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.” 

‘Magical, light-hearted’: Three Pakistani TV dramas to watch out for this Ramadan

Updated 14 sec ago

‘Magical, light-hearted’: Three Pakistani TV dramas to watch out for this Ramadan

  • Ramadan shows have a huge audience, all eyes are set on them, says Pakistani actor Hamza Sohail
  • One of the shows, ‘Chand Tara’, features real-life celebrity couple Ayeza Khan, Danish Taimoor in leading roles

KARACHI: With only a couple of days left till the holy month of Ramadan kicks off, Pakistani writers and actors said on Monday that viewers will be enthralled by “light-hearted” TV dramas that are produced specially for the holy month.

Muslims in Pakistan and around the world fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, from dawn to sunset, abstaining from food and drink. Over the past couple of years, Pakistan’s showbiz industry has provided millions of viewers across the country with entertainment in the form of avidly watched television game shows and Ramadan-themed TV shows.

This year is no different, as at least three projects, particularly produced for the holy month, are going to be aired on TV to give the audience a break from the regular TV dramas that revolve around tragic topics such as family disputes, extra-marital affairs, divorce, and others.

Arab News spoke to a few writers and actors to find out more about these dramas.

‘Chand Tara’


A post shared by Ayeza Khan (@ayezakhan.ak)

Starring real-life celebrity couple Ayeza Khan and Danish Taimoor, Chand Tara is written by Saima Akram Chaudhry, a seasoned writer who has written critically acclaimed Ramadan TV dramas such as Suno Chanda, Suno Chanda 2, Hum Tum, and Ishq Jalebi.

“My Ramadan plays are family-oriented, feature family members of all age groups, and encourage a joint family system,” Chaudhry told Arab News.

Chaudhry said she watched dramas on Pakistan Television (PTV) with her family, hence she ensures her dramas can be enjoyed by families and are filled with messages at the same time.

“The joint family system has its pros and cons. The system isn’t bad but we need to give space to people,” she said. “This is the central theme of Chand Tara in addition to small messages in every episode.”

Light-hearted plays aired during Ramadan get more traction compared to the rest of the year, Chaudhry said, adding that viewers follow them regularly as they air each day.

“It’s easier to convey messages in a light-hearted way,” she explained.

Chaudhry revealed that she has tweaked a few things in the narrative of Chand Tara after she was criticized for her past projects. The male and female lead in the play are not related to each other, Chaudhry said, and their love story doesn’t start with fights.

Directed by Danish Nawaz and produced by Momina Duraid, Chand Tara also stars Rehan Sheikh and Saba Faisal in prominent roles.

Fairy Tale

One of the much-anticipated comedy plays to be aired this Ramazan is Fairy Tale, written by Saira Majeed and directed by Ali Hassan.

“It’s a beautifully written story on how destiny plays its cards not just in love, but in every aspect of your life. The idea here is to take viewers on a magical, dreamy, light-hearted, and entertaining ride. Hence, a ‘fairy tale’,” actor Hamza Sohail, who stars as entrepreneur Farjaad Khan in the play, told Arab News on Monday.

“There’s no denying the fact that Ramadan shows have a huge audience and all eyes are set on them.”

Sohail, who plays the role of the male lead in Fairy Tale, told Arab News he is “excited” to showcase his work, hoping to deliver good family entertainment to viewers.

Sohail stars opposite actress Sehar Khan, while the drama has an ensemble cast that includes actors Ali Safina, Saleem Sheikh, Adnan Raza Mir, and Salma Hasan.

Rukh Ma Roshan

Adding to the list of Ramadan-special plays is also Rukh Ma Roshan, a story that revolves around a couple and stars Pakistani actors Muneeb Butt and Komal Meer.

“The play is about a couple who keep fighting with each other. They have funny chemistry with each other. It’s romantic, sweet, and innocent,” Butt told Arab News on Tuesday.

“It’s a situational comedy that will run during Ramadan. Its content is enjoyable for viewers since it is not the typical saas-bahu (daughter-in-law, mother-in-law) misery. It has very light content that people usually like to watch during Ramadan. Audiences will really like the fresh feel it [offers].”

The plot of Rukh Ma Roshan incorporates some issues that the two lead characters resolve together, which brings them closer to each other.

In addition to Butt and Meer, the play also features veteran actresses Shamim Hilaly and Zainab Qayyum in key roles.

