A visit to Lahore is not complete without visiting Shahi Qila of Lahore Fort located at the boundary of the old Walled City of Lahore and next to the famous Minare Pakistan. Shahi Qila is an iconic landmark of Lahore with the rich cultural and architectural history of Mughal Rule in Punjab. Built around the 1560s the fort was constructed by Akbar and occupied by subsequent Mughal Rulers.
How to get to Shahi Qila Lahore
The Lahore Fort is on the route of the Lahore Sightseeing Bus Tour managed by TDCP. The bus passes through the most popular tourist location in Lahore and is probably the cheapest and most enjoyable way to enjoy most places of interest in Lahore.
Alternatively, public transport or driving is a very easy option. The bus route will take you close to Minare Pakistan from Multan Road that connects Ravi Bridge with Thokar Niaz Baig, a major route connecting two ends of Lahore.
Recent redevelopments in the area have stopped road access to most parts of the entrance to the Lahore Fort. These restricted roads are only accessibly to official traffic to the fort. Two designed car parks and entrances allow people to enter Minare Pakistan. This approach is helpful in crowd control and making sure only vaccinated people enter the premises.
For the less mobile individual, the surroundings of Minare Pakistan can be enjoyed by a cart and buggy ride costing between Rs. 300- Rs. 800. An electric-driven cart is a better option that will show you around the main parts of Minare Pakistan.
Entry to the Shahi Qila – Lahore Fort
A single point of entry to the Lahore Fort, Iqbal’s Shrine, Badshahi Mosque and The Gordawar allows crowd control and monitoring. All of these locations can be easily accessed by foot from the entrance in the car Park near Minare Pakistan.
In recent years, access to the Fort is ticketed costing Rs.50 per person. Electric 12-seater buggies can be hired with a guide to complete the entire tour in under 45 minutes. This is ideal for the elderly or less mobile. The buggy can be rented under Rs. 1000 (USD 6)
Exploring the fort on foot, however, is the best way to experience the amazing architecture, surrounding and hidden spots in the fort stretching over 42 acres.
What are some of the interesting places to see in Lahore Fort?
Lahore Fort was a military fortification against invasion as well as home to a large number of soldiers and royal families. The fort’s architecture is divided into multiple layers catering to private accommodation of the royalty, jail cells and secret passages to various parts of the city. The movement of the forces was carried out underground to avoid being noticed by enemies. A number of locations within the walled city were connected through tunnels to the various sections of the fort.
A guided tour is also a great way to enjoy the visit to the fort and visit relatively unknown locations as well as underground sections of the fort. The guides are well trained and speak various languages. This is also a great way to learn about the amazing history of the fort and Mughal rule.
There are three museums in the fort containing a large collection of weapons, historical artifacts and personal items used by the family of Ranjeet Singh, the Sikh Ruler who occupied the fort after the end of Mughal Rule.
Various Sections of Lahore Fort
The most noticeable areas of the fort is Sheesh Mahal and Naulaka, a compound constructed with white marble with beautiful architectural pavilions.
As you enter the fort a slight left turn takes you up the elephant’s steps that allowed access to various sections of the fort that were accessed by the elephants. The long wooden gate “Mussaman Gate” was constructed by Aurangzeb in 1566. The tall gates are designed for access for the elephants.
The first compound you will come across is the most iconic section of the park called Sheesh Mahal ( The palace of mirrors). This section was constructed under the instructions of Shah Jahan.
The marble structure is beautifully designed and inlaid with glasswork and decorated with gems. The marble work is a piece of art containing elements of design patterns commonly seen in the structure constructed under Shah Jahan Rule.
Other prominent areas of the fort include Dewane Khas, The open courtroom used by the kings to carry out administrative affairs. The rectangular parks around the Dewane Khas are great spots for picnics. The sections behind the Dewane Khas are under renovation. Some parts of the fort are restored to the original design. The process of renovation is ongoing.
Another interesting addition to Lahore Fort are lavishly dressed guards dressed in traditional outfits. This offers an instragrammable opportunity to the visitors.
The main section of the fort overlooks Badshahi Mosque. Pakistans National Poet Allama Iqbal’s grave lies on the grounds connecting Lahore Fort and the Mosque The weekends attracts large crowds from visitors coming from all parts of the country.
Here are some more interesting pictures from my trip to Lahore Fort