A delegation of family members paid homage and attendance to the royal courtroom, at the Shahi Fort, Lahore. Just after sunset the caravan reached ‘Roshnai Gate’ where it was greeted by their guide Sajid and placed under the protective guard of the Sipah Salaar. The main gate was well guarded and the security check was carried out by the royal guards. The guards were alert with their spears and swords and nobody with weapons was allowed in the Kings fort.

The Kings staff was gracious enough to give a tour of the premises before leading the delegation to the royal court. The open square in front of us upon entering through Roshnai Gate had six monuments. These were the Tomb of Allama Iqbal, the Badshahi Mosque, the Sikh Gurdwara, Akbari Gate of the Red Fort and Hazoori Bagh in the center.

The night time, tastefully placed lights and the environment gave a different perspective and picture of the location. The image was enhanced by the green and white lights of Independence Day. The caravan paid respect to the poet leader of the east Allama Iqbal. Prayers were said for the leader and a brief history of his contributions for Pakistan were given to the younger members of the caravan. An interesting observation about the historical burial place was made. The question arose about the decision for Allama Iqbal’s burial in so historic a place in 1938 when the Bristish ruled the Subcontinent. The question was placed before the students of history at the courtroom and hopefully they would research the question.

The entrance of the Badshahi Mosque was lit with lights, gleaming red due to its clay walls, adorned with fresco images. Hazoori Bagh with its twelve arched gates was in the center of the square built by Ranjit Singh. The courtiers were extremely kind and enthralled the audience with their skill on the flute. The patriotic tunes with the gleaming lights and silhouettes of the ancient buildings created a serene environment. The Akbari Gate was adorned with a crescent and star, shining bright. The modern royal carriage, the three wheeled rickshaw, adorned with silver carvings and sub continental art were ready for transport towards the inner sections of the Red Fort.

The caravan mounted on the royal carriages observed Asia’s largest picture story wall. The wall depicted the way of life of the Mughals through picture stories. It was in the process of being renovated through help and support of the Norwegian Embassy. The white marble and the images upon it were indeed magnificent.

The road developed by the British was followed to reach the main buildings of the Fort. The first stop was Atthdarah where royal cloaks were provided. The royal guards were present on key positions. A brief wait ensued to announce the arrival of the delegation, heralds were blown along with ringing of bells to announce the entrance. The Khadims were on hand to welcome with their bows and aadaabs.

The courtyard in front of Sheesh Mahal was well lit with candles. The royal carpets were laid out for the guests to rest and wait. The lights reflected from the mirrors of the Sheesh Mahal and it was indeed an extremely grand and royal place. It was commented that Princess Diana, the British Royalty was given a dinner in the reflective lights of Sheesh Mahal during her visit in 1993. Perhaps the hospitality could be repeated again to her son and family due to visit Pakistan soon.

The young members of the delegation in their royal cloaks and gowns explored the premises and seemed at home in the settings. Entertainment as well as refreshments was provided by the royal Khadims. The candle lights, royal theme, garments and characters truly created a bewitching environment. The King and his queen graced the occasion and gave company for a few minutes.

The other parts of the Shahi Fort were visited such as the elephant path, the basement and the ancient air conditioning system in the form of wind tunnels and water falls was observed. The attendance to the courtroom now complete, with a tour to all buildings and monuments over, Roshnai Gate was the exit point. The theme, view and culinary expertise at the food street were there to be enjoyed. The breathtaking view on the top floor overlooking the history with fresh food after the tour was indeed a welcome blessing.

A true adventure came to an end, a fairytale visit arranged by Walled City Authority, Lahore to Shahi Fort and Walled City, Lahore. It is an extremely good and well managed activity, especially for family and youngsters on the weekends. A number of Pakistani guests from abroad were present and enjoyed the thematic tour. The activities of Walled City Authority are expanding and it is hoped they will do more good work in Multan and Bhera. The ancient heritage is not only being preserved but being presented to the nation in a truly unique and enjoyable manner.

Salman Abubakar Bugvi

CNIC# 42000-0493241-9

salbugvi@gmail.com

38-C, EUECHS (UET Society), Lahore

Cell# 0321-2554978