By Marian Sharaf Joseph
The Mall Road, officially called Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam is the most historic road in urban Lahore.
Constructed in the reign of the British Empire (1849-1947), the idea was to build a new town center outside the gates of the Mughal walled city to accommodate increase in business, population and a growing need to cater to the British lifestyle.
The Mall, approximately 8 km long is almost two centuries old and has been the most happening place ever since. In fact, it was at one time the only hip place in town because of the multicultural people living and working in this area. Cheyenne House and Pak Tea House were the gossip corners for creative minds; Cathy Restaurant was the first Chinese cuisine in town. Clubs, restaurants and bakeries dotted the road including Shezan in Diyal Singh Mansion, Salt n Pepper and Gogo restaurant coming in early 1980’s. The modern shopping center of that time, Anarkali, Capri restaurant in Tollinton market, YMCA, Regal cinema and the Freemason Hall made the Mall an ultra hip hang out.
Being the town center, the Mall is the only place in Lahore that is well planned. The area is divided into twelve main blocks starting from Upper Mall, the downtown going all the way to Lower Mall, the uptown spot. However, what makes the Mall the hallmark of Lahore is the buildings constructed during the Colonial British Raj; the block that includes government offices – the Punjab Assembly, the Governor House and City District Office; public offices – the General Post Office, the High Court, the State Bank and the Red Cross, religious buildings – the Regal Mosque, the Sacred Heart Cathedral and the Cathedral Church of the Resurrection as well as education institutes like the Punjab University and National College of Arts. ¨
This article was originally published in the print edition of Valuemag, issue 2, June 2008.