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Lakshmi Building has been declared a heritage building

Lakshmi Chowk, also known as Maulana Zafar Ali Chowk, is located at the juncture of Mall Road and Abbott Road. The chowk is named after the culturally significant Lakshmi Building that stands nearby. The area surrounding the chowk was considered a hub of culture, art and entertainment even before Partition; and while its cultural significance has dimmed with the passage of time, Lakshmi Chowk remains a busy area thanks to the dining and entertainment options it provides.

A heritage building… Lakshmi Building has reverberated with activity since it was erected circa 1935. It is believed that prior to Partition, several political leaders of the Pakistan Movement frequented the building; post 1945, the Pakistan Muslim League’s office was located there for a short duration of time.
Lakshmi Building has been declared a heritage property by the local government, which recently carried out some (rather controversial) restoration work on the building, painting its grey-white exterior a rather garish shade of blue intermingled with beige. A statue of the Hindu goddess Laskhmi is believed to have once adorned the building, and the façade was embellished with scenes depicting scenes inspired by Hindu mythology. Today, the detailing is no longer clearly visible and the statue is nowhere to be found.

The entertainment district… Lakshmi Chowk was once the heart of Pakistan’s entertainment industry; several film studios were located in and around the area and the city’s most renowned cinemas including Gulistan, Metropole and Odeon were also concentrated there. Most of these cinemas still operate and primarily screen Punjabi films attracting large audiences, most of whom are male.


The cinemas attract large audiences

A foodie destination… Before Gawalmandi and the New Food Street and much before the swanky restaurants and cafés on MM Alam Road, Lakshmi Chowk was Lahore’s ultimate foodie destination. Favourites include Butt Karahi, Lasani Restaurant, Murgh Chanay, Tabaq, which have attracted generations of Lahoris thanks to the desi fare they serve, such as the taka tak, liver, gizzards and haleem.

In a nutshell… Lakshmi Chowk has always been the heart of Lahore; it has been the centre of work, entertainment and food for decades. However, over time it has unfortunately lost its former refinement. Yet, the buildings there continue to stand proud, as if in remembrance of their former glory. n

– Maheen Hassan