–Tourists to experience the essence of historic streets and bazaars of walled city
LAHORE: The Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) will start guided tours of Taxali Gate from October to allow visitors to explore the area and the heritage sites located within it, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Presently, WCLA is conducting guided tours on the Royal Trail only which starts from Delhi Gate and ends at Lahore Fort and includes various monuments like Shahi Hammam and Wazir Khan Masjid. With Taxali Tours, the tourists will experience the essence of the historic streets and bazaars of the Walled City of Lahore.
Taxali Tours will include visits to Buggy Bazaar, house of Sir Ganga Ram, house of Madam Noor Jahan, house of actress Zumurd, house of actress Nadra Begum, Shabo sweets, Phajja, Sheikhupurian Bazaar, Pakistan Talkies Cinema, Aziz Theatre, Lahnga Mandi, Haveli Barood Khana, Ooncha Chaitram, Neecha Chaitram, Bethak Shah Hussain and Ustad Daman, Chowk Heera Mandi and Fort Road Food Street where the tourists will see the homes of Amanat Ali Khan and Mehdi Hassan.
A shopkeeper at Lahnga Mandi, Munir Khan, expressed excitement over the upcoming tours and said, “People have forgotten that there are music shops here, and now they go to the new plazas in greater Lahore and this had affected our business. We all are very happy to know that the tourists will be coming to Lahnga Mandi and visit our shops and we will be able to market ourselves as well.”
Rashid Ahmed, a shopkeeper at Sheikhupurian Bazaar, said, “This is the biggest shoe and khussa market and we supply shoes across Pakistan to huge shops of Lahore. People do not know that they can come and get their customized shoes made here and once these tours start I am hopeful that we will be able to market ourselves and gain economic stability which this area had lost over the passage of time.”
The residents of the area also expressed excitement and were willing to host tourists into their houses and havelis.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, WCLA Deputy Director Media and Marketing Tania Qureshi said that this tour would be first of its kind as it revolves around cultural activities rather than monuments. “The Royal Trail Tours are different because the route has monuments while the Taxali route is rich with culture and history. We will be launching these tours in October this year and have started advertising on social media. I am very hopeful that these tours will be as successful as Royal Trail Tours,” she said.
Speaking about the history of Taxali Gate, she said that it is named so because there was a Taxal (mint) in the area. “The Taxali Gate was constructed during the Mughal rule when Mughal Emperor Akbar had built the twelve gates and one mori around the city connected with a fortified wall. During the British Raj, the gates were demolished and thus the Taxali Gate was lost. The gates were later reconstructed by the British but during the riots of 1947, the gate was lost and today the gate does not exist. This area is known for the shops of musical instruments and khussas and homes of notables who lived here once,” she added.
WCLA Director Marketing and Tourism Asif Zaheer told Pakistan Today, “Taxali has a rich history and most of the people are unaware of the historic sites of this area. Somehow this area got associated with different taboos and lost its worth and identity. WCLA is currently working on reviving the heritage to preserve and revive the cultural identity and vivacity of the area. These tours will help us in accomplishing our mission.”
Zaheer added that the tour would start from Fort Road Food Street and the tourists will be taken on a walking tour while Rangeela Rickhaws will also be there for the tourists.