The one square kilometer densely populated walled city in the heart of Lahore houses a variety of architectural treasures and was once accessible by 13 gates. The Walled City of Lahore is also known as the Old City of Lahore and was established around 1000 CE. Most of the monuments housed in the city belong to the Mughal era, notably the lavishly decorated Wazir Khan Mosque, the massive Badshahi Mosque, and the Shahi Hammam.
Gates of Walled City of Lahore
The Walled City of Lahore was covered by a 9-meter high brick wall and accessible by 13 gates, made of wood and iron, with their unique names. These gates were constructed during the reign of Emperor Akbar (1584-98).
- The Raushnai Gate, or the Gate of Lights, is located between the royal mosque and the citadels.
- The Kashmiri Gate is called so because of its direction towards Kashmir.
- The Masti Gate, actually the Masjidi Gate refers to a mosque
- The Khizri or the Shranwala Gate was named after Khizr Elias, the patron saint.
- The Yakki Gate, originally the Zaki Gate, was a name derived from the name of a martyred saint while defending the city
- The Delhi Gate is called so because of its opening to the highway to Delhi.
- The Akbari Gate was named after the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Jala-ud-din Akbar who rebuilt the town and fort.
- The Mochi Gate was actually called Moti Gate to refer to Pearl named after Moti Ram, an officer of Akbar who resided here at that time.
- The Shah Almi Gate was named after the son and successor of Aurangzeb, Mohomed Mo’azzam Shah Alam Bahadur Shah who died on the 28th of February 1712 in Lahore.
- The Lahori Gate, also known as Lohari Gate, has been named after the city of Lahore.
- The Mori Gate was the smallest of all and was used as an outlet for the refused and sweepings of the city.
- The Bhatti Gate was named after the Bhatis, an ancient Rajput tribe that lived in these quarters.
- The Taxali Gate, named after the Taxal or Royal Mint
During the reign of Ranjit Singh (1799 to 1849), the damaged walls were rebuilt in 1812. All of these marvelous gates continued to exist until the 19th century. Some damaged gates were rebuilt using simple structures, except for Delhi Gate and Lahori Gate. Currently, only 6 of these gates exist including Roshnae, Delhi, Shairanwala, Bhati, Kashmiri, and Lahori.
Below is the detail of the hidden architectural treasure inside the Walled City Of Lahore
Badshahi Mosque Lahore
The crown jewel of Lahore, the Badshahi Mosque, was a symbol of power in the Mughal Empire. It has been the largest mosque in the world for 313 years (1673 to 1986). The grand mosque was used more as a military base by the armies of Ranjit Singh and the British troops than as a religious structure. It is now the second largest in Pakistan and South Asia and 5th largest in the world with a capacity for more than 150,000 worshippers on its grounds.
Lahore FortThe Lahore Fort or Shahi Qila is a citadel spreading over an area greater than 20 hectares located at the northern end of Lahore’s Walled City. It has 21 notable monuments, some of which date as far back as the era of Emperor Akbar. The Fort was almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century when the Mughal Empire enjoyed the height of its reign. According to records, it was said to be a mud-brick fort in the 11th century but the foundation of the modern Lahore Fort was laid in 1566 during the reign of Emperor Akbar. The fort featured both Islamic and Hindu motifs in its architectural design. However subsequent amendments were carried out with the passage of time by the subsequent Mughal Emperors. However, the facility was turned into the residence of Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire, after the fall of the Mughal Empire and later passed on to the British who made some major changes in its design as per their own need. The fort was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 for its “outstanding repertoire” of Mughal monuments dating from the era when the empire was at its artistic and aesthetic zenith.
Fort Road Food Street
The Fort Road Food Street is a prominent yet mystifying street clustered with a great variety of food outlets where food enthusiasts of all colors and creeds gather for a taste of their choice, mostly made inside multi-story heritage buildings and served either along the street or on rooftops. These rooftops are surrounded by significant landmarks that provide magnificent views of the buildings clustered surrounding the old city. Food Street is also the best place to enjoy the dramatic sunset. It is also a prominent tourist attraction located between Fort Road and Roshni Gate of the Walled City of Lahore. Historically the street was once taboo being a part of the renowned red light area of Lahore.
Wazir Khan MosqueThe Mughal architecture in the subcontinent has been archetypal and has had no matching landmarks to date. The Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore is such a unique and vivid illustration of Mughal architecture. It is also a testimony of their affinity to finesse, frescos and dexterity. It has been described as “a mole on the cheek of Lahore”.
The Golden Mosque, locally known as the “Sunehri Masjid” or the Talai Mosque is a late Mughal architecture-era mosque in the Kashmiri Bazar of the famous Walled City (Old City) of Lahore. The mosque was built in 1753 by Nawab Syed Bhikari Khan, son of Raushan-ud-Daula Turrabaz Khan, deputy governor of Lahore during the reign of Muhammad Shah. It was the time when the Mughal Empire was in decline. The mosque was built on an 11-foot high plinth in a congested street accessible by 16 stairs opening to a small courtyard measuring 65 x 43 feet that further leads to the prayer chamber measuring 40 x 16 feet. The architectural design of the mosque reflects the Sikh architecture influence from nearby Amritsar, particularly the three golden gilding domes surrounded by four minarets in its four corners. The mosque was seized and converted into a gurdwara by Sikh authorities during the Sikh rule but it was owned back when Fakir Azizuddin persuaded Ranjit Singh and was renovated in the 1820s. It was again renovated in 2011 by the government of Punjab under the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation of the USA.
