Derawar Fort or Qila Derawar is a gigantic citadel in Bahawalpur district, on the edge of Cholistan Desert, in southern Punjab, Pakistan. Square in shape and towering over the wide stretch of surrounding semi-desert, the massive fort can easily be seen from miles. It looks glowing gold particularly when the early morning rays hit the fort and during evening sunset on the fort. Derawar Fort is considered as one of the most impressive structures in the area that dwarfs other Nawab Palaces in architecture. As a must explore landmark it makes an exciting trip from the city center.
Historically the fort was built in the 9th century under the kingship of Rai Jajja Bhati, a Hindu Rajput from Jaisalmer in the Rajasthan state India. It was captured by the Abbasi Nawab of Bahawalpur, Sir Sadeq Mohammad Khan I, in 1733. The fort was said to have rebuilt by the Nawab to its present looks. The fort was once lost owing to Bahawal Khan’s preoccupation at Shikarpur but was regained by Nawab Mubarak Khan in 1804.
The Cholistan desert covers 26,000 sq km (10,000 sq miles) and extends into the Thar Desert to India. The desert surrounding the fort was once well watered by Hakra, the then Ghaggar River known as the Sarasvati in Vedic times. Until 1960 when the Sutlej was diverted, Derawar was still watered by a canal but afterward, it was deserted and dried out. The fort has already lost most of the features and is in a state of turmoil. Along the 500km of the dried up river, there are almost 400 archaeological sites and most of the sites date back to Indus Valley Civilization.
The red brick edifice has been fortified by a 5 foot thick and 30 meters high walls with a series of bastions on each side. Most of the bastions present geometric design made by burnt bricks. Running 1500 m in circumference with each side measuring 204.8m in length, the square fort is the most robust and glorious stronghold.
Inside of the fort, there are several buildings including quarters of the royal family and quarters for Nawab’s army. However, the entire building is deserted and turning to dust. In the dusty courtyard of the fort, there are two old vintage guns mounted on pedestals. There are small underground cells on the western side now infested with bats and wood being eaten by termite. It still looks more impressive from outside than from inside.
The impressive Derawar mosque is situated nearby which is the exact replica of Moti Mosque at the Red Fort in Delhi and was built in 1844 AD. Moreover adjacent to the fort is the magnificent site of the burial ground of Nawabs family. Visiting the burial site requires prior permission. Moreover, there are some shops nearby but it is recommended that all visitors arrange prior arrangements for food/drinks, etc.
Derawar Fort is located about 45 kilometers from Ahmed Pur East (Dera Nawab Sahib) and about 95 km from the city of Bahawalpur taking roughly 3 hrs to reach. A 4WD is preferred for this trip. The gate of fortress located on the southern side is reached by a winding ramp. Prior permission from the present Amir of Bahawalpur to get into the premises of the fort and royal graveyard is required.
Derived from the Persian words Punj (five) and Ab (water), Punjab literally means “(The land of) Five Rivers” referring to the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas. The Beas is now in Indian Punjab and Indus is included as the fifth river of Punjab in Pakistan. Punjab is the most fertile, populous, and prosperous province of Pakistan housing approximately 56% of the country’s population.
Geographically, Punjab is the land of contrasts, mostly consists of the alluvial plain of the Indus River and its four major tributaries – the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, and Sutlej rivers. From the plains of the Indus River to the deserts of Cholistan and from the Himalayan foothills to the Potwar plateau and the Salt range, it encompasses an area of 205,344 square kilometres. The province is surrounded by Kashmir to the northeast, the Indian state of Punjab and Rajasthan to the east, Sindh to the south, Baluchistan to the southwest, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west and Islamabad (the capital) to the north.
There are 36 districts in the province of Punjab. Lahore is the provincial capital and the largest city which had been the historical capital of the wider Punjab region before the creation of Pakistan. Major cities in Punjab include Bahawalpur, Multan, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Sialkot, Gujrat, Sheikhupura, Sahiwal, Faisalabad, Lahore, Jhelum, Attock, and Rawalpindi,
Shreds of evidence reveal that man settled on the bank of the Soan River more than 100,000 years ago. However, it was the 5000 years old Harappan civilization that shaped subsequent cultures in South Asia and Afghanistan and still speaks louder today. Invaders from Greece, Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan entered the subcontinent through Punjab due to its strategic location. Historically Punjab has been part of various empires and dynasties including the Indus Valley Civilization, Aryans, Kushans, Scythians, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Ghaznavids, Timurids, Afghans, Mughals, Sikhs, and the British just before the creation of Pakistan.
Traditionally the land of Punjab has served as an epicentre on the old Mughal Highway – the Grand Trunk Road (GT Rd) – from Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent. Lahore even then (way before partition) was the capital for almost thousand years and remained a significant cultural, historical and intellectual hub of the region.
During the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, the Muslim dominated areas went on to constitute the present-day province of Punjab while the Sikh and Hindu controlled regions formed the Indian states of Punjab. Punjab today serves as the hub of the nation and centre of all political and economic progress.
The warm-hearted and fun-loving people of Punjab live in rural and urban areas making up a heterogeneous society belonging to tribes, clans, and communities. Punjabi people in the villages live a simple and harmonious life having respect for cultural norms yet with strong beliefs on superstitions like ir-faqeers, Jogi, Taweez, manat-ka-dhaga, saint of repute, and black magic. In the cities, however, due to literacy, people have become somewhat rational. Punjabis also believe in the caste system but gradually with rising education, the differences are getting blurred. Popular casts of Punjabis are: Jats, Maliks, Mughals, Arains, Gujjars, Awans, Rajputs, Gakhars, Khokhars, Sheikhs, Kambohs, Niazis, Legharis, Khosas, Dogars, Mirani, Qureshis, and Syeds.
The traditional dress for Punjabi men in the villages is Pagri (turban), dhoti/Lacha (lose cloth used as tourers) kurta (knee-ling shirt), and Khusa (traditional shoes). Women wear Gharara, or choridar pyjama or colourful shalwar kameez, Paranda, choli/duppata, Khusa, kola puri chappal or Tillay wali Jutti. In cities, both men and women follow fashion and wear trend trendy dresses.
