If you have even a tiny bit interest in architecture, you probably know the fame Muslim architecture has courted in South Asia, especially due to the Taj Mahal in Agra. What I didn’t know was, there’s another little dwelling of this beautiful architecture in Pakistan.
Lahore is one of the major cities of Pakistan, known for its crowded structure and food markets. When I went to Lahore to visit a friend, I was expecting nothing extra ordinary due to similar cultures of the three countries India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
However, when I got there I realized it wasn’t culture that had summoned me to Lahore. My destiny had planned for me a visit to one of the richest heritages of architecture. My first day was scheduled for visiting some of the major mosques of Lahore. Wazir Khan mosque with its precise carving and detailed symmetry was aw-inspiring for me. Every inch of the artistic walls of this mosque demands and deserves attention.
My next stop was the masterpiece built by emperor Aurangzeb, the Mughal sensation who has been known for building the Badshahi mosque some 350 years ago. The elegant domes of this mosque and its giant entrances claim a unique place in the architecture of the Muslim World.
By the time I reached my next stop, it was beginning to get dark. As I set my eyes on this destination, I realized that my guide had arranged for this place in a darker time, for a reason. The grand Jamia Masjid of Bahria Town is epitome of mesmerizing elegance. I’ll start with the lighting, the fountains and the chandeliers. The mosque feels like a living fossil from the era of Mughal dynasty, because common people seldom afford such grandeur and luxury. The mosque looks like a giant Fort that could contain a whole city in it. Every feature of the mosque is a piece of architectural museum. The stone walls will give you the sensation of multitudinous cultures you have witnessed on screens. If you ever visit Lahore, I suggest that you should save this one for night time, that’s when its wonders unfold.
The Sheesh Mahal (Palace of mirrors) was scheduled for the next day, the intricacy of which still makes me want to fly back to Lahore. Amidst a highly urbanized World, this crystal castle is quite a treasure and a heritage, a site beyond perfection for even filming fairytales! Also, if you’re into marble architecture, white marble pavilion of Sheesh Mahal in the Lahore Fort should already be on your list! The structure of Lahore Fort on the whole will not just give you interesting stories to narrate back home, you’ll also take a sensation of historical warriorhood with you.
Same is the case with Minar-e-Pakistan, my next big stop. This symmetrical yet angular minaret holds history in its foundation. Situated in Iqbal Park, Lahore, it’s a metonymy for the Great Divide, the partition of Indo-Pak subcontinent. The poetic dream of the big poet Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal dwells in the form of poetic reality in the architecture of this minaret.
The attractions of Lahore, however, are not all about architecture. The mausoleums of Lahore added another layer of Holy touch to this architecture. The mausoleums of Data Ganj Bakhsh, Mian Mir and Madhu Lal Hussain are each unique in their kind, with a crowd emanating a vibrant belief. It’s just pure and soothing to look at.
If I have been boring you with architectural commentary on Lahore, here’s something more natural and aesthetic. Lahore has a colorful butterfly garden in Jallo Park and a fountain show in Iqbal park. Also, the natural beauty of Shalimar garden will leave you better opinionated about South Asia’s natural treasure. These parks surpass the beauty of million-dollar international tourist destinations. And no, I’m not exaggerating.
I know, I know, I can’t miss out the best part of tourism, the Food. ‘Phajy k Paye’ is where I went multiple times during my stay in Lahore. Give your growling stomach an economical luxurious treat with phajy k paye and soft milky naan. Well, that’s just one of my favorites. You’ll get an unlimited choice of food at the Gawalmandi food street and the Fort road food street of Lahore. In case you like sea food, the vibrant mouth-watering aroma of sea food might make you drive away to one of the many outlets of Haji Sardar Machhli. The next time I’m going to Lahore, I’m definitely stealing their recipe.
How could I forget Lakshmi Chowk’s delicacies! Give their mutton karahi and butt karahi tikka a shot, too. Lakshmi Chowk sits prepared to freshen up your tired tourist body with its delicious Kashmiri chai. If you’re a South Asian, you probably know what that means. Chai (tea) infuses new life into your tired body, doesn’t it?
In case you were wondering about the fauna of this region, the Tollinton market of Lahore will serve your pet shopping spree well. Looking like a giant Church from outside, this market brings together a variety of unique birds and animals.
There are many other tourist destinations within this walled city of Lahore, but I think I have used up my space for now. So, whenever you’re visiting this architectural heaven, you want to explore the Bhati gate, science museum and Bahria Town’s private Eiffel tower as well. Don’t forget to try boating at Bara Dari of Kamran Mirza, located at river Ravi in Lahore. Because trust me, you’re going to regret not visiting it. If you’re planning to go to Lahore, freshen up my memories, send me photographs please!