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Published on 18 Dec 2012 | over 3 years ago

Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. It is the historical centre for the Punjabi people and most populated city of the world, with native Punjabi citizens. With a rich history dating back over a millennium, Lahore is a main cultural centre of Punjab and Pakistan. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains an economic, political, transportation, entertainment, and educational hub.

Lahore successively served as a regional capital of the empires of the Shahi kingdoms in the 11th century, the Ghaznavids in the 12th century, the Ghurid State in the 12th and 13th centuries and the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. From 1802 to 1849, Lahore served as the capital city of the Sikh Empire. In the mid 19th and early 20th century, Lahore was the capital of the Punjab region under the British Raj. The traditional capital of Punjab for a thousand years, Lahore was the cultural centre of the northern Indian subcontinent which extends from the eastern banks of the Indus River to New Delhi.

Mughal structures such as the Badshahi Mosque, the Lahore Fort, Shalimar Gardens, and the mausolea of Jehangir and Nur Jehan are tourist attractions. Lahore is also home to many British colonial structures built in the Indo-Saracenic style, such as the Lahore High Court, the General Post Office, Lahore Museum and many older universities including the University of the Punjab. The Lahore Zoo, thought to be the fourth oldest in the world, is also situated here.

During the late 18th century, frequent invasions by the Durrani Empire and the Maratha Empire due to the decline of the Mughal Empire, led to a lack of governance in the Punjab region. The Sikh Misls were in close combate with the Durrani Empire, but began to gain territory and eventually the Bhangi Misl captured Lahore. When Zaman Shah invaded Punjab again in 1799 Maharaja Ranjit Singh was able to make gains in the chaos. He defeated Zaman in a battle between Lahore and Amritsar. The citizens of Lahore, encouraged by Sada Kaur, offered him the city and he was able to take control of it in a series of battles with the Bhangi Misl and their allies. Lahore served as the capital city of the Sikh Empire in accordance with Lahore being the capital of Punjab. While much of Lahore's Mughal era fabric lay in ruins by the end of eighteenth century a close struggle to gain control, rebuilding efforts under the Sikh Empire were shaped by and indebted to Mughal practice. Maharaja Ranjit Singh moved into the Mughal palace in Lahore's citadel. By 1812 he had mostly refurbished the city's defenses by adding a second circuit of outer walls that followed the outline of Akbar's original walls and were separated from them by a moat. The Maharaja also partially restored Shah Jahan's decaying gardens at Shalimar, and British maps of the area surrounding Lahore dating from the mid-nineteenth century show that walled private gardens - many of them bearing the names of prominent Sikh nobles - continued in the Mughal pattern under Sikh rule. The Sikh court continued to endow religious architecture in the city, including a number of Sikh gurdwaras, Hindu temples and mosques. The Sikhs and Hindus both belonging to the indic religions, had good relations. During the relatively short periode of the Sikh Empire, the structures and architecture of Lahore were rebuiled which were further developed during the British Raj.

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