Lahore

Overview

Introduction

This busy, polluted metropolis (pop. 6,040,000) was once the capital of the Mughal Empire. It has some of Pakistan's best sights, including the Tomb of Emperor Jahangir (with its beautiful surrounding gardens), the narrow streets of the Old Town, the Bara Dari Pavilion, the Shish Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) and the Lahore Fort (where a sound-and-light show is held several times a week). The city also has two beautiful gardens: the Shalimar (designed by the architect of the Taj Mahal) and Jinnah (a lively city park).

Some other places we've enjoyed include the 350-year-old, white-marble and pink-sandstone Badshahi Mosque (the country's second largest, after the King Faisal Mosque in Islamabad) and the Lahore Museum (16 galleries containing carpets, Korans and 1,500 miniature paintings). Kim's gun (Zamzama), made famous by Rudyard Kipling, is in front of Punjab University.

Lahore is a fun city to walk through. Be sure to visit some of the small markets and shops (the Anarkali, Kashmiri and Qissa Khawani bazaars will keep you busy) and spend time at the British-built mall. If you're in Lahore in late February or early March, try to see the National Horse and Cattle Show, Pakistan's version of a rodeo, featuring equestrian competitions, camel and tent-pegging displays, dancers from the provinces and music concerts. But the city's most popular festival, also held in late February, is basant. The principal activity during this weekend-long festival is kite-flying—there are literally thousands in the sky, even at night. Plan at least two nights in Lahore.

Half- and full-day trips outside Lahore include excursions to Hiran Minar, a tower built by Emperor Jahangir (25 mi/40 km away), and Changa Manga (42 mi/68 km south), which has tiny mosques (the drive there, past fields of mustard, is very colorful). 150 mi/240 km southeast of Islamabad.

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