Although Lahore is not Pakistan’s capital city - that’s Islamabad - nor is it the largest (Karachi), it has definite claims to being the country’s cultural centre, and arguably the country’s most important city. It’s certainly the most cosmopolitan city in all of Pakistan, and is home to many of the country’s most important tourist destinations. This is certainly true if you’re someone with an interest in history, as the number of locations of historical interest demonstrates. Visitors to Lahore will find that there’s something worth seeing wherever you turn, with a range of landmarks that include historic mosques, gardens, and walking trails among the key historical places in Lahore, Pakistan. Take a look at some of the options below, and you’ll find that Lahore is a destination worth checking out.
1. Lahore Fort
Built in 1566, Lahore Fort has seen a long and varied history. It was built during the reign of Emperor Akbar, and upon its construction contained numerous motifs of both Islamic and Hindu nature. In the nearly 500 years since its construction, the Fort has seen additions made under both Moghul and Sikh empires - and it is the outstanding collection of Moghul artefacts that was most influential in earning it the status of a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981. The beautiful chambers inside are well worth seeing.
Address: Fort Rd, Walled City of Lahore, Lahore, Punjab
Website: Lahore Fort
Opening hours: 8:30am - 5pm (daily)
2. Masjid Wazir Khan
Due to Lahore’s rich and varied history - which has seen it ruled by turns under Muslim, Moghul, and Sikh empires - there are examples of different types of architecture dotted around the city. Perhaps the most famous Moghul-era mosque in the city is the stunning Masjid Wazir Khan with its exceptional, intricate tiling. The nearby Shahi Hammam baths add to the majestic feel that pervades around the mosque, and the building is surrounded by 32 ornate study cloisters and four 107-foot (32.6 m) minarets.
Masjid Wazir Khan
Address: Shahi Guzargah، Dabbi Bazar, Chota Mufti Baqar Walled City of Lahore, Lahore, Punjab 54000
Website: Masjid Wazir Khan
Opening hours: 5am - 8pm (daily)
3. Haveli of Nau Nihal Singh
In the southern part of the city, near the gates of Mori, Bhatti, and Lohari, you will find this steepling mansion which was built for the man whose name it bears. Nau Nihal Singh was the grandson of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, the founder of the Sikh Empire, and the haveli was built as a personal residence. Once the British Empire took over the running of Lahore, the building was turned into a girls’ school, in which capacity it still serves today. The house’s beautiful, ornate outer detailing, and the interior courtyard, make it well worth a visit.
Haveli of Nau Nihal Singh
Address: Mori Gali Bazar, Mohalla Sathan Walled City of Lahore, Lahore, Punjab 54000
4. Badshahi Mosque
The second-largest mosque in all of Pakistan, Masjid Badshahi is an imposing element of the Lahore cityscape, and occupies a place in the history of the region that is every bit as dominating. The exterior is expertly crafted from red sandstone, with ornate marble inlays, and under first the Sikh and then the British Empire, it was used as a garrison by troops; the damage caused to the mosque by these forces was remedied by a restoration that took place in 1939 and was funded by Sikandar Hayat Khan, who is buried in the garden adjacent to the building.
Address: Walled City of Lahore, Lahore, Punjab
Opening hours: 8am - 8pm (daily)
5. Khyber Pass
One of the most famous roads in all of Asia - indeed, perhaps the world - Khyber Pass runs by Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan and is well worth visiting for a chance to see what was once a part of the legendary Silk Road. To this day, the pass is still a significant trade route between Central and Southern Asia; it is worth recognising, though, that due to its proximity to the Afghan border, some areas of the pass are considered unsafe so you should always ensure you go with a guide.
