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Himalaya

Day 26: Lahore

Rawalpindi, Pakistan 
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Street cleaners take a photo break. In background, Shaan Shahid, Lollywood heart-throb, dominates the billboards.
Michael Palin - HimalayaUp at 5.45 to beat the heat. We make our way to the low hill that dominates the heart of this flat city and on which stand two of the most beautiful buildings in the subcontinent, Lahore Fort and the Badshahi Mosque. Both were built by the Mughal (the word derives from Mongol) emperors who came out of south central Asia and through Afghanistan around the time that Henry VIII was planning the Reformation. Using rifles, mortars and gunpowder, previously unheard of in India, they seized Lahore in 1524 and subdued Delhi two years later.

These two cities became the twin jewels of an empire that lasted almost 200 years and was characterized by blood, death, romantic tragedy and some of the most exquisite buildings, gardens, books and paintings in the world.

The Mughals were not the first to fortify Lahore. Some 13 or 14 strongholds have succeeded each other on this hill, but today's fort, completed by the Emperor Akbar, has stood solidly behind its mighty brick walls for 450 years.

It is a huge complex, but we find ourselves caught for some time in a small office, with a beamed roof and lots of tasteful antique furnishings, making the acquaintance of the curator, who has a bad cold.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 26: Lahore
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Lahore
  • Book page no: 54

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