Lahore is the second largest city in Pakistan after Karachi. It is the cultural capital of Pakistan. It is an ancient urban centre. It was one of the major cities of the Mughals in the 17th century. Its location as an important crossroads in the northern Punjab brought riches as well as invading armies. As a result the city cultivated a rich architectural heritage that reflects the political fortunes of its conquerors. The modern city of Lahore, however, is organised along a pattern set mostly by the British during their approximately one hundred years of colonial rule over the Indian sub-continent.
Today Lahore has almost seven million inhabitants plus innumerable migrant workers from the surrounding small villages. Its precarious location between the Ravi River to the West and North and the Indian border to the east forced the city to grow mostly southward.
The Walled City of Lahore covers an area of 256 ha with a population of 200,000. The city walls were destroyed shortly after the British annexed the Punjab in 1849 and were replaced with gardens, some of which exist today. The Circular Road links the old city to the urban network. Access to the Walled City is still gained through the 13 ancient gates, or their emplacements. The convoluted and picturesque streets of the inner city remain almost intact but the rapid demolition and frequently illegal rebuilding, which is taking place throughout the city, is causing the historic fabric to be eroded and replaced by inferior constructions. Historic buildings are no exception and some have been encroached upon. The few old houses one can still see in the city are usually two or three storeys tall, with brick façades, flat roofs and richly carved wooden balconies and overhanging windows.
Aga Khan Cultural Services - Pakistan. "Preface" in Conservation of the Wazir Khan Mosque Lahore: Preliminary Report on Condition and Risk Assessment. Lahore, Pakistan. Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, 2012.
The spectacular monumental ensemble of the Wazir Khan Mosque in the Walled City of Lahore was built in 1634 during the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Its endowment then comprised the congregational mosque, an elaborate forecourt, a serai, a hammam, a bazaar, and a special bazaar for calligraphers and bookbinders. The mosque, the calligraphers’ bazaar, and the hammam still stand,while the other elements have disappeared—victims to Lahore’s turbulent history over nearly four centuries since the original dedication. What remains is increasingly in need of care and attention.
Over a two year period starting in 2009, the Historic Cities Programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, through the Aga Khan Cultural Service - Pakistan, conducted a baseline documentation of the monument and its surrounding areas. This volume contains the result of this work and presents an assessment of the organisational, technical and financial requirements for the conservation of the mosque as well as the revitalisation and enhancement of its surrounding context.
The Trust has been actively engaged with the Punjab Government in the conservation of the urban fabric of the Walled City of Lahore and has, since 2007, collaborated in urban rehabilitation and infrastructure improvement efforts in the neighbourhood of the monument.