Punjab was predominantly a Hindu state with some Buddhist minorities before the arrival of Islam by Muhammad bin Qasim in 712 AD. Gradually the religion spread in the region through the strong teachings of Sufi saints. Although the region remained under the Mughals control for more than 200 years from 1524-1739 who erected great architectural wonders; mostly mosques, forts, and gardens, the province has been strongly influenced by Sufism. Numerous Sufi shrines spread across Punjab which attracts millions of devotees annually.
Arts and crafts
Punjab being the most populated province is also the major manufacturing industry in Pakistan’s economy. There is a place for manufacturing of each art and craft. Major produce of the province included basketry, pottery, textile, embroidered cloth woven on handlooms, cotton, silk, carpets, stone craft, jewellery, metalwork, truck art, woodworks, etc.
The rich culture of Punjab traces its roots in the highly developed Harappan Civilization. The succeeding civilization gradually shaped the culture from time to time. Therefore, the Punjabi culture is deeply rooted in philosophy, poetry, music, artistry, architecture, and cuisine. The scope, density and history of its culture are rather vast. However, Sufism had a significant role to play in the society in spreading Islam which is the main source of harmony among the people. There were other religions with traditions tied. People have different festivities to commemorate these traditions. The fairs and festivals of Punjab reflect the entire circle of its folklife and cultural traditions. Punjab is known in Pakistan for its relatively liberal social attitudes.
Punjab is home to the Punjabis and several other ethnic groups. Punjabi is the mother tongue spoken by 44% of Pakistanis and understood by most of the population followed by Saraiki, Hindko, Pahari, Pathowari along with some other dialects. Urdu is the national language spoken mostly in the cities to communicate with non-Punjabi populations and English being official language used for official correspondence.
People of Punjab celebrate both religious and cultural festivals with zeal and zest. Shab-e-Barat, Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Adha, Eid Milad u Nabi, and Muharram are revered religious festivals of Muslims while cultural festivals include national horse and cattle show, Pakistan day, Baisakhi/Vaisakhi (Sikh festival), Basant, Teej, and Kanak Kati.
Punjabi foods are delicious and most traditional Punjabi dishes are usually made using oil or clarified butter with extensive usage of spices. The food is eaten either with rice or roti (bread). Sugar tea, butter and paratha are part of breakfast. Major Punjabi dishes for lunch and dinner mostly made in villages are Mash di daal, Makai ki rotti, Saron da Saag, while in cities Choley, Haleem, Biryani and other popular spicy dishes. Zarda, Gulab-Jamuns, Kheer, and Jalaibi, are popular sweet dishes while Samosa and Pakorey are eaten any time with tea mostly as a refreshment. During summers people drink lassi, doodh-soda, aloo bokharey ka sharbat, lemonade etc.
Punjab is richly diverse in tourist attractions – from the prehistoric era to contemporary times. The timeline of the province is lavishly rich in significant events and erections that have turn out to be a rich heritage today. Its diverse landscape is rich in natural attractions and manmade marvels. From the cool and cloudy hill stations of Murree to the burning deserts of Cholistan the province harbours the Khewra Salt Mines, sites of Buddhist and Hindu influences, Islamic heritage, Mughal architecture, Sikh legacy, the British heritage, and the glorious buildings of the Nawabs of Bahawalpur. Punjab has the potential of becoming a destination of choice owing to what it preserves for tourists including historical monuments, cultural diversity and hospitable people.
Punjab is also one of South Asia’s most developed regions with approximately 40% of people living in urban areas. Its human development index rankings are high relative to the rest of Pakistan. Its economy is supported extensively by agriculture followed by industry and both sectors are the main sources of income and employment. The agricultural output of the province contributes 68% of Pakistan’s food grain production. Wheat, rice, corn, millet, cotton, sugarcane, fruit, and vegetable are the major productions. Likewise, the manufacturing industries make up 24% of the province’s GDP by producing textiles, machinery, electrical appliances, surgical instruments, metals, bicycles and rickshaws, floor coverings, and processed foods.
The economy of Punjab is subject to the climatic conditions as is mostly supported by agriculture. It is not uniform over the entire region; weather extremes are notable from the hot and barren south to the cool hills of the north making the sections adjacent to the Himalayas receiving heavier rainfall. Punjab’s climate is characterized by three distinct seasons – hot summers (mid-April to June end with temperature reaching to 49 °C (120 °F)), monsoon (July to September), and cold and foggy winters accompanied by rains (December and January with average temperature of 5 °C (41 °F)) – and two transitional periods between monsoon and winter, and between winter and hot season.
During the transitional period from winter to the hot season, sudden hailstorms and heavy showers may occur followed by temperature rise; springtime weather continues until mid-April when the summer heat just about to set in.
Best time to visit
Most of Punjab, except the Murree Hills near Islamabad, is located southwards and makes up the hottest regions of Pakistan. Punjab is the best to visit during winters preferably from November to March. During summers, it is sometimes unbearable for the heat resistant tourists visiting from the cooler regions of the world.
Things to do
Be it an adventure tour or cultural city sightseeing, Punjab has a diverse range of attractions. Murree hills offer a great retreat during summers for the heat resistant while people rush from far regions to enjoy the snow. The Mughal heritage in central Punjab has always been a focus for culture lovers while the Sufi shrines in Multan and the iconic castles of the Nawabs of Bahawalpur have no parallel for the architectural intricacy and rugged beauty. Besides, the Khewra salt mines, Ketasraj temples, and Wahga border flag lowering ceremony are must-visit places for all tourists.
Punjab being in the heart of the country has easy access to/from all provinces and territories of Pakistan. There are airports in Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur, and Islamabad giving direct international access from around the world. By road, Punjab is well connected by train and by bus.
Lahore is the second largest city and the cultural hub of Pakistan. The city has a charming longstanding history and is entirely rich in tourist attractions, mostly of historic and cultural significance. However, sadly, only a few conventional landmarks out of a cluster are known to the general public and tourists. The “Hidden Treasures of Lahore” has not yet been unearthed properly. The wealth of attraction that is still hiding behind deserves to be known to the public and tourists which certainly will add to the historic significance of Lahore.
Wazir Khan Baradari
The Wazir Khan Baradari (12-door pavilion) is sited between the Punjab Public Library (PPL), National College of Arts (NCA), and the Lahore Museum and is accessible from the PPL road. It was named after Hakim Ilumddin titled ‘Wazir Khan’, a benefactor of numerous impressive buildings across Lahore including the splendid Wazir Khan’s Mosque and Wazir Khan’s Hammam ( also known as Shahi Hammam), in the Walled City. The Baradari is surrounded by a fine garden with a large number of palm trees. The two-story pavilion has been incorporated into the grounds of the Punjab Public Library in 1860 and serves as a reading room. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Wazir Khan Baradari was used as a museum and as the Settlement and Telegraph Office under the British rule.
Maryam Zamani or Begum Shahi Mosque or Barood Khana Wali Masjid
Maryam Zamani was one of the queens of Emperor Akbar, mother of Jahangir and sister of Bhagwan Das. She built a mosque near Masti Gate of the Walled City in 1614 AD and is believed Lahore’s earliest surviving example of the Mughal era mosque that influenced the construction of the larger Wazir Khan Mosque. Thus it was named after the queen Maryam Zamani who was actually born Rajkumari Hira Kunwari, a Rajput princess, the daughter of Raja Bihari Mal of Jaipur (the then Amber). The mosque has a beautifully adorned prayer hall with a remarkable central dome adorned by muqarnas and painted frescos. The Mosque is close to the Akbari gate entrance and was once used as gunpowder factory by Ranjit Singh thereby called Barood Khana Wali Masjid. However, it was restored in 1850 under the British.
Ali Mardan Khan’s Tomb
Ali Mardan Khan was originally a noble at the court of Shah Tahmasp, a Safavid king. After surrendering Iranian Qandahar to Emperor Shah Jahan in 1638, he joined the Mughal court and rose to great heights rapidly and became Governor of Kashmir, Lahore, and Kabul. He was also granted the title of Amir al-Umara (Lord of Lords) in 1639 and became a commander of 7,000 troops as well as appointed viceroy of Punjab from Kabul to Delhi. Besides a commanding figure, Ali Mardan Khan was also a renowned engineer who coined the idea of the construction of a canal from the river Ravi for the supply of water to the Shalimar Gardens, as well as for the irrigation and cultivation of surrounding areas. His tomb is a massive brick construction work standing on an octagonal podium. The structure of the tomb is also octagonal with a bulbous dome and kiosks on angular points. The tomb once stood in the centre of a luxuriant garden and the extent of which could be seen by its double story gateway. The imposing tomb is accessible by a 300 m long walkway through narrow streets of the Railway Carriage Workshop.
Saru Wala Maqbara or Cypress Tomb
The tomb of Sharf-un-Nisa Begam is popularly known as ‘Saru Wala’ Maqbara. Saru is the Urdu term used for Cypress and because of images of cypress trees used on its walls, it is thus called Cypress tomb. Sharf-un-Nisa Begam was a sister of Nawab Zakariya Khan, governor of Lahore province during the reign of Emperor Mohammad Shah Rangeela. Before her death, the Begum would read the holy Quran on daily basis on the first floor of the Chamber and then would deposit the holy book and the jewelled sword, descending by means of a portable wooden stair. After her death, she was buried in the same chamber along with the copy of the holy Quran and her jewelled sword. The unusual tower-like tomb is 16 feet above the ground and was made inaccessible by blocking up all openings in 1745. It is located near to the north of Dai Anga’s tomb in the Begumpura neighbourhood of Lahore. The structure of the tomb is unique in itself for its unusual shape and decoration of the cypress motif as a jewel of Mughal architecture.
Dai Anga’s Tomb
Dai Anga, the wet nurse of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his daughter (Princess Sultan Begum), was the name given to Zeb-un-Nisa (1671 AD). She was the wife of a Mughal noble Murad Khan, magistrate of Biknar under Jahangir. Her splendid mausoleum lies near the Gulabi Bagh gateway in Begampura, outside the Walled City. The rectangular shaped mausoleum with eight rooms encircling the perimeter of a central chamber lies on a raised plinth. A dome with frescoes is directly above the central empty chamber as the actual tomb of Dai Anga lies below in the basement just next to her daughter, Sultana Begum. The interior of the tomb is richly decorated with carved inscriptions from the holy Quran while the exterior with rich Kashi Kari or Qashani tile-work but lost much of its charm.
Dai Anga Mosque
The real name of Dai Anga was Zaib-u-Nisa, the wife of Mughal noble Murad Khan. She was the wet nurse of Shah Jahan and his daughter and remained a powerful figure in the Mughal dynasty. Several charming monuments associated in her name are still surviving in Lahore. Dai Anga Mosque was constructed in 1635 AD and is located near Lahore Railway station. Small in size yet rich in decor, the Dai Anga Mosque is embellished with multicolored mosaic on floral themes and remained in excellent condition since Dai Anga donated a substantial endowment to ensure its maintenance even after her death. Sadly, during the British rule, it was converted into the residence of a newspaper editor called Henry Cope. However, it was restored to its original state in 1903 and began to serve as a mosque.
Tomb of French General Allard and his Daughter
General Jean Allard (1785-1839) was a French General in the Army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who made the Sikh army invincible by training on European pattern. He was died in 1839 in Peshawar and was buried alongside his daughter’s tomb in Lahore. His tomb is located to the east of the main road leading to Jain Mandir from old Anarkali. It was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to honour him, especially with a typical Sikh era cupola dome structure. His daughter, Marie Charlotte, died on 5th April 1827 in Lahore, and she was laid on a mound.
The Kamran’s Baradari (pavilion with twelve doors) and Garden is the oldest Mughal structure in Lahore often gets bypassed. It was said to have built in 1540 by Mirza Kamran who ruled over Lahore from 1535-40. He was the son of Babar and the stepbrother of Emperor Humayun. Humayun ascended to the throne immediately following the death of Babur and Kamran captured Lahore in 1530 while built this Baradari in 1540. The picturesque Baradari was built as a summer house and used as a place for relaxation of Mughal rulers and recreational place for the Mughal family during summers. It was the time when Ravi flowed at a considerable distance but following the change of river course, it became an island. During the British rule, the red sandstone Baradari was used as a toll house to collect tolls from boats. It was renovated after independence and serving as a tourist attraction. It is about 15 min drive from the walled city.
