Lahore Big Bus Tour

Lahore now has its very own ‘big bus’ tour, joining in with other famous and worldly cities, such as London (clearly the home of the ‘double decker bus’) and other lessor known but equally famous – Big Bus Canberra!

img_5561Known as “Sightseeing Lahore” (www.tdcp.gop.pk) and introduced last year by the Punjab Development Corporation, the new pair of double decker buses take you on a comfortable ride throughout some of the lessor known sights you may drive past every day.

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The tour commences from Punjab Stadium (or Gadaffi Stadium, as all the signage still shows, and cricket tragics still know), where following the entry to a gated and guarded area, you may park directly next to the once famous international ground. A quick waltz across the carpark, and through more ‘high degree security’ (men are scanned, patted and ‘magic wanded’, women walk straight in) you get to wait in the covered outdoor waiting area for the bus to arrive.

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On the evening we rode the bus, Lahore put on a glorious winters evening with a light low laying fog (smog) and a nice crispness to the air. The waiting area was full of locals, and 4 foreigners (us) waiting to depart, and mostly already freezing, as it was about 15 degrees….cold for the local Lahori’s…

Once we boarded we headed out of the stadium in our open bus (downstairs was enclosed, but all braved the elements- dust, dirt, smoke, smog, ash and the cold as we flew out down Main Boulevard. The cold was not the issue, it was the crap flying into your eyes, but this was soon forgotten as blindness set in, and the hostess commentator entertained the crowd pointing out the passing locations in a mix of about 70% Urdu and 30% English, as well as engaging the local extroverts into a bit on song and frivolity…she made the journey quite entertaining for the crowd.

Along the way we passed by areas such as Liberty Market, the 60km Lahore Canal image4built by the Mughals and upgraded by the British, Lawrence Gardens, the Governors House, Zoo, Charing Cross (where interestingly a statue of Queen Victoria left by the Brits, was removed in 1951 and replaced with a Bronze Quran), The Punjab Assembly, GPO, Museum, Zamama (Kim’s) Gun – from Kipling’s fame, Allama Iqbal Tomb, Badshahi Mosque, Lahore Fort and Minar-e-Pakistan, before stopping at the famous Food Street.

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Food Street is the famous area in the Old City where a fully cordoned off street allows for pedestrian only wandering and eating amongst classic old world buildings within the surrounds of the Lahore Fort and the Badhshahi Mosque. The bus drops the guests here for a one hour break, where you can explore, eat or enjoy some Kashmiri Chai to warm you up and allow your eyes to open from the wind and other debris that has amassed. An hour is not quite long enough, but luckily some smart forward planning friends we attended with were smart enough to find a restaurant, place our order, then we wandered for our warming tea, before coming back to have the amazing Desi food awaiting us, to devour, then dash back to the bus for the return.

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The bus waits for no-one and leaves on time, which is most unusual for Pakistan, and the sound system belts out songs all the way straight back to the stadium…We arrive back just before 11pm, after an 8pm departure with an enjoyable experience had by all.

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Despite the pollution and often interesting smells, this is a great way to see Lahore in a different way. Tour costs are very affordable with a Rs 200 for adults ($AUD 2.60) and Rs 100 for under 10 or students, and the old people or disabled are free!

Check it out on UAN 03400 382 382 or sightseeinglahore@tdcp.gop.pk

Aussie in Lahore

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