A Stroll Towards Top 12 Cultural Heritage Sites in Lahore
Lahore is not just famous for its scrumptious foods and traditional colors but it’s history. The cultural history of this beautiful city goes back to the Mughal Era where most of the sites were constructed.
Come let’s take you on a trip deep down the cultural lane and show you some of the best cultural heritage sites of Lahore.
Badshahi Mosque has the credit to its name of being the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia. It is also the fifth largest mosque in the world with a capacity of 56,000 people. In 1671, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb ordered the construction of this mosque that took two years to complete. This cultural site was also included in Tentative Lists of World’s Heritage Site by UNESCO upon the recommendation of the Government of Pakistan in 1993. When you visit Badshahi Mosque, you can also see its museum where precious items belonging to the family of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) can be seen. In another museum within the premises of the mosque, you can see large sized books of Quran written from gold and silver. Besides being a mosque, Badshahi Mosque is also a great tourist attraction where hundreds of tourists visit each day while the local visitors turn here to get spiritual peace and spend some quality time as well.
When you visit Badshahi Mosque, you are in for a double dose of fun because located right opposite to it is the Shahi Qila that is also known as Lahore Fort. This grand fort was built in the era of Mughal Emperor Akbar; however, several improvements and additions were made in the British rule. Within the fort, there are a lot of attractions like the Sheesh Mehal and the staircase from where the elephants used to climb to the top of the fort. All of these combined with lush green lawns add a lot of beauty to the overall site. The Lahore Fort manifests the culture and traditions of the Mughal architecture. This fort adds a lot of value to the cultural heritage of the city and offers a great experience to the tourists – something that they cannot forget for the rest of their lives. The best view of the fort can be seen in the night time when the lights are turned on. Previously, only the main entrance gate was renovated but restoration work has started and within the next couple of years, it is expected that the complete fort will be restored in its original condition.
Attention all the foodies! Food is a part of the culture of Lahore. It is almost like you have never visited Lahore if you didn’t eat the traditional dishes from the famous Food Street. Food Street is one of the major attractions for the tourists where all types of foods are available. From the famous Lahori Chargha to Karahi and desi street food, you will find it in Food Street. There are two Food Streets in Lahore, new and the old one. The old one, however, is most famous among the masses and it is always jam-packed. These are open till late at night so, if you get cravings at midnight, this is the go-to place.
It is not possible that a tourist visits Lahore and does not see the colors of Anarkali Bazar. It is where people from other cities come to shop let alone the residents of the city. This market is named after the famous Anarkali of the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s era because her tomb is located in this area. What makes this market special is the fact that you can find literally all types of items here. From apparel of all types to cosmetics and sports items, Anarkali is the one-stop market where you can find everything at very reasonable rates. Not to forget the world-famous fruit chaat (fruit salad) that attracts people from all walks of life is also an identity of this market. Neela Gumbad is also a famous area within the Anarkali Bazar which is famous for bicycle markets. It is right opposite to King Edward Medical College that certainly needs no introduction. One thing that segregates Anarkali Bazar from the rest of Lahore is that the properties for sale in this area are very expensive.
Chauburji is a compound word that means four turrets. Chauburji is a very popular monument of Lahore that stands tall and tells its own unique story. It was constructed in the Mughal Era and it was once a monumental gateway to the Mughal Garden. With the passage of time and the developmental work, the garden is not present today but this monument keeps its memories alive. There have been different stories about this monument and historians are not able to provide suitable evidence of it. However, the vastly believed story is that Chauburji was constructed for the Mughal Princess Zeb-un-Nisa when she was eight years old on the recommendation of her aunt Jahanara Begum. Today, Chauburji may have lost all its glory but it is a famous chowk in Lahore that is one of the busiest areas in the city. Seemingly, there is nothing special about this area but locals prefer to live in this area because it is closer to the main areas of the city. Some people often look for houses for sale near Chauburji Chowk while houses for rent are also quite popular in this area. Recently, Chauburji was also supposed to be demolished due to the construction of the Orange Line Train but the judiciary acted promptly and reversed the decision of the government.
Lahore is also quite famous for its parks and greenery. One of the most famous parks in Lahore is the Shalimar Garden the history of which goes back to the Mughal Era. It is a Mughal garden complex and a true depiction of the timeless artistic construction of the Mughal Era. Arguably, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. The construction of this grand garden started in 1641 during the reign of Shah Jahan. It took one year for the completion of this garden. In the past, many annual events used to happen here but most of them were discontinued in the reign of General Ayub Khan because of the conflict with the Arain Mian Family who opposed his martial law. This was the time when the park was nationalized. Shalimar Garden also faced both decoration and deterioration in different rules. The biggest example being the plundering of its marble that was transported to Amritsar to decorate the Ram Bagh Palace. Moreover, the gate was stripped and sold by Lehna Singh Majithia. However, to date, the garden stands tall as a wonder of the Mughal Era. This garden has also been acknowledged as a heritage site by UNESCO.
