Pakistan Diaries: Lahore

Wild parrots in the city of LahoreWe arrived in Lahore later than expected due to visa problem at JFK, but we still managed to get some sightseeing done.  We visited Lahore Fort and the Badshahi Mosque, where we saw a tiny hair supposedly a part of Prophet Muhummud’s beard.  We also visited the Shalimar Gardens, which must have been an amazing sight when fully planted and in bloom.  Now you view it with some imagination.

Pakistan taught me that I should never leave my camera in the bag.  Every time I did, Pakistan punished me by showing me something I wished I’d photographed.  Occasionally it served me well, such as when Sarah spotted wild parrots.  Here are the highlights of the historical sights we hit in Lahore.

Lahore Fort
Lahore FortThe Lahore Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site, began construction in 1560 and was added onto for the next 100 years.  Four different emperors from the Moghul empire built various parts of it.  Notable elements include:

  • a gorgeous courtyard with a pedestal for the Moghul Emperor’s throne
  • a court in which the Moghul emperor heard the appeals of the public
  • a set of built to accomodate royalty arriving by elephant
  • a hotel for carrier pigeons, heavily used before the advent of the telegraph but now just a home for unemployed pigeons.
  • the Shish Mahal originally built by Moghul emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife, is a gorgeous building. Like the Taj Mahal, also built by Shah Jahan, it contained stonework with inlaid semi-precious gems.  One entire room is covered in mirrors.  The courtyard floor and mirrored room are currently being restored by hand

Badshahi Mosque
The Badshahi Mosque another Moghul construction of 1674, is one of the largest mosques.  At prayer it can hold 60,000 people.  Like everything else, it’s every area is well decorated, from the ceiling down to the floor.

Lahore sits near a fault line, so earthquakes are not unheard of.  The Moghuls knew this, and intentionally built the minarets at the corners of the Mosque leaning outward, so that if they fell during a quake, they at least wouldn’t kill those inside the mosque. 

In a small museum within the mosque we saw a preserved hair from Prophet Muhummad’s beard and a cast of his footprint, though we weren’t allowed to take photos of them.

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