This article was originally posted in The News
LAHORE: Pakistan’s monument declared as the world heritage, Lahore Fort has turned into an inaccessible destination for local as well as international tourists after closure of the main link road and shifting of parking facilities far away.
Lahore Fort is one of the favourite visiting places of local and international tourists, especially in the winter season. Residents of the provincial metropolis also used to visit this marvellous building with their families to spend a whole day in lush green lawns. Mostly, school trips are also scheduled for winter season.
The main road dividing Minar-e-Pakistan (Iqbal Park ground) and Lahore Fort was closed for normal traffic during the construction of Azadi Interchange. This road links Azadi Chowk to Lorry Adda. During construction of the Azadi Interchange, heavy vehicles and machinery used this road to bring sand, mud, iron, bricks, concrete, etc, due to which it had broken.
During that time, the parking of Lahore Fort, which was situated in Atiq Stadium was shifted to Azadi Chowk.Presently, though the Azadi Interchange was completed, the road linking Azadi Chowk to Lorry Adda is still in a deteriorated condition and no vehicle can travel on it.
Two makeshift parking stands, one at Azadi Chowk and the other near Darbar Baba Haider Sain (near Lorry Adda) are operative where visitors can park their vehicles and then have to walk for at least 20 minutes on the dilapidated road to reach the Lahore Fort.
Roshinai Gate, another gate from where people can enter the fort from Food Street, Fort Road side was also closed to all kind of traffic. Even people on foot cannot enter through this gate while the third option to enter the fort is a gate towards Rim Market. It was also closed to all kinds of vehicular entries and only a small window is open to pedestrian entries.
Shakeel, a student of Bhalwal, said he had come to visit the fort with his schoolmates and was astonished to see that the road leading to this world heritage was no more available for traffic. “We walked almost 45 minutes to reach Deewan-e-Aam,” he said, adding that the three-hour tour was shortened to an hour due to this walk.
Javed, a senior tourist guide, said the number of visitors had reduced significantly. During winter, around 5,000 to 6,000 people visited the fort on daily basis and these days, the ratio had been reduced to 1,000 to 2,000 visitors per day.
“Visitors with families, old people and disabled are facing serious problems in reaching the fort due to a 20 minutes’ walk,” he claimed. He appealed to the government to take immediate notice of the situation and take appropriate action.
Kamran Lashari, Director General Walled City Lahore Authority (WCLA) said this was a world heritage site and the authority was planning to provide best tourist facilities there. He said the maintenance and upkeep of this place was important as it represented the heritage and history of our country. Asif Zaheer, Director Marketing WCLA said the fort was recently handed over to the authority and they were requesting the departments concerned to help them in maintaining the world heritage site and make it presentable before the tourists.