Lahore Museum is also known as the custodian of the cultural heritage of Lahore. It is a Mughal style building on the Mall built in 1894 and for more than 120 years, this building has faced the test of time. It is a complete package of evolution in arts and culture – something that Lahore is best known for. There are relics from all the indigenous civilizations preserved in the museum that attract tourists and history lovers alike. There are over 40,000 coins ranging from 7 BC to date making it the largest collection of coins in the sub-continent. Besides the coins, there are other artifacts of lost civilizations including Moen-Jo Daro, Harappa, and others. Moreover, precious manuscripts, miniatures, and items of the Pakistan Movement can also be seen here besides paintings, woodwork of the Mughal Era, as well as antiques from the Buddha era. It is an ideal place for people who have an admiration for history and children to make them learn about our history. The memories you make here stay with you for a long that you can cherish for a lifetime.
The Gates of Lahore
If you are visiting Lahore or you are a resident, if you haven’t seen the famous gates, it is like you haven’t seen Lahore. The gates show the rich history of the bygone era and its glory that is lost somewhere in time. When you walk in the narrow lanes of the Walled City, you will notice these gates that once served as the entrance path to the city during the Mughal Era. In that time, the gates used to open in the day and close during the evening keeping the invaders out. Today, some of these gates are present while others were demolished. There is a total of 12 gates including:
- Dehli Gate
- Lohari Gate
- Bhati Gate
- Mochi Gate
- Sheranwala Gate
- Mori Gate
- Shah Aalmi Gate
- Raushnai Gate
- Akbari Gate
- Kashmiri Gate
- Yakki Gate
- Masti Gate
Some of the gates don’t even have any of their traces left while others are in deteriorating condition. However, life in these areas is very interesting. It is where you can witness the true colors of Lahore covered in the precious inheritance of the long-gone era.
Wazir Khan Masjid
Also known as Masjid Wazir Khan, this mosque was commissioned during the era of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The construction of this mosque started in 1634 C.E and took seven years to complete. This mosque is considered to the most ornately decorated mosque in the entire sub-continent due to its faience tile work and glass decoration. Through the test of time and lack of care from the authorities, the mosque somehow lost its glory but since 2009, an extensive restoration process has started under the direction of the Government of Punjab and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. For this purpose, contributions from the government of Norway, Germany, and the United States of America have also been raised. Numerous movies have also been filmed in this mosque including Khuda Ke Liye – a popular film by Shoaib Mansoor. The mosque is located in the Walled City of Lahore along the Shahi Guzargah. A lot of people visit this mosque and offer prayers even when the location is always crowded. The reason why this location is always crowded is that the famous Shah Aalam market or Shahaalmi bazar is quite near to it.
Tomb of Jahangir
Located in Shahdara Bagh in Lahore, the Tomb of Jahangir is considered an important part of the cultural heritage of Lahore. The site is famous for its interiors as well as exteriors loaded with frescoes, marble, and pietra dura. The Tomb of Jahangir is also on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage making it a symbol of pride for the country. Not just for locals but tourists as well, this is a go-to place for recreation or just getting a closer glimpse of the great history of the Mughal era. The best thing about this site is that it is located across the River Ravi in an area that was famous for its pleasure gardens. The tomb is in the Noor Jahan’s garden that was laid out in 1557. If you are visiting Lahore, you should see this place to imagine the glory of the time of the Mughal emperors.
Since 1886, Aitchison College Lahore has been providing top-class education and utilizing sports, co-curricular, and academics as a tool for character development. However, the history of Aitchison College goes back to the time of Captain Tighe who had envisioned the college in 1864. The initial purpose of this college was to provide education to the young princess of the District. In the history of Lahore, Aitchison College holds a very special place and it has been a point of attraction for a lot of people including tourists. Many prominent names of the country belonging to different fraternities have acquired education from here while some have been privileged enough to teach in this prestigious institution. The building of this institution is a wonder of the English era that should be on the list of the must-see places whenever a person visits Lahore. The best thing about Aitchison College is that it is located on the Mall Road along with the Governor House Punjab. This road has some of the best sites in Lahore including the Quaid-e-Azam Library, Lahore Zoo, Jinnah Park, and Alhamra Arts Council.
Tomb of Anarkali
Anarkali is one of the most-talked-about chapters of Mughal history. In Lahore, the Tomb of Anarkali was constructed on the site where Anarkali was reportedly interred alive in a wall. It is more of a memorial site but holds a lot of significance in the cultural heritage of Lahore. The tomb was built by the Mughal Emperor Jehangir for Anarkali. Today, this site is used as Punjab Archives and public access is quite limited due to which most people have never seen this marvelous place. The architecture of this building is in an octagon shape with a double-dome on the top. It is also said that the building is one of the earliest examples of such a dome from the Mughal Era.
We usually talk about houses for sale in Lahore and other plots for sale in different areas of the city but this time, we decided to take you through the city and show you what Lahore really stands for. The cultural heritage sites are quite a lot in Lahore and the ones listed here are just a fraction of it. However, we hope you like this journey. If you have anything to add, feel free to leave your comments below. We would love to listen to what you like about it and also, share your suggestions about which sites you would like us to cover in the second edition of this series.