Zebunnisa’s Tomb and Garden
Zeb-un-Nisa (1637 to 1702), literally meaning “most beautiful of all women”, was the talented and learned daughter of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. She was a passionate poetess and wrote under the pen name of “Makhfi”. She loved Lahore so much and built a garden at Nawankot where she was laid to rest in 1669. Her tomb was embellished with precious stones, pavilions and fountains now only the remains of the garden can be seen. It is located across a junction known as Samanabad Mor on Multan road. However, there are still conflicting accounts about her burial place as some believe she was buried in Agra, India.
Dara Shikoh’s Mosque
Dara Shikoh (20 March 1615 – 30 August 1659) was the eldest son of the fifth Emperor Shah Jahan and the brother of Aurangzeb Alamgir and Jahanara Begum. He held a great affection for Lahore due to his deep devotion for Sufism, particularly for the Sufi mystic Hazrat Mian Mir. The area around the shrine of Hazrat Mian Mir was called ‘Darapur’, where Dara Shikoh built a beautiful mosque. The mosque has an exquisitely styled ‘Palki’ domes and has been extended, making the heart of Mian Mir Village. The high tower mosque is decorated artistically and known as ‘Khawaja Behari Mosque’ because of the nearby tomb of Hazrat Khawaja Behari who was a devout disciple of Hazrat Mian Mir.
Nadira Begum’s Tomb & Garden
Nadira Banu Begum (14 March 1618 – 6 June 1659) was the wife of Dara Shikoh. She was a famous poet and remained the Governor of Punjab during the 1640s. Aurangzeb’s rise to power posed as a grave danger to Dara Shukoh’s immediate family and supporters. Nadira died in 1659, several months before her husband’s execution, and was buried near the shrine of Hazrat Mian Mir in a square shape tomb whom she and Dara Shikoh were spiritually attached. It is a two storey Baradari constructed with massive brick masonry and is surrounded by an enormous water tank.
The octagonal Tomb of Anarkali (Nadira Begum who belonged to the harem of Emperor Akbar and was given the title Anar Kali meaning the pomegranate bud) is one of the most significant buildings of the Mughal period and was built in 1615 by Emperor Jahangir (Saleem) when he ascended to the throne. It was built in the memory of his beloved who was buried alive behind the walls by Emperor Akbar in 1599 for her romantic folly with Saleem. Her tomb arrogantly stands in the enclosure of the Punjab Civil Secretariat. It has lost all original decorations as it underwent changes from time to time. It was surrounded by a fine garden called “Anarkali Garden” but was put to several uses. The mausoleum was occupied by Kharak Singh during the Sikh regime and it remained the residence of General Ventura, the Italian General of Ranjit Singh’s Army. Later, it was converted into a Christian Church during British rule. The mausoleum serves as Punjab Records Office since 1891.
Qutbuddin Aibak’s Tomb
Qutbuddin Aibak originally was a Turkish slave who was brought to Ghazni by Shahabuddin Ghauri. He rose to the heights of Commander in Chief of the forces of Shahabuddin Ghauri and was crowned in Lahore on the death of Shahabuddin Ghauri in 1206. He then established the Slave Dynasty and became the king who was followed by nine other kings. He had a palace in Lahore in what is known as Anarkali today. It was then called Mohallah Kuttab Ghauri. He was fond of playing polo and died in 1210 while playing polo. His tomb was built by Shamsuddin Altumash. The Qutub Minar in Dehli was built by the great king.
Tomb of Malik Ayyaz
The Georgian slave, Malik Ayaz, became the favourite and trusted general of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. In 1021 AD, Sultan Mahmud Ghazni raised Ayaz to kingship and awarded him the throne of Lahore. The city was burnt and depopulated, and taken after a long siege by Mahmud, Ayaz rebuilt and repopulated Lahore. On the ruins of a previous fort, Ayaz built the masonry fort during 1037-1040 on which today’s Lahore Fort stands. During his reign, the city became a cultural and academic centre. His tomb is situated in Rang Mahal on Royal Trail, inside Shah Alam Gate in the walled city. It was ruined during the Sikh era and was rebuilt after independence.
Lahore is the second largest city and cultural hub of Pakistan, also known as Pakistan’s cultural capital. It is the provincial capital of Punjab, enormously blessed with architectural and cultural heritage. Tourist attractions in Lahore are spread in abundance and the city also has the honour of holding the largest number of important educational institutions.
Founded in the legendary times, Lahore – also known as the city of gardens – has an array of diverse attractions for the visitors. The lively city has been a centre of architectural excellence for over a thousand years. The Mughal architecture, the Sikh legacy, the colonial-Gothic buildings lined up along the Mall road existing from the British Raj, and the palatial mansions and trendy shopping malls in the suburbs make Lahore a city of choice.
Lahore has a number of eye-catching gardens and it was therefore called the city of gardens. The Shalimar Garden, a unique collage of nature and architecture, was accomplished in 1641-42 AD under the supervision of Khalilluah Khan, a noble of Shah Jahan’s court. The construction of the garden was influenced by regions like Central Asia, Persia, Kashmir, Punjab and Dehli Sultanate and reflects the affinity of Shah Jahan for nature and architecture. The Shalimar Garden was incorporated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pakistan in 1981. The 16 hectares (658 meters north to south and 258 meters east to west) rectangle garden by crenellated walls of red sandstone is arranged in three terraces descending from south to north with each terrace given a special name. The garden is located close to Baghbanpura on the GT road 5km northeast of city centre. The site of the garden belonged to the Arian Mian Family and Shah Jahan rewarded them with the Mian title for its services and contribution to the Mughal Empire.
