The Indian sub-continent was once one of the wealthiest regions in the world, which is why many of Pakistan’s modern cities trace their roots to centuries back. It gives these cities rich histories, and a quintessential old city that residents regard as the “genuine” part of their home. Tripkar brings you interesting information regarding the old cities in Pakistan:
Capital of the pro-British Abbasi kingdom, Bahawalpur was a princely state all by itself until 1954. Even then, it was not part of the Punjab province, and the city itself retains its separate history in the shape of European-inspired palaces built by the Nawabs in the early 20th and late 19th centuries. Thanks to a relatively small population, Bahawalpur is a quaint city, with its restored walled part easy to roam around in. The bazaar inside the monumental Farid Gate has a peculiar mosque; imposing like the mosques made by the Mughals, the mosque is built on an elevated platform, under which shops operate. It’s an intelligent architectural move that sacrifices no extra land for religious worship. Also memorable is the Noor Mahal, an Italian-inspired palace built on the outskirts of the city and Bahawalpur’s only palace open to the general public.
A gateway for Central Asian invaders since time immemorial, Peshawar has always been a restive frontier town. The old city of Peshawar is like none other, with ethnic diversity and a romantic sense of danger lurking around every corner. Unlike the walled parts of Bahawalpur and Lahore, Peshawar’s old city has not been restored, and retains its labyrinthine bazaars and souq-like atmosphere much more than the other two. Perhaps the culture shock is what is most tantalizing about Peshawar – much more conservative than any of Pakistan’s other cities and populated mostly by Hindko-speaking Peshawaris and Pashtuns, there’s nothing quite like Peshawar in Pakistan. Head to the Mohabbat Khan mosque to see a remainder of the significance the city had for Mughal rulers, and the barely excavated pit at Gol Khatri, the walled park in the heart of the old city host to the remains of what was once a Buddhist capital.
One of the famous old cities in Pakistan to visit is Lahore. To this day, it is unclear how Lahore got its name, and when exactly it emerged to become a city. It is believed that the landmarks of the old city – namely, the Lahore fort and the Badshahi mosque – are built atop what could explain the origins of Pakistan’s cultural capital. Rowdy, restored and bursting with life is Lahore’s old city, complete with narrow residential alleyways and gorgeous Mughal landmarks. The Lahore Fort is but one of many – the Wazir Khan mosque and Shaahi Hamaam are clearly inspired by Islamic Persia, with their gorgeous tile work that has no competition within Pakistan. The Sunehri and Badshahi mosques on the other hand are masterpieces of extravagance and Muslim glory, while the gurdawara complex next to the two reminds tourists of the once cosmopolitan identity of this Paris of the east.
Very little of royalty remains in Multan; the Qasim Bagh fort is a dismissive affair because of its poor state, and the only significant remaining Mughal monument is the seldom heard of Eidgah mosque. But Multan is not famous for hosting conquerors – an Islamic center of learning well before the prime of Lahore or neighbouring Bahawalpur, Multan has a plethora of magnificent shrines and saints that give the city its trademark significance as the “City of Saints”. Blue pottery continues to be a thriving industry, and the blue tiles for which Multan is so famous are well-represented in its shrines. The Shah Rukhn-e-Alam mausoleum and Sultan Ali Akbar shrine are some of the most essential out of them.
Book a tour online with Tripkar to visit some of the old cities in Pakistan and dwell into rich culture and traditions for an enriching experience!