It’s a wonderful place, this Lahore; a nation resides within its boundaries. Not a city but a nation whose residents identify themselves with many surnames the city has acquired over the period of many centuries. From the city of gardens to the city of where the people wear their hearts on their sleeves, to the city of culture; Lahore is still evolving.
This city is a centre of culture which has long captured the people’s imagination with writers and philosophers waxing lyrical on the triumph of Lahore over the backwardness of other cities, framing Lahore as the embodiment of civilisation, an earthly manifestation of godliness.
With a rich and long history come many singularities, some more peculiar than others. Lahore has a lot of both history and tradition, making a city with a deep and unique cultural identity. Lahore has ever been a fertile soil for arts and literature to flourish. But has anyone ever wondered what made Lahore the city it is today? How can a place in constant flux, dynamism and transformation be defined? Can the city be defined as an amalgamation of the ideas and experiences of the people who reside in it?
Renowned urban historian Spiro Kostof defines a city as the “social implications of urban form,” and states that architectural and urban meaning is eventually lodged in history and cultural contexts.
Similarly, many urban historians think that the life and structure of a city are not only related to architectural edifies, its buildings, monuments, marketplaces, roads and transportation but are also a reflection of social norms, orders, including religion. The city is not a stable entity, with a solid form, but a constantly evolving paradigm, an ongoing construction of individuals experiencing or visiting the city, which is a complex sum of their perceptions, depictions and conceptualisation.
Whatever the case might be, Lahore is full of colourful festivals and happenings of every kind, hidden treasures, and people with whom it might not be that hard to get warm. Many might think of the city as a large, dense, and permanent settlement of individuals. But this expression misses the heart of the matter when defining Lahore. This city is defined by the interactions among these diverse individuals and their mixing which gives Lahore its special character. It is not just a mass of completely unconnected, alien strangers but a place where the citizens take pride in calling themselves residents of the city.
In changing times, it might be true that Lahore is fast losing its traditional charm in order to embrace modernity. But somewhere between the two extremes lives a Lahore that wants to hold to the shreds of its glorious past while having an eye on the future. That is where you’ll find the true essence of one of the greatest city in the world!