Lahore’s 3rd Gift to the World: Anarkali Bazaar

“In the spirit of all the holiday gift giving that will be taking place over the next couple of months, all the Metroblogging cities are giving 7 gifts to the world throughout the week of NOV 26th – DEC 2. Lahore comes up with its 3rd Gift to the World.”

Anarkali Bazar, named after the famous courtesan of Emperor Akbar’s court, Anarkali, is one of the most enchanting places in Lahore.

Anarkali Bazaar, Lahore

Founded by Emperor Jahangir some 400 years back, Anarkali Bazar is one of the oldest surviving markets in South Asia. Originating from the Mall near Lahore Museum, it’s just like a maze of narrow alleys and lanes stretching northwards towards Old Lahore.

It has a captivating history related to the character after which it is named. According to the legend Mughal Emperor Akbar’s son Prince Salim fell in love with Anarkali, Emperor Akbar’s coutesan who was given the title of Anarkali; ‘Pomegranate Blossom’ due to her charm and beauty by the Emperor himself.

Anarkali’s Tomb, Lahore

When exposed, their relationship was disapproved by Emperor Akbar as Anarkali was a dancing girl and was of no noble birth. When the lovers rebelled against the Emperor, Anarkali was buried alive in a wall which is said to be located within the bazaar. Her tomb is still there housed in the Punjab Secretariat near Anarkali Bazaar. Engraved on Anarkali’s grave is a couplet in Persion by Prince Salim a.k.a Emperor Jahangir:

“Ah! could I behold the face of my beloved once more, I would give thanks to my God until the day of resurrection.”

While strolling through its narrow paths, one can imagine the legend to be true and go back in time to the era of Anarkali. Hundreds of years old buildings, dazzling shops and buzzing streets make this bazaar so unique in its charm and character.

Anarkali Bazar is a shopper’s heaven selling virtually everything from handicrafts to soveniers; antiques to artifacts; electronics to every sorts of cloth, ready made garments and woven clothing. Prices are quite affordable and much lesser than other commercial areas of the city. Plus, while in Anarkali, you must bargain hard, for chances are you may succeed in getting things on as much as 50% of their listed price.

One of our fellows metrobloggers, who came to Lahore from Karachi describes her experience of Anarkali Bazaar:

“Anarkali was one of the first places that I wanted to see the moment I landed in Lahore. It’s not just a gigantic sprawling shopping mall-type place. It’s more like an entire village of twisting alleys and shops and stalls. For those who are familiar with Karachi – this place is a rabi center, a zainab market, a hyderi and several tariq roads (i guess sans than rabi center :p) all bunched together in a happy dirty festival.

It’s still a collection of sometimes wide, sometimes squeezed-in dirty, overcrowded, winding streets though. And if you start walking, it takes you about three hours to go through a decent slice of the place before getting sick of the weird stares and crazy bargaining and heading back to a faraway parked car.

You can get everything from fake designer bags to shoes to wigs to clothes to lights to real and fake antique jewelry to books here. I’ve seen starry eyed people emerge from this place with shiny accessorized souls.
Most people don’t just take a stroll down this street though. They come here on missions. I’ve been part of inexpensive-sports-gear search teams and inexpensive-red-shawl search teams – all of which have found their heaven and retirement home and seas in different corners and niches of this place.”

Most recently, one part of this bazaar has been renovated and turned into a food street developed and maintained on lines of its better counterpart, the Gowalmandi Food Street.

So, here we present to the world, Anarkali Bazaar; a bustling monument of love to the living legend of Anarkali.

The legend of Anarkali at Wikipedia.

As other Metroblogging make eforts in gift giving, David Markland from Los Angeles has been maintaining a regularly updated, day-to-day Guide to Metroblogging Cities’ Gifts to the World

2 Comments so far

  1. Yahya (unregistered) on December 1st, 2006 @ 7:48 pm

    I am sure we can come up with some better pictures of anarkali bazaar, possibly at night time.

  2. Bulla (unregistered) on December 3rd, 2006 @ 4:40 am

    I’ve lived in Lahore for 6-odd years, but I’ve never been to Anarkali! Never felt like going there… it’s too crowded I heard!

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