Lahore’s 13 gates to bygone glory

Delhi gate, one of Lahore's most famous gates, still shows signs of some of its old grandeur. (AN Photo)
Short Url
Updated 30 December 2019

Lahore’s 13 gates to bygone glory

  • The gates of Lahore’s old city were the crown jewels of its legendary history, with only six still standing
  • Life inside the walled city has its own distinct culture, food and traditions 

LAHORE — The city of Lahore was established on the banks of the Ravi River centuries ago. 

Due to continuous invasions, pillage, and attacks, the city had a high brick wall built around it with 12 gates and one narrow passageway, bringing the total to 13. 

But half of Lahore’s grand gates were destroyed. Six continue to stand, and carry some traces of their past, with each boasting its own unique history.

“The real gates of Lahore were demolished in the British era. A few gates were reconstructed again but not in their original structure. Now, seven out of the 13 have vanished,” Najum Saqib, Director Conservation, Walled City Lahore Authority (WCLA), told Arab News.

Inside the old city, life seems to exist largely untouched by time. Many streets are too narrow for cars and every crooked alleyway has its own story to tell about the unique culture of its locals.

Taxali Gate-

In the past, invaders entered Lahore from the West, and the first gate they would see was the Taxali, home of Lahore’s infamous old Red Light District. This is also the site of Lahore’s Gawalmandi, or food street, a bustling tourist destination packed full of delectable local treats, their recipes passed down through the generations.

Taxali was historically an upper-class area of the city. The subcontinent’s renowned musicians and singers belonged to neighborhoods inside the gate. 

The British demolished Taxali Gate for military reasons and it was never built again.

Bhatti gate-

This is the second gate on the western side. The old structure was demolished and rebuilt by the British. It remains a bustling center of commerce but locals say increasing urbanization has marred the traditional values of life inside the old gate. 

“The life inside Bhatti gate is not the same. There was a time when everyone knew everyone. Now people are more secretive about their work, their life and not open with each other the way they once were,” Mian Ismaeel, 93, a resident of Bhatti gate, told Arab News.

Mori Gate-

Mori gate, to the south, was never considered a gate by historians. 
“Mori gate has not been considered a gate in any historical writing but the people of Lahore always counted it as the 13th gate. The gate has been destroyed and not even a single sign remains,” Adil Lahori, head of Lahore Heritage Foundation, told Arab News. 
Presently, the area has been turned into Lahore’s biggest fish market.

A narrow street, once the standing ground of the unofficial 13th gate of Lahore- Mori Gate which was demolished by the British. Dec. 1, 2019. (AN Photo)

Lahori Gate-

This gate still stands-- the first gate constructed by Emperor Akbar. It faces Anarkali Bazar and remains a commercial hub to this day.

Once, the glamorous red-light district was located inside Lahori Gate, and the city’s richest dancers would reside here in beautiful palaces called Havelis.

A few derelict Havelis still exist, inhabited by multiple families without a care for the historic value of their homes. 
The area was also the first international market of the sub-continent as Europeans began the business of buying indigo here. It was the biggest market of the indigo dye in the world, and Lahore its biggest producer.

“It is a wrong perception that the West started the business of spices in the sub-continent first... rather they started buying bluing from here and exported it to Europe,” Adil Lahori said.

Lahori Gate as it stands today, rebuilt by the British in the 19th century. Dec. 1, 2019. (AN Photo)

Shah Alam Gate-

Lovingly called Shahalmi by Lahore’s residents, the original gate was destroyed when its buildings and a majority of its residents were reduced to ashes during pre-partition riots in 1946. 
It was once a Hindu-dominated area and a hub of commerce and trade. Even today, it depicts the same tradition of business with one of Asia’s largest wholesale markets. 

 “In 1957, the partly burnt Shahalmi Gate was pulled down by the Lahore administration for rebuilding-- a dream that never came true,” said Ahmad Hassan, 90, an old resident of Shahalmi.

The facade of shop-fronts where Shah Alam Gate once stood before being burnt to the ground in the 1946 pre-partition riots. Dec 1, 2019. (AN Photo)

Mochi Gate-

Inside the Mochi gate, shops sell dry fruit, fireworks, and kites. The area is home to iconic Shi’ite buildings, nestled in the middle of the walled city’s network of narrow and bustling streets, from where the annual procession of Moharram begins. 

Historically, the area inside Mochi gate served as the city’s ‘ordinance factory,’ where arrows, swords, bows, horse-saddles, and javelins were produced.

