TurrLahore, a social enterprise incubated under the Social Innovation Lab at LUMS, is set up by two promising young minds, Muhammad Murtaza and Shareef Khalid, currently studying at LUMS. Their first SehriTurr took place on 25th June, 2015. In the words of co-founder Murtaza, "This turr is meant to connect this (rather artificial) part of Lahore to the real Lahore." His quick-wittedness kept the “turrists” amused throughout the tour. The TurrLahore team made sure that everyone felt contented and secure – a job they very much succeeded in. I entered the bus as a total stranger, rather timid, and not knowing anyone except Murtaza. I left the bus with a colossal number of friends and memories, without exaggeration, in a mere 6 hours.
The Turr included a visit to the tomb of the Sufi Saint, Baba Shah Jamal. The idea was to see the famous Dhamaal: fakirs or dervishes dancing in a trance to mesmerizing Dhol beats. However, unfortunately, we missed it by just a few minutes. Disappointment was lingering, rather vividly, on almost everyone’s face until the organizers announced the next stop. With a bus full of Lahoris, nothing could elevate their spirits more than the mention of traditional Lahori food. The bus halted outside the old food street in Purani Anarkali. The street, lined with numerous eateries and multi-hued shops, gave the place an aura of festivity. We stuffed ourselves with lavish Desi Ghee Parathas, Gol Gappay, Falooda and lemon soda. With stomachs full to the brim, our little group headed out for a camel ride, just outside the old food street. It trudged along the mall road rhythmically till the secretariat. Descending from the camel, one of the “turrists”, Moazam – a recent graduate from the University of London – blurted out exhilaratingly, "Ah! Everything is downhill in my life after this. Everything!"
Amusingly, the food exploration had still not ended. Within the next 20 minutes, Lahore’s renowned Lakshmi Chowk loomed in front of us in all its glory, with what seemed like a thousand Butt Karahi shops, each of them claiming to be Lahore’s oldest and finest. Murgh Chanay, Naan, Lassi, and some more Lassi made it difficult to keep our eyes open. Stuffed bellies, dim ornamental lights, and the gentle chatter inside the bus were slowly luring us to the carefree gorge of sleep, when Murtaza and Shareef stormed in. Encroached upon by the organizers, we had to forcibly wake up and prepare ourselves for what was waiting beside the new food street. Lassi was again served at the Haveli restaurant, which provided the most stunning views of the Minar-e-Pakistan, nestled gently between the Shahi fort and Badshahi fort. The Azaan (prayer call) from the Badshahi Mosque drew everyone into an implicit mutual trance. After offering Fajr prayers, we headed off to witness the sunrise at the River Ravi.
Compared to the mighty Lahore looming large on its eastern bank, River Ravi, unfortunately, is now little more than a stream of debris. However, the mist surrounding it, right before sunrise, made up for this. The group, split in two, hopped onto two separate boats and reached the Kamran Baradari at the verge of sunrise. The rising sun, emanating its glossy golden rays onto the waves of the river, offered a view that was nothing short of breathtaking. Lost in thought, each of us slowly sauntered inside the Baradari. Now a deserted place, the Baradari is one of the oldest Mughal monuments in Lahore. The fountains beside the main portion of the Baradari are broken, some of them completely missing. The lampposts stand there, devoid of any lamps or bulbs.
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