Evolution of Concept – The Walled City
The will to survive and dominate others lead the human beings to ever progress the war fighting strategies and tactics since ancient times. Thus, in the defence studies one significant and time-tested concept was the evolution of Walled Cities. The main objective was to provide protection against the enemy offensive attacks.
This typically means a confined surrounding wall, fence or forts type massive structures around the vital designated places. In addition to positioned check posts, these walled assemblies were also used to erect round the larger areas like wide-ranging towns and cities as well. Sometimes, these were even built on difficult terrains like mountains and open sea fronts as well.
However, in the present era this concept has lost its actual essence due to overall technological advancements and specifically the employment of high-tech weaponry systems. Therefore, a small-scale version is activated for the defined military cantonment areas in general. Whereas, a limited number of walled cities have been well-preserved in varying regions of the continents as historical symbols.
Today, these historical marvels attract tourists from the whole world to visit, cherish and wonder about them. The Walled City Lahore is also included in top of this list by virtue of its rich history. So, this will be a great post for the tourists and travellers who wants to read on How many gates did the walled city of Lahore have?
As per Archeologists the evidence of carbon’s regarding the settlements for the City of Lahore dates back between 1000 to 2,000 BCE. It gained its distinctive status during the Muslim Reigns which had been noted around 1000 BCE. The ultimate turning point came when construction of Lahore Fort was duly ordered by the emperor Akbar after shifting of capital city from Fatehpur to Lahore.
This master plan followed the building of fortified walls around the city to strengthen upon the defence of the newly declared Capital. There-on actual foundations for the Walled City of Lahore were laid down.
World Heritage Site
Today, the Walled city of Lahore is well-known due to its numerous historic monuments that includes the most famous Lahore Fort – it also has been recognized as a World Heritage site, along with the Badshahi and Wazir Khan mosques. More than 1,000 antique style buildings within the old Walled City also make it an outstanding cultural landscape.
Local Government and external efforts are in hand to look after the conservation and restoration however, the process needs more attention at all the levels.
In this regard the most notable struggle is “The Walled City of Lahore Program” that was put into effect in partnership with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture with the Government of Punjab in 2015. AKTC supports the Walled City Authority in all technical matters in terms of restoration and conservation work being planned and carried out. Other foreign donors include the World Bank, Royal Norwegian Government, USAID, and the German Embassy.
Gates of Walled City
The mega walled structure around the old Walled City of Lahore was inclusive of many gates to allow trespassing and provide easy access for serving the various purposes. The number of gates kept on increasing as per the growing necessities, its grand total has been recorded as 13 during its crowning period. Later expansions in the population built-ups and amplified business activities led the city to extend outwards of the walled arena.
Britishers annexation of the subcontinent during the 18th century also treasured the Walled City of Lahore like many other key municipalities in the region. However, the major War of Independence or commonly known as Sepoy Mutiny in 1857 remained disastrous for many renowned historical sculptures, sites and famous Gates as well. Later on, efforts were made in bits and pieces and few devastated monuments were rebuilt / restored on the lines of initial footholds.
In the subsequent paragraphs we are going to discuss the Gates of Old Walled City of Lahore. This section has been divided into two main domains, which are:
- Present Day Existing Gates (06)
- Past Era Gates (07)
Names Of Gates Of Lahore
Firstly, we shall discuss those Six Gates which still exists to-date in a reasonable condition and functioning in one or other ways.
- Sheranwala Gate
- Roshni Gate
- Bhati Gate
- Lohari Gate
- Kashmiri Gate
- Delhi Gate
This Gate was initially named as Khizri Gate and it was built by Ranjit Singh. The noteworthy thing about this gate was that two Lions (alive) in separate cages were placed at the Gate entrance, as a symbol of terror for the enemy. Thereon, this Khizri Gate was commonly known as Sheranwala (Lions) Gate by the locals. Today, this Gate is in tolerable condition however, tourists may not find the Lions at the Gate to welcome them.
The Roshni Gate lies at the top of list among those existing today, that too matching to as its original design was. Another point which highlights the Roshni Gate is its location that is between two other historical buildings i.e. Badshahi Mosque and Lahore Fort. This Gate is also known as “Gate of Lights” as it was used to be lit-up whenever dignitaries and royal family members used to visit this area.
