The solid walls were providing more resistance against attacks so they were adopted everywhere. Some cities constructed mud walls and some built stone or brick walls. A gate or more gates were necessity. The Lahore city was having twelve regular gates. All these gates of the Lahore city became so impotent in accounts of history that no topic is complete without their description.
|Location:||Gates Of Lahore Punjab, Pakistan.|
|Famous Total Gates:||12|
|The Kashmiri Gate::||The Kashmiri Gate is so called because it faces the direction of Kashmir.|
|Local Language Name:||لاہور کے دروازے|
|Gates Name::||Akbari Gate, Bhati Gate, Delhi Gate, Kashmiri Gate, Lahori Gate, Masti Gate, Mochi Gate,|
|The Raushnai Gate::||The|
|Coordinates :||31.584°N 74.317°E|
|The Taxali Gate::||The Taxal or royal mint, that used to be in its neighborhood during the period of the Mahomedan Emperors.|
|Architectural style:||The old city houses a number of Lahore architecture, which have a strong influence of the Mughal style. … Some of the gates are known as Raushnai Gate, Masti Gate, Yakki Gate, Kashmiri Gate, Khizri Gate, Shah Burj Gate, Akbari Gate and Lahori Gate.|
The word ‘Darwaza’ is used for door or gate in Urdu and Punjabi languages. Mughals brought concept of walled gardens to sub-continent indo-pak. The big cities also became walled. This was much better way of protection against invaders and aliens then the ditches and fences. The solid walls were providing more resistance against attacks so they were adopted everywhere. Some cities constructed mud walls and some built stone or brick walls. A gate or more gates were necessity. The Lahore city was having twelve regular gates. All these gates of the Lahore city became so impotent in accounts of history that no topic is complete without their description. Some very historical valued buildings are situated, inside and outside areas of these Darwaza’s or Gates. Introductory details of the gates of The Lahore city follow.
In the Mughal days, the Old City was surrounded by a 9 meter high brick wall and had a rampart running around it which served as a protection for the city. A circular road around the rampart gave access to the city through thirteen gates. Some of the imposing structures of these gates are still preserved.
- The Raushnai Gate, or the “Gate of Light” is between the royal mosque and the citadels.
- The Kashmiri Gate is so called because it faces the direction of Kashmir.
- The Masti Gate is not the actual name but is rather twisted and pronounced instead of “Masjidi,” which means a mosque.
- The Khizri or the Sheranwala Gate. As already noted, the river in former times flowed by the city walls, and the ferry was near this spot. The gate was, therefore, named Khizri, after the name of Khizr Elias, the patron saint, according to the Mahomedan belief, of running waters and streams, and the discoverer of the water of immortality.
- The Yakki Gate. The original name was “Zaki,” which was derived from the name of a martyr saint, who, according to tradition, fell fighting against the Moghal infidels from the north, while gallantly defending his city
- The Dehli Gate is so called because of its opening on to the highway from Lahore to Delhi.
- The Akbari Gate was named after Mahomed Jala-ud-din Akbar, who rebuilt the town and citadel.
- The Mochi Gate is the name wrongly pronounced. It was name was actually Moti meaning a pearl. It was called so after the name of Moti Ram, an officer of Akbar, who resided here at that time.
- The Shah ‘Almi Gate was named after Mohomed Mo’azzam Shah ‘Alam Bahadur Shah (the son and successor of Aurangzeb). He was a mild and generous Emperor, who died in Lahore on the 28th February 1712.
- The Lahori Gate also known as the Lohari gate has been named after the city of Lahore.
- The Mori Gate is the smallest of the gateways and as its name implies, was in old times used as an outlet for the refuse and sweepings of the city.
- The Bhatti Gate was named after the Bhatis, an ancient Rajput tribe who inhabited these quarters in old times.
- The Taxali Gate was named after the Taxal or royal mint, that used to be in its neighborhood during the period of the Mahomedan Emperors.
