If winter comes to lahore


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If winter comes to lahore

  1. 1. If Winter Comes to Lahore,<br />Can Spring Be far Behind Left? <br />When new leaves burst on trees and multicolor kites fly skywards, Lahore begins to change. Lahore is Pakistan’s second biggest and one of the most cosmopolitan cities. With universities, colleges, historical and cultural heritage, a spiritual, commercial, and political center, it has been a fascinating city since centuries. “Lahore is one of the greatest cities of the East.” William Finch, a British traveler, wrote in 1610. <br />Lahore, a beautiful city of gardens, fountains and parks, celebrates the ‘Jashn-e-Baharan’, its annual spring festival from February 15th till March 23rd every year. Basant—the kite-flying festival, food and craft festival, canal mela, Pakistan Day Parade, horse and cattle show, fun and frolic at Food Street in Gawalmandi are the main items of this Jashn. <br />International Puppet show, Tonga and Buggy riding on the Mall, Folk Dance Festival and Polo matches are other events to see, while the Mughal memories beckon from Shalimar Gardens, Lahore Fort and stunning Badshahi Mosque. <br />Canal Mela, February 18th to 3rd March, is a colourful event. Spring is the best time of the year to take a jaunt in a horse-drawn buggy along the canal bank, between The Mall and Jail Road. With magical glittering lights reflected in the canal water, all the bushes and trees also lit up, giving the entire walking way a dazzling look. <br />Started in 1954, the Horse and Cattle Show has now become synonymous with Lahore’s spring season. Many foreign dignitaries time their visit to Pakistan according to the dates of the show. Tent Pegging, horse and camel dancing, trick riding, free fall jumping and band displays are some other interesting events. <br />With the arrival of Spring, the city becomes a venue for spring celebrations. Officially, spring festival opens at the lush green lawns of “Race Course Park”, once actually a race course, turned into a manicured park in the mid 80’s. “The park attracts as many as 10,000 visitors per day during festival season”, says the records of park and Horti cultural Authority. <br />In 1899, John Foster Fraser, wrote in his book Round the world on a wheel, “Lahore is sort of a glorified garden.” The axiom seems true in spring when roads are lined with flower beds, flower baskets, miniature kites hanging from poles, and bougainvillea blooming from the outer walls of private houses. The whole city becomes a big flower basket. <br />As the nippy winter yields to moderate spring pleasantness, Basant festivity grips Lahore. A kite-flying Basant Bash, now famous all over the world, is the highlight of Spring. Over the years, it has become an event that thrills commoners, celebrities, filmstars, diplomats, industrialists, politicians, artists and visitors. The young and old lot, local and tourists, endeavor a hand at kite-flying. Yellow, the colour of Basant is seen all around. <br />The number of foreigners and visitors, regarding Spring festival, increases every year. The metropolis prepares for this change. Taxi drivers are trained, fare schedules from Airway and Railway stations to the city are issued before the festival. During a visit, many side attractions will also beckon people to make time for them--The kabaddi (wrestling) matches, painting exhibitions, Emperor Jahangir and Empress Noorjahan’s tomb and Lahore Museum. One day excursions around Lahore are also available. <br />But nobody says, you have to wait for spring to visit magical Lahore. Someone once said, “Streets of old Lahore (androon-e-shehr) are paved not only with bricks, but with history.” The old and compact part of the city, where links with the past are intact, it is not at all easy to navigate. <br />That is, what Lahore and Lahoris are, all about. When did they ever need a reason to make merry and have good food? They have been doing it for hundreds of years, and the rest of the world is just waking up to their social ‘Spring Festival’ of the year—which, perhaps justifies yet more elaborate celebrations. <br />Sereen Gul <br />