Historical Background

The origin of Lahore can be traced back somewhere between 1st and 7th centuries A.D. It is, however, inferred by historians that Lahore was actually founded by Loh e son of Rama, characterized as the Hindu god in Ramayana. According to Sir Robert Montgomery, Lahore rose to importance between 2nd and 4th centuries. According to the Greek geographer, Ptolemy, Lahore was founded somewhere at the end of the 1st century. According to the book ood-e-Aalamahore appeared as a town in 882 AD.

The people of Lahore, when they want to emphasize the uniqueness of their town say "Lahore is Lahore". The traditional capital of Punjab for a thousand years, it had been the cultural center of Northern India extending from Peshawar to New Delhi. This preeminent position it holds in Pakistan as well. Lahore is the city of poets, artists and the center of film industry. It has the largest number of educational institutions in the country and some of the finest gardens in the continent.

The city as we know it today, reached its peak of glory during the Moghul rulers, especially in the reign of Akbar the Great, who made it his capital. His son, Jehangir, is buried in its outskirts and his mausoleum is one of the places frequented by tourists and Lahorites alike. Close by is the mausoleum of the famous Moghul Empress, Nur Jehan, who is known for introducing the rose plant and for initiating several cultural movements in the Sub-Continent.

Akbar the Great held his Court In Lahore for 14 years from 1584 to 1598, and built the Lahore Fort, as well as the city walls which had 12 gates. Some of these still survive. Jehangir and Shah Jehan, the builders of the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Shalamar Gardens in Srinagar and Lahore, built palaces and tombs. The last great Moghul Emperor, Aurangzeb (1838 - 1707) built Lahore's most famous monument, the great Badshahi Mosque. At that time the river Ravi, which now lies a few miles away from Lahore, touched the ramparts of the Fort and the Mosque. A stream still flaws there and is known as the"Old River". The Sikhs ruled it in the 18th and 19th centuries, and though it was their capital, they had a habit of damaging the Muslim monuments and took little interest in gardens. It is said that they took enough marble from the Moghul monuments of Lahore to build the Golden Temple at Amratsar twice over. Most of the gems that decorated the palaces and the forts were also taken out.


British were responsible for the desecration of many of Lahore's tombs and monuments. At one stage the Attorney General maintained an office at the Shah Chiragh Mosque, dak bungalows were built for the weekends at Shalamar Gardens. Anarkali's tomb was used as an office and later consecrated as a place of worship called St. Adrew's Church. It can also be conjectured that Lahore was an industrial center in the Moghul period. The famous guns which lie in front of the Central Museum and other places were molded in the foundries of Lahore. Their perfection shows that the industry was quite advanced. Within the walled city you may come across old Havelis or the spacious houses of the rich, which give you an inkling of the style of the rich and notables in the Moghul reign. Efforts are being made to preserve some of the buildings, along with their environments, but a great deal needs to be done to maintain them for posterity.

The British during their reign (1849 -1947) compensated Lahore, by harmoniously combining Mughal, Gothic and Victorian styles of architecture. Victorian heritage is only next to Mughal monuments. The GPO and YMCA buildings built to commemorate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria - an event marked by the construction of clock towers and monuments all over India. They built some important buildings, like the High Court. the Government College, the Museums, the National College of Arts, Montgomery Hall, Tollinton Market, the Punjab University (Old Campus) and the Provincial Assembly. At one end of The Mall stands the University - perhaps the largest center of education in Asia. The city has built a new Campus in the quieter environments on the Canal Bank, but the old University buildings are still functioning.

Students from all over Pakistan come here to receive education. Their activities completely over shadow other aspects of the cultural life. Moti Masjid or Pearl Mosque beyond the audience hall was for the exclusive use of royal ladies carved from marble having the luster of pearls. Nearby "Naulakha", a marble pavilion is inlaid with floral motifs and precious gems. Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) built in 1631 is the most richly decorated building inside Lahore Fort. it is named for the elaborate mosaic of convex mirrors set in Stucco work tracery and the gilded interior. Built by emperor Shah Jehan, for his empress and his harem, fretted marble work screens hiding the occupants from view. Lahore offers some delightful picnic spots. Tourists can find shady groves and green carpets at Shalamar Gardens, Jehangir's Tomb and the Jinnah Gardens, the Jallo Park the newly built lqbal Park and Changa Manga Forests. Boats can be hired at the river Ravi, or at Baradari, another of the river-side pleasure-houses built by the Mughals and an ideal place for relaxation.