My love for Lahore has always driven me to unknown routes in search of more and more ancient remains. Almost fifteen years ago I visited Delhi Gate Lahore for the first time with my brother, who then had started architectural photography as a hobby. I was awe struck at the grandness of the gate at first glance and thought as if I am into another city, and yes I was. It was then when I wrote my first feature in a newspaper on the walled city. That was the inspiration I took from my first trip to Delhi Gate.You can reach Delhi gate via Railway Station Lahore, crossing the old Domoria Pul (a bridge with two tunnel-like openings) and taking a left turn; now the signages are there for fortunate tourists. The majestic gate is a welcome sign to the city of wonders, the walled city which has an aura found nowhere in the world. This is my remark after visiting more than ten heritage sites of the world.This gate is one of the thirteen gates of Lahore. The gates around the city of Lahore were built by the third Mughal Emperor Akbar in the mid 1600s. These thirteen gates provided access to the city of Lahore which was once enclosed within a thirty feet high fortified wall, built by the same Mughal emperor. The wall is no more today, but still I can visualise the grandeur and you too can feel it, only if you visit the Old City.Delhi Gate, situated on the east of Walled City was named so because it faces Delhi, which was the capital of the Mughal Empire. During the Mughal era, and even some time later, this gate remained the main entrance to the city of Lahore. The royal entourages and the common people used this gate which leads into the city. All the gates of the Walled City of Lahore were demolished during the British era. A circular road and circular garden, which still exist today, was built after the grand demolition. Other facts affirm that the bricks of the wall were used in constructing the Railway Station of Lahore by Mian Sultan, a contractor of the British era. Somehow, only the gates were reconstructed in early 1900’s by the British.Once it enjoyed the status of the reception gate to the Royal City with the soldiers and guards welcoming people. Later during the Sikh British rule it functioned as the court of a magistrate, jails, and local police station. As per history books the gate had wooden doors similar to the ones fixed in Lohari Gate. The doors were probably destroyed during the independence riots. During the Mughal era, the doors in these gates were closed after sunset when the city would go to sleep, thus disallowing access into the city. After partition a girl’s school was housed inside the gate building which is still there. Recent governments have tried to relocate the school but all efforts failed. The locals of the area also use the upper storey of the gate for marriages and religious ceremonies. I wish the gate was a museum or a cultural centre!The building of the gate is double storey and almost ten to twelve rooms are serving as class rooms. The most interesting part of the building is the staircase leading to the roof top of the gate. The stair cases in most of the huge mansions and monuments were made at 90 degree angles in order to protect the buildings from sudden attacks. While going up the stairs, one looses the momentum and speed to climb. This shows the cleverness and techniques of defence in those days. Going to the upper storey one can see the roof of the Royal Bath “Shahi Hamam” on the right side. The roof of the gate is even, which gives a marvellous view of the old city and Delhi Gate’s vibrant bazaar. In history books we find that once the Wazir Khan Mosque could be seen from the roof top of the gate. Next to the gate was once the “Sarai” (guest house) of Wazir Khan which was demolished during a flood that struck the city during the Sikh era. After that the streets were made and the locals started settling there.The ground floor of the gate, which is the entrance into the Delhi Gate bazaar, has six rooms which are now converted into tourism offices and crafts centre. These rooms were used by the chobdars in Mughal times, magistrate and police in later eras. For some time after 1947, the rooms served as dispensary and health centres for the local community.Outside Delhi Gate we see many tea, spices and grain shops. These are actually the part of Akbari Mandi, the Spice Market. This is a nice tourist spot; the gate is illuminated at night for the tourists. It’s a must visit place. Local vendors selling interesting traditional items like bangles, shoes, toys and cloth are also located there. One stall is the local enticing food “Laddu Pethi Walay”. They seller opens the shop at sunset and remains there for a few hours only. I guess these are the best in the town. You will find the Afghani Pulao as well near Delhi Gate. This is available now because of the Afghans settlement in old Lahore.
I entered the huge arched door with fruit vendors sitting around, trust me the aroma was awesome. Even the fruits of the Walled City are different from the ones sold in the greater Lahore. They have a tempting fragrance and look much fresh, may be because of the nearby fruits wholesale markets. I saw some rooms and windows hidden behind the vendors and plenty of posters marketing the local herbal medicines. That was the first sight standing inside Lohari Gate. Yes, there I was at one of the gateways to the Walled City of Lahore.
This gate was named after the city Lahore. However, according to another school of thought, numerous “Lohars” (Blacksmiths) had their shops just outside the gate, for which the gate became popular as Lohari gate. Some historians and writers are of the view that early in the 11th century, the city was badly affected by the wars between Mahmud of Ghazna and Raja Jai Pal. At one time, it was even unpopulated. When Malik Ayaz was appointed viceroy of North India, he made Lahore the seat of government. It was at that time, when the people started inhabiting this part and since then the gate was recognised as Lahori Gate. There is also a controversy on the name of the gate, few call it “Lahori” and some say its “Lohari”, because of these myths, I will take it up as Lohari in my writing, as I have heard it the same way. The marble slab placed on the gate is strange too, and bears both the names, as you can see in the picture, showing the details of reconstruction of the gate in Hindi and English languages.
