The city of Lahore has experienced many remarkable eras and dynasties, and you can still find traces of the city’s glorious past in the narrow streets of the old town. It is not difficult to imagine the majesty of the past by looking at the many imposing structures that still stand high while some have crumbled to dust.
Among such structures, the Lahore gates are worth mentioning. For security reasons, the old town of Lahore was enclosed by a 9 meter high wall and surrounded by a wall. For this reason it is also called “Walled City” or “Androon-e-Shehar” (inner city). The 13 gates made of wood and iron granted access to the city and were closed in the evening. Below are the details:
1. Mochi Gate
The Mochi Gate in the south is another important feature of the Mughal Empire. The name of the gate is indeed a falsified form of “moti” (pearl) or “morchi” (trench soldier). Pandit Moti Ram, a guard in the reign of Akbar, used to watch over the gate. He stayed connected to his work until he took his last breath. For this reason, it was named after him. Nevertheless, some historians claim that “Mochi” is the distorted form of the Urdu word “Morchi”, which means “trench soldier”. It is further supported by the fact that the various streets (mohallas) that still bear their old name are mohalla tar-garan (arrow craftsman), mohalla kaman-garan (bow craftsman).
2. Lahori Gate
The oldest gate in the walled city, the Lahori Gate, is located in the south and is incorrectly pronounced the “Lohari Gate”. The gate was named after the city of Lahore. Since Delhi and Kashmiri gates were named only because they faced Delhi and Kashmir respectively, the Lahori gate derived its name in a very similar pattern. During the Hindu Raj, “Ichra” (the name of the area of Lahore) was supposed to be the actual Lahore. When the gate approached (Ichra) it was therefore called “Lahori Dawaza”. Another school of thought, however, claims that “Lohari” comes from the Urdu word “Loha”, which means “iron”.
3. Shah Almi Gate
The Shah Alam Gate in the south is known colloquially as “Shah Almi”. It is the gateway to one of Lahore’s busiest and financially largest markets, which mainly deals in wholesale prices. From jewelry to clothing, from tableware to food, from ceramic vessels to iron, from wedding accessories to office supplies, from electronic devices to children’s toys, you will find almost everything that can be found under the world. In this regard, Rang Mahal is the gate’s relevant bazaar, which is crowded all day.
4. Kashmiri Gate
The Kashmiri Gate in the north is named after its opening to the Kashmir Valley. Like the tribe “Bhat” in the Bhatee Gate, the local natives of the Gate belong to a tribe known as “Kashmiri”. The gate borders Delhi Darwaza, one of Lahore’s most famous gates. Inside the gate there is a shopping area called “Kashmiri Bazaar”. It is a widespread bazaar with narrow markets and alleys on every corner. A road to the Wazeer Khan Mosque can also be reached from the bazaar. There is also a large market for children’s shoes in this gate. The gate also leads to a road towards Asia’s largest cloth market, the Azam cloth market.
5. Delhi Gate
One of Lahore’s most famous gates, Delhi Darwaza (Gate), was built by the third Mughal emperor Akbar the Great. This gate is located in the east and opens towards Delhi, the capital of the Mughal dynasty. In ancient times, this gate was considered the busiest in Lahore. Just inside, to the left of the gate, you will be surprised to see the magnificent Shahi Hamam (Royal Washroom) built by Hakim Ilmuddin. The one-story hammam covers an area of 1110 square meters and was built in the typical Mughal style.
6. Akbari Gate
The Akbari Gate was for the first time in alphabetical order on the east side. It was named after Jalal-Ud-Din Muhammad Akbar (1542-1605). Over time, the gate fell into disrepair. It was renovated during the reign of the English, but currently it has lost its splendor once again. Near this gate, the royal leader also established a market known as “Akbari Mandi” (Akbari market). It is Lahore’s largest wholesale and retail market, where food of all kinds is traded. It is a widespread market with hundreds of wholesale and retail stores.
