Polluted Plains & Fevered Pains - Multan to Lahore

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October 6th 2006
Published: November 6th 2006
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We finally left the hotel 10 days after arriving in Multan, recovered from the harrowing experience with the police and buoyed by our success at managing to cycle the section we had been forced to miss. The police had, however, left a nasty surprise with the hotel staff who physically tried to prevent us from leaving the hotel. Apparently they had instruction to call the police should we leave, in order to ensure we had an escort again!!. We phoned the police ourselves to report that the hotel staff were holding us hostage, but they just laughed at us. We then bullshitted the hotel staff that he police had told us to go to the police station and take the escort from there. They couldn’t argue with this so let us go, and we got out of the city as fast as possible avoiding all police stations. Once on the main highway we met a very nice motorway policeman; he was more interested in speaking to foreigners than anything else and just said ‘stay on the hard shoulder - it’s for you lot and the donkey carts!’

We cycled on the flat, long, straight, busy road with all the trucks

The remains of an ancient city of the 'Indus Valley Civilization', contemporary with ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt.
towards Lahore. I was getting further and further behind Robin. The heat and the humidity and the boring nature of the flat road were getting to us. People always say “oh the terrain is flat, it will be easy cycling”. This is however rarely true; flat means boring. At least this time there was not a killer headwind which can also be the accompaniment of flat cycling, but it was hot, humid, smelly and polluted. We did not reach as far as planned that day and two punctures on my rear wheel did not help progress. With relief we found a rest house just short of Chichawatni and pulled over as it was practically dark. They had daal and the owner said he could find us somewhere to stay. We looked around, a little doubtful as it seemed that the rest house bit of his restaurant was still being built. We were taken down into the village past camels and water buffalo to a guest block which had a shower and flush toilet. Excellent. The main houses in the village all had big enclosure walls to hide the family away but this building was on its own outside and soon
Punjabi pathsPunjabi pathsPunjabi paths

Erika and our teacher freind on a tour of the dusty tracks around Harappa.
a big group of women ventured out of their yards to see us. It turned out that the restaurant owner had 10 daughters, who spoke quite good English and it was really nice for both of us to meet them, after the segregated society of ‘Pashtunistan’. The women however mostly directed their questions at me rather than speaking to Robin directly. We had a good rest that night sleeping outside on charpoys.

Our plan was to stop in at the archaeological site of Harappa before cycling on some distance, since we were quite close to it. However it took us longer than expected to get to Harappa. The heavy and smelly atmosphere combined with the heat and the boring lush farmland scenery of the main road made for slow progress. The cycle off the main road to the village of Harappa was better; through quieter and more beautiful farmland, in amongst the fields. The main crops seemed to be cotton and maize, though with plenty of mango trees too (sadly out of season by now). We were really happy to arrive at the museum and its lovely manicured sub-tropical garden.

We paid the 200 rupee foreigner price to
Flavourings with PesticidesFlavourings with PesticidesFlavourings with Pesticides

Pesticide ad. somewhere on the roadside in Punjab. There's so much of this stuff kicking about that in India they have declared Pepsi and other soft drinks unsafe because of their high pesticide content. Nice.
visit the museum and site and learnt a little bit about the Indus Valley Civilisation that once flourished here. There are plans for a new and better museum exhibition, which is needed as the present one is not really worth the money, but we fell in love with the site itself. The age of the remains was quite astounding but the ruins themselves are not really much to look at, unless you are really interested in this civilisation I think. However the site itself is great; it is one of the last remaining pieces of natural habitat on the whole Punjab plain. The ecology of the area was mostly saved because of the archaeological restrictions and now WWF Pakistan has put up information boards about the old and interesting vegetation that is all around the site. We loved it; the trees were really shady and full of birds. The place was natural and peaceful and we felt a need to stay there after the stress and noise that was our forced ‘rest’ in Multan.