Mochi gate was also demolished by the British.

Street in Lahore's walled city, once leading to Mochi gate before it was destroyed by the British during colonial rule. Dec. 1, 2019. (AN Photo).

Akbari Gate- 

Within this gate, there was a great spice market during the Mughal era, with traders visiting from all over South and Central Asia. Even today, it is considered an important market for spices and grain.

“This is a centuries’ old market of spices that not only caters to the needs of Pakistan but also Afghanistan. The Afghans buy spices from here and export them to the Central Asian states,” Hammad Butt, a spice trader, told Arab News.

The British East India Company began its trade of spices from this very place. The original gate was demolished by the British.

Akbari Gate of Lahore's famous fort. The gate was used by Mughal kings to get into the fort and the city. Dec. 1, 2019. (AN Photo)

Delhi Gate-

The famous ‘Delhi Darwaza’ is situated on the eastern side of Lahore’s Walled City and opens in the direction of Delhi in India, the capital of the Mughal dynasty. 

The gate has been conserved by authorities and is illuminated at night for tourists. 

Delhi gate, one of Lahore's most famous gates, still shows signs of some of its old grandeur. (AN Photo)

Kashmiri Gate-

 Kashmiri gate is so named because of its direction toward the valley of Kashmir. It houses one of the biggest cloth markets in Asia-- Azam Cloth Market. 

A view of the walled city's Kashmiri gate. The original gate was razed to the ground and in its current form built by the British government in India. The gate has been renovated several times. Dec. 1, 2019. (AN Photo)

Yakki Gate- 

The last gate on the eastern side, where several Mughal courtiers spent their lives, with the remains of their Havelis still existing. The gate was demolished during the British Raj and never constructed again. 

A road and market that was once the location of the ancient Yakki gate. Dec. 1, 2019. (AN Photo) 

Khizri Gate-

This gate was constructed on the banks of the Ravi river flowing by the city walls, with residents traveling by boats. The gate still stands but in a derelict state.

Masti Gate-

This was the gate the Mughals used to reach the fort. At present, wholesale and retail markets for shoes are spread out inside the gate.

Roshnai Gate-

This is the only gate that has survived with its grandeur intact. It was used by notables, courtiers and the elite to attend court. In the evening, the lights lit here could be seen from the walled city which gave it its name, Roshnai. This gate still remains in its original shape and structure-- a hidden treasure of centuries’ old Mughal grandeur.

“The significance of these gates has been lost with the passage of time,” Meem Seen Butt, a Lahore-based historian, and writer of several books on the city, told Arab News. 

“Now they have heritage value, and are used solely for symbolic purposes.” 

Pakistan equities trade at record highs as weak China data dents investor mood

Updated 15 July 2024

Pakistan equities trade at record highs as weak China data dents investor mood

  • Pakistan’s benchmark index rose 1.7 percent to hit a record high after Islamabad reached an agreement for $7 billion loan with the IMF
  • The index has soared 30 percent this year and has almost doubled since Pakistan signed its last deal for $3 billion standby arrangement

Most emerging market stocks started the week lower after disappointing China economic data, while Pakistani equities traded at record highs and investors assessed the fallout of a revised budget in Kenya.
China stocks ended flat on Monday and Hong Kong equities logged their biggest one-day drop after the economy grew much slower than expected in the second quarter, prompting downward revisions for annual growth by brokerages J.P.Morgan and Goldman Sachs.
Attention was also on the once-in-five-years ‘Third Plenum’, due to end on Thursday, where markets hope for some efforts to manage China’s vast property crisis, boost domestic consumption and revitalize the private sector.
“It remains the case that China is taking pragmatic steps to address the problems it can fix, but at nothing like the pace foreign investors or net commodity exporters wish to see,” said Hasnain Malik, head of equity research at Tellimer Research.
MSCI’s index tracking bourses in developing economies slipped 0.2 percent, while an index tracking currencies was flat. Traders assessed political developments in the US and the implications of a second Donald Trump presidency.
In South Asia, Pakistan’s benchmark index rose 1.7 percent to hit a record high after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the country reached a staff level agreement (SLA) for a $7 billion, 37-month loan program.
The index has soared 30 percent this year and has almost doubled since Pakistan signed its last SLA for the $3 billion standby arrangement.
India’s main stock indexes also traded at record highs. Quarterly earnings were in focus along with the new government’s annual budget expected on July 23, where a private lender expects the country to cut its current year’s gross market borrowings after a better-than-estimated surplus transfer from the central bank.
Meanwhile, yield on Kenyan sovereign bonds slipped between 5 and 13 basis points (bps) after the government said it plans to cut annual spending by 1.9 percent and widen the fiscal deficit to 3.6 percent of GDP, weeks after it was forced to roll back tax hikes due to mass protests.
Most currencies in eastern and central Europe were tepid against the euro. The forint inched up 0.2 percent ahead of remarks on monetary policy from the Hungary’s deputy central bank governor.
Elsewhere, the shekel inched up 0.1 percent against the dollar ahead of June inflation data and against the backdrop of talks of a Gaza ceasefire, while Rwanda’s franc was flat against the euro as elections were underway.