It is considered one of the earliest gates of Lahore. Some books state that initially there were only five entrances to the Walled City and Lohari Gate was one. Historians also record that Lohari area was the original fort built during the rule of Mahmood of Ghazna, and the streets do look like a labyrinth similar to different Forts. Anyhow, who knows the past unless some strayed soul of those times meets us! By the way, this is something interesting about the Walled City, people do come across strange characters who are actually dead hundreds of years ago, I have experienced that myself but it would be lengthy to elaborate my experiences here, so let’s stick to Lohari Gate.The gate was initially built during the period of Mughal Emperor Akbar (again a controversy as some say it existed in Malik Ayaz’s time as well. This can only be verified by excavating the foundations, which I think cannot be done). Mughal Emperor Akbar was the one who had built a fortified wall around the city with thirteen gates, and Lohari was one of the gates. During the Sikh riots the gate got smashed and was rebuilt in the British period with small bricks on the same old style. The rooms were built in the upper storey for officials; presently these rooms are being used as offices of Walled City Lahore Authority. The gate still has wooden arches. The roof top is spacious with a podium in the centre. I guess the roof was used for assembly, but I would suggest that this place can be utilised as an open air theatre now.
There is another interesting fact for you, before the Sikh era, the red light area was located inside the Lohari Gate and most of the rich dancers had built beautiful Havelis there. Chowk Matti was also named after a known dancer “Matti Bai”. With the passage of time, the Red Light area was shifted to Chowk Jhanda, then Tibbi Gali and eventually the Heera Mandi was established. At some places we still find beautiful Havelis which were originally the dancing houses owned by different dancers. One famous Haveli which is now under the use of cobblers is the Noori Haveli. It was also a dancing house of “Noori Bai”.
Near the entrance of this gate is Muslim Masjid, named after a Muslim scholar Mollana Muhammad Bakhsh Muslim. The gem stone market near the same cannot be ignored. From this market you will find a variety of stones or gems you wish for. The biggest optical market of Lahore is also located there.Currently inside the gate there are innumerable typical Lahori food spots. Haji Sahib Nahari walay, Sheikh Chatkhara and Sweets, Mehar Bashir Halwae and Hafiz Channay are some of the most famous food spots of the area. Lohari Gate itself has a food street, while rambling and wandering around the streets you can taste all types of tempting foods and local drinks like lassi.
The amazing part of my tour to Lohari Gate was that I saw groups of people visiting the place to enjoy the food and witness the relics of history. Neevin Masjid, Chowk Bukhari, Chowk Jhanda, metal workers market and the famous Lal Haveli Square are a must see there. A haveli has been adopted by the National College of Arts as a Conservation Bethak. Regular classes of conservation and restoration techniques are held there. Amidst the narrow streets and shops there is a Hindu temple as well, though it is not a functional one, but it is well intact. Unfortunately it is not a tourist site as it is locked like most of our mosques, but I wish it is developed as a tourist site.
Lohari Gate is the best example of living cultural and heritage. I hope it does not get into the shackles of commercialisation like many other parts of the Walled City, although much has been taken over by commercialisation now. I suggest a plan to be devised for saving the roots of the heritage.
Bhatti Gate was named after an ancient Rajput tribe, known as Bhattis, who inhabited the area in old times. Spicy Lahori food is an identity of Lahori and Bhatti gate. Another notable thing to remember about the gate is that the national poet of the country and great scholar of all times, Dr. Muhammad Allama Iqbal used to live here during his graduation. Bhati Gate entrance is located on the Western wall of the Old City. It is one of the two oldest entry points into the Walled City which controlled the only major north-south thoroughfare during Ghaznavid period. When the Emperor Akbar expanded the city eastward and divided it into nine districts or Guzars, Bhati Gate and its bazar marked the boundary between Guzar Mubarak Khan (east) and Guzar Talwarra (west).
Name of the gate in fact got distorted from ‘moti’ (pearl). Apparently it is named after a guard, Moti Ram, who watched the gate throughout his lifetime under Akbar’s reign. The actual gate was demolished during colonial times. The area, however, is famous for dried fruit markets, fireworks, and once upon a time, for kite shops.Nisar Haveli -The center of Mourning of Imam Hussain (a.s) in Lahore. Every year Lahore’s Markazi Shabeh-e- Zuljanah of Yaum-e-Ashura emerges from Nisar Haveli Mochi gate that culminates at Karbala Gameshah. The route hasn’t changed in over 150 years. Every year, as the sun descends on the ninth of Muharram, thousands of Shias make their way towards Mochi Gate in Lahore. From here, they walk through the maze of narrow streets in the walled city and reach Nisar Haveli. The Mughal-era building is not only the spot for an emotionally charged majlis on the eve of the tenth of the month it is, on that very same night, the starting point for the largest Ashura procession in the city.