We managed, with a lot of persuading, to be allowed to stay in the rest house attached to the museum. You are supposed to book it from Lahore! The next day after some early morning bird watching in the massive Banyan tree beside the rest house we decided to stay again as we felt strangely lethargic and tired. We were woken up at 11 am and told the room was double booked so we had to go, fair enough we had not checked and we asked to camp under the magnificent Banyan instead. This simple request met with a blank refusal and “It’s dangerous!” Not again!!!

Eventually after a lot of bullshitting we ground down their resistance to letting us camp and erected our tent under the tree. When the officials saw the tent they were amazed and they finally realised that even if their imaginary dangerous cobra existed that we had a sealed tent, as I had explained to them. They had obviously never seen anything like it before and were very intrigued especially as they could not figure how to get inside it, never mind their cobras trying to get inside!

Whilst we had been negotiating to stay in the garden we had met the local teacher who had invited us to join him in a cycle around his village and
Village LifeVillage LifeVillage Life

An ox powers a machine for chopping the fodder which it and the water buffalo will later feed on.
the farms. We set off through the lush Punjabi farmland following sandy trails amid the fields of sugar cane and maize. We were taken to a village wedding that happened to be going on and fed extremely well. It is customary to slaughter a buffalo for the feast so there was plenty of food to go around. We ate with the male party and congratulated the groom, who was in his twenties. Then we were lead over to the female party in another courtyard. Fantastically Robin was allowed into this part as well (I am not even sure if the groom had got that far yet!). Inside all the women were dressed in their finest and wore loads of gold and make up. I got to actually meet the bride and other unmarried women. We saw the dowry- it was huge- an entire house! The bride and her relatives had been embroidering and sewing their whole lives it seemed. The system was that the women provide everything needed for the new home in the dowry including bedding and pans and the bride’s wardrobe. It is very expensive to have daughters! We were asked about our system and everyone listened with
Milking Lesson part 1Milking Lesson part 1Milking Lesson part 1

Erika fails to get any milk out of the buffalo, much to the amusement of all the villagers.
interest about the wedding list idea.

Next on the tour we stopped at some farmyards and I had a go at milking a buffalo, not with any success. After numerous chai stops I was also introduced to the tallest girl in the village (and proud of it) and suspect left her with a somewhat deflated ego - she had obviously never met another woman taller than herself before! On the way back to the museum and our camp we passed a mosque and shrine alone in the dusty plain, but with people busily erecting food tents and fairground rides etc. around it. Our friend explained this was the shrine of a local Sufi saint and that in a few days his Urs would be held. This is a festival marking the anniversary of the Saints’ death when Sufi’s, aspiring or otherwise, gather to honour the teacher, chant, drum and dance their way into trances in the hope that the baraka (something like spiritual power) of the saint will help them towards enlightenment. Well, some come for that, others just for a party I guess. We were told that around 10,000 people come to this tiny shrine every year.
Milking Lesson part 2Milking Lesson part 2Milking Lesson part 2

After her dismal performance with the buffalo, a goat obviously heavily loaded with milk is produced. Erika still fails to get any milk, mostly cos the children began using the udders as a kind of milk pistol.

After camping out under the amazing Banyan tree it took us another 2 days to reach Lahore through the increasingly populated and polluted plains. Each town and city seemed to be bigger, more chaotic and dirtier than the last. Our route was running parallel to the Ravi River and Robin would later learn that the water in this river downstream of Lahore is so full of sewage and toxic waste that most of the food being grown in this area is technically hazardous to human health, thanks to irrigation by river water. Similarly livestock all drink and bathe in the same water and so their meat and milk is even worse. And that is before the heavy use of pesticides encouraged by the government. People living in riverside slums on the outskirts of Lahore suffer all kinds of hideous diseases and defects just because of their proximity to the Ravi. Needless to say, eating fish in Lahore is not recommended.

