Lahore is Pakistan’s second-largest city and the capital of the Punjab province. The cultural heart of the country, it is the centre of the Urdu film industry and a UNESCO City of Literature.
The former capital of the Mughal Empire, the Sikh Empire and British Punjab, Lahore houses several historic and religious monuments, most of which you’ll find within the Old City. The 17th-century Badshahi Mosque is a domed structure made of red sandstone, and features marble inlay work, carvings and frescoes. Across from it stands the Lahore Fort, a 16th-century Mughal fortress that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you explore its 20-hectare grounds, you’ll see manicured gardens and stunning landmarks, like the white marble Naulakha Pavilion, the mirror-studded Sheesh Mahal and the Moti Masjid, meaning ‘Pearl Mosque’.
Lahore was the historic site where Indian independence was declared, and a resolution was passed that led to the formation of Pakistan. The Wagah Border separates the two countries, and a retreat ceremony takes place daily to symbolise peace between them. This high-energy event is well worth your time – you’ll witness a patriotic display of Indian and Pakistani soldiers lowering their flags, marching and shaking hands. Back in town, the UNESCO-listed Shalimar Gardens are a Mughal-era garden complex where you can unwind amidst greenery, fountains and marble pools.