Visiting Lahore the capital of Pakistan Punjab: a Personal Memoir

Scenes from Lahore
Scenes from Lahore

Lahore was the Brightest jewel Before Partition

My Connection with Lahore

I have had a fond connection with Lahore. My maternal grandfather lived there and he had a resplendent ‘Kothi’ (bungalow). He would tell me tales of Lahore when I was young. He also would tell me that he will go back to Lahore one day. Alas! That day never came and he passed away, but he left behind an image of a vibrant and progressive city.

Communal Riots in 1947

Why did he leave Lahore? That was a sad occasion as communal riots had spread in the city after the call of ‘Direct action’ by Mohammed Ali Jinnah in 1946. There was widespread killing of Hindus and Sikhs as the Muslims desired a Pakistan (land of the pure) where only Muslims would live.

The Emotional Appeal of Lahore

Lahore also has an emotional connection with the Sikhs. It was the capital of the Sikh empire. Ranjit Singh was the Maharajah. Much construction work was done by Ranjit Singh who headed a secular regime. I had decided to visit Lahore and three years back I made it to the city. I travelled by bus from Delhi to Lahore. This bus service is one of the confident building measures between India and Pakistan. But it’s just about that and does not lead anywhere. The Pakistani’s officially are more correct than a welcoming lot.

My Father and Lahore

My father as a bachelor was also posted at Lahore. He had joined the Air Force and was posted in the cantonment there. Thus my desire to visit Lahore was double fold. As I crossed the border and entered Pakistan I realized the futility of Pakistan and the two nation theory. Do people know that more Muslims’ live in India than Pakistan?

Places to see in Lahore

I used my stay in Lahore and visited the Lahore Fort. This is an ancient relic and earlier was used by the Mughals before Ranjit Singh occupied it. Close by is the Samadhi (mausoleum) of the great Sikh maharajah with his 11 queens who were forced to commit sati along with him in 1839. As I looked at the Samadhi I had bizarre thoughts. How could the Sikhs have forced the queens to be burnt alive along with the body of the great King? Did he sanction it? Especially after the founder of the Sikh faith Guru Nanak had expressly forbidden it?

Other place to visit is the Lahore museum. This has a special section of Sikh rule and is very well preserved. At the entrance is the famous Zam-Zammah cannon that beckon visitors. It was the principle cannon of the army of Ranjit Singh. Lahore has a functional Hindu temple and the Sikh Gurudwara at Dera Sahib. Visiting them is a pleasure. But it’s all low key as in predominant Muslim Pakistan, the minorities must perforce keep a low profile.

Other Places

I walked the streets of Lahore and visited the Anarkali Bazaar. I was one among the populace; nobody knew that you are from India. It’s after all one race. The old Lahore is a treasure to traverse like Delhi. But the women on the roads are few and many wear the Burkha. I particularly enjoyed visiting the shrine of Data Sahib. He was a Sufi saint whose work “Kashf-ul-Mahjub" has been translated from the original Persian into several European languages. It is also a pleasure to visit the tomb of the fourth great Mughal emperor, Jahangir which lies three miles north-west of Lahore across the River Ravi. A visit to the Shalimar gardens can be a rewarding experience as well.

Lahore Now

The lack of women on the roads is a sad reminder that Lahore is the hot bed of the Taliban activity. It’s a far cry from pre-partition days when the famous painter Amrita Shergill decided to settle in Lahore in the thirties of the last century because she felt it to be the most progressive and cosmopolitan city. Alas that Lahore has gone. I do not know if it will return.

Reaching Lahore

Lahore is very well connected. There is a bus service from Delhi to Lahore and a train service as well. In addition Lahore is the hub of international travel and most major airlines touch Lahore from all important cities of the world. But one gets a feeling that till the Taliban is eliminated Lahore may never come back to what it was.

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Comments 8 comments

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

This is a very interesting article for me because I know little about Pakistan and Lahore. From your description, it is definitely a place I would like to visit some day. Voted up and sharing.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

The buildings are beautiful and your story is very interesting. You do have a lot of history there. Sorry it has changed over the years, but at least you have gone to see the memories.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this interesting report


Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

Pavlo Badovskyy 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

When I read your hub I had a picture something like : a person from South Korea comes to North Korea. It is a strange feeling to be so close to the people of Pakistan that none can tell you are a foreigner and at the same time to feel yourself so much distant from them!! Absolutely amazing hub!


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 3 years ago

I like this hub. I have visited Lahore and wanted to come in a couple of months. It is harder now because we must now book a tour and that is not the way to experience the city. It must be done in a relaxed way and not on the run.


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Thank you Hummingbird. Lahore is a fine place, but things are not ok now.


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 3 years ago

I know, I wanted to visit my friends again and I would have to stay with a tour. I know that the reason is to make sure that visitors are safe and to control who is in the country but I am very sad at all this. Pakistan is a beautiful country and there are a lot of people who want to visit.

I hope it will not be too long before we can visit like we could before.


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Thank you Hummingbird for commenting. Lahore is a lovely place

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