Since the 1850s, Lahore’s most important Zuljinnah procession has originated from here and travelled the same route around the walled city. And each year the procession, which is observed, joined and dutifully followed by legions of mourners, culminates at Karbala Gamay Shah just as the Azaan for maghrib prayers rings out on the following day. It is said the route mimics the one Saint Gamay Shah himself initiated to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his followers.
But some things have changed since then. One is the crowds. For decades now, there has hardly been room to breathe inside Nisar Haveli on the most revered night of the Shia calendar. Combine the densely packed space with the explosive passions of thousands of devout mourners and the annual scene is beyond dramatic: it borders on overwhelming. The stories of death and sacrifice from the pulpit cause men, women and young children alike to sob and wail uncontrollably. Shaking with grief, some hold their heads while others use both hands to slap the top of their heads repeatedly with a force that makes the uninitiated uneasy.
It is in this atmosphere of supercharged fervour that the majlis comes to an end, and on some mystical cue, the mass of black-clad mourners jump to their feet in unison as the Zuljinnah, festooned with flowers, is released from behind its colourful purdah. Men with outstretched arms press against each other as they swarm the Zuljinnah. Ash, thrown in the air, hangs low in small clouds, covering the shifting crowd as it is magnetically pulled to the exit by the symbol of sacrifice and loyalty that they long to touch. This is how it is every year. Just as the ninth day fades into the tenth night, the transition from majlis to procession is seamless and immediate – done with uncanny, divine precision.
The family that started this procession from Nisar Haveli generations ago also continues to hold majlises and processions on their ancestral lands on the outskirts of Lahore.
In 1850’s Qizalbash family migrated from Kabul to Lahore.Nawab Raza Ali Khan Qizalbash was the man who introduced ”Azadari” and Zuljanah processions in Lahore.Nisar Haveli is named after Nawab Nisar Ali Khan Qizalbash (Great grand son of Nawab Raza Ali Khan Qizalbash) who started the city’s biggest procession of the Ashura (10th of Muharram), the day Muslims mourn the death of Imam Hussain at Karbala.
The first procession to begin from the haveli was in the 1850s. It was then actually the Mubarak Haveli. The Nisar Haveli was one part of the Mubarak Haveli, which was divided in two after Partition as property was divided in the Qizilbash family in 1928. The part where the main Ashura procession begins was named the Nisar Haveli, while the other part retained the name Mubarik.
The Mubarik Haveli was built by the Mughals. According to legend, it was named Mubarik, which means blessing, because a royal son was born there. It is also said the Koh-e-Noor was kept there for a while. The Qizalbash family got it on lease from the Mughals. Maharaja Ranjit Singh took it over briefly, but it returned to the Qizalbash when the East India Company established itself in India.
Elderly Shia residents of the Walled City said the Qizalbash family were also the first to begin Zuljinnah processions in Lahore, which are now a vital part of Ashura processions.
The Qizalbash family has its roots in Iran and Afghanistan. According to one account, they came to India with the Mughal emperor Humayun from Persia. According to another, some Qizalbash came from Afghanistan with Ahmad Shah and Nadar Shah.
Nawab Nisar Ali Khan Qizalbash, who died in 1944, as described earlier that he was the great grandson of Nawab Raza Ali Khan Qizalbash, one of the originators of processions in the area, and whose son Nawab Fateh Ali Khan also played a key role in promoting processions.
Some elders feel that the Nisar Haveli is now not big enough to handle the main procession, but don’t want to lose this traditional start. There is no land available around the Haveli for expansion because of the closely-packed architecture of the Walled City.
The Qizalbash family is also credited with holding the first Zuljinnah procession in Lahore, when they started mourning for Imam Hussain in the Haveli in the middle of the 19th century. At that time there was only one Zuljinnah, a horse meant to represent the steed Imam Hussain rode into Karbala.
Later, other imambargahs began holding Zuljinnah processions.The Qizalbash Waqaf, or trust, takes care of seven Zuljinnah that are loaned out free to imambargahs for processions.
