Although Lahore may not be Pakistan’s capital city, it wins hands down as its cultural, intellectual and artistic hub. If history and architecture are your passion there’s an evocative mix, from formidable Mughal monuments to faded legacies of the British Raj. Indeed, even a ramble around the Old City can unfold into a mini-adventure. For those in search of spiritual sustenance, Lahore has qawwali (Islamic devotional singing) and Sufism (Islamic mysticism) that will blow your mind.
Pakistan is crazy about cricket and one way of breaking the ice with Lahorites is to strike up a conversation about the game. Lahore – which, incidentally, is home to former cricket great turned politician Imran Khan – sometimes serves as the venue for high-profile international matches. If there’s one on during your stay it’s worth experiencing it as much for its wildly ecstatic spectators as for the game itself.
Over the years Lahore has burgeoned into a bustling and increasingly polluted metropolis with festering social undercurrents, but it also has some of the most defiantly serene architecture and gardens on the subcontinent. It takes more than just a couple of days to get to know this splendid city, so don’t regard it merely as a jumping-off point to nearby India. And whatever you do, make absolutely sure your stay in Lahore includes an afternoon on the outskirts in Wagah and at least one Thursday.