The 60-meter high Minar-e-Pakistan is a national monument built to commemorate the day when the Pakistan resolution was passed on March 23, 1940. The memorial tower is located next to the Badshahi Mosque in Iqbal Park originally known as Minto Park. Minar-e-Pakistan was designed by a Turkish architect, Murat Khan, and the construction work completed in 8 years from 1960-68. This is the historic site where Nehru and the Indian National Congress declared the independence of the subcontinent from Britain in 1929. Generous funding of Rs. 500,000 was generated by the then governor of West Pakistan, Akhtar Hussain, for the construction. It was opened to the public on October 31, 1968.
Chau Burji is a local term for the monument with four minarets. The monument has a historical significance and is located on the Multan road in Lahore. Historically the tower has been an entry point to a Mughal garden associated with Zeb un Nisa, the daughter of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. The garden does not exist anymore but the monument is standing by the Metro Bus Track. It was built in the year 1646 CE with a typical Mughal style construction. With the passage of time, apathy of authorities, and due to weather conditions the monument lost most of the inscriptions on it yet Ayat-ul-Kursi (Quranic verses) on the upper-most part of the structure and the two couplets written in Persian above the arch could still be legible. Comprehensive conservation of this monument was carried out in 2018 before its fall forever.
Daata Darbar is the largest Sufi shrine in South Asia. It was built to house the remains of a Muslim mystic and a revered saint Abdul Hassan Al Hujwiri also popularly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh, he is said to have lived on the site in the 11th century. The shrine was built by the Ghaznavi king Sultan Zakiruddin Ibrahim later in the 11th yet subsequent expansions were made since then and Hajvary Mosque was part of it. The shrine is located near the Bhati Gate into Lahore’s Walled City and visited by more than 30,000 visitors on a daily basis. People of all faiths are welcome to visit the shrine.
Lahore Railway Station
Lahore Railway Station was literally the first purpose-built British imperial building, a representative of typical grand British architecture in the subcontinent during British Raj. It was built in 1857 following the Indian Mutiny and was intentionally designed to function both as a station and as a fort for the safety and accommodation of employees. Its construction was entirely of brick masonry. The architect, William Brunton who called it the “best in the world”, was confident that the building could survive even full-scale howitzer fire.
Lahore High Court
Known as a place where legal history is made, the Lahore High Court has much to see for the tourists. The architectural marvel that the building holds is beyond imagination. Its elegant look owing to the unique architectural design places it among the top rated tourist attractions of Lahore.
General Post Office
The General Post Office (GPO) Lahore is a public building located at the end (T turn) of Mall Road near Anarkali. It was designed by eminent architect Sir Ganga Ram and was built around 1887 in order to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Although not as attractive as other colonial buildings to plan a special visit yet for photographers, particularly those who are into architecture, it is a must see facility. Its structure is a unique European style building with the Mughal touch. It has three towers on the front with a central taller one having a domed top and four huge clocks on all four sides. It was renovated in 1970 and declared a heritage site. GPO Lahore handles about 20,000 pieces of mail per day.
University of Punjab
Informally called “Punjab University”, the University of Punjab is the oldest and largest public research university located in the downtown area of Lahore. The University of Punjab was established on 14 October 1882. It is the fourth major university established by the British Government in the subcontinent. Like other facilities erected during the British Raj, the Punjab University building is worth a visit. The university has produced a great number of scholars and is ranked amongst top large-sized multiple faculty universities by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. The university is also a member of Association of Commonwealth Universities of the United Kingdom.
Aitchison College Lahore
Aitchison College in Lahore is a legacy left behind by the British. It has impressive huge colonial buildings featuring a charming architecture and lush green sprawling lawns stretching from Davis road to Canal road. The college has swimming pools, running tracks, and several sports fields. It was established in 1886 as a school to teach and educate the elite class – the sons of chiefs and nobles working under the British. Its list of alma mater includes politicians, cricketers and businessmen and finance chiefs who have studied at world-leading institutions. Prime minister Imran Khan, former president Farooq Lagari, and many other notable figures from Pakistan have been the alma mater of this institution. It educates around 3000 students at any given time. Due to security, you must prebook campus visit.
Anar Kali Bazar
Lahore is blessed in all aspects of travel – food, heritage sites, shopping, and for special ceremonies. When it comes to shopping, Anar Kali Bazar is a name to choose out of its array of shopping malls and markets. This nearly 200 years old place is named after Anarkali, the slave girl, who was buried alive by the Mughal Emperor Akbar for having a love affair with his son, Prince Saleem. One can hope to find items of all types and categories including silk, leather, jewellers, and what not.
Pak Tea House
It was originally believed to have set up by a Sikh family in 1932 but given to YMCA later on in 1940 when it was originally established as India Teahouse by Boota Singh. Later it was taken over by two Sikh brothers Surtej Singh Bhalla and Kaiser Singh Bhalla in 1944. After partition, the restaurant was allotted to Sirajuddin Ahmed in 1947 who renamed it to “Pak Tea House” in 1950 and ran this restaurant successfully till 1978. His Son closed it in 2000 and remained closed till 2013 until it was renovated and reopened. It has for long been a melting pot of celebrated intellectuals of the subcontinent. The Pak Tea House is located at the bank of Mall Road and remains open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm
Standing on the right bank of River Ravi, about 8 km north-west of Lahore, the tomb of Emperor Jahangir (1605-1627) was built by Shah Jahan in 1637 AD. Its construction features a unique architecture using decorated marble gravestone with pietra-dura floral and the 99 names of God are inlaid in black.
Empress Noor Jahan’s Tomb is located in the Shahdra Bagh in Lahore, across Ravi River, just separated by a train track from that of her husband’s and her brother’s tombs. She was the beloved wife of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and most popular queen of Mughal period. She died in 1645 and was buried in the tomb she built for herself during her lifetime. Empress Noor Jahan’s tomb is located near Emperor Jahangir’s Tomb.