Prominent personalities such as former air force chief Syed Babar Ali, Rangers Director General Hussain Mehdi, and politicians and bureaucrats have attended the majalis at the Nisar Haveli in Lahore.
Khizri or Sheranwala Gate
Originally, it was named after, Hazrat Khwaja Khizr Elias, a great saint who had a special association with running waters. In old times, River Ravi used to flow near the Walled City of Lahore, and sea-transportation (ferry) used to take place near this gate.In the walled city of Lahore, Sheranwala is one of the twelve gates. It is also known as ‘Khizri Gate’, and in olden times the Ravi River followed by the city walls and the ferry was near this part. The gate was, therefore, named as Khizri after the name of Khizzr Elias, the patron saint according to the Mohammaden belief, of running waters and streams, and the discoverer of the water of immortality. Ranjit Singh kept, here two domesticated lions in a cage, and the gate came to be called as ‘Sheranwala gate’ or ‘Lion’s gate’. It is an old crowded area with all the needful facilities including markets and schools. There are two major schools, Government Islamia High School Sheranwala Gate for boys, which is the oldest school and the best training centre for the youth of the vicinity. Then there is the Government School for the Deaf and Dumb Khizri Mohala (Society), which is a mannequin school and also and a banquet hall. There is a Madrassa (an institution for religious studies) established by Moulana Ahmed Ali Lahori, and the Anjumen Khudamu-ud-Din (a great name in the Islamic religious revolution in the sub-continent). There are also many higher secondary private schools in the area to educate the coming generation of this historical soil. The name in history shifted to Sheranwala because Maharaja Ranjit Singh, came to power, he kept two caged lions near the gate for the protection of the city. Even today, the place truly depicts the traditional way of living Lahori life.
In the picture above, a worker sits at the bazaar in Mori gate preparing his product. As the name mori (small hole) implies, it was the smallest of gateways. When all the other gates remained closed at night, this one gave access to the city in the evenings.
One of the busiest gates in the old city, till today, the bazaars, and shops remain jam-packed throughout the day. Retailers usually trade in wholesale rates here, making it a financially giant market of Lahore. From jewelry to garments, crockery to grocery, ceramic vessels to that of iron, wedding accessories to that of offices, electronic gadgets – each and everything is available. Lahoris come here to shop when they have to buy goods in bulk.burned Shahalami down. The Lahori Gate area was completely bottled up as the inhabitants of this part of the city were primarily Muslim. To the east of Lahori bazaar was a vast merchant class population that thrived in the numerous markets making up old Lahore, and they happened to be mostly Hindu traders. Between the fires of Shahalami and the aggressive Lohari Gate population, a very large number of people were trapped.A bit of geography will help to understand what happened at that critical moment in our tortured history. If you happen to turn eastwards from Lohari Chowk, one travels along Pappar Mandi. When this bazaar curves slightly southwards, it reaches a crossing known as Chowk Mati. From Chowk Mati the road curves slightly in a northern direction to meet the main Shahalami main bazaar. At Chowk Mati a narrow road, this was basically a residential area, a lane heads eastwards, and in 1947 it ended in a sort of cul-desac. At the end was a mosque, which is still there and which had a small well. Next to the mosque was a major well used by the entire area. This important well was known as Khajoor Khoo — (palm well). The well to the east had the outer wall of the old city enveloping it.
Raushnai Gate or Gate of Lights
Probably the only gate that shines resplendently of its original glory, the gate is located between Shahi Qila (Lahore Fort) and Badshahi Mosque. It provides the main entrance from fort to city, and for centuries it lit up at nights, hence the name ‘Gate of Lights.’
Named after Jalal-Ud-Din Akbar, the gate crumpled and decayed. No trace of the gate remains but near it is the famous ‘Akbari Mandi,’ that is still one of the biggest wholesale and retail market of Lahore.
The gate faces towards the direction of Kashmir, thus it’s named Kashmiri gate. Condition of the current gate is dilapidating, but inside there’s a beautiful market called ‘Kashmiri Bazaar’ where children’s shoes, and other products are sold. It sits adjacent to the famous ‘Dehli Darwaza.
Located behind Lahore fort, the name is distorted from its original form, which was ‘Masjidi’ pertaining to ‘Mosque.’ Not as famous as Lohari, or Bhati gate, but the area serves quality heavy food.
The current state of most of these gates are in bad, deteriorating condition. However, life inside these areas is very interesting, a traditional way of life, and these gates are a precious inheritance of Subcontinent’s long gone era.