Travel Journal Overview: Around about here, I finally reconnected with Pakistan. I avoided tourists. A visit to Lahore fort, a few bribes, and I was soon in some hidden areas. Then, I came across a fleeting visit to the mosque opposite, surely the best I’ve seen so far.
I was up early and finally made it to the real Lahore Fortress. I paid 200rps for a ticket and headed in. The place was relatively early and quite impressive for an old fortress. The history of the Fort goes back hundreds of years, if not more. Destroyed many times over, it was easy to see rebuilds.
The fort had a nice atmosphere about it. The paths inside the fort were wide enough to accommodate elephants on parade, giving the place a different sense of history to European forts. Pageantry and pomp seemed to be an important part of the forts history as much as its strategic importance. Vast and thick old sandstone ramparts surrounded ornate buildings housed within its protection.
I headed up some old stone pathway’s and noticed a single western female tourist being giving a whistle stop private tour my a well dresses man. We were all headed in the same direction, the Palace of mirrors.
I watched from a view point over the city as the guide handed some cash over to a guard by the entrance to the closed off area of the palace. I circled around, and waited for the girl to leave before trying my own Baksheesh tactics. The area was was aesthetically nice. Another courtyard, but with a great look out point showing off Lahore’s landscapes. I looked out over the golden domes of the forts mosque just as the girl and her guide left.
I did not have to do any approaching, the guard had been waiting too. I handed him 100rps and got a personal tour of the off limits Palace of Mirrors. It was under restoration, but little had progressed. Mirrored tiles adorned the ceilings. My guard guide lit an oil based torch and waved it theatrically around and grinned up at the mirrored tiles and thousands of little orange flames appeared on the tiles.
I felt a little privileged at having seen the palace of mirrors. It had a Palatial French European feeling to it, though I could not help but think in France most of the area would also have been closed off to the public, and no bribes taken. With that thought I gave my guard guide another 100rp note and we descended into the hidden off limits underground palace.
Now while this may sound quite intriguing, it was for all intensive purposes just a network of underground chambers, corridors and a few windows looking out into the gardens and the exterior wall of the where one can see the beautiful mosaic paintings that depict everyday sport of the Mughal princes. In fact the most interesting thing was the hunched up little old long bearded key holder that opened the door and took my guard guides 100rp note. I had a feeling I had just seen an important part of the palace not so many people get to see.
My guard guide refused any sort of payment. In fact all he wanted were some photographs to be taken of him, and the photographs sent back to him. He even ran off for five minutes to get his uniform, while withstanding a few jibes from his friends that told him to get cash instead of waiting for photographs a foreigner would never give. Whether he will get the photos or not, I do not know. But I do know I printed and sent them to him.
Needing to get to infamous Wagah Border Ceremony that afternoon I took the fastest of looks at Badshahi mosque, and was blown away by its awesome size and beauty.There was no doubt, I needed to extend by a day.
Stories: The Pakistani Truck Painters
Resources: How to Guide – Iran to Pakistan overland
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