Mirza Abdul Hasan Asif Jah (also known as Asif Khan) was the brother of Empress Noor Jahan (Jahangir’s wife), and the father of Mumtaz Mahal (Shah Jahan’s wife). He was the Prime Minister of India and the Viceroy of Punjab under Shah Jahan. He had a palace in Lahore called Asif Jah’s Haveli. He died in 1641 and his tomb is located opposite to the mausoleum of Jahangir. The octagonal tomb resembles that of Murad Khan’s tomb, topped by a double-layered bulbous dome and was commissioned by Shah Jahan. The red sandstone mausoleum has water reservoirs at four corners. Each side has recessed alcove with a door and arched windows looking into the tomb. The blue kasha tiles and the marble have been stripped off. Likewise, the marble and stone inlay in the inner section was also removed. Its ceiling decked with high plaster relief and it still contains the carved Quranic inscriptions.
The Akbari Sarai (Palace of Akbar) is a large oblong shaped courtyard situated between Jahangir’s Tomb and Asif Khan’s Tomb in Lahore city in Punjab province of Pakistan. This unique Mughal era structure was built in 1637 to host travellers and caretakers of Jahangir’s Tomb. It also served as mail station known as dak chowki.
The Lahore Canal
The 82-kilometer-long and 5 feet deep canal, tree-lined Banba-wali Ravi-Bedian (BRB) waterway was a great feat of the Mughals. In 1861, it was upgraded and extended to the Punjab irrigation system by the British. It slices its way through the heart of Lahore – starting from BRB, winding through colonies, famous educational and religious institutions, business complexes, smooth highways, and sports grounds and ends at Raiwind Road. The Lahore Canal is a national heritage and a great source of recreation during the scorching summers. Colourful floats are placed in the Canal and the entire line is lit up during festivals. The Canal is accompanied by roads on both sides and there are twelve bridges at different sections of the Canal to connect the roads.
Spreading over an area of 25 acres, the Lahore Zoo is the oldest and largest Zoo in South Asia and was established in 1872. It houses a great collection of 1380 animals of 136 species. It is a well-maintained zoo and a great source of a picnic for the people from all walks of life. The zoo is situated on the Mall Road and is surrounded by Jinnah Park and Quaid-e-Azam library.
Lahore has the largest and the oldest museum showcasing the intriguing history of Pakistan. It was inaugurated by Prince Victor Albert in 1894 at its present site. Its 17 galleries interpret the complete history and culture of Pakistan and its surrounding regions. The museum has a superb collection of Gandhara sculptures, Buddhist rare manuscripts, Islamic calligraphy, the oldest manuscript of Guru Granth Sahib, and a good collection of centuries-old coins, crafts, and relics of the region.
Zamzamah – Bhangian Wali Taop – Kim’s Gun
The Bhangian Wali Taop (or Zamzamah) or the Kim’s Gun is a large bore Cannon placed on display at the upper Mall (Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam) in front of the Lahore Museum in Lahore, Pakistan. It is the largest gun ever made in the subcontinent measuring 14 feet 4 ½ inches in length with a bore at its aperture of 9 ½ inches. It was cast in Lahore in 1757 by a metalsmith called Shah Nazir under the directions of the then prime minister Shah Wali Khan in the reign of the Afghan King Ahmed Shah Durrani (Abdali). It was made out of copper and brass vessels extracted from the local Hindu population as a tribute. The gun was employed to win the battle of Panipat in 1761. After the battle, Ahmed Shah, on his way to Kabul, left the gun with his governor, Khwaja Ubed. Later in 1762, Hari Singh Bhangi seized the gun in a battle with Khwaja Ubed and it was renamed Bhangi Toap. It came to be known as Kim’s Gun after Rudyard Kipling in whose childhood memoirs it obtained frequent mention. It was placed in this position on the occasion of the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Lahore in 1870. It was severely damaged during several wars and was repaired in 1977.
Wahga Border (Flag lowering ceremony)
Missing to witness the most exciting “lowering of flags ceremony” at the Wahga Border is like a trip to Lahore unaccomplished. The flag lowering ceremony takes place at Wahga border every day before sunset since 1959. The parade performance at the crossing border between Pakistan and India is a fun experience that every tourist would love to observe. It is an emotional exchange of patriotic slogans by the cheering crowd on both sides of the border during military parade performance of Pakistani Rangers and Indian Border Security Forces. The patriotic slogans further stimulate the parade performance of the giant guards wearing graceful turbans to amuse the visitors. The flag is lowered simultaneously on both sides and wrapped at the end of the ceremony to conclude the event. It, however, begins with a handshake of the army persons of both sides every afternoon. The ceremony attracts a lot of visitors including international tourists on a daily basis.
Grand Jamia Mosque
With the capacity of 70,000 worshippers, including 25,000 indoors, the Grand Jamia Mosque in Baharia Town, Lahore, is the third largest mosque in Pakistan and 7th largest mosque in the world. It was designed by Nayyar Ali Dada and its architecture is influenced by Badshahi Mosque, Wazir Khan Mosque, and Sheikh Zayed mosque. It has a grand dome surrounded by 20 smaller domes and four minarets each 165 ft tall. Its exterior is decked with 4 million handmade Multani tiles. Its interior is embellished with more than 50 Iranian chandeliers and the ground is layered with custom-made Turkish carpets. An entire floor consists of an Islamic heritage museum, an Islamic library and an Islamic art gallery. The museum houses rare Quranic collections and the art gallery has antique artefacts.
The cultural capital has in its heart is one square kilometer densely populated walled city once accessible by 13 gates. The Walled City of Lahore is also known as the Old City of Lahore and was established around 1000 CE. Most of the monuments housed in the city belong to the Mughal era, notably the lavishly decorated Wazir Khan Mosque, the massive Badshahi Mosque, and the Shahi Hammam.
Gates of Walled City of Lahore
The Walled City of Lahore was covered by a 9-meter high brick wall and accessible by 13 gates, made of wood and iron, with their unique names. These gates were constructed during the reign of Emperor Akbar (1584-98).
- The Raushnai Gate, or the Gate of Lights, is located between the royal mosque and the citadels.
- The Kashmiri Gate is so called because of its direction towards Kashmir.
- The Masti Gate, actually the Masjidi Gate referring to a mosque
- The Khizri or the Shranwala Gate named after Khizr Elias, the patron saint.
- The Yakki Gate, originally the Zaki Gate, a name derived from the name of a martyred saint while defending the city
- The Delhi Gate is so called because of its opening on to the highway to Delhi.