Address: Landi Kotal, Peshawar
6. Shalamar Gardens
Also referred to as Shalimar Bagh, this stunning garden complex dates from the Mughal Empire and is one of Pakistan’s premier tourist attractions. It is also widely recognised as an excellent place to go when the weather is hot - as it often is in Pakistan - because the dense foliage and expansive water features allow Shalamar Gardens to be one of the coolest areas in the entire region. The entire bagh, which is filled with a diverse range of flowers and trees, is based on the gardens of Kashmir and designed to represent a harmonious co-existence of humanity and nature.
Address: Shalamar Chowk، G. T. Road, Shalamar Town, Lahore, Punjab 54000
Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 50 PKR (0.5 USD) for Pakistani visitors, 500 (3 USD) for non-Pakistani
7. Gulabi Bagh Gateway
The Gulabi Bagh Gateway was initially built as a pleasure garden in 1655 by a high-born Persian by the name of Mirza Sultan Baig. However, history indicates that no more than 16 years later it had ceased to be used for its original purpose - in 1671 it became a tomb, with the mausoleum of Dai Anga at the centre of it. Dai Anga was the wet nurse of Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal Emperor, and the site of her mausoleum is an area of considerable historic interest. Although the tomb is largely a ruin today, it’s worth seeing for the exquisite Qashani tile-work that still covers parts of the exterior.
Gulabi Bagh Gateway
Address: Begampura, Lahore
8. Mosque of Mariyam Zamani Begum
Also known as the Begum Shahi Mosque, this 17th-century masjid was built by then-Emperor Jahangir in honour of his mother, for whom it is named. Jahangir was one of the early Mughal emperors, and it is possible in the mosque’s architecture to see influences both from the Mughal period (in its balconies and embellishments) and the earlier Pashtun Lodi empire (through its wide arches and shorter domes). It is also the first mosque in Lahore to have used non-Quranic text in the verse frescoed on its walls.
Mosque of Mariyam Zamani Begum
Address: Fort Rd, Walled City of Lahore, Lahore, Punjab
9. Tomb of Ali Mardan Khan
The Tomb of Ali Mardan Khan was initially intended to be simply the tomb of his mother, but when the former Governor of Lahore, Kabul and Kashmir (and later, the entire Punjab region) died in 1657 he himself was buried here. In time, the tomb came to bear his name, and in its heyday it was covered in the intricate Mughal-style tiling familiar to historians. These days, the tiling is largely gone and what remains is a ruin, surrounded by railway properties. It can only be accessed via an alleyway measuring approximately 300 metres (nearly 1,000 feet), but many still make the trip to witness its fragile beauty and leave tributes to Ali Mardan Khan.
Tomb of Ali Mardan Khan
Address: Mughalpura, Lahore, Punjab 54840
Opening hours: Only open to the public on Thursdays and other designated days; contact Department of Archaeology for more details.
10. Lahore Museum
Founded during the period when Pakistan was under British rule, Lahore Museum is slightly more than 150 years old and is considered to be among the most important museums in all of Pakistan. The exterior of the museum is beautiful, displaying a range of different architectural influences, but for the historian, the real story is what’s inside. As well as an impressive collection of Greco-Buddhist sculptures, you will also find a range of exhibits that offer testament to the stages in Lahore’s history under the Sikh, Mughal, and British empires. These include paintings, sculptures, and a world-class collection of Mughal and Hellenic coins.
Address: Mall Rd, Anarkali Bazaar, Lahore, Punjab 54000
Website: Lahore Museum
Opening hours: Sat - Thu: 9am - 3:30pm (closed on Fri)
Price: 20 PKR (0.15 USD) for Pakistani visitors, 400 PKR (3 USD) for non-Pakistani
Lahore: a city of surprises
Although Pakistan is less recognised among tourists and travellers than its neighbouring country, India, don’t let that put you off checking it out. Particularly in Lahore, there is plenty for tourists to see and do, and in this spectacular cultural centre you’ll experience a warm welcome along with the chance to see some of the most essential sights to be found around the city. In a city with the rich history of Lahore, there’s always a learning experience to be had, so why not take the opportunity to check out this beautiful part of the world?
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