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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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An ancient city of British India, the capital of the Punjab, which gives its name to a district and division. It lies in 31° 35' N. and 74 0 20' E. near the left bank of the River Ravi, 1706 ft. above the sea, and 1252 m. by rail from Calcutta. It is thus in about the same latitude as Cairo, but owing to its inland position is considerably hotter than that city, being one of the hottest places in India in the summer time. In the cold season the climate is pleasantly cool and bright. The native city is walled, about 14 m. in length W. to E. and about mm. in breadth N. to S. Its site has been occupied from early times, and much of it stands high above the level of the surrounding country, raised on the remains of a succession of former habitations. Some old buildings, which have been preserved, stand now below the present surface of the ground. This is well seen in the mosque now called Masjid Niwin (or sunken) built in 1560, the mosque of Mullah Rahmat, 7 ft. below, and the Shivali, a very old Hindu temple, about 12 ft. below the surrounding ground. Hindu tradition traces the origin of Lahore to Loh or Lava, son of Rama, the hero of the Ramayana. The absence of mention of Lahore by Alexander's historians, and the fact that coins of the Graeco-Bactrian kings are not found among the ruins, lead to the belief that it was not a place of any importance during the earliest period of Indian history. On the other hand, Ilstian Tsang, the Chinese Buddhist, notices the city in his Itinerary (A.D. 630); and it seems probable, therefore, that Lahore first rose into prominence between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D. Governed originally by a family of Chauhan Rajputs, a branch of the house of Ajmere, Lahore fell successively under the dominion of the Ghazni and Ghori sultans, who made it the capital of their Indian conquests, and adorned it with numerous buildings, almost all now in ruins. But it was under the Mogul empire that Lahore reached its greatest size and magnificence. The reigns of Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb form the golden period in the annals and architecture of the city. Akbar enlarged and repaired the fort, and surrounded the town with a wall, portions of which remain, built into the modern work of Ranjit Singh. Lahore formed the capital of the Sikh empire of that monarch. At the end of the second Sikh War, with the rest of the Punjab, it came under the British dominion.

The architecture of Lahore cannot compare with that of Delhi. Jahangir in1622-1627erected the Khwabgah or "sleeping-place," a fine palace much defaced by the Sikhs but to some extent restored in modern times; the Moti Masjid or "pearl mosque" in the fort, used by Ranjit Singh and afterwards by the British as a treasure-house; and also the tomb of Anarkali, used formerly as the station church and now as a library. Shah Jahan erected a palace and other buildings near the Khwabgah, including the beautiful pavilion called the Naulakha from its cost of nine lakhs, which was inlaid with precious stones. The mosque of Wazir Khan (1634) provides the finest example of kashi or encaustic tile work. Aurangzeb's Jama Masjid, or "great mosque," is a huge bare building, stiff in design, and lacking the detailed ornament typical of buildings at Delhi. The buildings of Ranjit Singh, especially his mausoleum, are common and meretricious in style. He was, moreover, responsible for much of the despoiling of the earlier buildings. The streets of the native city are narrow and tortuous, and are best seen from the back of an elephant. Two of the chief features of Lahore lie outside its walls at Shandara and Shalamar Gardens respectively. Shandara, which contains the tomb of the emperor Jahangir, lies across the Ravi some 6 m. N. of the city. It consists of a splendid marble cenotaph surrounded by a grove of trees and gardens. The Shalamar Gardens, which were laid out in A.D. 1637 by Shah Jahan, lie 6 m. E. of the city. They are somewhat neglected except on festive occasions, when the fountains are playing and the trees .are lit up by lamps at night.

The modern city of Lahore, which contained a population of 202,964 in 1901, may be divided into four parts: the native city, already described; the civil station or European quarter, known as Donald Town; the Anarkali bazaar, a suburb S. of the city wall; and the cantonment, formerly called Mian Mir. The main street of the civil station is a portion of the grand trunk road from Calcutta to Peshawar, locally known as the Mall. The chief modern buildings along this road, west to east, are the Lahore museum, containing a fine collection of GraecoBuddhist sculptures, found by General Cunningham in the Yusufzai country, and arranged by Mr Lockwood Kipling, a former curator of the museum; the cathedral, begun by Bishop French, in Early English style, and consecrated in 1887; the Lawrence Gardens and Montgomery Halls, surrounded by a garden that forms the chief meeting-place of Europeans in the afternoon; and opposite this government house, the official residence of the lieutenant-governor of the Punjab; next to this is the Punjab club for military men and civilians. Three miles beyond is the Lahore cantonment, where the garrison is stationed, except a company of British infantry, which occupies the fort. It is the headquarters of the 3rd division of the northern army. Lahore is an important junction on the North-Western railway system, but has little local trade or manufacture. The chief industries are silk goods, gold and silver lace, metal work and carpets which are made in the Lahore gaol. There are also cotton mills, flour mills, an ice-factory, and several factories for mineral waters, oils, soap, leather goods, &c. Lahore is an important educational centre. Here are the Punjab University with five colleges, medical and law colleges, a central training college, the Aitchison Chiefs' College for the sons of native noblemen, and a number of other high schools and technical and special schools.

The District Of Lahore has an area of 3704 sq. m., and its population in 1901 was 1,162,109, consisting chiefly of Punjabi Mahommedans with a large admixture of Hindus and Sikhs. In the north-west the district includes a large part of the barren Rechna Doab, while south of the Ravi is a desolate alluvial tract, liable to floods. The Manjha plateau, however, between the Ravi and the Beas, has been rendered fertile by the Bari Doab canal. The principal crops are wheat, pulse, millets, maize, oil-seeds and cotton. There are numerous factories for ginning and pressing cotton. Irrigation is provided by the main line of the Bari Doab canal and its branches, and by inundationcuts from the Sutlej. The district is crossed in several directions by lines of the North-Western railway. Lahore, Kasur, Chunian and Raiwind are the chief trade centres.

The Division Of Lahore extends along the right bank of the Sutlej from the Himalayas to Multan. It comprises the six districts of Sialkot, Gujranwala, Montgomery, Lahore, Amritsar and Gurdaspur. Total area, 17,154 sq. M.; pop. (1901) 5,598,463. The commissioner for the division also exercises political control over the hill state of Chamba. The common language of the rural population and of artisans is Punjabi; while Urdu or Hindustani is spoken by the educated classes. So far from the seaboard, the range between extremes of winter and summer temperature in the sub-tropics is great. The mean temperature in the shade in June is about 92° F., in January about 50°. In midsummer the thermometer sometimes rises to 115° in the shade, and remains on some occasions as high as 105° throughout the night. In winter the morning temperature is sometimes as low as 20°. The rainfall is uncertain, ranging from 8 in. to 25, with an average of 15 in. The country as a whole is parched and arid, and greatly dependent on irrigation.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Lahore'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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