Traveling on N5 – Part IV

Posted on February 7, 2008
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Culture & Heritage, Travel
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Owais Mughal

Three episodes ago, we started our journey on Pakistan’s longest highway N5 in Karachi (km 0). On our way we stopped at Rohri, Bahawalpur and Lahore. Today in Part IV we will continue our journey on N5 northwards of Lahore (km 1260) and cover a distance of 280 km to reach Rawalpindi (km 1540). See the map to the right for our journey today. This portion of N5 along with Multan-Lahore and Rawalpindi-Torkham portion is part of the historic Grand Trunk Road.

Shahdara: (N5 kilometer Marker 1268)

Lahore is located on East bank of River Ravi. N5 crosses the river and immediately enters the city of Shahdara located on its west bank. For all practical purposes now, Shahdara has become part of the Lahore city proper but technically it is still a separate town. Shahdara is famous for 3 Mughal dynasty mausoleums located here. These belong to Emperor Jahangir, his wife Nur Jahan, and her brother Asif Khan (also known as Asif Jah).

Following is a satellite image of Shahdara area. It shows N5 as well as a spur road goint to the mausoleum complex. This side road also crosses the railway line as an overhead bridge, so it is hard to miss if you are going there for the first time.

Asif Khan was the father of famous Mumtaz, the lady of the Taj Mahal at Agra (India). Over the years, Asif Khan‘s tomb has dilapitated to such a degree that most of its decoration is gone.

Jahangir‘s tomb however, has retained most of its splendour. It is magnificient and decorated with pietra durra. The 99 names of God are inlaid in black on the marble and there are beautiful jalis (mesh) which make even more beautiful patterns of light.

Jahangir‘s wife Nur Jahan, was a power in the court and apparently much loved. It is said that when Jahangir was young man he handed the lady two of the royal pigeons to hold. While pigeon-flying may not be a cult in many countries, it was (and is) a sport enjoyed by many in the sub continent. When Jahangir returned for his birds, one had flown. He was surprised.

“But how did it fly?”

he asked.

“Like this!”

She laughed and let go the second bird. They say that from then on he was enchanted.

Nur Jahan‘s tomb was stripped down to bricks by the Sikhs, but was restored in the 20th century. In buildings of this sort, the actual grave is beneath the mausoleum, in the cellar.

I have passed through Shahdara countless times but the last time I visited Jahangir, Nur Jahan and Asif Khan‘s mausoleums was way back in 1984. I remember eating ‘Mughlai murgh cholay’ (Mughal Chicken and Garbanzo beans) with tandoori naan in the lawn of tomb complex. We had bought this mouth watering lunch from one of the many ‘thelas’ (mobile vendors) that crowd the gates of Jahangir’s mausoleum.

Besides these Mughal mausoleums, Shahdara is also an important junction point for both road and railways. The road and rail branches from here go to Narowal in one direction (NE) and to Sheikhupura (SW) in other. N5 on the other continues Northward.

Muridke: (N5 km marker 1285)

This town is famous for Lahore Country Club Cricket ground which has been hosting regular First Class Matches in Pakistan. A side road off N5 also connects Muridke to the city of Narowal.

Kamoke: (N5 km marker 1307)

Kamoke is best known for Basmati brand rice market. One of the best quality Basmati rice is produced in fields around the city. According to a 2002 estimate, population of Kamoke was 167000 which gave it a rank of 31 among big cities of Pakistan. A satellite image of Kamoke is below.

According to unconfirmed source, Kamoke is named after a person named ‘Kamoo’ and the city was established during the time of Emperor Akbar (1542-1605 A.D).

Gujranwala: (N5 km marker 1328)

Gujranwala is the 7th largest city of Pakistan. According to 1998 census, the city population was 1132500. N5 business loop goes through the city center but since early 1980s, N5 bypasses were built on both sides of the city. One has to take the old business loop to through the city to get a real flavour of Gujranwala. The city is named after a community of people called Gujjars. Gujranwala is also famous for its wrestlers and body builders.