Two-member Canadian team begins aviation security assessment at Karachi airport

Updated 15 July 2024

Two-member Canadian team begins aviation security assessment at Karachi airport

  • This is the fifth international evaluation of Pakistan’s aviation security system in recent months
  • Pakistan’s aviation protocols have faced significant scrutiny since a 2020 fake pilot license scandal

KARACHI: A two-member Canadian team on Monday began its aviation security assessment at Jinnah International Airport in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) said.
The team comprises inspectors, Barbara Durette and Abdel Tahir, from Transport Canada — a Canadian government entity responsible for policies and services of road, rail, marine and air transportation.
It held a meeting with Pakistani officials at the PCAA headquarters. The four-day assessment will focus on aviation security documentation, airport arrangements, catering and cargo complexes.
“The team will be inspecting implementation of various aviation security protocols at the airport and implementation of special security measures being undertaken by PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) for direct flights to Canada,” the PCAA said in a statement.
It said the assessment is a continuation of collaborative efforts between Transport Canada and the PCAA to enhance aviation security standards in the South Asian country.
This is the 5th international evaluation of Pakistan’s aviation security system in recent months. The PCAA earlier said it had successfully passed all previous inspections, including an inaugural assessment by the United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority (UAE-GCAA) of Islamabad and Karachi airports that concluded on July 5.
Pakistan’s aviation protocols have faced significant scrutiny since 2020 following a scandal wherein approximately 262 out of 860 active pilots were said to have obtained fake licenses, leading to the grounding of around 150 pilots from the PIA and other carriers.
This revelation came in the wake of the tragic crash of PIA flight 8303 in Karachi, resulting in the suspension of PIA’s operations in the European Union (EU) and other regions and prompting calls for regulatory reforms to improve safety standards and transparency.

Pakistan seeks review of court ruling declaring Imran Khan party eligible for reserved seats

Updated 15 July 2024

Pakistan seeks review of court ruling declaring Imran Khan party eligible for reserved seats

  • Khan’s PTI party was denied its share of reserved seats in national and provincial assemblies, benefitting the ruling coalition
  • Government says the issue of granting reserved seats to PTI was not even in pleadings before the election commission, courts

ISLMABAD: The government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday filed a petition seeking review of last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Pakistan that declared former prime minister Imran Khan’s party eligible for reserved seats in parliament.
The July 12 verdict in favor of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party dealt a blow to the ruling coalition of PM Sharif, which may lose its two-thirds majority in Pakistan’s parliament. PTI candidates contested the Feb. 8 national election in Pakistan as independents after the party was barred from polls on the technical grounds that it did not hold genuine intra-party polls, which is a legal requirement.
Subsequently, they won the most seats in the election, 93, but the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said independents were ineligible for their share of 70 reserved seats — 60 for women, 10 for non-Muslims. The reserved seats were then distributed among other parties, mostly those in the ruling coalition, a decision appealed by the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) that was joined by Khan-backed independents to claim their share of reserved seats.
In its review petition, the government noted the issue of granting reserved seats to the PTI was not even in the pleadings of the SIC before the election commission, the Peshawar High Court and the Supreme Court.
“SIC and PTI are two separate political parties and two separate entities. The Order under Review, it seems has treated them as one party with different names which cannot be permissible under the Law,” the government petition read.
“It is submitted and reiterated here that PTI neither filed any case before the ECP, nor before Peshawar High Court, nor before the Supreme Court, hence it is not entitled to any relief, let alone a relief which was not even pleaded.”
The petition stated that all returned candidates had already joined the SIC and hence there was no question of giving them an option of joining the PTI that too after many months of the election. It was also against Rule 92 (6) of the Election Rules, 2017 which states that once an independent candidate has joined a political party, there is no option to recall or cancel, it added.
“The Order under Review is against the settled principles of interpretation of the Constitution. By carving out a procedure which is not provided under the Constitution, Order under Review might have gone into the realm of creating and not just interpreting the Constitution which is against the long standing jurisprudence of this Honourable Court,” the petition read.
The government requested the top court to accept the review petition for hearing and stay implementation of its order declaring the PTI eligible for reserved parliamentary seats.
All candidates from Khan’s PTI party were forced to contest the February polls as independents after the party was stripped of its election symbol of the cricket bat by the ECP on the technical grounds that it did not hold intra-party elections, a prerequisite for any party to take part in polls.
The PTI is currently entitled to around 78 reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies, which does not affect the parliamentary majority of the Sharif-led coalition government.
The July 12 verdict also bolstered political position of Khan’s supporters, whose rallying cry has been that the election commission and a pro-military caretaker government that oversaw the polls indulged in electoral fraud to deprive it of a victory. The ECP denies this.

