A Spectacular Confluence of Cultural Diversity
Literally meaning “five waters”, Punjab in Pakistan’s northeast corner is the country’s second biggest and most populous province. The province is brimming with historical sites, including Shalimar Gardens, Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, Rohtas Fort and the ruins of ancient Harrapa. Important Sikh shrines also abound in the province, including the birthplace of the first Guru, Nanak, in Nankana Sahib. The ancient city of Taxila, north of Islamabad, has won recognition by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
At the heart of Punjab is bustling and affluent Lahore, the country’s second most populous city. The city, steeped in culture and history, features the Anarkali Market, Jahangir’s Tomb, the Lahore Museum, Once a major centre of Buddhist and Hindu religious influence, it is now Pakistan’s most socially progressive and cosmopolitan city, a must-see travel destination. The newly renovated Walled City of Lahore has earned coveted UNESCO recognition for not one but two world heritage sites, its Fort and Shalimar Gardens, two distinct royal complexes.
Doesn’t all this intrigue you? Let’s go a bit deeper and explore Punjab’s exotic cultural and architectural blend
This Museum, founded in 1865 during the British colonial period, ranks as one of Pakistan’s most visited and highly regarded museums. Literally called a “House of Wonders”, its 13 halls are filled with art and artifacts from the region’s many civilizations and cultures. The site was featured in Rudyard Kipling’s classic novel Kim, along with the Zamzama Gun located in front of the building. Kipling’s father, indeed, was one of the first curators of the museum, which showcases an unmatched collection of Buddhist art.
The Fort is UNESCO-listed as an exemplar of the world’s cultural heritage. The ornate rooms, minarets, towers, rooftops, archways, courtyards and gardens are well-preserved, a maze of architectural grace and grandeur. This sprawling, majestic and beautiful construction will transports you back to ancient empires.
Walled City of Lahore
Lahore’s recently renovated Walled City features 13 gates, ancient and reconstructed. Only one withstood the British defortification and 1847 uprisings: Roshnai, or The Gate of Lights. Now beautifully restored and polished, it connects the Badshahi Mosque and the Fort. It and was the avenue used by royalty to enter the city. Delhi Gate also has been restored to its former glory, portal to reach the Wazir Khan’s Mosque. Bhatti Gate, known for its food market, is the portal to Fakir Khana and Lahore’s notorious Red Light District.
The private collection of more than 20,000 art pieces and artifacts in this 18th century home is the largest in south Asia. A treasure trove of wonders and mysteries beckons the visitor. At several points throughout its buildings you can experience weird echoes and strange sound effects. A delight for the whole family.
Jahangir’s Tomb was not built by the Emperor himself but by his son and, most likely, his last wife, Nur Jahan. The mausoleum’s pinkish-red Sikri stone and white marble exterior exempifies the finest Lahori architecture. Ornate mosaic tiled interiors, colourful frescoes and grand arches pay tribute to a great Mughal era ruler.
Minar-e-Pakistan is one of the nation’s most important monuments, a majestic tower built on the site where the Lahore Resolution of 1940 was passed. This was the first official call for an independent homeland for the Muslims of British India, a declaration which paved the way to establishing the Pakistani state in 1947.
Wagah, about 30 minutes outside of Lahore, is a famous border town with India. Each evening at 6pm, flags are lowered and the gates officially closed amid fanfare and mutual displays of might and patriotism by both military honor guards: the Indian Border Security Force and the Pakistan Rangers.
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