We spent another night in a petrol station and on the last day we happily managed the 80 km into Lahore easily by truck surfing! The beautiful Pakistani trucks are so heavy even before they are completely overloaded that
Lanscape of PunjabLanscape of PunjabLanscape of Punjab

The flat farmland is punctuated only by the occaisional shrine such as this.
they average about the same speed as us. The trick is to get up some speed as you hear a truck approaching and fall in behind it and then pedal with ease as you are sucked along in the slipstream at about 30 kmph. By the time I arrived in Lahore though I was just glad that Robin was doing the navigating and we got to the hostel. The streets in the city centre were blissfully quiet of traffic as it was still early on Sunday morning, but this hazard had been replaced by gangs of boys playing cricket in the middle of the roads, using crates or even piles of bricks as makeshift wickets. I was really hurting and my head was pounding but I thought it was from the 6 am start, the heat and the traffic fumes. After some lunch I went to sleep but even 2 hours in bed did not make me feel any better and when I awoke I realised that I had a fever and had probably been like that all day but had still cycled 50 miles!

Robin took me to the hospital the next day where they diagnosed that I
Lahore trafficLahore trafficLahore traffic

And this is far from being at its worst, though it is still impossible to breath properly.
had a food pipe infection and gave me some very strong antibiotics that should also stop my diarrhoea that had been with me on and off for about a year. It sounds terrible now but I had kept treating my stomach and the symptoms would go away for a while but always return. Anyway it had never stopped me cycling really, so I thought it was not too bad. I had intended to have a test when I got to Lahore anyway.

Anyway my fever did not get any better; some days I would be cooler but then the next day I was hot again. I was peaking at about 40 celcius/104 Fahrenheit and during those moments everything was very wrong. I was scared and thought that Robin was not being nice to me and he was my enemy. I also heard even the tiniest noises in detail and this made me even crazier. I went back to hospital after a few days where they gave me a drip and a lot of antibiotics and other drugs. Eventually my fever came down from dangerous levels and I was discharged the same night. On discharge they changed my antibiotics and
Seeking EnlightenmentSeeking EnlightenmentSeeking Enlightenment

Inside the Shrine of Baba Shah Jamal for the Thursday night session of drumming and qawalli chanting, Lahore.
said that just in case I should take some malaria pills. Two days later I was back in hospital and this time the consultant was called and finally they did some blood tests. I actually tested negative for malaria, but now I am fairly sure that I probably had it together with a bad gastro-enteritis infection at the same time!

I was in the Ramzan Ali Syed Hospital on Temple Road in Lahore and if you’re ill in Lahore I can recommend it. Hospital in Pakistan is definitely different to the European equivalent. This hospital however was small, clean and quiet. The doctors and staff were very nice and I could understand all the doctors well. I have heard terrible tales about Pakistani hospitals so I think I was very lucky with this one. The main difference is the hospital system here relies on the patients having family to nurse them. There was 1 nurse for 15 patients. The nurse will take your temperature and change your drip but she will not get the medicines from the pharmacy for you or help you to the loo or to wash. In fact in hospital you have to pay up front
Sufi nightSufi nightSufi night

A member of the audience is overcome by spontaneous chanting.
for everything yourself. That includes drip tubes and bottles as well as the actual drugs, but this at least means that you are sure that the needles used are new because you’ve just bought them. Robin was wonderful; he cooked me food at the hostel and then brought it to me in my ward and he had to wash me also, as I was too weak to do this myself. After 3 days I was discharged and spent another week in Lahore eating and eating and resting, getting back some strength again.

Robin: Well I guess my experience in Lahore was a little different to Erika’s. Originally our plan in Pakistan had been to cycle across the country fairly fast and reach Lahore, and then to spend most of our time in the North. We had 3 months on our visa and had figured it would take around a month to reach Lahore, leaving us with 2 months to tour the mountains of the north by bike and on foot. We could then return to Lahore and cycle across the one and only border crossing to India. Our forced delays in Quetta and Multan had obviously eaten into this
Dholi dervishesDholi dervishesDholi dervishes

Dhol drummers at the Thursday night gathering. The smoky haze is precisely that - a thick cloud of charas smoke. And those red eyes have nothing to do with the camera either.
plan but also made us, well me at least, even keener to get to the Northern Areas as soon as possible. There, we had been told, everything was nicer; it was cooler, cleaner, the people were even more hospitable, and there was no crime so we hoped there would be a lot less police and they would be better behaved. After all the delays and the rather nasty ride across Punjab I had hoped to spend a couple of days in Lahore sorting our bikes and stove (which had dutifully broken yet again) and then just take a bus to the north. I figured we were due things going our way for a change, but yet again it was not to be.

