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Lahore

Lahore is the Capital city of Punjab Province of Pakistan. With the population of approximately 10 Million it is a very lively city. The main attraction of the city is its beautiful Architecture and bustling Bazaars. The tradition of buildings is centuries old in Lahore but the Moghul (1500AD to 1800AD) have contributed the most to it. The Moghul buildings are probably the most attractive. On an average one can easily spend two full days of sightseeing here. There are numerous mosques monuments bazaars, evening Musical programs and a variety Lifestyle in the city. The Lahore Museum is the largest in the country and houses articles from all over the country. The city is located just 25 KMS away from the Indian border on the grand Trunk road. This makes it a transit point before going into India from Pakistan.

There is a train from Lahore to Amrastar on Thursdays & Tuesdays , beside regular road transport. It is also well connected internationally by PIA and a few other local & Foreign carriers. There are also regular flight from all major cities of Pakistan to Lahore operated by Private airlines and PIA. Temperature is usually warm except in the months of January & February it is a bit chili.

Situated on the east bank of the Ravi River, Lahore is very old. Legend traces its origin to Loh, the son of Rama Chandra, the hero of the Ramayana, but history records that it began as a dependency of the 8th century AD Hindu ruler, Lalitiditya. In the early 11th century it came under Muslim rule and evolved as a centre of Islamic culture and learning as well as trade and commerce. In the 13th century it was depopulated and razed to the ground by the Tartar-Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan. Timurlane and his Muslim Turks also arrived and destroyed the city.
Lahore was a cultural and intellectual centre during both the Mughal and British eras, and it's an atmosphere which still pervades today, but it is the diversity and contrast of the different sections of the city which make Lahore interesting. Apart from local tourists with their blaring transistors, you could almost be back in the Moghuls era.
Lahore is 213 meters above sea level and has a population of approximately 3 million. The temperature here drops down to 10C in winter, but in summer can soar to 40C or more. The best time to visit is straight after the monsoon period when the weather is cool and pleasant.

The Old City:

In the Mughal days the Old City was surrounded by a 9 meter high brick wall and had a rampart running around it with a most connected with the River Ravi which served as a protection for the city. A circular road around the rampart gave access to the city through thirteen gates. Some of the imposing structures of these gates are still preserved.
In the bazaars of the Old City one still comes across tiny shops where craftsmen can be seen busy turning out master-pieces in copper, brass, silver as well as textiles in the traditional fashion.

Royal Fort Lahore:

Although most parts of the Royal fort were constructed around 1566 AD by the Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great, there is a evidence that a mud fort was in existence here in 1021 AD as well, when mud fort and constructed most of the modern Fort, as we see it today, on the old foundations. Constructions of the fort dates back to the early Hindu period.

The Royal Fort is rectangular. The main gates are located alongside the centre of the western and eastern walls. Every succeeding Mughal Emperor as well as the Sikhs, and the British in their turn, added a pavilion, palace of wall to the Fort. Emperor Jehangir extended the gardens and constructed the palaces that we see today in the Jehangir's Quadrangle, while Shah Jehan added Diwan-e-Khas, Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) and his own Sleeping Chambers. Aurangzeb built the impressive main gate which faces the Hazoori Bagh lying in between the Badshahi Mosque and the fort. the famous Sheesh Mahal or Place of Mirrors, is in the north-east corner of the fort. This is the most beautiful palace in the fort and is decorated with small mirrors of different colors set. The part of the wall of the elephant Steps towards the forts inner gate are scarred by bullet marks, bearing testimony to the Sikh Civil War of 1847 AD. A party of Sikhs had mounted their guns on one of the minarets of the mosque across the courtyard from where they fired on their opponents. the Sleeping Chamber of Mai Jindan houses a very interesting museum with relics from Mughal and the Sikh periods.