Gujranwala is also a road junction to go to Sialkot and Faisalabad via Sheikhupura. Before Motorway M3 was constructed, Gujranwala used to be the main junction for road traffic between Faisalabad and Rawalpindi.

Photo to the left is the raw rice crop freshly cut in Gujranwala suburbs.

Another famous landmark from the city is the historic Estcourt clock tower. Shown in the photo to the right. The original name is almost archaic now and it is now famous as the ‘ghanta ghar’.

Other landmarks in Gujranwala include the Jinnah Cricket Stadium which has hosted numerous First Class and One Day International matches. Gujranwala is also a main railway stop on Pakistan’s mainline. Gujranwala is served by the newly constructed Sialkot International Airport.

Ghakhar: (N5 km marker 1347)

The word ‘Ghakhar’ comes from a community that goes by the same name, who is said to be the forefathers of Ghakhar City. This tribe lived at the north bank of Jehlum River. The city is famous for its finest duree factories which makes world class rugs, carpets, durees, and other cotton products. A satellite image of Ghakhar is given below.

Wazirabad: (N5 km marker 1362)

Just like Gujranwala, N5 bypasses Wazirabad City to the south. To go into the city one has to take N5 Business loop. Wazirabad is a road and rail junction to travel to Sialkot (NE) or Faisalabad (SW).

Satellite image of Wazirabad is below.

It is said that the city was founded by one, Sheikh Ilm-ud-din Ansari who was the court physician of Emperor Shah Jehan and later became the Governor of Lahore. The name Wazirabad is derived from his title of Wazir Khan.

Wazirabad is internationally famous for its fine quality medical/surgery tools as well as cutlery products such as hunting knives, pocket knives, daggers, swords, axes, laguiole knives, military knives, utensils, table cutlery, household and light industry products.

Wazirabad is served by the newly constructed Sialkot International Airport. The airport is only 15 km from Wazirabad off highway N5.

Just north of Wazirabad, N5 crosses the famous River Chenab. An image of these bridges over a setting sun is shown to the left. Below is the satellite image of N5 bridges over River Chenab below. One of the two bridges to the right is Railway bridge over Chenab.

Gujrat: (N5 km marker 1380)

According to a British historian, General Cunningham, Gujrat was founded by Raja Bachhan Pal in 460 BC, which makes it a very historic city. The modern city of Gujrat however, was established around 1900.

According to 1998 census, population of Gujrat was 252000 which made it the 18th largest city of Pakistan.

Gujrat is also known for its clay and thus the high quality pottery produced here. The city is also famous for its furniture industry as well as the high quality electric fans industry.

N5 has a bypass built around Gujrat. To go into the city one has to take N5 Business Loop. Here is the satellite image of Gujrat area.

Gujrat is also served by the newly constructed Sialkot International Airport. There is a new bridge on Chenab underconstruction these days. The bridge is called Shahbazpur bridge and it is located north east of Gujrat. Once complted, it will connect Sialkot airport to N5 at Gujrat. The drive time from N5 at Gujrat to the airport is estimated to be only 15 min.

Lala Musa: (N5 km marker 1397)

Lala Musa is a main junction on both N5 and railways to go to Malakwal and Sargodha. From my childhood road trips through Lala Musa, I’ve got vivid images of a children’s playground that used to be right next to N5. The playground had a slide and many swings. It used to be my fantasy to one day stop there and enjoy the ‘jhoola’s but my father never stopped car there. After I became old enough to drive on N5 myself, I was also too old to use slides and swings in a children’s park in Lalal Musa, but the memories of childhood still continue to remain with me.

Kharian: (N5 km marker 1412)

Kharian is home to Pakistan’s second largest cantonment. A road from Kharian goes to the famous Mishri Mor Buss Adda. Photo to the right shows N5 passing through Kharian.

Sarai Alamgir: (N5 km marker 1426)

This city is located on the eastern bank of River Jhelum. It is said that the actual town of Sarai was founded by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir because of its strategic location on the Grand Trunk Road. The South Eastern boundary of Sarai Alamgir is marked by Lower Jhelum Canal.

