Lahore (/ləˈhɔːr/; Punjabi: لہور; Urdu: لاہور, pronounced [lɑːˈɦɔːr]) is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab. It is the country’s 2nd largest city after Karachi and the 18th largest city proper in the world. Lahore is one of Pakistan’s wealthiest cities, with an estimated GDP of $58.14 billion (PPP) as of 2015. Lahore is the largest city and historic cultural center of the wider Punjab region and is one of Pakistan’s most socially liberal, progressive, and cosmopolitan cities.
Lahore’s origins reach into antiquity. The city has been controlled by numerous empires throughout the course of its history, including the Hindu Shahis, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, and Delhi Sultanate by the medieval era. Lahore reached the height of its splendor under the Mughal Empire between the late 16th and early 18th century and served as its capital city for a number of years. The city was captured by the forces of the Afsharid ruler Nader Shah in 1739 and fell into a period of decay while being contested between the Afghans and the Sikhs. Lahore eventually became the capital of the Sikh Empire in the early 19th century and regained some of its lost grandeur. Lahore was then annexed to the British Empire and made the capital of British Punjab. Lahore was central to the independence movements of both India and Pakistan, with the city being the site of both the declaration of Indian Independence and the resolution calling for the establishment of Pakistan. Lahore experienced some of the worst riotings during the Partition period preceding Pakistan’s independence. Following the success of the Pakistan Movement and subsequent independence in 1947, Lahore was declared the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Lahore exerts a strong cultural influence over Pakistan. Lahore is a major center for Pakistan’s publishing industry and remains the foremost center of Pakistan’s literary scene. The city is also a major center of education in Pakistan, with some of Pakistan’s leading universities based in the city. Lahore is also home to Pakistan’s film industry, Lollywood, and is a major center of Qawwali music. The city also hosts much of Pakistan’s tourist industry, with major attractions including the Walled City, the famous Badshahi and Wazir Khan mosques and Sikh shrines. Lahore is also home to the Lahore Fort and Shalimar Gardens, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The early history of Lahore is obscure, inauthentic and attributed to myths and tales. Virtually no historical reference of the city is available in travelogues, history books and archaeological excavations Historical chronicles do not provide any account of such a city when Alexander’s forces traversed Punjab in 4th century B.C. There could have been a small town or settlement of Hindu “Shahiya” dynasty at the place where modern day Lahore exists, and of which a little reference is available in the travelogue of Chinese traveller Hieun Triang who visited India in 630 A.D. However, within the next few hundred years, Lahore would blossom into a cultural capital of the Indian Subcontinent.The name of Lahore sparkled in historic references in 1021 A.D, when Mehmood of Ghazna conquered it from Trilochan Pala, King of Hindu Shahyia Dynasty of Kabul. His famous confidante slave Ayaz remained in charge of the city and he was the person who actually built city of Lahore to the zenith of an important town with a mud citadel around it. Lahore for the first time found the importance of the capital of Ghaznavid dominance east of Indus in 1036 A.D. and Ayaz later called Malik Ayaz, the founder of modern Lahore was appointed as Governor or “Hakim”. The first historic reference about Lahore is also found in a Muslim historian Al beruni’s book Tarikh-ul-Hind. Thus, the modern, metropolis and cultural capital Lahore is a born Muslim city. The archaeological excavations made in 1959 in front of Dewan-e-Aam, Lahore Fort authenticate this view. The tomb of Malik Ayaz, the founder and first Governor of Lahore metropolis is in Rang Mahal area.
Lahore witnessed turbulence, peace and tranquillity, cultural festivity, conquers devastations and destructions in different period of history. But it always remained important after its birth as metropolis in eleventh century. Its strategic importance had never even been ignored and it remained a provincial capital till date. Lahore attained its magnificence during Mughal period from 1521 to 1752 A.D. It fell to the forces of Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1572, there was a period of Chaos and confusion. Lahore escaped the horrors of Nadir Shah paying a sum of 20 Lacks but was plundered and looted by Sikh Sardar Lehna Singh of Bhangi Misal for more than 30 years. There comes Ranjit Singh and fifty years’ SIKH rule from (1798 – 1848). The Sikh rule after Ranjit Singh was turbulent and factional fighting destroyed peace and prosperity of Lahore and then finally the British took over it in 1848 and after 99 years of British rule Lahore became second largest city and cultural capital of Pakistan.
All major monuments, buildings, Havelis and gardens of Lahore are of Moughal period, during which Lahore touched its glory. The only contribution of Sikh period is Ranjit Singh Smadh. British ignored the walled city of Lahore and created a new Lahore on its southern side. This includes, The Mall, Civil lines and Cantonment. They constructed several buildings with an architecture blended with Muslim and Gothic motive. The walled city of Lahore, the original seat of political authority and cultural traditions is one of the most colorful cities of the region. A few like Isfhan and Dehli match a little to its excellence. The walled city has pages of history imprinted on its buildings, monuments, mosques and maize like network of streets. Colourful cultural life has shades of almost every ruling elite and generation like music, food, dance, political awareness, religious sentiments and poetic flair of common people.
This colorful social life of the walled city is on its rapid decay and unauthentic, irregular growth of buildings and plazas is replacing old ornamental beautiful buildings and has also played havoc to the picturesque beauty of the walled city.
Lying between 31°15′—31°45′ N and 74°01′—74°39′ E, Lahore is bounded on the north and west by the Sheikhupura District, on the east by Wagah, and on the south by Kasur District. The Ravi River flows on the northern side of Lahore. Lahore city covers a total land area of 404 square kilometres (156 sq mi).
Lahore has a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSh). The hottest month is June, when average highs routinely exceed 40 °C (104.0 °F). The monsoon season starts in late June, and the wettest month is July, with heavy rainfalls and evening thunderstorms with the possibility of cloudbursts. The coolest month is January with dense fog.