Lahore said-to-be the heart of Punjab and Pakistan, boasts a rich culture and history which dates back to over a period of thousand years. Emperors came here and ruled the place from time to time leaving an impact on the diverse traditions of this lively city. The city being a seat to Mughal, Sikh and then the British emperors produced most of the arts, food, celebrations, music, traditions, architecture and literature of the province. One visit to the walled city takes you back to the times of Great Empires when Shahjahan and Jehangir would rule the city with glory and grandeur. Having seen so many ups and downs of history and cultures, Lahore is distinct in possessing a wonderful and splendid past.
The Walled City of Lahore Authority has taken up the challenge to preserve the enriching and architectural history of the city. The food street of Lahore was relaunched amidst festivities, multihued lights and Punjabi bhangra, as a part of this project. Lahore’s biggest photo contest ‘Wekh Lahore’ was also pronounced at the event attended by a large number of people. The competition finally took place in January and the Alhamra Arts Council and Photography Club registered the entries.
Street Life of Lahore and the architectural marvels of the walled city were the two themes of the competition. The competition was introduced to promote Phototuorism and to show the world what Lahore is all about. Kamran Lashari, Director of WCLA expressed his views earlier that the competition is being organized to showcase the affluent culture of Lahore which is unique due its history. The contest brought in photographers from all strata of society especially youngsters, encouraging a lot of aspiring and amateur photographers to explore the ancient city and preserve its glory in their cameras. Almost 400-500 entries came in of which the hundred best were displayed at the Alhamra Arts Centre. The judges comprised of professional photographers and the criteria for selection took into consideration the use of light, color composition and most significantly the theme and ideas that went into them, while finalizing the photographs. The winners of the contest were given certificates and prizes at a beautiful ceremony followed by a folk musical performance at Alhamra.
The photographs made the visitors imagine of what a number of stunning architectural monuments are located in their city. Some of the photographs beautifully captured the magnificence of the city, the radiance which tells an ancient story, the story of rise and that of fall, of rich cultures, grandeur and beauty that the place has entailed for centuries. The photographs depicted a high degree of technical skill and concentration on giving details of the gorgeous architecture and diverse traditions. Some images particularly grabbed attention intriguing the audience with the indistinctness of the subject matter.
Another superb initiative of WCLA is the introduction of street performers and musicians at the new food street. So, all the sarangi, flute, sitar and tabla lovers have something to look forward to apart from the scrumptious cuisine the place has to offer. The Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) is also bringing in certified tour guides to the place that is steeped in olden times and boasts historic sites which are the landmarks of not just the city but of the subcontinent. All these artists and tour guides are the residents of the walled city itself and this is an attempt to bring back to life the rich cultural milieu of this area.
As a part of revival of the Walled City Project, Tonga Tours, Royal Trail Project, cuisine festivals, film-making contests and cultural festivals have also been planned for the year 2014. The task is not easy as the area had been neglected by the authorities for a long time and many buildings are in a dilapidated condition. But WCLA is planning to assess the progress from time to time so tourism can be revived here in the coming years.