7. Bhatti Gate
It was the time when Mehmood Ghaznavi defeated Raja Jay Pal. The gate was named after an old Rajput tribe who lived here: “Bhat” (Bhatti). Bhats invaded the neighborhoods in ancient times. The Bhatti Gate is one of the two gates in the west. It is known for its typical Lahori food. In fact, Essen is the identity of the gates of Bhatee and Lahori. A large number of connoisseurs visit and enjoy the appetizing and crispy Lahori food, which is available here around the clock.
8. Masti Gate
A huge historic Mogul building that is currently used for a school named after Queen Victoria.
In the east, the Masti Gate is behind the Lahore Fort. Research suggests that the name of the gate in the word form “Masjidi” (mosque) has deteriorated. The mosque of Mariam Makhani, mother of Emperor Akbar, is in the immediate vicinity. Another school of thought, however, claims that the gate was named after Masti Baloch, who was appointed guardian of the gate.
9. Zakki Gate
As one of the four gates on the east side, the Zakki gate has its own story, which is also amazing. It was named after a martyr named “Zakki”. History says that the great saint fought against “Tatars” from the north who were brutally beheaded. Even after his head was beheaded at the gate, his suitcase is said to have fought for a while and then fell nearby. The head and trunk of the saint were buried “separately” in their fallen places and both are still venerated to this day. There is a school for blinds near the gate. There are also a number of havelis in and around the gate. A number of temples are also located in and around the Yakki Gate.
10. Mori Gate
There was the smallest gate between Lahori and Bhati, Mori Darwaza. It wasn’t a specific goal like the other twelve, but even then it’s part of the big series built during the Mughal Empire. In Urdu, the word “Mori” is referred to as a “small hole”. Because it was a small gate for this reason, it is called “Mori Gate”. In the evening, when all twelve gates were closed for security reasons, this special opening gave access to the walled city. In addition, it was also used as an exit for the city’s garbage and sweeping work.
11. Texali Gate
In order to reach the walled city through a strongly fortified brick wall, one of the two gates built in the west is called “Texali Gate”. The gate is named because of a taxal (Royal Mint) that used to exist near the gate. However, both the coin and the gate are no longer today.
The gate is currently frequently visited by Lahories because the bazaar around it has to offer a typical Lahori breakfast of the best quality, the Pa’ay by Fazal Din, colloquially known as “Phajja”, and Halwa Puri by Taj Mehal and Shahbudin Halwai includes. The bazaar is also known for the musical instruments (including dhol, tabla, etc.) that are made and sold here. In addition, a large number of people from all over the city visit Sheikuprian Bazaar to buy top quality Khussa, Peshawari and Kohla-Puri Chappal. Madhu Lal, a well-known saint, was born in Texali Gate in 1539. Pani wala Talab and Gurdwara Lal Khooh (a sacred place of Sikhism) are also close to the gate.
12. Roshnai Gate
The Roshnai Gate (Gate of Lights) is located on the map in the south between Shahi Qila (Lahore Fort) and Badshahi Mosque. The Gate of Lights is the gate that is still in good condition and has kept its original look. It was the main entrance from fort to city and was used especially for Omerahs, courtiers, royal servants and followers. In the evening the gate was illuminated, hence the name “Raushnai Darwaza”. Besides the gate, Hazuri Bagh is another place worth mentioning. This garden was created in 1813 by Maharajah Ranjit Singh to celebrate the capture of the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond from Shah Shujah in Afghanistan. In the middle of the garden is the Hazuri Bagh Baradari. The current state of the Baradari, which is decorated with marble, is rather pathetic. Muhammad Iqbal’s mausoleum and Ranjit Singh’s Samadhi are all in the garden. The area is known for the bazaar Shahi Mohala.
13. Khiziri Gate (Shairanwala Gate)
Hazrat Khwaja Khizr Elias, a great saint of the time, was known as “Amer-ul-Bahar” (commander of the water). He had a special relationship with flowing water and was the discoverer of the “water of immortality”. The gate was named after its name “Khiziri” gate. It is one of the three gates in the north of the city. In ancient times, the Ravi flowed through the walled city of Lahore, and earlier ferries used to be near this gate.