Jinne Lahore nai vekhya, O jamya-e-ni
This famous, old Punjabi saying translates to ‘He who has not yet seen Lahore, has not been born!’ For someone who has visited the city and basked in its rich culture and vibrant spirit, this phrase makes more sense. But for the others, here is a quick list of 5 things you absolutely should do- when in Lahore!
1. Experience the architectural magnificence of the Grand Jamia Mosque
With a capacity of 70,000 people, it is the third-largest in Pakistan and the 7th largest in the world. The design has predominantly been inspired by the Badshahi Mosque and Wazir Khan Mosque. Once you enter the mosque you will be surrounded by the breathtaking grandeur of 21 domes towering the main structure. Be prepared to be awe-struck by the kaleidoscopic luminosity of 50 Persian chandeliers lighting up the interior and 4 million hand-made Multani tiles covering the walls of the exterior. You are advised to cover your body from wrist to ankle, before entering the mosque, while women should cover their heads too.
2. Participate in the patriotic zeal at the Wagah Border
Just like a trip to New York would not be complete without a walk through the Times Square, a trip to Lahore would surely be incomplete without walking through the pages of sub-continental history at the infamous border that separates Pakistan and India. If you fancy loud, enthusiastic cheering (not the kind at Coachella though), then this is your place to be, as tourists are welcomed with scores of people from both sides of the border, passionately chanting their national anthems at the flag-lowering ceremony. This military practises (read: dance-like parade), that started over 70 years ago, in 1959 is performed till date, every day, with the same discipline and fervor.
3. Feast on delicious, desi food at The Poet
When you think of Lahore, two things instantly come to mind; great culture and great food. To satisfy your cravings for the latter, there is no better place to be than The Poet. Located in the Greater Iqbal Park, the restaurant offers a breath-taking view of the Minar-e-Pakistan, a hallmark of the Pakistan Movement. While the name and the location seem reminiscent of the great poet Allama Iqbal, the 20th century inspired, antique, yet luxurious interior, blended with late-night ghazal and qawaali performances encapsulates the grandeur of the Mughal Empire. Make sure you come with an empty stomach, as the elaborate menu has anything and everything that a traditional Lahori cuisine can offer. Bon Appétit!
4. Shop till you drop at the Liberty Market
For many, a good trip is incomplete without even more rewarding shopping experience. The city offers a plethora of different shopping avenues, including malls, markets and megastores. Among all these options the two that really stand out are Liberty Market and Packages Mall. While Packages Mall introduces you to an avant-garde version of Lahore through access to high-end, contemporary brands, Liberty Market captures the essence of the city in its cultural undertones. From exquisite hand-made jewellery to embroidered and embellished craftsmanship and traditional footwear, the best of Lahore can be found in Liberty Market.
PRO TIP: Do not settle for the first price. Carry a water bottle with you and bargain your heart out!
5. Sleep in luxury at Pearl Continental Hotel
A long, fun-filled trip around the city calls for a good night’s sleep. And there is no better place to stay in than at Pearl Continental Hotel located on Mall Road. Upon entrance into the main lobby, you will be welcomed by a magnificent, 1922 vintage, fully restored Rolls Royce, driven by the likes of President General Ayub Khan. You can then continue your journey towards a comfortable and luxurious stay by lodging in any of the lavishly furnished rooms or suites. Besides international cuisine, the hotel offers an abundance of other amenities like spas, saunas, swimming pool, corporate spaces and even wedding marquees- all the perks and more of a 5-star hotel!
If any of the above places or activities have intrigued your cultural curiosity and wanderlust then it is time to pack your bags, buy that ticket to Pakistan and explore one of the liveliest cities in the world. Lahore awaits you!