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7

THE MANY TREASURES OF LAHORE

Everything we see around us points to the fact that the

metropolis Lahore is right on the border with India. The

crowds, the explosion of smells and colours, the lively

bazaar, the juicy English in which we are addressed ... We

recognise it from previous journeys. In the wake of our

guide Ahmad, we set off to visit two of the most beautiful

buildings in the city: the

Lahore For

t and the

Badshahi

Mosque.

Both date back to the period when Pakistan

was part of the great Mogul Empire. The Mogul dynas-

ty reigned over almost the entire Indian subcontinent

during its boom period in the 17th century. The Moguls

may well have been notorious conquerors, but they also

loved art. Behind the red exterior walls of the immense

fort complex lies a magnificent world of grandeur, mys-

ticism and refinement. We walk through breath-taking

palaces with beautiful glass mosaics, wander through

auditoriums clad in shiny white marble and climb stairs

so wide that the ladies of the royal harem did not have

to descend from their elephants when they were taken

to their rooms which were decorated with artfully carved

wooden screens. From under the arches of the Naulaka

pavilion, we can see the Badshahi mosque. The harmo-

nious minarets, domes and pillars of the mosque radiate

in the evening sun. That is precisely what makes the

Mogul architecture so beautiful: the amazing realisation

of balance and symmetry.

Art and architecture flourished

under the Mogul dynasties.