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.” 


Indian court orders BJP spokeswoman to 'apologise to whole nation' over anti-Islam remarks

Updated 01 July 2022

Indian court orders BJP spokeswoman to 'apologise to whole nation' over anti-Islam remarks

  • Anger engulfed Islamic world last month after Nupur Sharma's incendiary comments during a TV debate
  • Nearly 20 countries called in their Indian ambassadors for explanation, rallies erupted around South Asia

NEW DELHI: A ruling party spokeswoman whose remarks on Islam embroiled India in a diplomatic row and sparked huge protests should apologize for having “set the country on fire,” New Delhi’s top court said Friday. 

Anger engulfed the Islamic world last month after Nupur Sharma’s incendiary comments during a TV debate on the relationship between the Prophet Muhammad and his youngest wife, with nearly 20 countries calling in their Indian ambassadors for an explanation. 

Rallies also erupted around South Asia, with police killing two demonstrators in India, while this week two Muslim men were accused of the grisly murder of a Hindu tailor who had posted in support of Sharma on Facebook. 

“She and her loose tongue have set the country on fire,” India’s Supreme Court said during a procedural hearing on several criminal complaints filed against Sharma. 

“This lady is single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country,” it added. “She should apologize to the whole nation.” 

Since her comments, Sharma has been subjected to multiple police complaints filed against her across India by members of the public. 

While the 37-year-old’s whereabouts are unknown, her lawyer was in court asking that the cases be consolidated in New Delhi, a request denied Friday. 

Sharma was at one time seen as a rising star in the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but her remarks forced it into damage control. 

The party soon suspended the spokeswoman from her post and issued a statement insisting it respected all religions. 

Since coming to power nationally in 2014, the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused of championing discriminatory policies toward followers of the Islamic faith. 

Critics also say the government has presided over a crackdown on free speech and rights activists. 

This week police arrested the Muslim journalist Mohammed Zubair, a vocal critic of the government who had helped draw attention to Sharma’s remarks. 

He was arrested on Monday and remains in custody over a four-year-old tweet about a Hindu god that police said had been the subject of complaints by Hindu groups.


Pakistan urges caution over Eid holidays as coronavirus cases rise

Updated 01 July 2022

Pakistan urges caution over Eid holidays as coronavirus cases rise

  • Pakistan has had few COVID-19 cases in recent months and had done away with almost all precautions
  • 694 positive cases reported in last 24 hours, nearly double the number at the start of the week on Monday

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel on Friday called on the public to take precautionary measures as coronavirus cases once again rise in the country, calling masks “essential” during the upcoming Eid Al-Adha holiday and urging people not to shake hands and hug.

Pakistan has had very few COVID-19 cases over recent months and had done away with almost all precautions.

But over the past 24 hours, the national COVID positivity ratio had risen to 3.93 percent with 694 positive cases, nearly double the number at the start of the week on Monday, according to data released on Friday by the National Institute of Health, Islamabad (NIH).

“We must take precautionary measures against coronavirus and ensure social distancing,” Patel said in a statement. “Mask wearing is essential during the time of Eid-ul-Adha and avoid going to crowded places.”

The minister appealed to religious scholars to ensure social distancing at mosques and urged the public to avoid hugging and shaking hands during the Eid holidays. 

On Thursday, Pakistan issued fresh standard operating procedures (SOPs) for government office.

The NIH in a notification urged government staffers to avoid shaking hands and mandated wearing face masks and incorporating social distancing in seating plans and during prayers.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired a meeting to take stock of the coronavirus situation urging masses to take precautions against the infection.

Pakistan disbanded the National Command and Operations Center, its main pandemic response body, on March 31 as infections fell to the lowest since the outbreak began in 2020.

However, the South Asian country on May 23 reconstituted the NCOC at the NIH after health officials detected a new omicron sub-variant in a passenger arriving from Qatar. The new sub-variant of omicron is said to be highly infectious, though not as deadly as previous coronavirus strains.

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) last week once again made it mandatory for all passengers on domestic flights to wear masks. Authorities are also urging eligible individuals to get booster vaccine shots.

There have been 1,536,479 infections and 30,395 coronavirus-related deaths reported in Pakistan since the pandemic began.


Pakistan inflation rose 21.3% in June 2021, highest rate in 13 years

Updated 01 July 2022

Pakistan inflation rose 21.3% in June 2021, highest rate in 13 years

  • In May, consumer price index was recorded at 13.8 percent, year-on-year
  • Fuel prices have been raised by about 90 percent since end of May

KARACHI: Pakistan’s consumer price index (CPI) rose 21.3% in June from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said on Friday, for the South Asian nation's highest inflation in 13 years.

In May, the CPI was up 13.8% on the year. The month on month rise in June was 6.3%.

The spike comes as fuel prices have risen about 90% since end May after the government scrapped costly fuel subsidies in a bid to cut its surging fiscal deficit and secure resumption of an IMF bailout programme.

Transport saw the biggest rise, with its index rising 62.2% in June on the year.

The price index for food items, which make up about a third of the CPI basket, rose 25.9%.

Pakistan has been struggling with high inflation for the last few months.

Despite rising global oil prices, subsidies for fuel and power were adopted in March 2022 by the government of previous prime minister Imran Khan, as he faced mounting discontent over his handling of the economy and rising inflation.

He was ousted in April, and the new government began reversing the costly subsidy, which it brought on par with international prices late last month.