Old Names of Lahore

  • Laha-war
  • Laha-noor
  • Loh-pur
  • Mahmood-pur
  • Labokla
  • Samandpal Nagiri
  • Lohar-pur

Derivation Of Name

Lohawar is probably correct form of its original name. This name is in conformity with “Loh-Kot”, a name mentioned in the Rajput Chronicles meaning “Fort of Loh”.

Lahore Through The Ages

1000 BC Foundation of Lahore by Prince Loh, Son of Rama Chandra
630 AD A Great Brahmanb City according to Hieun Tsang
800~900 AD Under Brahmanb rule
975 AD Subuktgin, father of Mahmood Ghaznavi of Ghazni invades Lahore and defeats Raja Jaipal
1021 AD Mahmood Ghaznavi Captures the City
1043 AD Hindu Rajas of Northern India besiege Lahore for seven
1039~1099 AD Golden Rule of Ghaznavids under Zahir-ud-Din Ibrahim
1157~1186 AD Capital of Ghaznavids under twelfth Ghaznavid Emperor
1186~1206 AD Shahab-ud-Din Ghauri conquers Lahore and brings it under the Ghorid Empire
1241~1310 AD The Mongols ransack Lahore several times
1398 AD Tamerlane plunders Lahore
1236~1526 AD Lahore plays almost no role. The Khilji, Tughlaq, Syed and Lodhi dynasties succeed one another in Delhi till Babur captures it in 1524 and lays foundations of the Moghul Empire
1524 AD Babur captures Lahore
1554 AD Babar's son Humayun returns in triumph after 14 years of exile
1606 AD Emperor Jehangir besieges Lahore
1622 AD Jehangir fixes his court in Lahore
1629 AD Shahjehan proclaimed emperor at Lahore
1629~1658 AD Lahore enjoys peace and prosperity under Ali Mardan and Wazir Khan, Governors of Emperor Shahjehan
1659 AD Emperor Aurangzeb enters Lahore
1712 AD Aurangzeb's death at Lahore
1739 AD Nadir Shah Durrani, the King of Persia captures Lahore
1748~1767 AD Nadir's successor, Ahmad Shah Abdali invades Lahore eight times
1764~1794 AD Three Sikh Chiefs Lahna Singh, Sobha Singh and Gujjer Singh occupy Lahore
1799~1839 AD Lahore under Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh ruler of the Punjab
1839~1848 AD Successors of Ranjit Singh
1849 AD Annexation of the Punjab by the British brings Lahore under their control
1857 AD East India Company transfers its powers to the British crown and Lahore becomes part of the British Empire
1857~1947 AD British rule
1947 AD Creation of Pakistan

Lahore owes much to the Mughal Princes, for it was here that Shah Jehan made the Shalimar Gardens, Aurangzeb constructed the world famous Badshahi Mosque, and it is here that the emperor Jehangir and his beloved wife Nur Jehand are buried. The massively fortified walls of the Lahore Fort speak eloquently of the days gone by. Its origin is not known. However, Mughal Emperor Akbar gave it a face-lift and made it one of the most splendid forts in the Sub-Continent. One can almost envision the royal Princes and Princesses moving within the calm splendor of its magnificent walls. The famous Anarkali Bazaar (named after the legendary Anarkali) is almost adjacent to this historical Lahore Museum, whose collection of coins and crafts unveil the secrets of centuries.

The British during their reign (1849-1947) combined Mughal, Gothic and Colonial architecture with Victorian style and made many historical Building like the High Court, Government College, the Central Museum, National College of Arts, Montgomery Hall, Tollinton Market, the Punjab University and the Provincial Assembly.

But Lahore offers a great deal more than just monuments. A variety of art galleries, museums, theatres, and shopping arcades are as much a part of the culture and activities that go on in Lahore at a breath lking pace. Cool tree ned avenues, lush green lawns, the serene drive down the canal, the parts, the fountains and the modern high se buildings, add to the character and charm of the city.