I admit my initial reaction to Erika feeling ill shortly after we arrived in Lahore was “oh no, not again”. Not very sympathetic I know but I was just fed up of everything being messed up all the time. When she was no better the next morning I made her go to the nearest hospital to see a doctor. The hospital was great and we were in and out in 10 minutes. Erika seemed to be visibly
Mast Qalander !!!Mast Qalander !!!Mast Qalander !!!

The source of some of the smokey haze at the Sufi gathering.
better after the nice lady doctor had told her she wasn’t dying, and her fever began to subside pretty fast. The next day she also seemed much improved. Our stay in Lahore was obviously going to be longer than anticipated though, and with the stifling heat and Erika feeling weak we could not begin to sort our equipment or even just go sightseeing. I began to get frustrated, not with Erika but just with the general situation. Still, in a few days she would be back to full strength and so would our journey.

The following morning however, her fever had returned big style. She didn’t want to move, I suggested going back to the doctor but she didn’t want to, preferring to give the medicine a chance to run its course. I was now quite concerned about her and kept fussing, trying to make her comfortable but this just seemed to irritate her and make her worse. Her temperature was really high and she was not making a lot of sense. Then she began screaming at me and going completely crazy. I had to leave and went to sit on the roof of the hostel. I could sense
In house QawalliIn house QawalliIn house Qawalli

Sain Mohammed Ali and his band come to the hostel roof in Lahore. And yes the guy on the right is indeed playing a giant set of tongs - a very cool instrument. And if you think those bells on his ankles look like something a morris dancer would wear, thats cos Morris Dancing has sufic origins!
the staff and other guests freaking out and giving me suspicious looks. I felt guilty that I had not been concerned about her health early enough and that I was maybe responsible: I’m the one who always wants to push further and faster ahead, or not stop in each place for so long. Maybe we had been pushing too hard, especially after the physical and emotional stresses of the last couple of weeks. I just wanted her to be well and happy again, for us to be happy again, and for things to be back on track. Now I didn’t know what to do. Malik, the owner of the hostel, found me and sorted my head out a bit. He had also calmed Erika down and called a doctor. This doctor didn’t really help much, without making a proper examination he disagreed with the previous doctor and then left. Maliks’ peaceful demeanour and wise words seemed to help everyone though and once again Erika began to feel better.

The following day her fever had gone and she was up and about again, though tired. Again I thought everything would soon be fine. It was Thursday and this is a
Kim's Gun, LahoreKim's Gun, LahoreKim's Gun, Lahore

The canon made famous by Mr Kipling. No cakes though.
big day in Lahore. Like Multan, Lahore is a city of Saints and has a long history of Sufi mysticism. Thursday night is the traditional time when seekers gather around a Sufi teacher or the Shrine of a Sufi teacher and saint, and chant and dance themselves into trance-like states of enlightenment, or aim to. In Pakistan the devotional music used in these ceremonies is known as Qawwali, made famous worldwide by the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Although he doesn’t admit it, I had begun to suspect Malik was something of a Sufi himself, and he is certainly well connected in their circles. He takes guests from the hostel (Regale Internet Inn) to the Thursday afternoon recitals of Qawwali at the Shrine of Data Ganj Baksh (aka Ali Hujwiri), one of the greatest Sufi teachers in Indian history. The Shrine is enormous and always packed with devotees who come to offer prayers and hope for miracle cures etc. It is also surrounded by free health clinics and education centres that serve society in ways the government here does not.

