There have been multiple terror attacks in Lahore this year, and the week before I arrived there were clashes between anti government protestors and the police. My first day in town it was the prophet’s birthday – Eid Milad ul-Nabi – and there were 15,000 policemen on the streets of Lahore to prevent any violence…… so, I was a little bit more reticent than usual about visiting. It turns out I have never had such a warm welcome to a big city. My most amusing moments were being surrounded by young girls and their teachers who wanted to ‘selfie with me’. I was also invited home by pretty much every woman I met, including the lovely woman who sat next to me on the plane on the way over. The pakistani/british women on my connecting flight through Karachi on the way home, also took charge of me and hustled me to the plane along with them at Karachi and made sure I was fine and safe. I can’t imagine feeling safer or better looked after!
Jinnay Lahore nu nahi takkeya, o jammeya e nai – He who has not seen or visited Lahore, is nor born yet
Lahore is a delight, and there are lots of things to see and do. I only saw four other tourists in the three days I was in town, so now is a great time to visit. My favourite things from the weekend……
The mosque is built out of Jaipur red sandstone, which apparently is baking hot in the summer. The locals have tried to replace the red stone in the courtyard with a cooler marble, but the heritage officers won’t let them. Its a truly enormous space which can apparently house 100,000 worshippers. I can’t imagine the bathroom queues!, and am glad I didn’t visit on the prophet’s birthday as it would have been crazy.
The fort was lovely and well preserved. Unfortunately you are no longer allowed to approach the elephant gate, but you can see it from the entrance of Badshahi mosque. There was plenty to occupy an eager history buff for an hour or so, and I thought the hall of mirrors was extraordinary!
The’ tower of Pakistan’ was constructed during the 1960s on the site where the All-India Muslim League passed a resolution calling for a separate and independent Pakistan on 23 March 1940
Jahangir is the father of Shah Jahan (who built the Taj Mahal). He is buried in Lahore as this was apparently his first capital city. The tomb is set in enormous walled gardens, and was lovely.
delhi gate and old city
No visit to Lahore is complete without visiting the bonkers walled city. I narrowly avoided getting hit by a motorbike and head butted by an ox. There isn’t a great deal of personal space in the old city, but it was a fascinating walk. In spite of having a substantial lunch, I couldn’t walk past the five men making buttery naan in a seamless manufacturing process, and it was delicious.
wazir kahn mosque
This lovely little mosque is apparently the most beautiful mosque in Lahore, and it reminded me of the ‘rose’ mosque in Shiraz, Iran. Walking into the courtyard from the hustle and bustle of the old wall city, to find people peacefully praying in the late afternoon sun – it was delightful. This was probably my favourite moment in Lahore
Atchison College is the ultra-posh school where fine young elite Pakistani men are educated. The architecture is lovely, and that is why it has appeared on tripadvisor as a place to see. The twist is the you need to email the principal of the school to ask for a visit – but lucky for me he said yes. While the architecture was the reason for visiting, it turns out that I was most fascinated by the overwhelming British poshness of it all. From the 200 groundsmen, to the fully kitted out stables for the equestrian lessons and polo ponies, to the three swimming pools. They have thought of most things – they even have a Sikh temple and a hindu temple to compliment the mosque – so that everyone can worship. I also was amused by the irony that there was no way I would have been able to visit the British equivalent of Atchison (Harrow? Eton?) so easily.
I love trucks in Asia. They are more ornately and lovingly decorated than the women, and that says something. Truck owners invest extraordinary amounts of money (several thousand USD by all accounts) on dedicated truck artists. I couldn’t resist asking my driver to pause at the truck stop for me to check some of these out.
I ended one of my Lahore days at the lovely Shalimar Garden. While there was nothing amazing to see, it was peaceful sitting in the shade having a chai, watching the sun go down
- Many people visit the Wagah border with India (24km from Lahore) to watch the elaborate daily ceremony where the flags get lowered and the border closes. I didn’t go, as had seen it 20 years ago from the other side of the border. Its worth a trip
- I stayed at the Residency Hotel which was excellent – free airport pick up, drop off and breakfast, and a great gym. I rented a car and driver for one day to get around town – it was 30USD all in, including kms. I also simplified my life and organised a guide for one day, as hadn’t had time to do any planning
- Women – I would recommend long sleeves, a tunic and trousers or long skirt. A shalwar kameez is best if you have one, but a tunic and jeans worked for me, with a loose head scarf
- The food is fabulous…. I could have eaten my bodyweight in paratha, Dahl and chicken handi
Lahore, December 3, 2017