Historic Roshnai Gate is reopened after 12 years, the historic old city entrance was closed as security measure in 2009.
The Walled City of Lahore Authority has reopened for tourists the old Roshnai Gate of the city, which had been closed for years. Tourists visiting the Food Street and city dwellers can now enter the Royal Fort, Huzuri Bagh, Badshahi Masjid and Mazar-e-Iqbal through the Roshnai Gate.
The gate is located on the south between the Royal Fort and Badshahi Mosque. It was closed for security reasons during a wave of terrorism in the country in 2009. Tourists visiting the sites were allowed to enter through the main gate near the bus station towards the east and the western gate.
However, now the Walled City of Lahore Authority has opened the Roshnai Gate for tourists near the Food Street. Punjab Archeology Director Malik Maqsood Ahmed told that Roshnai Gate was higher and wider than other city entrances built during the Mughal period. “After the Alamgir Gate, a formation of elephants of the Mughal army used to enter the city through this gate. Huzuri Bagh is adjacent to this gate, which was built during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to celebrate snatching of the famous Koh-e-Noor diamond from Shah Shuja of Afghanistan.”
The official said the gate was called Roshnai Darwaza because it was lit in the evening. At night, caravans coming from different countries used to be guided by the lights at the gate and they used to stay in Huzuri Bagh located beside it. The gate was illuminated for those who came to the fort and the mosque. To the north of the gate are the historical sites, while to the south are the Food Street and Lahore’s old red light area.
Malik Maqsood said Roshnai Gate was used as a passage for royals during Mughal and Sikh rule. There was a time when River Ravi extended to the Shahi Qila and the Badshahi Masjid, so the gate was lit to show the way to the passers-by and travellers entering the city. Later, in the British era, the small Roshnai Gate was built outside the fort where the Food Street is located now.
Walled City of Lahore Authority spokesperson Tania Qureshi said told the number of tourists is increasing due to the restoration of historical sites in the inner city and tourism activities. Visitors to the Food Street and the historic Royal Corridor in Lahore had to take a long route to reach the fort, mosque and mausoleum. Therefore, the authority had proposed opening the Roshnai Gate, which was accepted in a meeting of the District Intelligence Committee.
The spokesperson clarified that no entry fee was charged for Huzuri Bagh, Mazar-e-Iqbal and Badshahi Masjid through the Roshnai Gate. However, there is already a fee for admission to the royal fort. The gate was in a state of disrepair due to rains and years of closure, while a part of it was broken. The Walled City of Lahore Authority has completed the repair and restoration work. Parts destroyed by severe weather have been replaced. The door can be closed and opened. Conservation Director Najam Al-Saqib said every effort was being made to restore the historic buildings to their original condition so that the heritage could be preserved. He said the gate was famous but had remained neglected.
He said there was no proper sewerage system in the area, which was weakening the foundations of dilapidated buildings. “If we do not make proper arrangements, we will lose this precious heritage.”