LahoreLahore (Urdu: لاہور, Punjabi: لہور; pronounced [laːˈɦɔːr] ( listen)) is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in Pakistan, after Karachi. The city lies along the Ravi River, situated approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) from the Wagah border crossing and is 32 kilometres (20 mi) from the Indian city of Amritsar.
Historically, Lahore has been a center of cultural heritage for many civilizations. It successively served as regional capital of the empires of the Shahi kingdoms in the 11th century, the Ghaznavids in the 12th century, the Ghurid State in the 12th and 13th century, the Mughal Empire in the 16th century, the Sikh Empire in the early 19th century, and it was the capital of the Punjab region under the British Raj in the mid 19th and early 20th century. The traditional capital of Punjab for a thousand years, Lahore was the cultural center of the northern Indian subcontinent extending from Peshawar to New Delhi. Mughal structures such as the Badshahi Mosque, the Lahore Fort, Shalimar Gardens, and the mausolea of Jehangir and Nur Jehan are popular tourist attractions for the city. Lahore is also home to many British colonial structures built in the Mughal-Gothic style, such as the Lahore High Court, the General Post Office, Lahore Museum and many older universities including the University of the Punjab. The Lahore Zoo, world's third oldest zoo, is also situated here.
Lahore is also referred to as the cultural heart of Pakistan as it hosts most of the arts, cuisine, festivals, film making, music, gardening and intelligentsia of the country. Lahore is also known for its affiliation with poets and artists; it has the largest number of educational institutions in the country and some of the finest gardens in the continent. Lahore has been a centre for publications and to date holds that distinction as more than 80 percent of books in Pakistan and remains the centre of literary, educational and cultural activity in Pakistan. It is also an important religious center as it is a home to many temples, mosques and shrines like Data Durbar Complex.
According to the 1998 census, Lahore's population was 6,318,745. A mid-2006 government estimate now puts the population at approximately 10 million. It is ranked 40 in the most populated urban areas in the world and the 8th largest city within the Organization of the Islamic Conference. In 2008, Lahore was ranked as a city with High Sufficiency to become a Gamma world city. In 2010 it was ranked by The Guardian as the 2nd Best Tourist Destination in Pakistan.
OriginsA legend based on oral traditions holds that Lahore, known in ancient times as Lavapuri ("City of Lava" in Sanskrit), was founded by Prince Lava or Loh, the son of Rama, the Hindu deity, while Kasur was founded by his twin brother Prince Kusha. To this day, Lahore Fort has a vacant temple dedicated to Lava (also pronounced Loh, hence Loh-awar or "The Fort of Loh").
Ptolemy, the celebrated 2nd-century Egyptian astronomer and geographer, mentions in his Geographia a city called Labokla situated on the route between the Indus River and Palibothra, or Pataliputra (Patna) mostly, in a tract of country called Kasperia (Kashmir). It was described as extending along the rivers Bidastes or Vitasta (Jhelum), Sandabal or Chandra Bhaga (Chenab), and Adris or Iravati (Ravi). This city may have been ancient Lahore.
The oldest authentic document about Lahore was written anonymously in 982. It is called Hudud-i-Alam (The Regions of the World). In 1927 it was translated into English by Vladimir Fedorovich Minorsky and published in Lahore. In this document, Lahore is mentioned as a shehr or town inhabited by infidels "impressive temples, large markets and huge orchards." It refers to "two major markets around which dwellings exist," and it also mentions "the mud walls that enclose these two dwellings to make it one." The original document is currently held in the British Museum. Lahore was called by different names throughout history. To date there is no conclusive evidence as to when it was founded. Some historians trace the history of the city as far back as 4000 years ago. However, historically, it has been proved that Lahore is at least 2,000 years old. Hieun-tsang, the famous Chinese pilgrim has given a vivid description of Lahore which he visited in the early parts of the 7th century AD. Lying on the main trade and invasion routes to South Asia, Lahore has been ruled and plundered by a number of dynasties and hordes.
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Mughal EraLahore reached the zenith of its glory during the Mughal rule from 1524 to 1752. The Mughals, who were famous as builders, gave Lahore some of its finest architectural monuments, many of which are extant today.
Babur; from 1584 to 1598, under the emperors Akbar the Great and Jahangir, the city served as the empire's capital. Lahore reached the peak of its architectural glory during the rule of the Mughals, many of whose buildings and gardens have survived the ravages of time. Lahore's reputation for beauty fascinated the English poet John Milton, who wrote "Agra and Lahore, the Seat of the Great Mughal" in 1670. During this time, the massive Lahore Fort was built. A few buildings within the fort were added by Akbar's son, Mughal emperor Jahangir, who is buried in the city. Jahangir's son, Shahjahan Burki, was born in Lahore. He, like his father, extended the Lahore Fort and built many other structures in the city, including the Shalimar Gardens. The last of the great Mughals, Aurangzeb, who ruled from 1658 to 1707, built the city's most famous monuments, the Badshahi Masjid and the Alamgiri Gate next to the Lahore Fort.
During the 17th century, as Mughal power dwindled, Lahore was often invaded, and government authority was lacking. The great Punjabi poet Baba Waris Shah said of the situation, "khada peeta wahy da, baqi Ahmad Shahy da" — "we have nothing with us except what we eat and wear, all other things are for Ahmad Shah". Ahmad Shah Durrani captured remnants of the Mughal Empire and had consolidated control over the Punjab and Kashmir regions by 1761.
The 1740s were years of chaos, and the city had nine different governors between 1745 and 1756. Invasions and chaos in local government allowed bands of warring Sikhs to gain control in some areas. The Sikhs were gaining momentum at an enormous rate. In 1801, the twelve Sikh misls joined into one to form a new empire and sovereign Sikh state ruled by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.