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Trip Report Pakistan trip Zigzag - Highlights

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Dec 01, 2011, 9:53 AM
In a zigzag adventure in Pakistan - from Lahore to Multan, Harppa to Islamabad...the chaotic traffic and had an absolutely fantastic time...Few highlights worth sharing.

We arrived early at to Jehangir's Mausoleum. It has a majestic structure made of red sand stone and marble. An entrance to the right leads one into a beautiful Mogul garden with exact Geometrical patterns balancing each side. The mausoleum itself sits in the middle of a beautiful garden. Our guide had a brief history lesson for us. Emperor Jahangir died in 1627AD on his way back from Kashmir to Lahore. According to his wish, he was buried in the spacious garden of his wife queen Noor Jehan. After having a good round of the tomb, we decided to go inside. A long corridor was leading to the grave. The corridor was embellished with floral frescoes and stone-in-stone, by an amazing technique of inserting precious and semi-precious stones in colored marble to achieve vividness, clarity and permanence in design.

We entered a hall where marble grave was located on a raised platform bearing inscriptions of the ninety-name names of God in exquisite Arabic calligraphy.

Akbari Serai is a spacious courtyard situated between Jahangir's Tomb to the east and Asaf Khan's tomb to the west. The courtyard was intended both as a staging area for official visits to the tomb and as a place of residence for the the caretakers. The corners of the Sarai were graced by magnificent watch-towers.

And then onwards to the red structure Royal Mosque (Badshahi Mosquea) directly opposite to the Lahore Fort and was built during the reign of Emperor Aurengzeb in 1672 to 1674. The facade is similar to the Jama Masjid in Delhi. At the entrance we had to either take our shoes off or put on shoe coverings (10 rupees) to enter the Mosque.

The lead paryer was in a domed hall, man stood near the raised crypt and was calling for muslim prayer. It was eerie how it echoed around the room. One guy sitting there went into a corner and told me to stand with my ear to the wall on the opposite side and he whispered and the echo of his voice was heard. Of course he was expecting to be paid for his 5 seconds of work, so we gave him 50 rupees. It is a beautiful place and I sat in the cool on the carpet and enjoyed the peace and tranquility. These building are just amazing to me – how they were constructed without the modern ‘tools of the trade’ and heavy equipment is a mystery to me. I remember this same sense of awe in Rome. I posed for a photograph with a group of people. So far all Pakistanis I have met want to have a photograph to show their friends that they have met a foreigner. This love for people for other countries is something I have not experienced anywhere else.

Next we headed to the Lahore Fort. No one knows exactly when Lahore Fort was built but it was first mentioned around 1021 AD when Mahmud of Ghaznvi conquered it. Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar (Akbar the Great) built the present structure as we know it today. Jahangir and Shah Jahan constructed palaces in the Fort. We entered through Alamgiri Gate of the Fort. This is the huge entrance which has two large pillars which resemble elephants feet. Over the centuries Lahore was conquered many times. Lahore has also been an important city for a long time. The best time for Lahore was during the Mughal reign from 1525 to 1721.

Inside the fort I was again stopped by quite a few people who wanted to talk to me and have their picture taken with me.

Outside the fort there are rickshaws, motorbikes, donkey carts, hundreds of people and lots of noise, but on arrival at the area of the Fort, the noise disappears, there is a feeling of calm, tranquility and peace.

The Divan-e-Aam which is the Hall of Public Audience where the King received his subjects and held public gatherings was built by Shah Jahan during 1631 to 1632. Then there is the aath Dora building with eight openings which was restored in past years

The most spectacular part of the Fort is Shish Mahal or the Hall of Mirrors. This is still very magnificent and one can imagine how much more so in the days when it was first built and lived in. The walls are covered with patterns made of thousands of mirrors. Nolackha Pavilion in Shish Mahal was so called because it cost 9 Lac rupees to build. A Lac is 100,000.The museum attendant showed how it used to look in the evening when the lamps were lit. How the lights reflected and shimmered in the dark. He lit a light and moved it around to show the effect of the reflection in the mirrors.

Adjacent to Alamgiri Gate is the Hathi Paer or Elephant Path. This is a huge stairway that was built large enough for the elephants to walk up to the Royal Quarters carrying the King.

It was a memorable visit and one which I hope to make again.

The fort was amazing – what a time it must have been, it was getting close to sunset so it was quite a sight. If only there wasn’t such a ‘haze’ to look through.

We were all hungry so we headed to the Cookoo’s Den Restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner. We had some vegetarian dahls and, of course, roti.

We had a wonderful day and all really enjoyed seeing the sites.

We stayed up working on our pictures that night. Just before we headed to bed – about 10:30 -

Next day we went to Anarkali Bazaar for buying stuff, this is a place I like too. The bazaar has almost everything anyone could need. But not all shops there will bargain. At the shoe shop I bought 2 pairs of shoes for 1250 rupees each and the man there said they were cheap enough and he would not reduce them. He would not have bargained and I would have left without them if I had been determined. It is named after a slave girl who was said to have been buried alive behind a wall for having an affair with the king's son.

Next was Lahore Museum: Lahore has some wonderful museums. Now this is what I call the art with stones” would be the first statement that you speak watching the exquisite building in which the museum is set. Its most appreciated displays are paintings belonging to Mughals and to Sikh community during British Era. Take a look at the relics of Graeco-Bactrian times, ancient jewelery, old musical instruments, and Tibetan art works. The Fasting Buddha is the most unique possession of this museum. In fact, it is worth checking the closing times of any attractions you are considering.

More coming.......................

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