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Himalaya

Day 26: Lahore

Michael Palin - HimalayaI have the feeling the last thing he wants to do is to go outside. Two days ago Lahore had its highest temperature for 75 years, he tells us, reaching for a tissue. 'Forty-Nine Centigrade!'

Fortunately, it will be cooler today he prophesies. Perhaps 47 at most.

The appeal of the Lahore fort is a successful combination of intimacy and grandeur. Power with a human face. There is the massive Elephant Path, a wide flight of steps with long, shallow stairs designed to enable rich courtiers to bring their elephants into the heart of the fort without having to dismount. There are courtyards of immense size, criss-crossed with cooling water channels (sadly dry today), and audience chambers supported by forests of sandstone columns, and in among them, exquisite architectural miniatures.

The Shish Mahal, the Palace of Mirrors, is a series of cool, serene rooms open at one side and enclosed at the other by an exquisitely carved screen through which the breeze is drawn by a 17th-century carved marble air-con system. Narrow apertures on the outside widen out on the inside to draw the cool air in. And it does work. The walls are picked out with glass mosaics, paintings of gardens and countryside and complex mirrored panels.
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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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