Nestled in the heart of Northern Punjab in present-day Pakistan, this city has been witness to the rise and fall of some of the greatest eras in history. It has not remained untouched by South Asian political and cultural revolutions and offers tangible evidence of bygone times, places, and people in the shape of the ancient Walled City and surrounding areas.
Fakir Khana Museum
Located in the heart of the Walled City in the midst of the narrow, winding lanes of Hakiman Bazaar near the ancient Bhati Gate lies South Asia’s largest privately owned museum. The Fakir Khana Museum houses more than 20,000 priceless ancient artifacts in a 16th century haveli. The haveli itself is still owned by the 6th generation of the Fakir family and the museum has been open to the public since 1901. To visit, you can contact the number listed on their Facebook page to set an appointment – tours and entry are free of charge.
Shahdara Bagh is the site of the tombs of the fourth great Mughal emperor, Jehangir, his wife Noor Jehan, and the major political figure and brother of Noor Jehan, Asaf Khan (whose presence is largely forgotten by people today). These gardens were originally the site of caravanserais set up by the 16th century Mughal emperor, Jalaluddin Akbar. This treasure trove of South Asian history can be found slightly beyond the boundaries of main Lahore and can be accessed by crossing the River Ravi.
Gurdwara Singh Singhania
Originally believed to be a mosque and fabled to be the site of Prince Dara Shikoh’s lost palace, this Gurdwara operates in the midst of Lahore’s famous Laanda Bazaar – not far from Badshahi Mosque – in the walled city. The site also operated as a jail for Sikh women in the late Mughal era and houses memories of many horrific events from the period of Sikh persecution in the 18th century and the violence of Partition to which Lahore fell victim and almost succumbed.
The Shahi or Wazir Hammam is situated at a five-minute walk from the famous Delhi Gate of the Walled City of Lahore. It is a 17th century Persian style bathhouse and reflects the sophistication of the mechanisms even in medieval India. However, the bathhouse’s misleading name suggests that the royal or ‘Shahi’ family also used this facility whereas it was most likely accessed by the upper classes or nobility instead.
Wazir Khan Mosque
Like the Wazir Hammam, the Wazir Khan Mosque was also commissioned by Jehangir and Shah Jehan’s Court Physician, Sheikh Ilm Ud Din Ansari, better known by his Royal Title: Wazir Khan. The mosque and the hammam were built according to a common theme and are barely five-minute walk apart from each other. The mosque is renowned for its striking aesthetics, calligraphy and architecture.
Como is Pakistan’s first contemporary art museum and holds thematic exhibitions for a long duration. It is located in a former residential home and can be found in the upscale neighborhoods of Gulberg, Lahore.
As the playwright, Asghar Wajahat, famously wrote, ‘Jis Nay Lahore Nai Vekhiya O Jamyai Nai’ - whoever hasn’t seen Lahore hasn’t lived.