Legend has it that two sons of Rama founded Lahore about 4,000 years ago. Historically, it has been proved that Lahore is about 2,000 years old. Hieun-tsang, the famous Chinese pilgrim has given a vivid description of Lahore city, which he visited in the early parts of the seventh century A.D. For 200 years, beginning from about 1525 A.D., Lahore was a thriving cultural center of the great Mughal Empire. Mughal Emperors beautified Lahore with palaces, gardens and mosques. During the British regime, many monuments sprang up in Lahore, which blended beautifully with the Mughal, Gothic and Victorian styles of architecture. Lahore is the second largest city of Pakistan and the provincial capital of Punjab. Apart from being the cultural and academic center of the country, Lahore is the Mughal "show-window" of Pakistan. Reminiscence of its hoary past is the remains of a subterranean temple in the northern part of the Royal Fort, attributed to Rama, the legendary hero of Ramayana. Lying on the main trade and invasion routes to the South Asia, Lahore has been ruled and plundered by a number of dynasties and hordes. However, it touched the zenith of its glory during the rule of the Mughals. The Mughals, who were famous as builders, gave Lahore some of its finest architectural monuments that are extinct today.


The origin of the city of Lahore and its early history is shrouded in mystery. Abu Rehan Muhammad bin Ahmed AL-Biruni in his Tarikh-e-Hind, at the time of Mahmud Ghazanavi's invasion, mentions Lahore. In order to obtain conclusive evidence, it was decided to use the more dependable method of archaeological excavation in the Royal Fort, situated on the highest point of the city. The upper levels revealed building remains of the British and Sikh period. The Mughal period is marked by intensive building activity. The outstanding find from the lower level was a gold coin of Mahmud of Ghazna struck at Ghazni during the time of the Abbasid Caliph Al Qadir Billah. Below the pre-Mughal levels the remains of the non-Muslim or Hindu period were discovered.

The most important historical monuments of the Mughals in Lahore are: the Royal Fort, the Badshahi Mosque. The independence monument, the tombs of Emperor Jehangir, Empress Noor Jehan ,Anarkali, Asif-Jan and the famous Shalimar Gardens.


The Royal Fort (Shahi Qala) :
Although the Mughal Emperor Akbar constructed most parts of the Royal Fort around 1566 A.D., there is evidence that a mud fort was in existence here in 1021 A.D. as well, when Mahmood of Ghazna invaded this area. Akbar demolished the old mud fort and constructed most of the modern Fort, as we see it today, on the old foundations. Construction of the fort dates back to the early 10th Century. The Royal Fort is rectangular .The main gates are located alongside the center of the western and eastern walls. Every succeeding Mughal Emperor, as well as the Sikhs and the British in their turn, added a pavilion, palace or wall to the fort. Emperor Jehangir extended the gardens and constructed the palaces that we see today in the Jehangir's Quadrangle, while Shah-Jehan added Diwan-e-Khas, Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) and his Sleeping Chambers.

Aurangzeb built the impressive main gate (Alamgiri Gate) which faces the Hazoori Bagh lying in between the Badshahi Mosque and the Fort. The famous Sheesh Mahal or Palace of Mirrors is in the north -east corner of the Fort. This is the most beautiful place in the Fort, decorated with small mirrors of different color sets. The part of the wall of the Elephant Steps, towards the Fort's inner gate, is scarred by bullet marks bearing testimony to the Sikh civil war of 1847 A.D. A party of Sikhs had mounted their guns on one of the minarets of the mosque across the courtyard from where they fired on their opponents. The Sleeping Chamber of Mai Jandan houses a very interesting museum with relics from Mughal and the Sikh periods.




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