The Bhati Gate was built across the eminent Data Darbar which is a mausoleum of renowned Muslim Sufi Saint Al-Hajweri. This Gate deceives on the western side of the old Walled City of Lahore. The tapered area inside this Gate is famous for its offered variety of food and cultural cuisines. All those pilgrims who visit Data Darbar to pay their religious offerings also don’t miss the check point of Bhati Gate.
As the name proposes Lohari means Blacksmith, and are available in quite a number around. This section of the city was the main centre and dedicated place for Blacksmiths. This Gate is located near the famed Bhati Gate. Nowadays, this Gate has not only been limited to Blacksmiths but one can also find various other skilled human resources here. However, the Gate at this portion of the old walled city is still referred to as Lohari Gate.
The Kashmiri Gate is an easy reference on the old walled city, as where to turn face for Kashmir, a region on the northern side. This Gate has had a sort of naturistic attachment since old times. Kashmir being an area full of scenic beauty and natural attractions, where people generally used to travel sometimes to get refreshed from day-to-day worries. Whereas, after the independence of Pakistan in 1947, it also developed a nationalist attachment due to illegal Indian invasion in the region against the will of Kashmiri people.
As the name suggests Delhi Gate rests on the old walled city siding towards another eminent city Delhi, which is the capital of India, today. This Gate is at the fronts of a major Road leading towards Delhi. It was built during the Mughal era and it has been of vital importance since then. This Gate is still preserved in an old traditional red brick’s, a huge structure.
Past Era Gates
Now, we shall discuss those Seven Gates which are non-existent today because of one or other reasons and only particular traces and information from history have been made available. These are:
- Akbari Gate
- Masti Gate
- Yakki Gate
- Mochi Gate
- Shah-Alami Gate
- Taxali Gate
- Mori Gate
The Akbari Gate is situated near the Akbari Market or locally known as Akbari Mandi. Historically, it has been revealed that this Gate was considered as the most beautiful amongst all. The Gate and attached Market had been named after the famous Mughal Emperor Akbar. Nowadays, Gate is not there but the market is operating at its peak.
The Masti Gate happens to be at the rear side of Lahore Fort. Nowadays, the surrounding area of this Gate is the hub of wholesale local and imported shoes. This Gate is also known as “Gate of Merriment ”. Very close to this Gate exists an ancient mosque named as Masjid of Mariyam Zamani.
The Yakki Gate was originally named as Zakki Gate after the Zakki, who was a famous Muslim Sufi Saint of his time. He got martyred in a battle against Mughal invaders when he was trying to defend the old walled city of Lahore. Unfortunately, not many of the traces of this gate exist today.
The Mochi Gate has two different theories to be remembered by, firstly it had a market relating to shoe repair and sales. While secondly it is associated with a devoted caretaker named as Mr. Moti who maintained the Gate throughout his whole life. Mochi Gate is sited at the Mochi Bagh or Mochi Garden. The second theory seems more logical as the shoe market was already existent at Masti Gate and it is questionable for a city to have two centres for the same article in those old days, unlike today.
This Gate is commonly known as Shalmi by the locals. It is after the name of Shah Alam-1 the son of Grand Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The Gate was unable to tolerate ups and downs of the times however, nowadays the market attached to this Gate has appeared to be a big commercial centre.
The area attached to this Gate is famous for numerous food and sweets shops. This Gate was built during the Mughals era, but is named after the Taxal the Royal Mint or coinage at this place which was established during the British era.
The last Gate perceived from the historical perspective of the old walled city of Lahore is the Mori Gate. Now, we would conclude our discussion with this, which was also the smallest Gate of the old walled city of Lahore. It was basically used to remove municipal waste out of the walled city and thus help maintain the city cleanliness level. It was located between the well-known Bhati and Lohari Gates.
It has been very unfortunate that most of the Historical Gates don’t exist today and further to this another point of concern is that those standing today are also being deteriorated day by day. Local Government and external efforts are in hand to look after the conservation and restoration however, the process needs more attention at all the levels.
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