Lahore was named after Lava, son of the Hindu god Rama, who supposedly founded the city. To this day, the Lahore Fort has a vacant temple dedicated to Lava (also pronounced Loh, hence "Loh-awar" or The Fort of Loh). Likewise, the Ravi River that flows through northern Lahore was named for the Hindu goddess Durga.
Ptolemy, the celebrated astronomer and geographer, mentions in his Geographia a city called Labokla situated on the route between the Indus River and Palibothra, or Pataliputra (Patna), in a tract of country called Kasperia (Kashmir), described as extending along the rivers Bidastes or Vitasta (Jhelum), Sandabal or Chandra Bhaga (Chenab), and Adris or Iravati (Ravi).
After the fall of the Ghaznavid Empire, Lahore was ruled by various Muslim dynasties known as the Delhi Sultanate, including the Khiljis, Tughlaqs, Sayyid, Lodhis and Suris. When Sultan Qutb-ud-din Aybak was crowned here in 1206, he became the first Muslim sultan of the Indian subcontinent. It was not until 1524 that Lahore became part of the Mughal Empire.
During the 18th century, as Mughal power dwindled, Lahore was often invaded. The city was a suba, a province of the Afghan Empire, governed by provincial rulers with their own court.
The 1740s were years of chaos, and the city had nine different governors between 1745 and 1756. Invasions and chaos in local government allowed bands of warring Sikhs to gain control in some areas. In 1799, all Sikh Misls (warring bands) joined into one to form a sovereign Sikh state ruled by Maharaja Ranjit Singh from the royal capital, Lahore..
During the 1740s, frequent invasions by Afghans led by Ahmad Shah Abdali and chaos in local government had made life very uncomfortable for the citizens of Lahore. Bhangi Misl was the fist Sikh band to plunder the Mughal Lahore. Later Ranjit Singh was able to make gains in this chaos. He defeated the son of Abdali, Zaman Shah in a battle between Lahore and Amritsar. Out of the chaos of Afghani and Sikh conflicts emerged a victorious Sikh by the name of Ranjit Singh who was able to unify the Sikh factions and capture Lahore where he was crowned Emperor. Ranjit Singh made Lahore his capital and was able to expand the kingdom to the Khyber Pass and also included Jammu and Kashmir, while keeping the British from expanding across the River Sutlej for more than 40 years.
After his death in 1839 the internecine fighting between the Sikhs and several rapid forfeitures of territory by his sons, along with the intrigues of the Dogras and two Anglo-Sikh wars, eventually led to British control of the Lahore Darbar ten years later. For the British, Punjab was a frontier province, because Lahore had boundaries with Afghanistan and Persia. Therefore, the Punjabis, unlike the Bengalis and the Sindhis, were not allowed to use their mother tongue as an official language. The British first introduced Urdu as an official language in Punjab, including Lahore due to a fear of Punjabi nationalism.
A painting by Edwin Lord Weeks c. 1889 of the market place near Wazir Khan Mosque
The second and final Anglo-Sikh war of 1848-1849 brought Lahore under the rule of the East India Company, and it became part of the Punjab Province. During the British period of 1849-1947, their construction in Lahore combined Mughal, Gothic and Victorian styles. The GPO and YMCA buildings in Lahore commemorated the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria, an event marked by the construction of clock towers and monuments all over India. Other important British buildings included the High Court, the Government College University, the museums, the National College of Arts, Montgomery Hall, Tollinton Market, the University of the Punjab (Old Campus) and the Provincial Assembly.
The city has built a new campus in quieter environments on the Canal Bank, but the old university buildings are still functioning. For the sake of entertainment, the British introduced horse-racing to Lahore. The first racing club, established in 1924, is called LRC or Lahore Race Club.
Lahore enjoys a special position in the history of Indian Independence Movement. The 1929 Congress session was held at Lahore. In this Congress, a resolution of "complete independence" was moved by Pandit Nehru and passed unanimously at midnight on 31 December 1929. On this occasion, the contemporary tricolour of India (with a chakra at its centre) was hoisted as a national flag, and thousands of people saluted it.
Lahore prison was a place to detain revolutionary freedom fighters. Noted freedom fighter Jatin Das died in Lahore prison after fasting for 63 days in protest of British treatment of political prisoners. One of the martyrs in the struggle for Indian independence, Shaheed Sardar Bhagat Singh, was hanged in Lahore Jail.
The most important session of the All India Muslim League, later the Pakistan Muslim League, the premier party fighting for Indian independence and the creation of Pakistan, was held in Lahore in 1940. Muslims under the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam demanded a separate homeland for Muslims of India in a document known as the Pakistan Resolution or the Lahore Resolution. During this session, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the league, publicly proposed the Two Nation Theory for the first time.
Lahore is regarded as the heart of Pakistan and was known as the Paris of the East before the riots of 1947. Out of all the cities of India, Lahore suffered the greatest loss due to the Partition of Punjab in 1947.
At independence, Lahore was made capital of Punjab province in the new state of Pakistan. After 1947, Lahore was affected by large-scale riots among Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs that led to huge structural damage to historic monuments such as the Lahore Fort, Badshahi mosque and other colonial buildings.
Aitchison College, Lahore
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