“The poverty of the villages is almost picturesque from the windows of a coach that is not stopping...” - Andrew Miller
|(Wazir Khan Mosque, colorful and vibrant)|
Day 02: Thursday, 10 September 2015
Hotel: Carlton Tower Hotel
|(Carlton Tower Hotel Lahore)|
Early in the morning, we started our walking tour in the narrow streets of Lahore Old City. The roads were packed with cars and rickshaws in a chaos of traffic, indicating the start of the hustle bustle of a busy day. The Walled City of Lahore was fortified by city wall during the Mughal era and has 13 gates. Delhi Gate was one of them that has stood the test of time. There are a number of old historical buildings, private mansions and market places located around the Delhi Gate. The windows and balconies intricate woodworks have been restored to offer a glimpse into the glory of the Mughal era.
|(Entering the walled city through Delhi Gate)|
|(Ablution place in the old town)|
|(Intricate carvings of wooden balcony)|
|(A very narrow street to pass a person)|
|(An old mansion in the walled city)|
|(Camels for sale for the Eid-Adha)|
|(The brick that breaks the dongkey's back)|
The Wazir Khan Mosque can be accessed from the Delhi Gate. Built by Wazir Khan, this mosque served as the Imperial Jamia Masjid for the imperial family’s congregational prayers, during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan. There is an enormous courtyard with walls covered with intricate faience tile work, with Arabic and Persian calligraphy. The four towering minarets are covered in Shahjahani tile mosaic, absolutely fascinating and beautifully brilliance in the bright sunlight.
|(The Wazir Khan Mosque main entrance)|
|(The courtyard of the mosque)|
|(Quranic verses on the walls)|
|(The main prayer area)|
After a fair amount of walking and sweating in the hot humid sun, it was time for a Beriani lunch at one of the local restaurants. After a short rest and prayers break in the hotel, we started our afternoon walking tour of the Lahore Fort and other historical places around the fort area.
|(The high wall of Lahore Fort)|
|(Capturing the historical Mughal architectures)|
The Lahore Fort is a citadel located in the north western corner of the Walled City. The citadel is spread over approximately 50 acres and is trapezoidal in form divided into different sections, each creating its own world within its quadrangle but interconnected. Although the origin of this fort goes deep into antiquity, the present fortifications were by Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar. It has two gates. One of the gates built by Aurangzeb is called Alamgiri Gate that opens towards Badshahi Mosque and another older gate built by Akbar is called Masjidi Gate that opens towards Maseeti area. The fort manifests the rich traditions of Mughal architecture. Some of the famous sites inside the fort include Sheesh Mahal, Alamgiri Gate, Naulakha Pavilion, and Moti Masjid. In 1981, the fort was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
|(A panoramic view from the top floor of the fort)|
|(Stairs and windows in the fort)|
|(Living quarters within the fort)|
Shish Mahal is the famed 'Palace of Mirrors', a comparatively recent name given to the building because of the use of a mosaic of glass inlaid with gypsum for its decoration. The Shish Mahal is composed of several chambers and projects out in the form of a semi-octagon from the general alignment of the fortification called the Pictured Wall. Hazuri Bagh is a garden bounded by the Lahore Fort, the Roshnai Gate and Badshahi Mosque. In the center stands the Hazuri Bagh Baradari.
|(Taking a rest after a tiring walking tour)|
|(Local and foreign visitors admiring the Palace of Mirrors)|
Next to Hazuri Bagh is the Badshahi Mosque built by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. It is one of the city's best known landmarks and a major tourist attraction epitomizing the beauty and grandeur of the Mughal era. The mosque is capable of accommodating over 55,000 worshipers. It is the second largest mosque in Pakistan, after the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad. The design of the Badshahi Mosque is closely related to the Jama Masjid in Delhi which was built by Aurangzeb's father, Emperor Shah Jahan.
|(Beautiful garden around the Hazuri Bagh baradari)|
|(The stairs leading to the entrance of Badshashi Mosque)|
By the time we visited the Badshashi Mosque the group had split into three groups and because of the humid hot weather some resorted to stay in the coaster instead of following the tour program.
Around 16:00 we regrouped and started driving towards Wagah Pakistan/Indian border, 22 km away from Lahore to watch the lowering of the flags ceremony. It is a daily military practice that the India Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers have jointly followed since 1959.
|(The army sentries guiding the gates)|
|(Tall, dark and handsome Pakistani Rangers)|
|(The lowering of the flags ceremony at the borders)|
This ceremony takes place every evening before sunset at the Wagah border, which is part of the Grand Trunk Road linking India and Pakistan. The ceremony starts with a blustering parade by the soldiers from both sides, and ends up in the perfectly coordinated lowering of the two nations' flags. It is called the beating retreat border ceremony on the international level. As the sun sets, the iron gates at the border are opened and the two flags are lowered simultaneously. The flags are folded and the ceremony ends with a retreat that involves a brusque handshake between soldiers from either side, followed by the closing of the gates again. The spectacle of the patriotic ceremony attracts many visitors from both sides of the border, as well as international tourists. The drill is a symbol of the two countries' rivalry, as well as brotherhood and cooperation between the two nations.
|(Dinner entertained by lights and sounds from the fort)|
Tonight we had lamb kebab dinner at the rooftop restaurant of Fort View Hotel overlooking the remarkable Lahore Fort, Badshashi Mosque, Tomb of Allama Iqbal, Sikh Temple and Minar-e-Pakistan. Later we went to the local night market to check out on the local products sold there but we ended up buying nothing.