US Mission Pakistan: Ambassador Hoagland Visits Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque

On February 18, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Richard Hoagland and U.S. Consul General in Lahore Nina Maria Fite visited the Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque, two of Pakistan’s most famous landmarks. The tour started at the Fort’s Alamgiri Gate, which was restored with a grant from the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), which is helping conservation of Pakistan’s national heritage. Afzal Khan, Punjab Deputy Director of Archaeology, led the tour.  According to the US Embassy in Pakistan, the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation has provided more than $1.8 million towards 17 different cultural and archeological projects in Pakistan over the past decade. Ten of these 17 sites were in the province of Punjab.

Badshahi Mosque

Photo by Derek Brown | Click on photo to view slideshow

The Badshahi Mosque or the ‘King’s Mosque’ in Lahore was commissioned by the sixth Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1671 and completed in 1673. It is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world.  It is Lahore’s most famous landmark and a major tourist attraction.

The Lahore Fort also known as Shahi Qila was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 along with the Shalimar Gardens of Lahore. According to UNESCO the 21 monuments preserved within the boundaries of Lahore Fort comprise an outstanding repertory of the forms of Mughal architecture at its artistic and aesthetic height, from the reign of Akbar (1542-1605) through the reign of Shah Jahan (1627-58). “The property in general maintains the authentic layout, forms, design and substance of both complexes and the constituent layouts, elements and features associated with the Mughal artistic and aesthetic expressions of the 16th and 17th century. Maintaining authenticity of workmanship necessitates that contemporary repair and conservation work use and revive traditional techniques and materials.”

The photos of this visit were posted in the embassy’s account in Flicker and Facebook. Although generally well received online, one FB user complained about the Lahore visit in the embassy’s FB page:

Arslan Talib All traffic were blocked due to this person. at least they should not block trafic from all sides
Saturday at 12:42am
Richard Hoagland ‎@ Arslan Talib: I agree with you — we should NOT block traffic. That was not my choice. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.
Saturday at 1:03am

Nice to see Ambassador Hoagland in FB, addressing the issue within minutes with an apology.  More photos posted here in Facebook. And the photos are gorgeous! It turns out that the photos were taken by somebody familiar – Derek Brown!

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The last time I posted about Derek Brown, awesome travel photographer and USAID EFM was in October 2010 when he had the Imagining the Muslim World Photo Exhibit in Washington, D.C. Photos from that exhibit was also carried by IIP and posted in several embassy websites. And now he is in Pakistan!  Oh, lucky mission!

Domani Spero