- The Akbari Gate was named after the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Jala-ud-din Akbar who rebuilt the town and fort.
- The Mochi Gate was actually called Moti Gate to refer to Pearl named after Moti Ram, an officer of Akbar who resided here at that time.
- The Shah Almi Gate was named after the son and successor of Aurangzeb, Mohomed Mo’azzam Shah Alam Bahadur Shah and died on the 28th February 1712 in Lahore.
- The Lahori Gate, also known as Lohari Gate, has been named after the city of Lahore.
- The Mori Gate was the smallest of all and used as an outlet for the refused and sweepings of the city.
- The Bhatti Gate was named after the Bhatis, an ancient Rajput tribe lived in these quarters.
- The Taxali Gate, named after the Taxal or Royal Mint
During the reign of Ranjit Singh (1799 to 1849), the damaged walls were rebuilt in 1812. All of these marvellous gates continued to exist until the 19th century. Some damaged gates were rebuilt using simple structures, except for Delhi Gate and Lahori Gate. Currently, only 6 of these gates exist those includeRoshnae, Delhi, Shairanwala, Bhati, Kashmiri and Lahori.
Below is the detail of the hidden architectural treasure inside the Walled City Of Lahore
Badshahi Mosque Lahore
The crown jewel of Lahore, the Badshahi Mosque, was a symbol of power in the Mughal Empire. It has been the largest mosque in the world for 313 years (1673 to 1986). The grand mosque was used more like a military base by the armies of Ranjit Singh and the British troops than as a religious structure. It is now the second largest in Pakistan and South Asia and 5th largest in the world with a capacity for more than 150,000 worshippers on its grounds.
Lahore FortThe Lahore Fort or Shahi Qila is a citadel spreading over an area greater than 20 hectares located at the northern end of Lahore’s Walled City. It has 21 notable monuments, some of which date as far back as to the era of Emperor Akbar. The Fort was almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century when the Mughal Empire enjoyed the height of its reign. According to records, it was said to be a mud-brick fort in the 11th century but the foundations of the modern Lahore Fort was laid in 1566 during the reign of Emperor Akbar. The fort featured both Islamic and Hindu motifs in its architectural design. However subsequent amendments were carried out with the passage of time by the subsequent Mughal Emperors. However, the facility was turned into the residence of Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire, after the fall of Mughal Empire and later passed on to British who made some major changes in its design as per their own need. The fort was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 for its “outstanding repertoire” of Mughal monuments dating from the era when the empire was at its artistic and aesthetic zenith.
Fort Road Food Street
The Fort Road Food Street is a prominent yet mystifying street clustered with a great variety of food outlets where food enthusiasts of all colours and creeds gather for a taste of their choice, mostly made inside multi-story heritage buildings and served either along the street or on rooftops. These rooftops are surrounded by significant landmarks provide magnificent views of the buildings clustered surrounding the old city. Food Street is also the best place to enjoy the dramatic sunset. It is also a prominent tourist attraction located between Fort Road and Roshni Gate of the Walled City of Lahore. Historically the street was once taboo being a part of the renowned red light area of Lahore.
Wazir Khan MosqueThe Mughal architecture in the subcontinent has been archetypal and has had no matching landmarks to date. The Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore is such a unique and vivid illustration of Mughal architecture. It is also a testimony of their affinity to finesse, frescos and dexterity. It has been described as “a mole on the cheek of Lahore”.
The Golden Mosque, locally known as the “Sunehri Masjid” or the Talai Mosque is a late Mughal architecture-era mosque in the Kashmiri Bazar of the famous Walled City (Old City) of Lahore. The mosque was built in 1753 Nawab Syed Bhikari Khan, son of Raushan-ud-Daula Turrabaz Khan, deputy governor of Lahore during the reign of Muhammad Shah. It was the time when the Mughal Empire was in decline. The mosque was built on an 11-foot high plinth in a congested street accessible by 16 stairs opening to a small courtyard measuring 65 x 43 feet that further leads to the prayer chamber measuring 40 x 16 feet. The architectural design of the mosque reflects the Sikh architecture influence from nearby Amritsar, particularly its three golden gilding domes surrounded by four minarets in its four corners. The mosque was seized and converted into a gurdwara by Sikh authorities during the Sikh rule but it was owned back when Fakir Azizuddin persuaded Ranjit Singh and was renovated in the 1820s. It was again renovated in 2011 by the government of Punjab under Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation of the USA.
Tomb of Allama Muhammad Iqbal
Allama Iqbal TombThe poet-philosopher Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal was born on November 9, 1877, in Sialkot and died on April 21, 1938, in Lahore. He was the major inspiration behind Pakistan movement – the man who envisaged a separate homeland of the Muslims of the subcontinent where they could practice the religion peacefully. He was laid to rest in the Hazuri Bagh lawn, adjacent to Baradari, in the walled city where Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque face each other. His mausoleum was entirely constructed of red sandstone from Rajasthan while the tombstone marble was gifted by the Afghan government. A guard is maintained on the tomb forever.
Hazuri Bagh and Baradari
Hazuri Bagh and BaradariHazuri Bagh, a low basin garden, between the main gateways of the Badshahi Mosque and Lahore Fort, was created by Ranjit Singh. In the year 1818, Ranjit Singh ordered that in the middle of the Fort and the Mosque, a garden be constructed. Likewise, on the suggestions of Jamadar Khush Hal Singh, a marble seat (pavilion) for royals was constructed and decorated measuring 14 m square white marble and called Baradari (twelve arch pavilion). The marble was plucked out from the tomb of Zaib u Nisa (Nawan Kot), Tomb of Shah Sharaf (Bhati Gate), Tomb of Nur Jahan, Tomb Asif Jah and Tomb of Jahangir. It took only two years to complete the project. Ranjit Singh held court in Huzoori Bagh and dealt with the affairs of his kingdom.
