he illustrious Walled City of Lahore known in Punjabi as androon shehr, but affectionately referred to as Old City, is the timeless and historic nucleus of Lahore. The venerable city traces its roots back to around 1000 CE.
The Walled City of Lahore experienced a meteoric rise in prominence when it was chosen to be the seat of the Mughal Empire. The event catalysed the construction of the magnificent Lahore Fort, now an esteemed UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The period also marked the fortification and expansion of the city’s walls, adding an extra layer of grandeur to its architectural tapestry. The Mughal era left an indelible mark on this enclave, bequeathing it an array of monumental treasures.
Among these gems are the exquisitely adorned Wazir Khan Mosque, the colossal and resplendent Badshahi Masjid and the opulent Shahi Hammam, each a testament to the artistic and cultural zenith achieved during this era.
Subsequently, under Sikh rule, the Walled City of Lahore once again gained prominence. There was a profusion of religious edifices embellishing its landscape. Noteworthy among these constructions are the samadhi of Ranjit Singh, a structure of profound historical significance, and the Gurdwara Janam Asthan Guru Ram Das, resonating with the sacred echoes of Sikh heritage.
Today, the Walled City of Lahore endures as the beating heart of Lahore’s cultural heritage, a sanctuary where the city’s soul thrives. With its treasure trove of attractions, this resplendent enclave beckons tourists and history enthusiasts alike.
In the year 2012, a momentous initiative was embarked upon. It was the Pilot Urban Conservation and Infrastructure Improvement Project, also known as the Shahi Guzargah Project. This ambitious endeavour sought to meticulously restore a section of the fabled Shahi Guzargah, or the Royal Passage, between the revered Wazir Khan Mosque and the stately Delhi Gate. This endeavour was masterfully administered by the Walled City of Lahore Authority.
The first phase of the project was completed in 2015, thanks to the generous support of the governments of Norway and the United States of America. As this venerable city continues to breathe life into its storied streets, the Walled City of Lahore is a living testament to the enduring allure of history and an unyielding commitment to its preservation.
The Walled City of Lahore Authority is a virtual emblem of hope.
The Authority is a guardian of heritage. The autonomous entity, a testament to the commitment of the Punjab government, was established to conserve, orchestrate strategic planning and development, impose regulation and manage the cherished jewel that is the Walled City of Lahore.
The Walled City endures as the vibrant and beating heart of Lahore’s cultural heritage, a sanctuary where the city’s soul thrives. This resplendent enclave beckons tourists and history enthusiasts alike.
Founded in 2012, the institution has been a beacon of hope for the preservation of Lahore’s historical treasures. Its genesis was rooted in an amendment to the Walled City of Lahore Bill in 2011, a legislative milestone that breathed life into the authority. From that moment onward, it has assumed the mantle of guardian for the heritage sites that grace this ancient citadel.
One of the authority’s noble pursuits has been the safeguarding of historic buildings. It wields the power to levy penalties for any actions that could harm these venerable structures, ensuring that they stand resolute against the ravages of time.
The role of the Walled City of Lahore Authority extends far beyond preservation. It is a catalyst for cultural enrichment and tourism promotion in the city. By actively engaging in the promotion of cultural activities and fostering tourism initiatives it not only ensures that the Walled City retains its timeless allure but also opens its gates to visitors from around the globe.
The Walled City of Lahore Authority is a custodian of history, a guardian of culture and a promoter of the city’s enduring charm. With unwavering dedication, it ensures that Lahore’s past is preserved for generations to come. It is also playing a pivotal role in shaping its future as a cultural and tourism hub.
Kamran Lashari, the incumbent director general, exudes charisma. A retired civil servant from the Pakistan Administrative Service, he has held distinguished positions including the petroleum secretary chief secretary of Sindh.
Lashari’s most notable tenure, however, was his five-year term as chairman of the Capital Development Authority under Pervez Musharraf. Following his retirement from civil service, Lashari has taken over as director general at the Walled City of Lahore Authority.
One of Lashari’s strengths is assembling teams of exceptional individuals and harnessing their full potential. At the WCLA these include Shahid Nadeem and Tania Qureshi, whose meticulous attention to detail and unwavering dedication are tackling even the most challenging tasks. Qureshi’s contributions to various newspapers on the theme of heritage are commendable. Her exceptional communication skills make her an asset for the Authority.
Syeda Faiza Shah, entrusted with the management of Lahore Fort, oversees a substantial workforce with grace and finesse. Her ability to navigate complex personnel matters is truly impressive.
Another invaluable member of Lashari’s team is Samina Abid. Her work ethic and approach to her responsibilities are both admirable and reassuring. Given my background in history, I frequently interact with these remarkable individuals. I find solace in the fact that at least one institution continues to provide us hope, even in the face of challenging circumstances. It is a testament to their unwavering dedication and resilience.
The writer is Professor in the faculty of Liberal Arts at the Beaconhouse National University, Lahore