Pakistan PM congratulates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on becoming UAE deputy PM

Updated 15 July 2024

Pakistan PM congratulates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on becoming UAE deputy PM

  • Shehbaz Sharif also felicitated Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan on appointment as UAE deputy PM, defense minister
  • The UAE is Pakistan’s third-largest trading partner after China and US as well as home to more than a million Pakistanis

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday extended his felicitations to Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on his appointment as deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president and ruler of Dubai, announced the appointment of Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah as deputy PM as part of the UAE government amendments on Sunday.
He also announced the joining of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum in the UAE government as deputy prime minister and minister of defense in the UAE cabinet.
In his message on X, Sharif also extended his congratulations to Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan on his appointment.
“Wishing them both success in their new endeavors & looking forward to further strengthening of our bilateral ties & deepening cooperation between our two brotherly nations,” the Pakistan prime minister said.

The UAE is Pakistan’s third-largest trading partner after China and the United States as well as home to more than a million Pakistani expatriates and the second-largest source of remittances to Pakistan after Saudi Arabia. It is also one of Pakistan’s closest allies and has frequently bailed out the South Asian country.
Policymakers in Pakistan also consider the Gulf state an optimal export destination due to its geographical proximity, which minimizes transportation and freight costs while facilitating commercial transactions.

Top Imran Khan aide says party deliberating no-trust motion against Pakistani PM

Updated 16 July 2024

Top Imran Khan aide says party deliberating no-trust motion against Pakistani PM

  • The announcement comes hours after PM Shehbaz Sharif’s government said it was seeking to ban Khan’s party
  • Pakistan has been witnessing renewed political wrangling after court rulings in favor of Khan and his PTI party

ISLAMABAD: Asad Qaiser, a close aide of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan, on Monday said their Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was deliberating upon a no-confidence motion against Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif in parliament, in what appeared to be a tit-for-tat move in response to the government’s announcement of seeking a ban against the PTI.
Information Minister Attaullah Tarar announced the government had decided to file a high treason case against Khan and pursue a case to ban his party, unleashing a new challenge for the embattled PTI and its jailed leader.
The government’s decision followed a Supreme Court ruling that Khan’s PTI party was eligible for more than 20 extra reserved seats in parliament, which has mounted pressure on the weak coalition led by Sharif.
“We will see and contemplate if we want to bring a no-confidence motion against them or not,” Qaiser, a former National Assembly speaker, said in televised comments. “We will deliberate on that.”
Citing the increase in number of seats, Qaiser said the PTI would fight the government in parliament, clarifying that the PTI was a peaceful political party that believed in the rule of law and the constitution.
Separately, PTI leader Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari responded to Tarar’s announcement and said all cases against the PTI and ex-PM Khan were “politically motivated.”
“This is a sign of panic as they [federal government] have realized the courts can’t be threatened and put under pressure,” Bukhari said in a statement shared with reporters.
“I have been saying for a while now that we are under a soft martial law and this move only proves our point further.”

Khan’s PTI party says it has been facing a crackdown and mass arrest of members for standing by Khan, who has been in jail since August last year. Pakistani authorities deny the allegations.
Among four cases in which Khan was convicted, two have been suspended by courts and he has been acquitted in the others, though new cases have since been brought against him.
Arguably Pakistan’s most popular politician, Khan says all cases against him are motivated to keep him out of politics and behind bars. Authorities deny this.