IMF says was not consulted on Pakistan’s petrol subsidy plan — media

Updated 21 March 2023

IMF says was not consulted on Pakistan’s petrol subsidy plan — media

  • Pakistan’s PM last week announced a petrol subsidy of Rs50 per liter for low-income people
  • Staff agreement to follow once “few remaining points” are closed, says IMF’s resident representative

ISLAMABAD: The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) resident representative for Pakistan said on Monday that the Fund was not consulted on the government’s recent move to announce a fuel subsidy of Rs.50 per liter, adding that it is seeking “greater details” on the scheme, Bloomberg reported.

Pakistan has hiked taxes, shifted to a market-based exchange rate, and increased fuel prices to revive a stalled $6.5 billion IMF loan program as the prospect of default looms large over the South Asian country. As Pakistan’s currency weakened and its reserves dipped to historic lows over the past couple of months, inflation more than doubled to 31.5 percent in February this year, making it difficult for low-income Pakistanis to make ends meet.

Despite Pakistan’s efforts to seek a bailout program from the international lender, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday announced a “petroleum relief package” for low-income people. The announcement of the relief package came days after the government increased the petrol price by Rs5 per liter, taking it to Rs272 per liter.

“Ruiz said the lender wasn’t consulted on the government’s plan to raise fuel prices for wealthier motorist to finance a subsidy for lower-income people,” Bloomberg said in a report.

“Fund staff are seeking greater details on the scheme in terms of its operation, cost, targeting, protections against fraud and abuse, and offsetting measures, and will carefully discuss these elements with the authorities,” Bloomberg quoted her as saying.

On the staff-level agreement, Ruiz said Islamabad had made “substantial progress” toward meeting policy commitments.

“A staff-level agreement will follow once the few remaining points are closed,” she told Bloomberg. “Ensuring there is sufficient financing to support the authorities in the implementation of their policy agenda is the paramount priority.”

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the IMF agreement has been delayed as the Fund wanted to see “friendly countries” finalize commitments they made to help Pakistan shore up its reserves before signing off on the bailout package.

Vice chancellors’ forum concludes in Islamabad with resolve to transform higher education in Muslim world

Updated 21 March 2023

Vice chancellors’ forum concludes in Islamabad with resolve to transform higher education in Muslim world

  • Over 200 vice chancellors, including 40 from 20 Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries, participated in the VC Forum
  • Participants unanimously called upon governments in Muslim world to allocate 1 percent of GDP toward higher education

ISLAMABAD: A high-profile forum of universities concluded in Islamabad on Monday with the resolve to transform higher education in the Muslim world, the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) said.

Over 200 vice chancellors, including 40 from 20 Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries, participated in the VC Forum that was jointly organized by the HEC, COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI), the OIC’s Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), the Pakistani Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, and the British Council’s Pakistan chapter.

Participants at the forum unanimously called upon governments in the Muslim world to allocate 1 percent of their national GDP toward higher education “to secure the future of the Muslim Ummah.” It was also recommended that universities in the Islamic World adopt measures for the emancipation of women in higher education and embed the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals in their programs, processes and systems.

Speaking at the occasion, Pakistani planning minister Ahsan Iqbal emphasized the need to realign Muslim places of learning with the global explosion of knowledge and information technology.

“The Islamic world had given up on their fundamental heritage which was observation, inquiry, reflection and critical thinking. This lies at the root of underdevelopment in the Islamic world,” Iqbal was quoted by the HEC statement as saying.

The minister outlined a seven-point reform, audit and performance plan that universities in Pakistan would have to follow in the future:

“This includes academic excellence in imparting knowledge, research and innovation, strong academia industry linkages, community service and contribution to society, technology enablement, corporate governance, and above all impact of graduates in society.”

During the ceremony, Iqbal formally inaugurated the ‘Ilm-Bank’ platform proposed by the Chairman HEC as a virtual bank “which is expected to become a knowledge consortium of higher education institutions in the OIC member states.”

“This would enable access to cross border education, training and research opportunities through a centralized platform,” the HEC statement said, adding that ICESCO and the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists would work together to chalk out the terms of reference of Ilm-bank.

Chairman HEC Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed called on the planning minister to allocate resources to ensure Pakistan could fulfil a leadership role in establishing Ilm-bank.

“Efforts will be mobilized to convince donor/funding agencies like the Islamic Development Bank as well as other development funds to support the cause of emancipation of higher education in OIC member states,” Ahmed said.

Islamic nations' education body joins hands with Pakistan's SUPARCO to boost space science education

Updated 20 March 2023

Islamic nations' education body joins hands with Pakistan's SUPARCO to boost space science education

  • ICESCO was established in 1982 to promote cooperation in education, science, and culture among OIC member states
  • ICESCO chief says looking forward to collaborating with Pakistani institutions, promoting space education among young Pakistanis

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s national space agency, the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) to promote space science education in the South Asian nation, the ICESCO chief said on Monday.

