Write up and Photo Credits: Shiraz Hassan
The Lohari Gate is one of the 13 gates of the walled city of Lahore. Being one of the oldest gates of the old city, Lohari Gate is also known as Lahori gate.
According to some historians, the original (old) city of Lahore was originally located near Ichhra, and this gate opened towards that side. Hence the name, Lahori gate.
The name also traces back its roots to the language of Urdu, in which, “Lohar” means Blacksmith. This could also be another reason behind naming it this way. However, there are no concrete evidences available that blacksmiths used to live or work here.
The bazar inside Lohari gate is known as Lohari Mandi (Lohari Market) which is one of the oldest markets of South Asia. In the distant past, caravans and travelers coming from Multan used to enter the city from this gate. According to historians, behind Lohari Gate once stood a brick fort called Kacha Kot which was probably the first fortified city of Lahore founded by Malik Ayaz.
During the Mughal rule, the two famous divisions of the Walled City, namely Guzar Bahar Khan and Guzar Machhi Hatta, were connected by this Gate. Unfortunately, during the anarchic rule of the 18th century, all the city gates, except Lohari Gate along with two other gates were walled up. The current building of Lohari gate was rebuilt in 1864 by Sir Robert Montgomery, the then Governor of Punjab.
Leaving aside its historical significance, the Lohari gate tells many tales and you always enjoy your visit to this place. Upon entering the gate, you find lines of shops selling grocery and dry edibles. On the other side, there are quite a few shops which sell Kebabs, Cutlets and cooked food. The bazaar has some really good eateries, with the Shaikh Chatkhara House being an outstanding one – where almost all the menu items, are cooked in authentic Lahori style.
In the same area you will find sweetmeat shops which also sell hot breads right out of the oven and Nan Kulchas.
The Lohari Bazaar, after reaching the Bukhari Chowk crossing, turns left, to ‘Lohari Mandi’ – which on its right, has the famous ‘Haji Nehari House’ and on the left, a few shops selling meat and grocery.
The bazaar and its streets present the inimitable, true-blue Lahori life and culture.
Moving further inside Lohari Mandi, the path branches into two at Bukhari chowk. One of them leads to ‘Pani Wala and I wandered into it somewhat aimlessly.
Enjoying the sight of old men idling away in front of the shops and children running around, I found myself crossing the Pani Wala Talab and landing right in front of the Taxali Gate.
This part of the town is well known for its association with music and dance. Here, on both sides of the street that runs through this bazaar, are residential quarters which house singers and dancers. The shops are mostly small hotels or sell musical instruments like Dholak, Harmonium and Tabla. Somewhere in the middle of this bazaar you find the Roshanai Gate on your left.
Crossing this gate, I eventually passed through Hazoori Bagh and finally reached the landmark destinations of The Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque.