Journey at Lahore.

I got my first opportunity to visit Lahore last Saturday (7th June, 2008). I got up at 4 AM in the morning to catch PK302 at 6 AM. After reaching the airport, I went straight up to the crew briefing room to familiarize them about my project. I am conducting an in-flight survey on selected PK flights. After getting that in order I took my boarding pass and went to the lounge. The early morning life at the airport is a bit strange and slow. People look sleepy yet charged. I enjoy observing people at the airport; there is always quite a variety there. Ladies struggling with crying kids, diplomats trying hard to look important, boys observing girls and girls trying to attract attention! *smile* The flight took off and the crew gave me extra trays of breakfast. I took both vegetarian and non-veg breakfasts.

The bird’s eye view of Lahore was spectacular. The foliage is amazing! The moment I landed at Allama Iqbal International Airport, I realized what an astonishing architecture it is from an airport’s point of view. It depicts the fact that Lahore is a historic city. The whole airport is built in a fort style. Very cosy and nice! I loved the flower beds at the airport.

Out on the streets of Lahore I realized; how green and red Lahore is. The airport is built around 45 minutes outside the city.

I saw the 12 doors of the city of Lahore. In the earlier times Lahore was only inside these doors. I saw the Urdu Bazaar of Lahore, which was very similar to Karachi’s Urdu Bazaar.

There is a Mosque called Shabarb Masjid built in the middle of one of the roads of Lahore. It is said, during the advent of Pakistan when the freedom fight was fought in the sub-continent, Muslims built this Mosque over-night to claim the holiness of the land. It is a nice little white Mosque.

Rang Mahal is a Bazaar full of colours and clothes. I never got a chance to get down from the car to see the Bazaar or else I would’ve missed my flight. *smile*

Then I was driven to Badshahi Mosque. My first stopover in Lahore! There is no ticket or charges at the Mosque. I went in with my slippers in my hands. The view from the entrance is spectacular. There is a long path that leads to the Mosque and there is this huge fountain built in the middle of the arena. Upon reaching the Mosque, I was awestruck. I haven’t seen a more beautiful Mosque in my entire life. I touched the walls for hours, I traced the elaborate paintings with my fingers, absorbing the history and the grandeur. I walked the marble floors for hours, sat on it and touched it with my hands. It was to some extent a very spiritual experience. I offered Namaz-e-Zuhar there and I had tears in my eyes. I just can’t explain what I felt and how the building communicated with my inner self. It was an experience of a lifetime.

From there I paid my homage to the great poet of east, Allama Muhammad Iqbal. I was touched by the simplicity of his mausoleum. A simple marble tombstone with Qur’anic scriptures on it! I offered Fateha and I moved forward.

My next destination was Shahi Qeela. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built it. My eyes sparkle upon the sight of an actual Fort. By taking Rs. 10/- they open doors of Mughal history for me! The worn walls, the small red bricks, the huge iron door opening inside the fort. The fort is built on a huge arena and is almost a never ending premise. One corridor leading to another equally spellbinding corridor! I couldn’t help but wonder who were those people who walked these paths and where are they now!? It must be huge armies, elephants, infantries, soldiers and rulers. Ladies with awe and charisma! Those were the real people of the past. Experiencing Shahi Qeela was one of the remarkable moments of my Lahore’s visit.

The next stopover was Daata Darbar. There were so many people there, waiting for the Langar. Once again I was amazed at the beliefs of people. I went inside prayed and tied the thread of manat. I have heard God listens to the prayers if prayed at Daata Darbar. Insha Allah, He will listen to my prayers too.

Menar-e-Pakistan was next. The structure I saw only in the television, somehow looks rather smaller than my expectations. The green marble, flower shaped architecture tells the story of great moments of the history of Pakistan. I felt the stark contras between the Mughal ambiences of Shahi Qeela to a pure Pakistan’s freedom struggle ambience of Menar-e-Pakistan. Interesting to note!

We had small stopovers at Sua Bazaar, a gold market at downtown Lahore, and Texalie Gate, another Bazaar at downtown. I had the best Lemonade of my life in Lahore. My driver brought it from this famous shop.

Upon my way back I saw the famous Lahore’s Boulevard or Gulberg area. I felt as if I am in Bahrain or someplace. Both sides of the road are full of fancy billboards, and plazas. In Lahore I hardly found apartment complexes. There are so many parks in Lahore and the greenbelts are so well-kept.

My journey was extended when upon reaching the airport I learned by return flight PK307 is delayed by 3 hours. I killed the time by talking to this interesting doctor who works for a pharmaceutical company. All in all it was a fun trip to Lahore; I was very tired on the way back and slept the moment I reached home at 4 AM.

I loved Lahore and the bliss of the City.


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