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)
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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 court ends controversy, rules senate polls to be held through secret ballot 

Updated 34 min 42 sec ago

Pakistan court ends controversy, rules senate polls to be held through secret ballot 

  • Supreme court asks election commission to use technology to check for corruption in elections
  • Senate elections for 48 seats are scheduled to be held on March 3 

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Supreme Court ruled on Monday that upcoming senate elections would continue to be held through a secret ballot as per the constitution, but directed the election commission to use technology to check against corrupt practices in the polls.
The court’s 4:1 verdict came in response to a presidential reference filed on December 23, 2020 seeking the court’s opinion on whether voting in senate elections could be held through an open ballot.
“It is the duty of the Election Commission of Pakistan [...] to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly, and in accordance with law and that corrupt practices are guarded against,” the court said in its order.
Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan said it was now up to the election commission to select what method to use in the upcoming elections to check corruption.
“The ECP is bound to investigate and trace the ballot to see whether any corrupt practice occurred,” he said in a statement after the verdict, adding that the election commission was “constitutionally bound” to follow the opinion of the Supreme Court and implement it without any amendments to existing rules or legislation.
Senate elections are scheduled to be held on March 3 for 48 seats. Each member of the Upper House of the Parliament is elected for a six-year term. Half of the senate members retire after every three years and new one are elected. The house has equal representation from all four provinces.
The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has argued that open balloting would introduce transparency into a voting process that has long been plagued by irregularities, with national and provincial lawmakers accused of selling their votes.
Leaders of an 11-party opposition alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), have opposed the government’s move to try to hold senate elections through an open ballot, and one of the major parties in the alliance, the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the Election Amendment Ordinance 2021.
Opposition parties on Monday hailed Monday’s verdict as a victory for law and justice.
“The Supreme Court’s judgment has established the supremacy of the constitution,” Pakistan Peoples Party, a major opposition party, said in a statement.

Pakistan’s schools resume regular classes after drop in COVID-19 cases 

Updated 01 March 2021

Pakistan’s schools resume regular classes after drop in COVID-19 cases 

  • Use of face masks, social distancing and other anti-virus measures still applicable, officials say
  • Nearly 1,400 new cases reported on Monday compared to a peak of over 6,800 cases in June last year 

ISLAMABAD: Schools across Pakistan resumed regular classes for five days a week starting from Monday after the country of 220 million witnessed a decline in COVID-19 infections and deaths in recent weeks.
Announcing the move in a tweet on Feb. 26, the education ministry said: “All schools will go back to regular classes from 1st March.”
It also reiterated that the use of face masks, social distancing measures and hand washing techniques would continue to be applicable.

In March last year, Pakistan had shut down all educational institutions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease.
However, citing a drop in the daily cases of coronavirus, authorities decided to reopen the schools in a phased manner a few months later.
Pakistan has reported a similar trend in recent weeks, with 1,392 new infections recorded on Monday compared to a peak of more than 6,800 daily cases in June last year.
As of Monday, the total tally stood at 581,365 cases of the coronavirus, with 12,896 deaths recorded.
Last week, Pakistan relaxed its time limits for amusement parks and commercial activities and allowed offices to resume work with 50 percent staff capacity.
Meanwhile, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), which oversees Pakistan’s coronavirus response, said last week that cinemas and shrines would be allowed to reopen from March 15 as well, as long the anti-coronavirus checks are in place.
“Wearing of mask, social distancing, smart lockdowns will continue and will be ensured,” the NCOC said on Feb. 24.

In another winning chase, Afridi, Wiese lead Lahore to victory

Updated 36 min 12 sec ago

In another winning chase, Afridi, Wiese lead Lahore to victory

  • Karachi had a sniff of victory when Lahore required 30 off the last two overs 
  • The win pushed Lahore to the top of the points table alongside Peshawar Zalmi 

