If you haven’t seen Lahore, you haven’t been born! Truer words have never been spoken about the capital of Punjab and the second largest city in the country, which is home to around 11 million charged souls. The history of the city dates back 2,000 years to a time when Islam was new to the subcontinent. It was also the ruling seat of the Mughal Empire, and therefore, a major cultural centre, with emperors adding a number of architectural marvels to the city to beautify it further. As such, there are a lot of places to visit in Lahore for local and international tourists.
Regardless of whether you are there for work or pleasure, Lahore’s ancient monuments offer a unique historic charm that makes you fall in love with them and the city. Playing host to various cultures and religions over the years, Lahore also has many religious sites that are worthy of your visit. Here, we’ll give you a brief overview of the best religious and historical attractions to visit in Lahore. We’ll also share the top shopping destinations in Lahore, should you need to shop for souvenirs. You can then close the day by enjoying a meal at the best food streets in Lahore. Stay with us…
Historic Attractions to Visit in Lahore
Lahore has seen Mughal, Sikh, as well as British rule, and various rulers have left their distinct marks on the city. Here are some of the top historical places to visit in Lahore:
1. Lahore Fort
The Shahi Qila or Lahore Fort is a Mughal-era structure near the walled city of Lahore. The fort houses more than 20 monuments within its walls. Being built to its current design by Emperor Akbar and after being home to many successive Mughal emperors, the fort then became the residence of Ranjit Singh, a ruler of the Sikh Empire. The fort later saw the rise and fall of the British rule. While time has taken a toll on its magnificent construction, the fort still rivals its counterparts located in Delhi and Agra in India.
Visitors can enter the fort through the Alamgiri Gate—a huge arched entrance with beautiful carvings that is large enough to allow an elephant mounted caravan of royals to pass through it. Moti Masjid is the next attraction to visit here. Located near the gate, it was built by Emperor Shah Jahan and is one of the earliest ‘Pearl Mosques’ built during the Mughal rule. The fort also has a Diwan-i-Aam (Hall of Public Audience) and a Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience), along with the Emperor’s sleeping quarters, which have now been turned into a museum for Mughal era antiques.
Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) is another prominent site to vest within the Lahore Fort. Built by Shah Jahan for the Empress and her court, the white marble walls of the palace are decorated with small pieces of mirrors to create a mosaic effect.
Commemorating the signing of the Pakistan Resolution on the 23rd of March 1940, by the All-India Muslim League, the Minar-e-Pakistan holds extreme historical and political significance for the people of Pakistan. The monument is built in Iqbal Park, which is one of the largest urban parks in the country. Minar-e-Pakistan is around 60 metres tall, set on a base that is about 8 metres above ground level. The construction took eight years to complete, from 1960 to 1968.
3. Shalimar Gardens
Spread over 80 acres and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shalimar Gardens were built somewhere around 1641 by Emperor Shah Jahan. The gardens are a true reflection of Mughal architecture, containing ponds, waterfalls, as well as three distinct terraces known as ‘Farah Baksh’ (meaning Bestower of Pleasure), ‘Faiz Baksh’ (meaning Bestower of Goodness), and ‘Hayat Baksh’ (meaning Bestower of Life).
4. Lahore Museum
Lahore Museum is one of the best museums in Pakistan and is also among the top attractions to visit in Lahore. The museum was established in the latter half of the 1800s during British rule and is home to around 20 different galleries containing works of arts, relics, sculptures, and other artefacts, dating back to the Gandharan period. The museum also hosts one of the most comprehensive collections of the history of the Indian sub-continent. Also, there are many Islamic artefacts, including ancient manuscripts of the Quran on display at the museum.
5. Jahangir’s Tomb
Located in Shahdara Bagh, the tomb of the Emperor Jahangir was built in the 17th century, over a period of 10 years. While his son, Emperor Shah Jahan, is credited with creating this beautiful tomb in memory of his father, the tomb was actually designed by Jahangir’s most beloved wife, Nur Jahan, who built her own tomb within Shahdara Bagh in a similar style, so that she could be buried there when the time came. The structure was created out of red sandstone and is elaborately decorated with motifs of white marble.
6. Wagah Border
No trip to Lahore can be complete without witnessing the Wagah border ceremony that takes place every evening at the border between India and Pakistan. It is a synced military performance that has been taking place at the border since 1959 and a large crowd of both foreigners and locals gather here for the display every day.
Religious Places to Visit in Lahore
A lot of Islamic architecture was built in Lahore during Mughal rule and the top two religious attractions to visit in Lahore are:
7. Badshahi Mosque
Completed in 1674, the Badshahi Mosque was built during the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb. It is one of the largest mosques in the world, and its red sandstone façade opposite the Alamgiri Gate of the Lahore Fort reflects the architecture of the time.
The mosque has four minarets, each of which is around 60 metres tall, along with three domes made of white marble and a vast open courtyard for worshippers. The tomb of the Poet of the Nation, Allama Muhammad Iqbal can also be found here, in this very courtyard, built from the same red sandstone as the mosque itself. A separate section on the premises also houses Islamic relics belonging to the Prophet (PBUH) and his family.
8. Wazir Khan Mosque
One of the other religious sites to visit during your trip to Lahore is the Wazir Khan Mosque, located in the older part of town. It was commissioned in 1634 by Emperor Shah Jahan and took around seven years to build, which is not surprising, considering the impressive tile work that decorates its façade. Persian tile work and motifs continue to amaze as visitors enter the mosque, with its interior being equally beautiful as its entrance.
Shopping Destinations and Food Streets in Lahore
Taking along a few souvenirs is one of the top things to do in Lahore. So, we’ve not only listed the best places for you to shop, but also where you should eat while you visit Lahore:
9. Anarkali Bazaar and Liberty Market
If you are looking for locally produced handicrafts, you should visit one of the many street markets in Lahore, where you will find everything from clothes to jewellery, footwear, and souvenirs. Anarkali Bazaar and Liberty Market are two top choices for anyone visiting the city. However, as is the case with most street markets in the country, haggling for prices is the norm here. Use a few quick tips to haggle like a pro and get the best bargains for your money. With regards to high-end shopping, there are a number of malls in Lahore that can cater to your needs.
10. Food Street and M. M. Alam Road
If you wish to grab a quick bite to eat, the Fort Road Food Street in Lahore serves local delicacies with a fabulous view of the Badshahi Mosque. If you’re looking for fine dining options, M. M. Alam Road is where you should go, as the road has quickly become a commercial hub with many local and international restaurants opening up their outlets in the area.
Lahore’s ancient history has left behind several monuments, shrines, and tombs to explore, especially within the old walled city of Lahore. The list we’ve shared above lists only some of the best places to visit in Lahore so you can get a taste of the rich history and architecture here. If your trip is about to take you towards the country’s capital, don’t forget to visit some of the must-see places in Islamabad as well. Safe travels!
For more tourism posts on local and international destinations, keep following Zameen Blog, Pakistan’s best travel and tourism blog.