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The Lahore Literary Festival came as a breath of fresh air on the city’s depleted cultural landscape
“Pata nahin kee hai, koi kitaaban da mela lagda hai,” one of the numerous policewomen deployed outside the Alhamra Arts Council last weekend was overheard saying perplexedly into her phone. It was easy to understand her confusion for it’s not every day that the city witnesses an event of the magnitude that was the Lahore Literary Festival (LLF).
Spread over three days, the festival put up a remarkable 75 sessions that gave the people of the city, as well as those who’d converged on to the Alhamra from various parts of Pakistan, a taste of literature, politics, culture and music. The sessions ranged from tributes to Pakistan’s legends such as Madam Noor Jehan and Faiz Ahmed Faiz to talks by the country’s new generation of fiction writers including Kamila Shamsie, Mohsin Hamid and Bilal Tanveer, interspersed by discussions on global and regional politics that engaged international journalists such as Roger Cohen of the NY Times and Lyse Doucet of BBC with local experts and politicians.
Lahore, Lahore aye.
By Pran Nevile
No city in the subcontinent can boast of a more stirring or more turbulent history, or a stronger vitality, than Lahore—a city ruled by Hindu kings, Mughal emperors, Sikh monarchs, British sovereigns. Scholars, historians, and travelers passing through Lahore were enchanted by its majesty and grandeur. In the heyday of its glory as the capital of the Mughals, the city rose from semi-obscurity to eminence. It became the city of historical monuments and gardens. Lahore finds mention in John Milton’s classic, Paradise Lost. Thomas Moore in his celebrated Lalla Rookh describes the glittering life and pageantry of the palaces, domes, and gilded minarets of Lahore. Rudyard Kipling, the Nobel laureate who was raised in Lahore, immortalized the city in his writings.
The British rulers took active steps to safeguard and preserve old monuments and buildings of national interest and historical value. I remember that many new residential areas were developed in different parts of the city: Krishan Nagar, Sant Nagar, Ram Nagar, Ram Gullies, Krishna Gullies, Gowalmandi, Gandhi Square, Nisbet Road, Mozang and Quila Gujjar Singh. The most novel experiment was the construction of a modern township, Model Town, about six miles from the center, with spacious bungalow-type houses owned by the upper middle class of all communities. Continue reading