The Qawwali hall is under the main shrine and is also packed, but as guests we are given front
Badshahi Mosque, LahoreBadshahi Mosque, LahoreBadshahi Mosque, Lahore

A triumph of Moghul architecture, and me.
row positions. Each group plays for around 10 minutes and is quickly replaced by the following group. It is a huge honour for the musicians to play at this shrine. Groups comprise squeeze-box style accordions for melody with tabla and mini-dohl drums providing the hypnotic percussion, but most of the sound is from the harmonic voices. Each group begins with the drums and accordions before halting and allowing some classic Indian-style chanting to set the tone before they launch in to the rhythm again. The themes are religious, the singing is in Urdu and so the details are lost on me but the depth of feeling and emotion is beyond and above all language constraints; the performers expression of intense love and the greatness of God requires no translation. The music is hypnotic and the intensity builds with each successive group. The audience is continually sprayed with rosewater and incense is burning around the perimeter, adding to the ambience. Money is collected from the audiences during each group’s performance and then huge bundles of cash are literally thrown over the musicians while they are still performing. The more distinguished members of the audience approach the bands themselves and throw small
Badshahi Mosque, LahoreBadshahi Mosque, LahoreBadshahi Mosque, Lahore

Just the Moghul architecture this time, but still quite impressive I thought. This is allegedly the second largest mosque in the world (after the holy sancutary at Mecca) and the courtyard can accomodate some 100,000 worshippers.
fortunes over them. Many groups are literally sweeping piles of money off the stage and floor into sacks as they finish their turn. It is an amazing experience and quite moving. After 3 hours we emerge into the late afternoon sun and I feel strangely invigorated and completely refreshed. I am smiling for the first time since I arrived in Lahore. The rest of our group are complaining about the hard floor we have sat cross-legged on, I hadn’t even noticed. Maybe there really is something powerful in this music…

Erika had passed on the afternoon Qawwali but was looking brighter still when we got back. I encouraged her to come to the evening session in the Shrine of Baba Shah Jamal, convinced it would also help her recovery. This shrine was smaller but even more crowded, even the street outside was heaving with people when we arrived. The shrine was at the top of what seemed like some kind of pyramidal structure, and the courtyard is divided up into sections, with different drummers and groups rotating between each one. Soon the place was crammed but more people kept squeezing in. There was a tangible air of excitement and
Sikh Gurdwara Sikh Gurdwara Sikh Gurdwara

Next to the grand mosque in Lahore - thats one of the mosque's minarets in the background.
expectation, and various chants would erupt spontaneously from the crowd. It felt like being at some cup-final football match or a huge carnival. Everyone was smoking charas and the air was thick with clouds of pungent smoke, no incense was needed here. Sufi dervishes wandered around the perimeters of the shrine, dressed in colourful robes of red or green, with long beards and long hair. Several wore long dreadlocks, and for once a Muslim crowd approved of my appearance! Two such dervishes played huge, full-sized dhol drums for close on 2 hours, gradually building their powerful rhythm into a frenzy, while the crowd would chant intermittently. As it got later more and more people piled into the shrine, occupying any available space, including the roof, tops of walls and the branches of the sacred Banyan trees overhead. A Qawwalli band replaced the drummers and played ‘til after midnight, but by then the sound of more loud drumming could be heard from outside. Moving down to the street and into a large yard outside the shrine, we found the drummers and another huge crowd. All the surrounding roofs and trees were full of people, and by now the entire neighbourhood must
A friendly SikhA friendly SikhA friendly Sikh