Following is the satellite image of N5 bridges over River Jhelum which connect Sarai Alamgir to the city of Jhelum.

Following two photos show the Jaggu Head Works in Sarai Alamgir and the N5 bridge over Jhelum.

Jhelum: (N5 km marker 1432)

Jhelum city is located right across Sarai Alamgir on Northern bank of River Jhelum. The city of Jhelum and adjoining areas have been extensively covered in various posts at ATP before so we will just provide links to those posts here.

1. Hydaspes -> Boucephila -> Jhelum
2. Jhelum – The City of Vitasta
3. Cultural Fusion at Mishri Mor Buss Adda

Dina: (N5 km marjer 1448)

Dina is a very important junction point of N5. One road from here goes to Mangla Dam and to Mirpur in Azad Kashmir and another goes to Rohtas Fort. Photo to the left is Rohtas Fort direction marker on N5. I’ve had several memories from this little town. My earliest memory is from in 1980 when we took Tezrau from Lahore for Dina. Tezrau used to have only a 2-minute stop at Dina. We descended from the train in haste along with the luggage. From Dina we continued our journey to Mangla via bus. My latest memory of Dina is from 1990s. I was staying in Mangla for vacations and used to drive down to Dina every evening to have ice-cream. Dina was the only city in the vicinty that sold ice-cream.

Sohawa: (N5 Km Marker 1473)

Just outside Dina, N5 gains altitude and goes through beautiful hilly area of Potohar region. N5 used to be very curvy-twisty here until 1996. Around that time, many portions of hills were cut to ease out the curves and gradient, especially around a village called Tarki. Today N5 is a lillte bit less dramatic in this area than it used to be. Sohawa is the next big town of N5. A road junction on N5 from Sohawa goes to the city of Chakwal and passes through the heartland of Potohar region.

Gujar Khan: (N5 km marker 1491)

Satellite image of Gujar Khan is below.

Mandra: (N5 km marker 1505)

A road junction on N5 from Mandra goes to the city of Chakwal. Satellite image of Mandra alongwith the road junction to Chakwal is shown below.

Rawat: (N5 km marker 1522)

There is a historic Ghakkar Fort near the town of Rawat (or Riwat) on N5. Currently what remains of the Fort is just the entrance gate and ruins of the surrounding wall. It is worth a trip in my opinion anyway. Photo to the left is a historic Ghakkar era mosque and below are the two photos of Ghakkar Fort.

Islamabad Highway Junction: (N5 km marker 1524)

At km marker 1524, a junction to the right on N5 takes us to Islamabad. This road to Islamabad is also called the Islamabad Highway and enters Islamabad at Zero-Point.

Rawalpindi: (N5 km marker 1540)

The city of Rawalpindi and adjoining areas have also been extensively covered in various posts at ATP before so we will just provide links to those posts here.

1. Rawalpindi – Past and Present
2. Remembering Ojhri Camp
3. heartland of Potohar region

This completes our travel for today. We will now embark on last part of our journey on N5 in episode V soon.

ATP brings you the Complete Story of Travel on N5:

1. Traveling on N5 – I: Karachi to Rohri: 483 km
2. Traveling on N5 – II: Rohri to Bahawalpur: 361 km
3. Traveling on N5 – III: Bahawalpur to Lahore: 417 km
4. Traveling on N5 – IV: Lahore to Rawalpindi: 272 km
5. Traveling on N5 – V: Rawalpindi to Torkham: 216 km

Also see

1. Sukkur to Quetta by Highway N65


2. Photos for this post are taken from
3. Satellite Images for this post are taken from Google Earth.

18 Comments on “Traveling on N5 – Part IV”

  1. February 8th, 2008 7:11 am

    Very nice post Owais Sahab….

    very nice overview of the big cities of Punjab…via N5

    Punjab ..the land of brave people…5 rivers flow in it…which make it the most precious field ..for crops..and other fruits etc….

    And very nice pics …of Lahore historical Tombs..and gardens….of hundreds of years….

