:34:00 PM, Blogger Naveesha said...

Gosh! This is exaaaaaaaaaaaaactly what I was looking for my school project.Thanx alot,sir

At 7:57:00 PM, Anonymous Mrs.Humanyun said...

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Not Bad
Actually it is very good
10 on 10 well dun child


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