Facts about Lahore, Pakistan
Lahore is the second-largest city in Pakistan and the capital of Punjab province. It is located near the Ravi River about 640 miles (1,025 km) northeast of Karachi, the country's largest city, and is about 10 miles (16 km) from the Indian border. The city has a population of 7.132 million (2013).
Lahore is situated on a flat, fertile flood-plain at an elevation of 702 feet (214 meters). Its climate is subtropical and dry, with an average annual rainfall of 20 inches (500 mm), most of which is received during the summer monsoon season. The mean temperature of January, the coldest month, is 55° F (13° C); that of June, the warmest month, is 94° F (34° C). Dust storms are a prominent feature of the dry, hot spring months.
The old walled city, highly irregular and incredibly crowded, occupies much of the northwestern part of the urban area. Along a maze of narrow streets are found bazaars, schools, mosques, small squares, and brick residences, many with balconies. Numerous gates lead to Circular Road, which encloses the old city. Just outside the north gate is a huge fort, built in 1617–1672, which contains fine historic buildings. Beyond the old city are wider streets with government buildings, commercial areas, industrial sections, and numerous residential areas.
As the cultural center of Pakistan and the major center of Islam in South Asia, Lahore has many mosques, palaces, mausoleums, and gardens. In the fort are 17th century palaces built by the Mughul emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan, in addition to mosques, audience halls, and fine mosaic tile walls. Adjoining the fort stands the huge Badshahi Masjid, one of the largest mosques in the world, erected by the Mughul emperor Aurangzeb in 1674. In the old city are the Wazir Khan Masjid, built in 1634, and the Sonehri Masjid, or Golden Mosque, with three gilt domes, built in 1753.
South of the old city in Anarkali district are hospitals, colleges, churches, the general post office, and many commercial establishments. The excellent Central Museum of arts, sciences, and history is here also. To the southeast, the British-established Civil Lines district contains government buildings, the central jail, parks, and a racecourse. Also in this section are the Jinnah Gardens, which include a zoo, botanical gardens, and sports fields. East of the old city lies the Naulakha section, with schools, residential areas, many mosques, the main railway station, and railway marshaling yards and repair facilities. The Civil Lines and Naulakha are bordered on the east by the Bari Doab irrigation canal, which runs north-south through the entire city.
Along the periphery of the city in the south are a new Model Town, a large industrial section, and the campus of Punjab University; east of that extends the military-operated Cantonment area. In the northeast suburbs are the magnificent Shalimar Gardens laid out by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1637. They include 80 acres (32 hectares) of trees, shrubs, grass, canals, a lake, pavilions, and fountains.
Lahore is surrounded by a rich, irrigated agricultural region, and the city is an important commercial center serving that region through wholesaling, retailing, banking, transportation, and industry. While modern manufacturing industry is not nearly as important in Lahore as it is in Karachi, power in the form of natural gas piped from Sui, Baluchistan, has allowed considerable industrial growth. Important factory industry includes the manufacture of steel, cotton textiles, agricultural machinery, paint and chemicals, and electrical goods. Cottage and small workshop-type industries employ large numbers of people and produce textiles, shoes, cosmetics, processed food, carpets, and furniture.
Lahore is more than 1,000 years old and has been the capital of the Punjab since early Muslim days. The city reached its peak of historical prominence during the rule of the Mughul Empire (1526–1707). In that period it became an alternate capital to Delhi or Agra, and the emperors Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb all resided part-time in Lahore.
The partition of the subcontinent in 1947 brought great confusion and despair to the city, caused by the departure of most Hindus and the arrival of several million Muslim refugees from India. Some of the refugees eventually settled permanently in Lahore and contributed to the rapid and continuous growth of the city.