Like a precious old treasure, lost and almost forgotten, Lahore’s medieval walled city, a labyrinth of alleyways and bazaars, has suffered so much neglect that decay has nearly consumed it.
Now the first serious conservation project is about to begin, to restore a tiny portion of a once grandiose metropolis and seat of power, where Mughal princes, poets and courtesans mingled in the shadow of the royal fort and colossal Badshahi mosque just beyond its walls.
The Royal Trail, a route through the old city used by the former Mughal rulers of India to reach their palatial citadel, will be restored under a project starting this summer, backed by the Punjab provincial government and the World Bank.
The one-mile route winds by some of the city’s greatest riches, including the beautifully adorned Shahi Hammam baths and the early 17th-century Wazir Khan mosque, covered in brilliantly colourful fresco and tile decoration.
Modernity has been the real vandal, with deterioration especially rapid over the past 30 years, when many of the old city’s wealthy families fled its narrow, congested streets and architectural riches were turned into warehouses and cottage factories, as the area descended into squalor and low-rent commerce.Read the remaining article