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Constructed during the Mughal reign, Delhi Gate once served as one of the 13 entrances to Lahore’s historic Walled City. It was the largest and most important entrance and was named thus because it faced the then capital of the Mughal Empire, Delhi, and lay at the end of the route from Delhi to Lahore. It is one of the few entrances to the Walled City that remains intact today, although it is has fallen prey to the ravages of time and is not magnificent as it once was.
A historical sight… Despite being dilapidated, Delhi Gate remains an excellent example of Mughal architecture. Upon entering, the Shahi Guzargah, or Royal Trail, is clearly visible, although instead of the wide artery that was once frequented by emperors and royal travellers, it is now heavily congested.The Shahi Hamam is also located nearby. Although no longer used as a bathhouse, it is still of interest due to its architecture.
Crumbling glory… The area around Delhi Gate was once an affluent neighbourhood, where aristocrats, courtiers and wealthy merchants lived in grand havelis. Unfortunately, the genteel residents are long gone and their splendid havelis are crumbling. Narrow streets have become congested as residential and commercial areas have melded into one. Yet, some of the families living there have been doing so for generations.
A mosque remains… Near the Gate stands the Masjid Wazir Khan, a famous landmark. Built by Nawab Wazir Khan, Governor of Lahore (1634-1635), it is a fine example of Mughal architecture; the mosaic tiles that adorn the walls are embellished with Arabic calligraphy. The Mosque is frequented by the faithful five times a day, every day.
Shopping, wholesale style… Delhi Gate houses some of Lahore’s biggest markets and is always abuzz with activity. Azam Cloth Market, which is believed to be one of Asia’s largest, comprises approximately 25,000 shops selling fabric, draperies, shoes, as well as embroidery stalls. Nearby is Namad Garan, an old-fashioned spice bazaar. The pungent aromas of freshly ground spices fill the air there.
Divine desi snacks… If you are looking for fine dining, Delhi Gate is not the place to be. But plenty of mouth-watering desi snacks are available including, kachoris, pakoras, pathooray and naan channay.
In a nutshell… Despite the noise, congestion and pollution, Delhi Gate’s peculiar charm continues to attract plenty of visitors and shoppers.
– Maheen Hassan
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Photos: Rana Zahid and Arif Ali/White Star
First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 29, 2012.