Tomb of Allama Muhammad Iqbal
Allama Iqbal Tomb
The poet-philosopher Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal was born on November 9, 1877, in Sialkot and died on April 21, 1938, in Lahore. He was the major inspiration behind the Pakistan movement – the man who envisaged a separate homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent where they could practice the religion peacefully. He was laid to rest in the Hazuri Bagh lawn, adjacent to Baradari, in the walled city where Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque face each other. His mausoleum was entirely constructed of red sandstone from Rajasthan while the tombstone marble was gifted by the Afghan government. A guard is maintained on the tomb forever.
Hazuri Bagh and Baradari
Hazuri Bagh and BaradariHazuri Bagh, a low basin garden, between the main gateways of the Badshahi Mosque and Lahore Fort, was created by Ranjit Singh. In the year 1818, Ranjit Singh ordered that in the middle of the Fort and the Mosque, a garden be constructed. Likewise, on the suggestions of Jamadar Khush Hal Singh, a marble seat (pavilion) for royals was constructed and decorated measuring 14 m square white marble and called Baradari (twelve arch pavilion). The marble was plucked out from the tomb of Zaib u Nisa (Nawan Kot), Tomb of Shah Sharaf (Bhati Gate), Tomb of Nur Jahan, Tomb Asif Jah, and Tomb of Jahangir. It took only two years to complete the project. Ranjit Singh held court in Huzoori Bagh and dealt with the affairs of his kingdom.
Fakir Khana Museum
Located inside the Bhati Gate, within the Walled city of Lahore, the Fakir Khana Museum is the largest privately owned museum in South Asia containing over 20,000 objects. Most of these objects were amassed as direct hand-me-down gifts largely as a result of their ties with Ranjit Singh. These objects include artifacts from the 18th to 20th centuries and a unique collection of Gandharan art. Moreover, the collections at the museum also include 10,000 manuscripts, 180 displayed miniature paintings, Sikh-era textiles, pottery, statuary, and carved ivory pieces besides the gifts given by Ranjit Singh to the Fakir family. The museum also has a unique painting of Nawab Mumtaz Ali completed in 15 years with a single hair. This museum has been open to the public since 1901.
The Mubarak Haveli inside the Mochi Gate of the Walled City is a piece of architecture with a fascinating history. It was actually built by the three sons (Mir Bahadur Ali, Mir Nadir Ali, and Mir Bahar Ali) of a famous Hakeem during the time of the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah. The birth of a son to Bahadur Ali’s wife was seen as a good omen and the Haveli was named as Mubarak Haveli. Mubarak Haveli has been a temporary residence of the Afghan King Shah Shuja Durrani during his exile in Lahore in 1813/1814 where he surrendered the Kohinoor diamond to Maharaja Ranjit Singh in exchange for his freedom. The diamond is now in the British Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. The Haveli is currently owned by the Qazalbash family and was granted to the family for their services to the British.
The marvelous Naunihal Singh Haveli was the private residence of the Sikh ruler Naunihal Singh, the Son of Kharrak Singh and the grandson of Ranjeet Singh. Dating from the Sikh era, between 1930 and 1940, it is considered to be one of the finest examples of Sikh architecture. The Haveli is a 4-story building comprises of 40 rooms and has been turned into Govt. Victoria Girls High School in 1860 during the British era. The building is located near the Bhati Gate and Lahori Gate.
Gurdwara Dera Sahib
Gurdwara Dera Sahib is the place where Guru Arjan Dev, the 5th guru of Sikhism, died in 1606. Its construction was initiated by Kharak Singh and completed by Duleep Singh in 1884. Its construction design is a blend of Sikh, Hindu, and Islamic architecture.
The 19th-century shrine houses the funerary urns of the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh who ruled from 1780 to 1839. The Samadhi is located adjacent to Badshahi Mosque and Lahore Fort and Gurdwara Dera Sahib. While standing close to the eastern wall of Aurangzeb’s architectural marvel, a gleaming golden Minar (tower) atop a white dome – the Minar of the Samadhi (mausoleum) of the infamous “Sher-e-Punjab,” Ranjit Singh can be noticed.
Gurdwara Janam Asthan Guru Ram Das
Guru Ram Das was the 4th Sikh Guru and was born in the Chuna Mandi Bazaar of Lahore in 1534 CE and his Gurdwara is also located in the same place inside the Walled City. The Gurdwara was built on the top of the site once believed to be the site of his birthplace. The shrine was built several steps above street level using a white marble platform. The area of the Janam Asthan measures 122 feet 6 inches by 97 feet 6 inches.