Fakir Khana Museum
Located inside the Bhati Gate, within the Walled city of Lahore, the Fakir Khana Museum is the largest privately owned museum in South Asia containing over 20,000 objects. Most of these objects were amassed as direct of hand-me-down gifts largely as a result of their ties with Ranjit Singh. These objects include artefacts from 18th to 20th centuries and a unique collection from the Gandharan art. Moreover, the collections at the museum also include 10,000 manuscripts, 180 displayed miniature paintings, Sikh era textiles, pottery, statuary, and carved ivory pieces besides the gifts given by Ranjit Singh to the Fakir family. The museum also has a unique painting of Nawab Mumtaz Ali completed in 15 years done with a single hair. This museum has been open to the public since 1901.
The Mubarak Haveli inside Mochi Gate of the Walled City is a piece of architecture with a fascinating history. It was actually built by the three sons (Mir Bahadur Ali, Mir Nadir Ali, and Mir Bahar Ali) of a famous Hakeem during the time of Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah. The birth of a son to Bahadur Ali’s wife was seen as a good omen and the Haveli was named as Mubarak Haveli. Mubarak Haveli has been a temporary residence of the Afghan King Shah Shuja Durrani during his exile in Lahore in 1813/1814 where he surrendered the Kohinoor diamond to Maharaja Ranjit Singh in exchange for his freedom. The diamond is now in the British Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. The Haveli is currently owned by the Qazalbash family and was granted to the family for their services to the British.
The marvelous Naunihal Singh Haveli was the private residence of the Sikh ruler Naunihal Singh, the Son of Kharrak Singh and the grandson of Ranjeet Singh. Dating from the Sikh era, between 1930 and 1940, it is considered to be one of the finest examples of Sikh architecture. The Haveli is a 4 story building comprises of 40 rooms and has been turned into Govt. Victoria Girls High School in 1860 during the British era. The building is located near the Bhati Gate and Lahori Gate.
Gurdwara Dera Sahib
Gurdwara Dera Sahib, the place where Guru Arjan Dev, the 5th guru of Sikhism, died in 1606. Its construction was initiated by Kharak Singh while completed by Duleep Singh in 1884. Its construction design is a blend of Sikh, Hindu, and Islamic architecture.
Samadhi of Ranjit SinghThe 19th-century shrine that houses the funerary urns of the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh who ruled from 1780 to 1839. The Samadhi is located adjacent to Badshahi Mosque and Lahore Fort and Gurdwara Dera Sahib. While standing close to the eastern wall of Aurangzeb’s architectural marvel, a gleaming golden Minar (tower) atop a white dome – the Minar of the Samadhi (mausoleum) of the infamous “Sher-e-Punjab,” Ranjit Singh can be noticed.
Gurdwara Janam Asthan Guru Ram Das
Guru Ram Das was the 4th Sikh Guru and was born in the Chuna Mandi Bazaar of Lahore in 1534 CE and his Gurdwara is also located in the same place inside the Walled City. The Gurdwara was built on the top of the site once believed to be the site of his birthplace. The shrine was built several steps above street-level using white marble platform. The area of the Janam Asthan measures 122 feet 6 inches by 97 feet 6 inches.
The Lahore Fort and Shalimar Garden are two exceptional royal complexes from the Mughal era. Both monuments are in Lahore, the cultural hub of Pakistan, and boasting of their pride and prestige to date. The Lahore Fort and Shalimar Garden were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pakistan in 1981 for their “outstanding repertoire” of Mughal monuments dating from the era when the empire was at its artistic and aesthetic zenith.
The fort is located at the northwest corner of the walled city of Lahore while the Shalimar Gardens are situated along the Grand Trunk Road some 5 kilometres northeast of the main Lahore city. The monuments are located at a distance 7 kilometres from each other.
Dating back to 1the 7th century, both masterpieces reflect the true artistic expression of the Mughals at its peak. The fort is the only monument that represents the complete history of Mughal architecture in Pakistan. The Shalimar garden, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1642, still retain the glorious Persian and Islamic tradition is a fine example of Mughal gardens.
Irregular in design, the Lahore Fort or Shahi Qila is a worldly famous citadel spreading over an area greater than 20 hectares. The fort is located at the northern end of Lahore’s Walled City. It has 21 notable monuments, some of which date as far back as to the era of Emperor Akbar.
The Fort was almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century when the Mughal Empire enjoyed the height of its reign. According to records, it was said to be a mud-brick fort in the 11th century but the foundations of the modern Lahore Fort was laid in 1566 during the reign of Emperor Akbar.
The fort featured both Islamic and Hindu motifs in its architectural design. However subsequent amendments were carried out with the passage of time by the succeeding Mughal Emperors. However, the facility was turned into the residence of Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire, after the fall of Mughal Empire and later passed on to British who made some major changes in its design as per their own need.
The Shalimar Gardens in Lahore is an exceptional Mughal garden complex. The garden has a unique collage of natural and architectural beauty. It was constructed during the artistic and aesthetic zenith of the Mughal rule. The construction of the Shalimar Gardens began on 12 June 1641 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and completed after 18 months at the end of 1942. Its construction was influenced by regions like Central Asia, Persia, Kashmir, Punjab and Dehli Sultanate and reflects the affinity of Shah Jahan for nature and architecture.
The 16 hectares (658 meters north to south and 258 meters east to west) rectangle garden by crenellated walls of red sandstone is arranged in three terraces descending from south to north with each terrace given a special name. The upper-level terrace, for instance, was named “Farah Baksh” meaning Bestower of Pleasure, the middle-level terrace was named “Faiz Baksh” meaning Bestower of Goodness, and the lower level terrace was named Hayat Baksh meaning Bestower of Life.
There are a total of 410 fountains rising from the canal and from the basin water discharges into the marble pools. The water circulation system was so technically engineered that even scientists today still find it hard to understand thermal engineering. The architecture of thermal engineering was aimed to create cooler air through fountain water during beating down summers to relief visitors. Out of 410, there are 105 fountains in the upper-level terrace, 152 in the middle-level terrace and 153 in the lower level terrace.
The gardens were built primarily to entertain the royal guests, yet the general public could enter a specific section of the garden. It is located close to Baghbanpura on the GT road 5km northeast of the city centre. The site of the garden belonged to the Arian Mian Family and Shah Jahan rewarded them with the Mian title for its services and contribution to the Mughal Empire.