Lahore is the most chronicled city in the annals of the history of the subcontinent, being the capital of Punjab for nearly 1,000 years. Lahore remains the cultural, academic and intellectual centre of Pakistan.
Mughal Empire embellished the city for over two centuries by beautifying it with palaces, gardens, monuments and mosques. The British Raj also indulged in by improving the city by endearingly blending the Mughal, Gothic and Victorian styles of architecture.
The Royal Fort, which is listed as World Heritage Site, was built by Mughal Emperor Akbar who held his court in there from 1584 to 1598. Rectangular in shape, it is ringed by a wall containing 12 gates. Every succeeding Mughal Emperor, as well as the Sikhs, and the British added a pavilion, palace, gate or wall to the Fort increasing its grandeur.
The Imperial or the Badshahi Mosque was built by Emperor Aurangzeb in a record time of two and a half years. It is said to be the largest mosque courtyard in the world for outdoor prayers.
Another World Heritage site is the Shalimar Gardens spread over 42 acres. This historic relic is very well preserved and is used for holding state receptions.
Wazir Khan’s Mosque, Sunehri Masjid or Golden Mosque, Maryam Zamani Mosque named after Emperor Akbar’s Queen, and Dai Anga Mosque are important historical points of Lahore.
The Mausoleum of Emperor Jehangir and his Queen Noorjahan was built in 1637. It is surrounded by a spacious garden. The tomb of Asif Khan, Jehangir’s brother-in-law and father of Shah Jehan’s beloved Queen Arjumand Bano (interred in the famous Taj Mahal) is on the opposite side of the mausoleum and its dome looms over the top of the mosque.
The most revered historical site in Lahore is the shrine of Data Sahib (Hazrat Ali Hajveri), a Sufi saint and patron of Lahore, whose well-known work, Kashf-ul-Mahjub has been translated from the original Persian into several European languages and is considered a classic in ecclesiastical writings.
The shrine of Sufi Saint Mian Mir was built by the Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb and constantly attracts pilgrims.
The tomb of Allama Iqbal, the poet-philosopher of the East, lies on the outer fringe of the Badshahi mosque and is a mixture of Afghan and Moorish architecture.
Lahore is the proud pallbearer of the struggle of the Muslims of the subcontinent for a separate homeland. Minar-e-Pakistan is the landmark of Lahore which stands to commemorate the date (23rd March) when a resolution was passed in 1940 demanding creation of a separate state for the Muslims of South Asia.
Other important sights of Lahore are:
i. Quaid-e-Azam Library;
ii. Lahore Museum;
iii. Faqirkhana Museum;
iv. Shakir Ali Museum.
Lahore has a very rich tradition of commercial activity and it is full of interesting markets and bazaars, including the Anarkali Bazaar, Liberty Market, Ichra Bazaar, Mozang Bazaar, and others.