The recorded history of Lahore, a district of modern-day Pakistan, covers thousands of years. It has since its creation changed hands from Greek, Persian, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and British rule to becoming the cultural capital and the heart of modern day Pakistan.
In a legend, based on oral traditions, states that Lahore was named after Lava, son of the Hindu god Rama, who supposedly founded the city. To this day, the Lahore Fort has a vacant temple dedicated to Lava (also pronounced Loh, hence "Loh-awar" or The Fort of Loh). Likewise, the Ravi River that flows through northern Lahore was named for the Hindu goddess Durga.
The oldest authentic document about Lahore was written anonymously in 982 and is called Hudud-i-Alam. It was translated into English by Vladimir Fedorovich Minorsky and published in Lahore in 1927. In this document, Lahore is referred to as a small shahr (city) with "impressive temples, large markets and huge orchards." It refers to "two major markets around which dwellings exist," and it also mentions "the mud walls that enclose these two dwellings to make it one." The original document is currently held in the British Museum. .
Few references to Lahore exist for times before its capture by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni in the eleventh century. In 1021, Mahmud appointed Malik Ayaz to the throne and made Lahore the capital of the Ghaznavid Empire.
The sultan took Lahore after a long siege and battle in which the city was torched and depopulated. As the first Muslim ruler of Lahore, Ayaz rebuilt and repopulated the city. The present Lahore Fort stands in the same location. Under his rule, the city became a cultural and academic center, renowned for poetry. The tomb of Malik Ayaz can still be seen in the Rang Mahal commercial area of town.
After the fall of the Ghaznavid Empire, Lahore was ruled by various Muslim dynasties known as the Delhi Sultanate, including the Khiljis, Tughlaqs, Sayyid, Lodhis and Suris. When Sultan Qutb-ud-din Aybak was crowned here in 1206, he became the first Muslim sultan of the Indian subcontinent. It was not until 1524 that Lahore became part of the Mughal Empire.
Lahore reached a peak of architectural glory during the rule of the Mughals, whose buildings and gardens survived the hazards of time. Lahore's reputation for beauty fascinated the English poet John Milton, who wrote "Agra and Lahore, the Seat of Great Mughal" in 1670.
From 1524 to 1752, Lahore was part of the Mughal Empire, and from 1584 to 1598, during the rule of Mughal emperor Akbar, the city served as its capital. During this time, the massive Lahore Fort was built. A few buildings within the fort were added by Akbar's son, Mughal emperor Jahangir, who is buried in the city. Jahangir's son, Shah Jahan, was born in Lahore. He, like his father, extended the Lahore Fort and built many other structures in the city, including the Shalimar Gardens. The last of the great Mughals, Aurangzeb, who ruled from 1658 to 1707, built the city's most famous monuments, the Badshahi Masjid and the Alamgiri Gate next to the Lahore Fort. This area attracts many tourists and is used by the government for public speeches and social events. The Lahore fort also contains the Khwabgah-e-Jahangir (Jahangir's Dream House) it contains, amongst other artefacts, paintings and illustrated manuscripts including the Akbarnama.
The 1740s were years of chaos, and the city had nine different governors between 1745 and 1756. Invasions and chaos in local government allowed bands of warring Sikhs to gain control in some areas. In 1799, all Sikh Misls (warring bands) joined into one to form a sovereign Sikh state ruled by Maharaja Ranjit Singh from the royal capital, Lahore.
The second and final Anglo-Sikh war brought Lahore under the rule of the British crown. During their reign (1849-1947), British construction in Lahore combined Mughal, Gothic and Victorian styles. The GPO and YMCA buildings in Lahore commemorated the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria, an event marked by the construction of clock towers and monuments all over India. Other important British buildings included the High Court, the Government College University, the museums, the National College of Arts, Montgomery Hall, Tollinton Market, the University of the Punjab (Old Campus) and the Provincial Assembly.
The city has built a new campus in quieter environments on the Canal Bank, but the old university buildings are still functioning.
For the sake of entertainment, the British introduced horse-racing to Lahore. The first racing club, established in 1924, is called LRC or Lahore Race Club.
Lahore enjoys a special position in the history of India's freedom-struggle. The 1929 Congress session was held at Lahore. In this Congress, a resolution of "complete independence" was moved by Pandit Nehru and passed unanimously at midnight on 31 December 1929. On this occasion, the contemporary tricolour of India (with a chakra at its centre) was hoisted as a national flag, and thousands of people saluted it.
Lahore prison was a place to detain revolutionary freedom fighters. Noted freedom fighter Jatin Das died in Lahore prison after fasting for 63 days in protest of British treatment of political prisoners. One of the martyrs in the struggle for Indian independence, Shaheed Sardar Bhagat Singh, was hanged in Lahore Jail.
The most important session of the All India Muslim League, later the Pakistan Muslim League, the premier party fighting for Indian independence and the creation of Pakistan, was held in Lahore in 1940. Muslims under the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam demanded a separate homeland for Muslims of India in a document known as the Pakistan Resolution or the Lahore Resolution. During this session, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the league, publicly proposed the Two Nation Theory for the first time.
Lahore is regarded as the heart of Pakistan and was known as the Paris of the East before the riots of 1947. Out of all the cities of India, Lahore suffered the greatest loss due to the Partition of Punjab in 1947.
At independence, Lahore was made capital of Punjab province in the new state of Pakistan. After 1947, Lahore was affected by large-scale riots among Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs that led to huge structural damage to historic monuments such as the Lahore Fort, Badshahi mosque and other colonial buildings.
With United Nations assistance, the government was able to re-build Lahore. The second Islamic Summit Conference was held in the city. In 1996 the International Cricket Council Cricket World Cup final match was held at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, and Lahore along with Colombo is to host the semi finals of the 2011 Cricket World Cup..