After showing us around the temple he also got us some chai, despite it being the middle of Ramadan. "There's no Ramadan in here" Excellent.
have been intoxicated by the thick cloud of charas smoke. The 2 brothers playing the dhol were the famous Mithu and Gonga Saeen, and in front of them a group of dervishes danced in a frenzied state, moving in circles and shaking their heads violently from side to side. Soon many began to spin so fast that they became blurs of coloured cloth. The drumming slowly increased its speed and intensity, only to break down again and repeat the pattern many times, but never quite the same as before. The drumming was amazing, the brothers playing in perfect synch with each other and only the 2 drums created layers of sound that made it seem as if a dozen or more drummers were playing. And Gonga was born deaf. After hours of hypnotic, non-stop drumming he also moved out amongst the dancers. The dancers instinctively made space for him (despite their high speed and crazy looking movements in a confined space they never bump into each other or collide) and then he too began to spin, still drumming and without breaking the rhythm. At one point he is spinning so fast the enormous dhol drum is levitated up to head
Hindu Gods on the Sikh Temple in a muslim city.Hindu Gods on the Sikh Temple in a muslim city.Hindu Gods on the Sikh Temple in a muslim city.

The crossing point of India's religions?
height and flying around in circles at an alarming speed, with the drumming still in perfect synch and getting more and more intense with each high speed rotation. Eventually he stops spinning but continues drumming. When they finally stop some of the dancing dervishes have been spinning for well over an hour yet they simply stop spinning and walk off with no signs of dizziness at all. It is an incredible spectacle and makes the tourist-show whirling dervishes we saw back in Cairo look like the blatantly fake, trained dancers that they were.

Sadly the drumming didn’t have the desired effect on Erika and she returns early to the hostel feeling pretty bad again. The next day her fever has yet again resurfaced. This time she is happy to return to the hospital and they admit her and put her on a drip. I suspect she has malaria but the doctors insist the symptoms are incorrect for that. They seem to know their stuff as after a few hours on the drip her fever has come down. They change her medication and she returns to the hostel. Once again the next day she feels better still but by now
View from Lahore FortView from Lahore FortView from Lahore Fort

Looking across the fort to the Mosque and Gurdwara complex.
I know the real test will be how she feels the day after, and also that any hope of leaving Lahore quickly has well and truly vanished. Sure enough the next day she wakes with a bad fever yet again. We go straight to the hospital and I insist they test for malaria. By the now the doctors too are pretty worried and realise it is something serious, and a consultant is called for. Erika is re-admitted to the ward and given the same bed she was in a few days ago. Maybe they should have put her name on it! Her test is negative but they are still treating her for malaria anyway. For the next 4 days I spend most of my time in the hospital and running in and out to get more drugs and supplies for her.

On the second day she is in hospital the month of Ramadan starts and I decide to try to fast too. I had been planning to do this for a while, especially if I wasn’t cycling, and now with Erika seriously ill it would seem a foolish time to renege on a promise to God. It starts badly though as after a late night at the hospital I oversleep and wake to find the sun already up and shining. My mouth is dry and its 10 hours until sunset. I get through the day though. The hospital ward is air-conditioned and this helps a lot, though going out on errands in the hot sun to the chemists and to buy ice-cold drinks for Erika is a good test. I marvel at the street traders sat outside all day in the sun and wonder how they manage it. Erika is thankfully doing much better and has returned to a normal temperature, but the docs. are keeping her in to make sure. By sunset my body has stopped craving water but I drink and drink anyway.

As the only man, and a foreign one at that, to be loitering around the female ward all day I had been getting some strange looks and comments from the other patients and their families. Now I bring dates for them to break their fasts too. Over the next few days I become the general errand boy as other patients send me out to the pharmacy for them too! Erika gets much stronger and spends most of the time out of her bed chatting to the elderly Anglo-Indian lady called Yvonne in the next bed. She is a Christian and her first language is English, hence she is regarded as a foreigner by the doctors and other patients despite the fact she was born down the street and has lived her entire life in this neighbourhood. I snooze on Erika’s bed while she is not in it, waiting for the sunset Azan to announce I can eat and drink again. On the third day of Ramadan Erika is discharged, having been fever free for 3 days. I am drained and exhausted and this is the last day I fast for Ramadan. Erika is prescribed lots of rest and has to return for more tests in a week, so we cannot begin to plan anything. She is much brighter though and is soon spending all day chatting to the other travellers in the hostel. I have since gained a bad cough which develops into a chest infection, and my energy levels never really recover, even with another Thursdays Qawwali session. I start to feel down for the first time since starting this trip, as I am no longer in control of anything and cant make any plans about what to do or where to go next. I know things will get better but in the meantime I watch everyone else coming and going and envy their enthusiasm for the road. I seem to have lost mine.