ICESCO, headquartered in Rabat, Morocco, is an intergovernmental organization established in 1982 to promote cooperation in the fields of education, science, and culture among the 54 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Its objectives include enhancing scientific and technical cooperation, promoting Islamic culture and heritage, and facilitating human resource development in science and technology.

“We have signed today [Monday] a memorandum of understanding with SUPARCO,” director general of ICESCO, Dr. Salim M. Al-Malik, told Arab News in an interview on Monday, saying the agreement aimed to promote space science education among young Pakistanis “to make them able to compete with the world.”

“The MOU will also focus on applications of space science in climate change, and jointly arranging different activities in Pakistani institutions regarding providing space program related trainings and introducing university graduates in this field with the latest technologies.”

The ICESCO chief said the body wanted its member states to remain aware of important developments in space science because “in my opinion in the coming 10 years, those who will control space will control the world.”

“We at ICESCO would be very happy to collaborate with Pakistani institutions [and] would welcome them to be part of our youth programs announced from time to time.”

Speaking about the ICESCO’s “wash program” for the improvement of water, sanitation and hygiene services, Al-Malik said it had been extended to Pakistani schools after a successful run in Africa.

“Wash program has been implemented in different countries in Africa and has shown success in close to 500 schools there,” he said.

“Now, we are shifting into Asia and Pakistan is one of the countries [where] we have started it by providing clean water and hygiene facilities in 30 schools in different parts of the country.”

The ICESCO chief also spoke about the role of Saudi Arabia, the largest contributor to the education body, in promoting science, and culture across the Muslim world.

“Saudi Arabia is the main supporter of ICESCO, as ten percent of our budget comes from the Kingdom,” Al-Malik said.

Along with the annual budget, the Kingdom also provided extra funds to the organization, enabling it to promote education and preserve cultural heritage in the Muslim world, the official said.

“It is not just only the 10 percent but the extra budget that we receive, the major bulk of that extra budget comes from Saudi Arabia.”

Pakistan denies IMF linked bailout loan deal to nuclear program

Updated 20 March 2023

Pakistan denies IMF linked bailout loan deal to nuclear program

  • Finance minister says delay in reaching staff level agreement with IMF “purely due to technical reasons”
  • Dar says last week’s comments about Pakistan’s nuclear program should not be linked to ongoing IMF negotiations

KARACHI: Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Monday neither the International Monetary Fund (IMF), nor any foreign country, had raised issues related to the country’s nuclear program, and a delay in signing a bailout deal with the IMF was due to "technical reasons."

Dar was addressing his own remarks from last week in the upper house of parliament when he said no country or institution had a right to tell Pakistan” what range of missiles or what nuclear weapons it can have, we have to have our own deterrence.”

The remarks were widely linked to a months-long delay in signing a staff level agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package of $1.1 billion, that has been delayed since November mainly over issues related to fiscal policy adjustments.

In a statement issued by the ministry of finance on Monday evening, Dar said his comments on Pakistan’s nuclear program were being “quoted out of context.”

“My comments with regards to Pakistan’s Nuclear Program was in response to a colleague Senator’s specific question, wherein, I emphasized that Pakistan has sovereign right to develop its nuclear program, as it best suits our national interests, without any external dictation, which, by no means should in any way whatsoever be linked with the ongoing negotiations with the IMF,” the finance minister said.
“It is clarified that neither IMF nor any other country has attached any conditionality or made any demand from Pakistan with regard to our nuclear capability … The delay in IMF staff level agreement is purely due to technical reasons, for which we are continuously engaged with the IMF in order to conclude it at the earliest.”

On Sunday, the IMF country representative also denied any link with past or current IMF supported programs and decisions by any Pakistani government over its nuclear program.

Last week, Dar said an assurance from "friendly countries" to fund a balance of payment gap was the last hurdle in securing the IMF deal, which will offer a critical lifeline to avert an economic meltdown.

The latest tranche of funds are part of a $6.5 billion bailout package the IMF approved in 2019.

The latest deal will also unlock other bilateral and multilateral financing avenues for Pakistan to shore up its foreign exchange reserves, which have fallen to four weeks worth of import cover.

The IMF wants Pakistan to get the assurance for up to $7 billion to fund this fiscal year's balance of payments gap. Dar has been saying it should be around $5 billion.