Zubair Khawar is a textile designer in the fashion industry, but his true passion is travel photography. Born and raised in Lahore, he has recently started exploring his hometown through the eyes of a visitor—the true mark of any travel photographer worth his snuff—wandering the city’s markets, observing the crowds, and sharing the color and bustle of daily life through images. Here’s a look at the Punjab provincial capital through Zubair’s unique lens.
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Lahore Is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to the Walled City. It’s the “original” Lahore, as it was during the Mughal times, with 13 gates (only six of which remain standing) and home to the majority of the city’s Mughal architecture, as well as bustling bazaars and narrow streets.
November through March is the best time to visit my city because the weather is cool to moderate (summers are merciless in Lahore) and all the major cultural activities happen during these months.
You can see my city best from the top of Wazir Khan Mosque‘s minaret. The mosque itself is a gem with a mixture of Iranian and Indian styles, but once you pay a small amount to the mosque’s caretaker, he lets you ascend one of its minaret for breathtaking views of the walled city. (Tip: Go at sunset.) Alternatively, head to the rooftop restaurants behind Lahore Fort (adjacent to Lahore’s notorious old red light district, Heera Mandi) to take in a couple of Lahore’s most famous monuments in a single frame.
Bazaars inside the Walled City are the best place to buy authentic, local souvenirs. Instead of souvenir shops inside museums or historical places, visit Lohari Gate for spices and Mochi Gate for local sweets.
My city’s best museum is the Lahore Museum on Mall Road because it houses pretty much everything on every subject concerning the city and the region in general.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that you should avoid personal transport during the day if your aim is to explore. Instead, catch a rickshaw to major spots and then walk. For example, you can go to Shahalam Market on rickshaw and then take a 20-minute walk through the bazaars to reach Lahore Fort.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is at one of the many gardens (Lahore’s nickname is “City of Gardens”). Visiting the rooftop restaurants in the Gulberg district or on Fort Road or one of the city’s countless bazaars are also great options.
You can tell if someone is from my city if they find any excuse to eat or do bhangra dance.
For a fancy night out, I suggest the previously mentioned Fort Road rooftop restaurants. Cuckoo’s Den is a favorite.
My city is known for being loud, but it’s really um…yeah, it’s loud.
The best outdoor market in my city is dependent on what you want to buy. Head to Hall Road for home electronics, Anarkali or Liberty Market for clothing, and Shahalam for everything at wholesale rates.
My city’s biggest sports event is any cricket match. Watch one at Gaddafi Stadium—or on multiple television channels, depending on who has the airing rights.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I catch a bus to the Walled City and wander the streets, sampling the street food available in abundance everywhere.
To escape the crowds, I go to Wazir Khan Mosque’s minaret for complete isolation.
The dish that represents my city best is Taka-Tak (chopped goat and/or chicken that’s served on a hot tawa), and lemonade is my city’s signature drink. Lahore is known as the food capital of Pakistan, so there are plenty of other dishes in line for the title of signature dish. Be sure to sample as many as you can while you’re here.
The Wazir Khan Mosque is my current favorite building in town because it’s extremely beautiful inside and out.
Peeru’s Cafe is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out underground parties with Lahore’s elite.
In the summer you should frequent any place with air conditioning because Lahore’s summers can be a bit hard to bear, especially for newbies.
In the fall you should explore open areas, historical monuments, and outdoor places you can photograph. The lighting is best during this time of year and the weather is cooler.
In the winter you should add coffees and dry fruits to your menu. Lahore does not have a very long or noticeable winter period.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss Joyland Theme Park.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “Munda Shehr Lahore Da,” by Madam Noor Jehan.