Androon Shehar Lahore or Old Lahore is the heart of Lahore. Its cultural property is in the form of forts, gateways, mosques, residential buildings, tombs and palaces.
Lahore was always an important city from many years. Lahore becomes more famous after the mughals arrival. Mughal built much beautiful architecture in Lahore. Shah Jehan loved Lahore and he built a beautiful fort. In the past, there use to be 13 entrances to the walled city of Lahore. These entrances were known as Derwaza.
The famous thirteen gates of Lahore include;
1. Akbari Gate: The Akbari Gate is considering as the beautiful gate of Lahore, which is built on the name of Mughal emperor Akbar.
2. Bhati Gate: The entrance to the “Bhati Gate” is located on the western wall of the old city. The inside area is popular for its food and outside the Gate is Data Darbar.
3. Delhi Gate: This Gate was built during the Mughal era. The Delhi Gate was an only road which connects Lahore to Delhi.
4. Kashmiri Gate: The gate faces the route of Kashmir, it is called Kashmiri Gate. Inside area is Bazaar and a girl’s collage which is a beautiful example of Mughal architecture.
5. Lohari Gate: The “Lohari Gate” and “Bhati Gate.” are very close to each other it was built to keep enemies out. Outside the Gate there are lots of lohari workshops. Lohari Gate still has great architectural importance.
6. Masti Gate: Masti Gate is just behind the Lahore Fort it is also known as “Gate of Merriment”. This area is popular for wholesale shoe sellers who sell both traditional- and Western-style shoes.
7. Mochi Gate: Mochi Gate” is a historical gate built during the Mughal period. The gate was named after Moti, a guard of the gate during the Mughal era. Today, the bazaar around the Mochi gate is famous for its dry fruits, kites and fireworks.
8. Mori Gate: Mori Gate is not an official gate it is small Gate which is used to remove the waste from the city. Mori Gate is located between the Lohari Gate and Bhati Gate.
9. Roshnai Gate: The Roshnai Gate is also known as the Gate of Lights. It is located between the Lahore fort and the Badshahi Mosque. Only this Gate is in a better condition and still retains its original looks.
10. Shahalmi Gate: This Gate is named after the son of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. During the partition this gate was burnt to ashes, now only the name remains.
11. Shairanwala Gate: The Shairanwala Gate also known as the Gate of the Lions which was made by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Ranjit Singh placed two live lions in cages at the gate as symbolic gestures.
12. Taxali Gate: The Taxali gate takes its name from “Taxal” or Mint located nearby. This Gate is designed to protect the city. But with the passage of time this gate has completely misplaced.
13. Yakki Gate: The original name of Yakki Gate was ‘Zaki’ that being the name of a saint. which died fighting against the Mughals.
The culture of Lahore is a manifestation of the lifestyle, festivals, literature, music, language, politics, cuisine and socio-economic conditions of the people. North-west of Lahore contains the heart of Lahore – its original cultural property in the form of mosques, forts, gateways, residential buildings, palaces, tombs, alleyways and open squares. These when coupled with the traditional cultural activities and social relationships, enhance the character of the Walled City with its individual buildings and bazaars. Old Lahore is the dense, tottering, bazaar-city of Kipling’s stories, and some of his titles, like The Gate of a Hundred Sorrows, could serve as name plaques every few steps. Old Lahore is anarchic, energetic, crowded, feeble, exuberant, and aromatic; however, it lost much of its grandeur when most of it was burnt down during the partition of British India.
The true “Lahori” life is visible everywhere when one walks through its narrow winding alleys. In early morning, the traditional breakfast of “Halwa and Poori” is seen being made by the corner of the street. One really enjoys the paper thin “Poori” made of flour and fried in boiling hot oil with a “Bhaaji” a dish made of grams and potatoes with pickle and onions, followed by “Halwa” a sweet made of sooji, sugar and ghee. After this rather heavy feast, Lahoris never forget to drink a glass of “Lassi” made from yogurt, sugar and water in one gulp.
Life inside the Walled City of Lahore is lively and fascinating. The marriages are a scene to be seen. During the spring season, the festival of kite flying or Basant attracts rich and poor from all parts of Lahore to the Walled City. The life inside the Heera Mandi or the red light area being the part of the Walled City is different from the rest of the Walled City of Lahore. One can see the dancing girls standing in the jharokas of the brothels and music being played especially after late evening.
However, today, the Androon Shehr, as a physical space, is a mass of old, beautiful, rotting buildings and dusty, twisting streets, with choked gutters, unreliable water supply and precarious housing – home to “over a quarter of a million people, the largest concentration of urban poor in the country”. The government as well as academia profess to take keen interest in “arresting the decay of the city to preserve the nation’s heritage”, but the superficiality of their claims is borne out by observing the ground reality in the Shehr itself. The prominent monuments within the Shehr, mainly the Fort, tombs and older mosques, are repeatedly made the targets of much-advertised “historical conservation” and tourism campaigns, while the inhabitants of the City themselves, their lives and grievances, are conveniently overlooked in the media and other popular discourse.