Lahore is the capital city of the Pakistani province of Punjab, the second largest metropolitan area in the country and 16th most populous city in the world. It is an important historical center in South Asia. With a rich history dating back over a millennium, Lahore is a main cultural centre of the Punjab region and Pakistan and is the largest Punjabi city in the world. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains an economic, political, transportation, entertainment, and educational hub of Pakistan.
Lahore successively served as the 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 centuries and the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. From 1802 to 1849, Lahore served as the capital city of the Sikh Empire. In the mid-19th and early 20th century, Lahore was the capital of the Punjab region under the British Raj. The traditional capital of Punjab for a millennium, Lahore was the cultural centre of the northernIndian subcontinent which extends from the eastern banks of the Indus River to New Delhi. Mughal structures such as theBadshahi Mosque, the Lahore Fort, Shalimar Gardens, the mausolea of Jehangir and NurJahan, Chauburji Gate, and the walled city are some of the major tourist attractions in the city. Lahore is also home to many British colonial structures built in the Indo-Saracenic style, such as the Lahore High Court, the General Post Office, Lahore Museum, Lahore Railway Station, and many older universities and colleges including the University of the Punjab, Govt College and King Edward Medical University. TheLahore Zoo, thought to be the fourth oldest in the world, is also situated here.
Lahore is referred to as the cultural heart of Pakistan as it hosts most of the arts, cuisine, festivals, music, film-making, gardening and intelligentsia of the country. The city has always been a centre for publications where 80 percent of Pakistan’s books are published, and it remains the foremost centre of literary, educational and cultural activity in Pakistan. It is also an important religious centre as it is home to hundreds of temples, mosques, churches and shrines like Data Durbar Complex.
According to the 1998 census, Lahore’s population was 6,319,000. In July 2014, Index Mundi put the population of the city at 7,566,000. An estimate in January 2015 gave the population of the Lahore agglomeration as 10,052,000. It is ranked 34 in the most populated urban areas in the world and the 8th largest city within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. The area of Lahore has almost doubled in the last 12 to 14 years. In 2010, Lahore was ranked as a Gamma+ world city. The Guardian has rated Lahore as the 2nd best tourist destination in Pakistan after Taxila.
Etymology of Lahore and Origins of Lahore
A legend based on oral traditions holds that Lahore, known in ancient times as Lavapura), was founded by Prince Lava (or Loh), the son of Sita and Rama, the king ofAyodhya and an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu according to the Ramayana epic. The city of 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 andgeographer, 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 surviving document about Lahore was written anonymously in 982. It is called Hudud al-‘Alam (The Regions of the World). In 1927 it was translated into English by Vladimir Minorsky and published in Lahore. In this document, Lahore is mentioned as a town being invaded by Arabic savages “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. Lahore has been ruled and plundered by a number of dynasties and hordes.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh made Lahore his capital and was able to expand the kingdom to the Khyber Pass and also included Jammu and Kashmir, while keeping the British East India Company from expanding across the River Sutlej for more than 40 years. After his death in 1839 the internecine fighting between the Sikhs and several rapid forfeitures of territory by his sons, along with the intrigues of the Dogras and two Anglo-Sikh wars, eventually led to East India Company control of the Punjab ten years later. For the East India Company, the Punjab was a frontier province, because the region had boundaries with Afghanistan. Therefore, the Punjabis, unlike the Bengalis and the Sindhis, were discouraged from using their mother tongue as an official language out of fear of Nationalism. The British first introduced Urdu as an official language in Punjab, including Lahore, allegedly due to a fear of Punjabi nationalism. Under the British (1849–1947), architecture in Lahore combinedMughal, Gothic and Victorian styles. Under the British, Sir Ganga Ram (referred to as the father of modern Lahore) designed and built the General Post Office, Lahore Museum, Aitchison College, Mayo School of Arts (now the NCA), Ganga Ram Hospital, Lady Mclagan Girls High School, the chemistry department of the Government College University, the Albert Victor wing of Mayo Hospital, Sir Ganga Ram High School (now Lahore College for Women) the Hailey College of Commerce, Ravi Road House for the Disabled, the Ganga Ram Trust Building on Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam, and the Lady Maynard Industrial School. He also constructed Model Town, a suburb that has recently developed into a cultural centre for Lahore’s growing socioeconomic elite.
Independence of Pakistan
Lahore played a special role in the independence movements of India. The 1929 Indian National Congress session was held at Lahore. In this Congress, the Declaration of the Independence of India was moved by Jawaharlal Nehru and passed unanimously at midnight on 31 December 1929. On this occasion, the Swaraj flag (with a charkha at its centre) was adopted by the Congress. Lahore’s prison was used by the British to detain revolutionaries. Noted independence activist Jatin Das died in Lahore’s prison after fasting for 63 days in protest of British treatment of political prisoners. One of the most famous martyrs in the history of Indian independence, ShaheedSardarBhagat Singh, was hanged here.The most important session of the All India Muslim League (later the Pakistan Muslim League), demanding the creation of Pakistan, was held in Lahore in 1940. Muslims under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah demanded a separate homeland for Muslims of India in a document known as the Pakistan Resolution or the Lahore Resolution. It was during this session under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the league, that Muslims League publicly proposed the Two-Nation Theory for the first time.
Upon the independence of Pakistan, Lahore was made capital of the Punjab province in the new state of Pakistan. Almost immediately, large scale riots broke out among Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, causing many deaths as well as damage to historic monuments—including the Lahore Fort, Badshahi mosque and colonial buildings.
After independence and its deep impact, Lahore as so many times before, once again gained its significance as an economic and cultural powerhouse of the region, through government reforms. The second Islamic Summit Conference was held in the city in 1974
Language and dialects
Further information: Punjabi dialects
According to the 1998 census of Pakistan, Punjabi language is spoken by 87% of the population. Lahore being the capital of the province of Punjab exhibits a great variety ofPunjabi dialects spoken by the people of different district’s living in the city.
|Majhi spoken by the majority
Other languages include:
- Urdu being the national language is also spoken and understood by most of the population and primarily used as a second language.
- English is also understood and spoken by a sizeable segment of the educated population.
- Minority Languages spoken by people of different parts of Pakistan and Afghan refugees living in Lahore (Pahari, Haryanvi, Mewati, Raangrri, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi, Brahui,Kashmiri, Shina, Balti, and Dari).