Badshahi Mosque:

The Imperial or the Badshahi Mosque is across the courtyard from Alamgiri Gate of the Lahore Fort. The Mosque which is made up entirely of red sand-stone was built by Emperor Aurangzeb, the last of the great Mughals, in a record time of two and-a-half years. Its construction was completed by 1674 AD. It has a beautiful gate-way which measures 21.33 meters in length and a courtyard that measures 161.5 x 160.6 meters and is said to be the largest mosque courtyard in the world for outdoor prayers. The marble domes cover seven prayer chambers. Four lofty minarets stand at the four corners of the mosque, each with an outer circumference of 20 meters, soaring up to 54 meters.
In the chambers above the Gate of the mosque, are housed relics attributed to the Holy Prophet of Islam Peace be upon him, his daughter and his son-in-law and are said to have been brought to the sub-continent by Amir Taimur. Within the Mosque almost all the colors have been used for painting the floral designs but the overall effect remains one of sobriety, piousness and simplicity.

Minar-e-Pakistan:

Minar-e-Pakistan is a new landmark in Lahore and stands in the Iqbal Park to commemorate the date when a resolution was passed there back in 1940 demanding the creation of separate homeland for the Muslims of this sub-continent. The Minar is a blend of Mughal and modern architecture and has been very boldly designed. The Minar is about 60 meters tall.
The Golden Mosque Golden Mosque is also situated in the Kashmiri Bazaar. It was built in 1753 AD by Nawab Syed Bhikari Khan, who was Deputy governor of Lahore, It is remarkably beautiful with three golden domes.

Wazir Khan's Mosque:

In the old part of the town and off the Kashmiri Bazaar, reputedly the most beautiful Mosque in the sub-continent is situated. The Mosque was built in 1683 AD by Hakim Ilmuddin who was Minister to shah Jehan and was generally known as Wazir Khan. It is a marvelous specimen of the work and arabesque paintings.

 

 

Shalimar Gardens:

Three miles east of Lahore are the famous Shalimar Gardens laid out by the Mughal emperor Shah Jehan in 1642 AD. The Gardens are spread out in typical Mughal style and are surrounded by high walls with watch-towers at the four corners. Originally, the gardens were spread over seven ascending terraces, but only three remain now which cover an area of about 42 acres. The brick-work of the floors of the three terraces have been repaired according to their original designs which differ on all three terraces. There is a marble pavilion under which water flows and cascades down over a carved, marble slab creating a water-fall effect. Across the water-fall is a marble throne. At the end of the second terrace is a beautiful structure called Sawan Bhadon, a sunken tank niches on its three sides. Water cascades down from it in sheets in front of the niches, producing the sound of falling rain. In the olden times, small oil lamps were placed in the niches which reflected myriad colors, through the water. Shalimar gardens have the proud privilege of being the stage of all important state receptions. Outside its walls the annual festival of Mela Chiraghan is held every March, special lights on the first and second terraces of the Gardens have been installed and the area is illuminated half-an-hour after sun set.

Shrines/Mausoleums:

Shrine of Data Sahib:

Close to the junction of the Lower Mall and the Circular Road is the shrine of Data Sahib. Data Sahib was a great sufi saint whose well-known work, "Kashf-ul-Mahjub" has been translated from the original Persian into several European languages and is considered a classic. Attached to the Shrine is a beautiful mosque.

Allama Iqbal's Tomb:

Outside the Badshahi Mosque, near its steps, lies the tomb of Allama Iqbal, the poet-philosopher of the East. the mausoleum is a mixture of Afghan and Moorish styles of architecture and is constructed entirely of red sandstone which was quarried and brought from Rajasthan.

Mausoleum of Emperor Jehangir:

The tomb of the fourth great Mughal emperor, Jehangir, lies three miles north-west of Lahore across the River Ravi. It has a majestic structure made of red sand-stone and marble. the outer entrance to the tomb opens out into a court-yard which was used as a caravan Serai during Mughal times. An entrance to the right leads into a Mughal garden with exact geometrical pattern balancing each side. The marble tomb is approached from four corridors leading from the garden. Three of these corridors are closed by intricate marble screens. The marble grave is elaborately inlaid with floral designs and the 99 Attributes of God are inscribed on its two sides. On the top is a verse from the Holy Qur'an. The tomb was built by Queen Noor Jehan and the Emperor's son Shah Jehan, around 1637 AD.

Noor Jehan's Tomb:

The Empress Noor Jehan, "Light of the World" was the only empress whose name appeared on the coins of the Mughal empire. She was buried in 1845 AD at Shahdara (Lahore) outside Jehangir's mausoleum across the railway line.
Her tomb once had a marble cenotaph which she had built herself during her life time. After the decline of Mughal rule, the tomb suffered extensive damages along with her husband's tomb at the hands of Sikh marauders when they gained power during the early part of nineteenth century. Both were stripped of most of its original beauty and splendors. All treasures and tiles, it is said were carted off to decorate the Golden Temple of Amritsar India.

