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Samanabad was Lahore’s first planned residential area; it was established immediately after Partition and completed in the 1960s.

Located on the periphery of the Walled City, Samanabad is close to historical landmarks such as Chauburji Park and Muzang Chungi. It is also near Lahore’s famous film studios and production houses, such as Evernew Studios. In fact, the development of Samanabad coincided with a period inPakistan’s history when the film industry was doing extremely well. Consequently, in the 1960s, Samanabad, which was then a well planned, glamorous, upscale locality, with tree-lined avenues, perfectly landscaped parks and playgrounds, was home to several acclaimed actors, directors and writers, including Hasan Askari and Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi.

Sadly, since then Samanabad has experienced a fate similar to that of the film industry and this once posh residential area has deteriorated. The film stars are long gone and the neighbourhood has grown haphazardly and is marked by congested roads. The once glamorous ‘modern’ mansions of the 1960s have fallen to disrepair. It is now home to working class residents, many of whom own small businesses in the nearby commercial districts.

However, Samanabad remains a verdant area, with several parks and tree-lined roads, with recreational venues including the Doongi Ground Cricket Stadium, which hosts the Samanabad Cricket Club tournaments, and the LDA Sports Complex which offers various sporting facilities and a sports café.

Three main arteries pass through Samanabad (Ghazali Road, Samanabad Main Boulevard and Poonch Road) and this is where most of the area’s commercial activity takes place. There are two popular shopping centres, the Main Market and the Mini Market, which have scores of shops selling everything from groceries to clothes, books and DVDs.

Main Boulevard is also the foodie destination of Samanabad, with eateries such as Al-Najam Fried Chicken, Chicken Cottage, Hot Chilli and Sheikhoo Restaurant, which offer a host of delicious offerings ranging from continental food to shawarmas, pathooras and dahee bhallas. The diversity of Main Boulevard’s culinary portfolio ensures that it is frequented not only by Samanabad residents, but also people living nearby.

Samanabad may have lost its fashionable edge, but it remains a hub of activity, seeped in history, with quaint hari kothees (houses with green façades), the impressive Khizra Mosque, which was built in the 1960s, and an ancient bohr tree, one of the oldest in Lahore.

– Jahan Leena Masood

First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on February 19, 2012