Prices of fuel were hiked further on Thursday, with the cash-strapped government imposing a petroleum levy in its battle to reduce the fiscal deficit.

The levy, which officials expect to rise even further, was part of fiscal consolidation measures agreed with the IMF to resume the bailout programme. 


In rare animal rights push, Pakistan government to work with PETA on ‘critical’ reforms

Updated 01 July 2022

In rare animal rights push, Pakistan government to work with PETA on ‘critical’ reforms

  • Government on Thursday banned testing, surgeries on live animals at veterinary schools in Islamabad
  • Says will amend British-era law, replace it with “Pakistan’s first comprehensive animal welfare law”

ISLAMABAD: Shalin Gala, vice president at global animal rights advocacy group PETA, on Friday hailed “landmark” reforms in Pakistan that banned tests and surgeries on live animals for veterinary education, and said the organization would be working with the government on more critical reforms in training that would spare the lives of animals.

In a rare move to ensure animal rights in Pakistan, the government on Thursday banned testing and surgeries on live animals at veterinary schools and industrial complexes in the federal capital and announced a Rs15,000 ($73) fine and jail term for animal cruelty offenders.

The decision came after widespread outrage in Pakistan over videos that went viral in May showing animals in various states of distress after allegedly being operated upon by veterinary students. Activists and members of the public have widely condemned the practices and called for action.

At veterinary schools around the world, the practice of using live animals to teach surgery has been on the decline in the last decade. But an Arab News investigation published on June 10 quoted students and university management saying live animals were being used to teach surgical skills, though they added proper procedures were followed.

“Pakistan’s landmark reforms will ban tests and surgeries on live animals for veterinary education and shift to sophisticated humane methods,” Gala told Arab News.

He said PETA was “delighted” to have shared recommendations for improving veterinary training with Salman Sufi, head of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s Strategic Reforms Unit.

“We look forward to our upcoming meeting with him to discuss further critical reforms in biomedical research and training that will spare animals’ lives and benefit patients, alike,” Gala added.

On Thursday, the government banned live testing of animals at veterinary schools and industrial complexes in Islamabad, with Sufi announcing that the government would introduce amendments to a British-era law and replace it with “Pakistan’s first comprehensive animal welfare law.”

“Amendments for national level law are ready ... The bill will be tabled in the National Assembly during the next session [for debate and approval],” he said.

Citizens would now be able to report any acts of animal cruelty through a hotline and offenders would face fines of up to Rs15,000 as well as jail terms.

A standard set of guidelines was also going to be announced to regulate pet markets across the country, Sufi said, adding that violators would be fined and their shops closed.


Pakistani officials call for renegotiating free trade agreement with China

Updated 01 July 2022

Pakistani officials call for renegotiating free trade agreement with China

  • Trade Development Authority of Pakistan says free trade agreement could “be negotiated at political and diplomatic level”
  • Agreement poses serious threat to industry, impeding exports in absence of comprehensive review, apex trade body says

KARACHI: Pakistani trade officials said on Thursday non-tariff barriers were making it difficult to increase exports to China, as local industrialists and officials called for reviewing a free trade agreement between the two countries which they said posed a threat to Pakistan’s economy.

According to the Chinese media which recently quoted their country’s General Administration of Customs, Pakistan’s export to China increased by 68.9 percent in 2021 to $3.58 billion while China’s export to the South Asian country rose by 57.8 percent to $24.23 billion.

Statistics compiled by Pakistan’s central bank reveal the country received $2.5 billion in export payments in 2021 while imports from China stood at $16.13 billion.’

A second phase of the free trade agreement with China was implemented on January 1, 2022, which enabled Pakistan to export over one thousand products on zero duty.

“Non-tariff barriers are the main obstacle to our exports to China,” Arif Ahmed Khan, the chief executive of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), told Arab News on the sidelines of a seminar on the impact of the free trade agreement between the two states, adding this could “be negotiated at political and diplomatic level.”

Khan said the seminar was organized to highlight issues that were making it difficult for Pakistan to fully benefit from the agreement.

“We have benefited from the free trade agreement,” he added. “But we have to see how we can further benefit from it, reduce our losses, and identify areas where we need to improve.”

Responding to a question about renegotiating the deal with China, the TDAP chief said “we first need to identify the areas where renegotiations are needed which, I think, include the removal of non-tariff barriers.”

Addressing the gathering, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, president of the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), said there was a widespread impression the agreement with China could pose a serious threat to the country’s industry and economy without its comprehensive and technical review.

“We should try to achieve maximum benefit from this agreement by further negotiating for favorable conditions,” he said.

The FPCCI president said dumping of Chinese goods in Pakistan had led to the closure of many cottage industries.

“The influx of cheap imports from China may have adverse economic impact, especially on domestic manufacturing sectors,” he said.

Sheikh told Arab News there were many things that needed to be “fine-tuned” in the free trade agreement.

“Pakistan’s actual exports to China should be between five and seven billion dollars in the next two to three years,” he added.

Hassan Daud Butt, chief executive officer of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment and Trade (KP-BOIT), told Arab News on the sidelines of the event a major issue impeding trade with China was the lack of understanding between the business communities of the two countries.

While he recognized that Pakistan’s trade with China had increased, he said Pakistani exporters should explore niche markets for their products.

He said the agreement could be renegotiated while pointing out that “monitoring and evaluation [of trade under the bilateral arrangement] should be a continuous process.”