KARACHI: Shaheen Afridi’s ferocious pace and David Wiese’s late charge spurred Lahore Qalandars to a six-wicket win over defending champion Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League on Sunday.
Afridi returned figures of 3-27, with his bowling reaching speeds of 94 mph (around 150 kph). That helped to restrict Karachi to 186-9 despite half centuries by Sharjeel Khan (64) and Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi (57).
Wiese’s blistering 31 not out off nine balls carried Lahore to 189-4 in 19.2 overs in reply as the tall South African clubbed two successive sixes against Australian fast bowler Daniel Christian to finish off the game.
Karachi had a sniff of victory when Lahore required 30 off the last two overs. But Mohammad Amir’s 19th over went for 20 with Wiese getting two fortunate edges to the boundary and then lofting the fast bowler over long off for a six.
“To be honest, I always felt we were in with a shout in that situation,” Wiese said.
“Sometimes you smash it straight to the fielder, so those little nicks count. We’ve seen toward the back end it’s difficult to defend here with one short boundary.”
Fakhar Zaman scored a brilliant 83 off 54 balls and Ben Dunk remained unbeaten on 57 after Lahore had slipped to 0-2 in the first over and then also lost key batsman Mohammad Hafeez for 15 inside the batting powerplay.
Both left-handers shared a 119-run stand before Zaman holed out in the deep in the 18th over. But Wiese’s late onslaught carried the team home.
Afridi could have picked up five wickets but Lahore skipper Sohail Akhtar, who won the toss and didn’t hesitate to field, dropped a sitter from Khan in the first over.
Babar Azam (5) was clean bowled by Afridi in his second over but only after Zaman failed to hold onto a sharp chance offered by Pakistan’s premier batsman, who went to cut Afridi’s short-of-length delivery.
Afridi pegged back Karachi’s hopes of going closer to 200 runs when he clean bowled Waqas Maqsood and Amir off vicious yorkers in the last over.
“They shouldn’t have chased it down, but credit goes to Fakhar and David Wiese how they played,” said Karachi captain Imad Wasim, who surprisingly did not bowl. “At the end, we should have scored 40 or 50 off the last four overs but we couldn’t because of some bad shots and runouts.”
It was the 11th straight successful chase in this season’s PSL with no team yet to defend the total after being put into bat by the opposition.
The win pushed Lahore to the top of the points table alongside Peshawar Zalmi with both teams on six points after four games. Karachi has four points. 

Pakistan keeps petrol prices unchanged despite global rate hike

Updated 28 February 2021

Pakistan keeps petrol prices unchanged despite global rate hike

  • Oil regulatory body recommended prices of petroleum products be increased to between Rs6 and Rs7 per liter
  • Suggestion rejected by Prime Minister Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday turned down a proposal by the country’s Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) to increase prices of petroleum products, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill said in a tweet.
According to a document, also shared by Gill on his Twitter, the OGRA had recommended that the prices of petrol, high speed diesel, kerosene and light diesel be increased by various amounts between Rs6 and Rs7 per liter.
“...Prime Minister Imran Khan did not accept this proposal. There has been no increase in the prices of petroleum products. Despite the continuous rise in the prices of petroleum products in the world market, the prime minister did not allow it,” Gill tweeted.
The new prices would have been effective from March 1. Prices are generally revised every 15 days.
Earlier this month too, the regulatory authority had proposed an increase in petroleum prices but Khan turned the suggestion down. This was a break from continuous price hikes for the last five consecutive fortnights and came despite an increase in global oil prices over the last two weeks.

Malala dreams of a 'true friendship' between Pakistan and India

Updated 28 February 2021

Malala dreams of a 'true friendship' between Pakistan and India

  • Malala was speaking on the last day of during the Jaipur Literature Festival
  • For the first time in six years, the event welcomed Pakistani participants

ISLAMABAD: Nobel Prize winning activist Malala Yousafzai on Sunday said her dream was to see India and Pakistan become "true, good friends."
Ties between Pakistan and India have been shaped by a bitter rivalry and armed conflict since the partition of British-ruled India into Muslim Pakistan and majority Hindu India in 1947.
Malala was speaking during a session on her latest book, "We are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World," on the last day of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), which was held online this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Malala Yousafzai speaks to editor and writer Pragya Tiwari during a Jaipur Literature Festival (JIF) on Sunday, February 28, 2021. (Photo courtesy: JIF)

For the first time in six years, the literary event known as the "greatest literary show on Earth" welcomed Pakistani participants, who for its earlier editions faced difficulties in obtaining Indian visas.
"It is my dream to see India and Pakistan become true good friends," Malala said in a session moderated by New Delhi-based editor and writer Pragya Tiwari.
"You are Indian and I am Pakistani and we are completely fine, then why is this hatred created between us?"
"This old philosophy of borders, divisions and divide and conquer ... they just don’t work anymore," she said. "As humans, we all want to live in peace."
The 14th edition of the Indian literary event that normally attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to its venue in the 19th-century Diggi Palace Hotel in Jaipur, had among its speakers Douglas Stuart, the winner the 2020 Booker Prize, and prominent American social scientist and linguist Noam Chomsky.
From Pakistan, besides Malala, the JLF sessions also welcomed novelists Moni Mohsin, H.M. Naqvi, and political scientist Ishtiaq Ahmed.