Lahore: Anarkali and more

Published February 7, 2010

Pakistan's centre for art and culture, Lahore is also, indubitably, the shopping capital of the country. “I prefer shopping in Lahore. It's much better than shopping in Islamabad and Pindi. There's a good variety of everything,” says Rawalpindi based dress designer, Farena Haris. Visitors from Karachi, too, are requested to bring back embroidered outfits, khussas, dry fruit and a number of other items that make Lahore famous.

Anarkali Bazaar Undoubtedly, the oldest bazaar in Lahore, Anarkali has withstood the test of time and is one of Lahore's busiest shopping places. Named after the famous courtesan of Akbar's time, Anarkali is located on the outskirts of the Old Lahore City. It may be a congested and densely populated market, but it has a distinctive ambience. The atmosphere can almost transport you back in time when you weave your way through the lanes and alleys of the popular Bano Bazaar. There are many shops that have been in the same family for generations. A treasure trove for an avid shopper, Bano Bazaar houses an array of items ranging from colourful and glittery glass bangles and artificial jewellery to heavily embroidered and worked garments. For most people, the heavily worked suits may be a little more than over the top, but if you look carefully, you may just find the type of clothes and work that you are looking for.

Says Mrs Ikram, “I love the vibrant atmosphere of Anarkali. It has an old-world charm unlike the shopping malls of today. Every time I go, I discover a new shop or get a good bargain and I love the 'fruit chaat' shops that seem to dot every corner.” If you do visit Anarkali, you better bring your bargaining skills with you, as you can get away with a good buy at a much lower price than the shopkeeper initially asks for.

Anarkali Bazaar also houses specialised stationery stores that cater to the students of the nearby National College of Arts (NCA) and Punjab University's Institute of Art and Design. On weekends, the bazaar is converted into a haven for book enthusiasts as the footpaths are lined with old-book stalls where all kinds of books are available. Whether you're looking for comics, fiction or non- fiction, computer or medical books, you are bound to find them here.

Liberty Market Located in the heart of Gulberg, Liberty Market has something for everyone. At the front there are numerous stores selling shoes, jewellery — both real and costume — fabric, toys, watches, books and even furniture. There is the well known 'Dupatta Gali' which apart from dupattas, has some amazing silver jewellery stalls where beautiful bracelets, pedants and rings with semi-precious stones can be found. Dupatta Gali also has shops that sell block printed cotton suits and exquisite silk 'chunri' suits.

At the back Liberty accommodates even more shops and stalls. There is a huge variety of colourful and sequined 'khussas' and traditional leather 'kolapuris' to choose from. There are several clothes boutiques and also Liberty Plaza, which is home to dozens of embroidery outlets and caters to every taste.

There are also a couple of fascinating shops that sell every type of hair oil imaginable as well as specially prepared 'ubtan' and henna and herbal concoctions that promise to give your hair that 'oh so shiny' look.

Raja Centre and Auriga Located on Gulberg's bustling Main Boulevard, Raja Centre and Auriga are popular destinations for those looking for khaddi suits, shawls and unstitched fabric. The shops in Raja Centre sell khaddi fabric for both winter and summer as well as trendy ready-made embroidered 'kurtis' at affordable prices. There is a certain corner shop in this Centre that sells left-over material from a popular Lahore-based boutique and people visit this shop regularly to buy designer fabric at throwaway prices.

All varieties of unstitched fabric and shawls, at various prices can be found at Auriga. The variety and quality of shawls is immense. From the absolute finest, to the cruder, cheaper versions of so-called Pashminas can be found here. All manner of fabric including silks, chiffons, georgettes, lawns and cottons can also be found here.

Ichhra Bazaar If looking for curtain cloth, bed linen, bed covers and towels, look no further than Ichhra Bazaar. You can either buy ready-made articles or get bed linen and covers made according to your specifications.

Y Block Defence, MM Alam Road and Shopping Malls For a more 'upscale' shopping experience, Y Block Defence, MM Alam Road and shopping malls like Mall of Lahore and Xinhua Mall are home to cosmetic and perfume stores, imported shoes, bags, children's wear and various chain stores that sell eastern and western clothing and sportswear.

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