Erika’s tests are good and she is given the all clear, but we have been in Lahore for over 2 weeks now and have to seriously adjust our plans for the north. The pollution and overcrowded hostel is not helping my chest and I still feel lethargic and low. The fact that it is Ramadan and stiflingly hot and humid only slows things down even more. Lots of stuff is closed, everyone is looking lethargic and disinterested and trying to sort anything out takes forever. We slowly sort our bikes out, but the stove is more problematic. MSR want us to send it back to Europe for repairs, we decide to keep it as it still kind of works and if we ever do manage to go trekking up north we will need it. After talking to other travellers we decide to leave the bikes in Lahore and bus it all the way to Gilgit and Hunza. This means we will miss lots of places we wanted to see but we don’t have time now anyway, and just want to get to the mountains.

Before we leave we do spend one morning sightseeing in the narrow maze of lanes that is the old city and visit the enormous and beautiful Badshahi Mosque and Lahore Fort. The complex around the fort and mosque is peaceful and calm in the morning light and the symmetry of the gardens and ornately designed buildings soothes the soul. It reminds me a lot of Persian architecture, but there are distinct differences in design that make this discernibly Moghul. The Badshahi mosque is amazing, simple red sandstone with beautiful white marble domes, and the scale is staggering. It was built by the Moghul emperor Aurangzeb, and was one of the final great pieces of Moghul architecture before their empire fell.
Adjacent is another intricately carved building that turns out to be a Sikh temple that houses the Shrine of Ranjit Singh, the Sikh ruler of Punjab after the fall of the Moghuls. Before Partition Lahore had an enormous Sikh population, but the dozen or so men inside the precincts of the temple here are the only Sikhs we have seen in the city in nearly 3 weeks. The designs on the temple and Shrine look distinctly more ‘Indian’ than anything we have seen up to now and even include carvings of Ganesh and other Hindu deities. The other great thing about the temple is that we can get chai in here, despite the Ramadan restrictions outside! These in turn curtail our visit to the Fort, as it’s just getting too hot to be wandering about in the sun without being able to drink. The Fort and its internal palaces are also very impressive, with definite Persian roots to the designs that have been lavishly embellished by the Moghul architects of the Emperor Shah Jehan (literally ‘King of the World’ in Persian!), who moved the Imperial capital to Lahore and ruled from this very fort.

Under different circumstances we would have had a great time in Lahore, with its amazing old city, mosques and fort; the numerous shrines with the best music and party scene in the Islamic world since Cairo and Istanbul; and of course a road called “Ice-Cream Street”- yes it really is an entire street that only sells very, very nice ice-cream. But we still couldn’t wait to leave and be somewhere else, both physically and emotionally.


15th November 2006

oh damn!
Oh Sh*t Oh F*ck Oh Damn!! i'm still reading, but i hope erika is better... travellers, dont get ahead of yourselves, have a rest, you have seen half of the world allready.... dont hurry 2 much, or one day you will find out that there is no more room for exploring... and then what?!?! good luck, i love you guys very much and i hope to see you one day (come back this way :D ) miss u miss u miss u and be carefull, you are not in Cansas anymore...
26th June 2007

What a treat
Though I've been in the US now for 30 years, I lived in the Sahiwal area for 8 years. Reading your blog refreshed my visits to Lahore. You write well. It kept me hooked to read on till the end. I'm glad Erika recovered.
13th December 2008

You both went all these places. It is ming shatering to go through all these countries, and cultures. This remided me of Che Guevara. If you truly did all this travling, you deseve to be international figures

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