‘If you haven’t seen Lahore, you haven’t been born.’
Amidst vast lands, oceans, people and unique species of animals, there are numerous evolved cultures that thrive on the basis of man and his preference. However, it is still evident that within Pakistan, Lahore is one of the biggest cities that has been deemed the honour of holding architecturally significant sites; one of the reasons for it being exceedingly rich in culture.
Lahore was built 3000 years ago but it has still managed to preserve its rich culture. Also known as the heart of Pakistan, Lahore is central when it comes to education and food. Famous universities such as National College of Arts, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Punjab University and Government College University are situated in Lahore. Due to its prestige, NCA has even been mentioned in the Pakistani writer, Mohsin Hamid’s novel: ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’.
Even though Lahories have grown immune to Lahore’s traditions, historical sites and cultural diversity, it is a foreigner’s point of view that refreshes our memory as to why we chose to thrive in this beautiful land. Monuments, such as Minar-e-Pakistan, that was built in the 1960’s has been constructed in the place where the Pakistan Resolution was passed on March 23, 1940. Similarly, Lahore has been termed as the ‘City of Gardens’ due to all the gardens that were built inside it during the Mughal era. These include Shalimar Garden built by Shah Jehan, Race Course Park, Bagh-e-Jinnah, Hazuri Bagh, Jalo Park, Mayo Gardens and Madni Gardens. However, that’s not all there is to Lahore. Music, language, arts and cuisines have long since been a part of Lahore. With institutions such as the Alhamra Arts Complex, the people of Lahore are not deprived of celebrating and participating in the World Performing Arts Festival to unleash their talents globally. It is as if every narrow alley, nook and cranny in Lahore can be found laced to the brim with the unique elements of its culture.
Lahori Cuisine has intoxicated the denizens of Lahore to the point where Lahore has become the hub of food. It is said that Lahore is the best place to open a restaurant because the people enjoy eating and won’t let your business fail. The most famous dishes include Karahi, Biryani, Lahori Paya, Halwa Puri, Hareesa, Gol Gappay, Chargha, Nihari, Fish, Kheer, Falooda, Tawa Chicken and Nan Khatai, amidst other equally delicious cuisines. People enjoy becoming one with the food, tearing the flesh of the chicken apart with their fingers and relishing in the flavour of the food in the most simple and primitive of ways. There is nothing in Lahore that you won’t be able to find. There is fast food available for the Englishers, Naan Karahi for the Desi eaters and salads for the health conscious. Fast food has become very popular but doesn’t decrease the Lahories’ love for the desi stuff at all. The markets are abundant in food outlets and every night, the city lights up as the people step out to enjoy one last meal as an end to their tedious yet fortunate days.
It is therefore an eminent fact that Lahore’s culture has stood before the world as a major and an essential part of Pakistan with unique attributes that have long since attracted tourists from all over the world. Retaining such beauty should be credited to the people who have delved in to the culture of their forefathers with hearts wide open. Let us hope that it remains as diverse and prominent as it was originally.