The premise of Lahore’s history lies in its diversification; whenever you walk those streets within the old city, you are left in awe of what’s on offer. Journeys are renditions of what our eye captures, encapsulating us with its rich heritage and centuries of existence.
Walking through those paths once traversed by millions and predating us by thousands of years, I ponder how much history they have absorbed over their existence. Every place has a story to tell and speak to us, but our eyes still are mired in priorities that keep us entangled in our lives.
My journey has been a very limited one in terms of exploring Lahore historically. There are so many buildings, mohallas, mosques, churches, tombs etc to explore, that it may take eons. Lahore stays an explorer’s paradise, which keeps its historical magnificence with a glory that has slowly eroded due to its mistreatment.
Historical liturgy offers us immense information on what Lahore actually is and its significance since antiquity stays unchallenged. Whenever you walk the Mall Road, go into the streets of Old or New Anarkali or any other place in “Androon Lahore”, there is a rich cultural heritage you experience.
Whenever I traversed these streets or paths, it automatically warped me into retrospective mode and made me wonder, what history could this place hold? It piqued my interest and every old building I crossed seemed to be eking out something, the causes of its existence and its story of neglect.
Whichever place I explored, it seemed abandonment, lack of realization was imbued in our populace’s psyche. Insensitivity to history, its place in a cultural context is a dampener and insult to Lahore’s very existence.
Nostalgia tends to override my emotional side while exploring history, seeing buildings lying in ruins pinches the soul and give rise to abhorrent notions about our existence. But aside helplessness, it is also significant to enjoy the diversity of culture on display.
This balcony speaks a story of neglect and state of apathy. It’s full of stories, and the desolation wreaks of pain. I just stood there stunned for a few minutes, silent within but the voices around me were boisterous due to my surroundings. My contemplation knew no bounds, but my worries about it shriveled me into a sensitive domain of uncertainty. I was helpless, standing lonely in the vicinity and ended up pondering over how long its existence will last.
Then I walked through this historically laced alley, without realizing its significance. Life is a transcendence in such places, busy yet enthralling. The uniqueness of it blends into its surroundings, the homes found among its midst being centuries old. This alley is screaming of history, the diversity it has offered over time immemorial, and the sanctuary of memories it is. Thousands may have accessedthis alley, diminishing away but it stands as a testimony to all that history it holds.
Then viewing this building got me thinking; the past isn’t re-livable, but we don’t eulogize those century old structures that had made it possible. It attracts you towards itself, asks us to notice and value its existence, the spirit that it has held over time. We raze them away and make their memories dormant. It is merely a reflection of what the society is, actually, I pondered.
Traversing Delhi Gate way back in early-2015, I felt old rickety wooden windows give out a vintage feeling, making us dwell on glorious yesteryears, witnesses to history and many monumental events. What has been viewed through its lens, is something very unique and is a representation of antiquated architecture/design,
Away from interior Lahore, I traversed across to the banks of the river Ravi in January 2017 and visited Jahangir’s Tomb and was left enamored. Some places have inklings of a glorious past that makes us entrench ourselves in it, momentarily getting immersed and encapsulated by its memories. We tend to lose ourselves into what would have been, the imagination extending into unchartered realms. The fantasy it creates isn’t everlasting, but leaves us in a daze, which is unexplainable.
Visiting Shalimar Gardens in March 2017, where nearby the construction of Orange Train is now reaching its concluding stages, was an altogether different experience. It felt like; when you walk on an ancient staircase, the experience is dumbfounding. The sudden onset of the feeling that you have traversed 470 years of history, leaves you baffled as if we committed sacrilege.
Coming across this in walled city, Lahore evoked these thoughts; a dusty decades old door, in the midst of a place that literally screams of history. It’s a memorial to an entrance and exit that it served for ages, a witnessing bystander to all those who passed through, yet it remains intact.”
Lahore’s rich history retains a charm which I feel can only be evoked if you keenly hold an avid interest in knowing more about its rich cultural heritage. History always speaks to you in its own specific language, it has its way of communicating which can only be understood by those who value and appreciate its existence.