Qutbuddin Aibak's Tomb:

He was appointed Governor of India in 1191 AD by Muhammad Ghauri. He established the Slave Dynasty on the death of Muhammad Ghauri in 1206 when he assumed independence of his reign and was followed by nine other slave kings. He was a patron of the building art and is known to have erected some monumental stone buildings in Delhi and elsewhere. A very avid player of polo, he died in Lahore in 1210 AD while playing the game. His tomb can be visited in Anarkali Bazaar.

Asif Khan's Mausoleum:

In the courtyard near Jehangir tomb lies buried his brother-in-law, Asif Khan, father of Shah Jehan's beloved Queen Arjumand Bano. He lies in a tomb today shows little of its former splendor.

Museums:

Lahore Museum:

Opposite the old University Hall, a Mughal style building on the Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam, houses the Lahore Museum. the Museum contains some fine specimens of Mughal and Sikh door-ways and wood-work and has a big collection of paintings dating back to Indo-Pakistan, Mughal, Sikh and British times. It has also a collection of musical instruments, ancient jewellery, textile, pottery and armory. There are also relics from the Graeco-Pactrian times as well as some Tibetan and Nepalese exhibits.

Faqirkhana Museum:

A very large and interesting private Museum known as Faqirkhana lies inside the Bhati Gate and is worth visiting. The museum houses a variety of old paintings, including some by great masters, original manuscripts in different languages and artifacts from South East Asia and the Indo-Pak sub-continent.

Fairs and Festivals:

Mela Chiraghan:

The Festival of Lamps of Mela Chiraghan is a very important and popular event. This is celebrated every Spring on the last Friday of March outside the Shalimar Gardens. During the Festival, people from all walks of the life gather from all over the province to actively participate in the Festival.

National Horse and Cattle show:

One of the most famous annual festivals. the National Horse and Cattle Show is also held in Spring in the Fortress Stadium. During the week long activities there is a display of the finest livestock, horse and camel dances, tent pegging colorful folk dances from all regions of Pakistan, mass-band displays and tattoo shows in the evening.

Basant - Kite-flying Festival:

With the advent of Spring, skies of Lahore are resplendent with all types of sizes of kites. The entire population participates in kite-flying matches to herald the coming of Spring.

Bazaars/Shopping Centers:

Anarkali Bazaar:

Anarkali bazaar is the most fascinating of the city's many bazaars. The alleys and lanes of this bazaar are full of exciting wears, especially traditional crafts like leather wear, embroidered garments glass bangles, beaten gold and silver jewellery, creations in silk. Anything that you wish for a bargain, it is named after the famous courtesan of Akbar's court called Anarkali (Pomegranate Blossom). Anarkali too has its share of historical monuments. There is the grave of Emperor Qutbuddin Aibak, who died falling off his horse playing polo. And Mahmud Ghaznavi's General Malik Ayyaz buried in the commercial area of Rang Mahal.

Excursions from Lahore:

Hiran Minar:

Hiran Minar is set in peaceful environs near Lahore. It was constructed by Emperor Jehangir as a monument to Hansraj, one of his pet antelopes. It is a popular picnic resort with a lake and boating facilities.

Chhanga Manga:

Chhanga Manga is a man-made forest 68 kms from Lahore. There is a lake, and a miniature railway which winds its way through its forest. Chhanga Manga has 12,510 acres of plantations. It is a popular picnic spot spread over 50 acres with a lake and row boats, motor boats, children's park, swimming pool, cafeteria, canteen and rest-houses.

Jallo Park:

The Park is 28 kms from Lahore. It can be visited by road and by rail. A rail-car leaves for Jallo Railway Station every half hour. Spread over an area of 450 acres, It has expanses of lawns, a forest research centre, a children's park, zoo, a small museum and a gift shop.

Pakistan-India Border:

This check-post is about 30 kms from Lahore and is the cross-over point for travelers into India by the land route. It is open daily to foreigners only (except Indian and Pakistani nationals) from 9.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. PST.


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