    A city ..which history dates back to 5000+ years….many specialituies ..of this Heart of Pakistan..the politcal..mystical…philosophical..andeducational… food axis of Pakistan….

    Many many aspects..angles…and spectrums….educational instituons like KE…Government College….etc…which makes it parallel to whole Subcontinent region….

  2. February 8th, 2008 7:15 am

    Dr. Abubakr is visiting scientist of LUMS,LAhore…and Dr. Shahid Hussain Bokhari…(UET Electrical Brain..the greatest resercher of the islamic world..)….they all belong to Lahore….!

    They have served pakistan…and Serving it….still….

    they have not run from Pakistan…in hawis of money… US..UK etc….

    We are Proud of them…all islamic world is proud of them…..

    Once again thanks..Owaid sahab…for nice post of the beautiful cities of Pakistan…..

  3. shahran says:
    February 8th, 2008 7:48 am

    Another good post,
    Reminds mee the days when I used to travel to these places for telephone exchange installations in small villages and towns.

    Gujranwala: I used to buy atleast 10kg Basmati Rice for my family in karachi and islamabad who were not able to find good rice in the cities.

    Wazirabad:The view from the wazirabad bridge is still in my memory.

    If you move west from wazirabad, there is Hafizabad and then there is Qadirabad Headworks which is another sight to see. You could even taste fried fresh water fish there.

    Gujrat Area is famous for Water Mellon and also the honey dew and from Gujrat to Sarai Alamgir, you would see a lot of people buying these fruits.

    Lala Musa: If you move east of gujrat or lalamusa towards kashmir, you could actually see mountains which serves as a natural boundary between these areas and Bhimber Azad Kashmir.

    Jehlum: Famous due to a number of valiant Pakistan Army soldiers who came from this area and including the current COAS Kayani.

    The topography changes as you enter the potohar region and one could the amazing patterns that are visible on the mountains and hills.

  4. February 8th, 2008 8:04 am

    I think…Shahran..present beautiful Army Chief of from Chakwal…not Gujraat…not sure….

    Ch Ietzaz Ahsan like brave is from Gujraat..a land of very intellectuals..and brave people…

  5. Tina says:
    February 8th, 2008 9:40 am

    The story of Nur Jahan and the two pigeons I have heard before, but attributed to Anarkali.

    Granted Anarkali may be a fictional character.

    BTW there is a fancier’s breed of pigeon well known in the States and the Europe called the Lahori, named of course after its city of origin. It has dramatic foot feathering :)

  6. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    February 8th, 2008 11:01 am

    Just a footnote to the otherwise a beautiful post.

    Lahore was the capital of the Mughal Empire between years 1584 & 1638 under Emperors Akbar, Jahangir, and Shahjahan and Shahdara Gardens on the right bank of River Ravi served as the royal cemetery. All three surviving mausoleums mentioned in this post were constructed by the the orders of Emperor Shahjahan. Sikhs stripped these wonderful structures and British constructed the G.T.Road and the railway line through the cemetery with little regard for the Muslim royal burial grounds.

    Emperor Jahangir, Prince Salim of famous Indian film Mughal-e-Azam, became addicted to opium and the empire was run by the Empress Noorjahan and her brother Prime Minister Asifjah. Prince Khurram was married to Arjumand Bano, a daughter of Asifjah. At his ascension to throne in year 1628 Prince Khurram took up the title of Emperor Shahjahan and bestowed the title of Empress Mumtaz Mahal to Arjumand Bano. The Mausoleum of Empress Mumtaz Mahal was later nick named by the locals as ‘Taj Mahal’. All three Mughal mausoleums in Shahdara are in poor condition now and in need of major repairs and restorations.

  7. atif says:
    February 8th, 2008 12:08 pm

    Shahdara (Shah Dara = King Dara) was named after Dara Shikoh, the crown prince and the eldest son of Shah Jahan.
    Aurangzeb, the Ziaul Haq of the Mughals, had him killed for his sufi beliefs among other things and became the king.
    The king of the Indian awam’s hearts was still Darashikoh.

  8. Owais Mughal says:
    February 8th, 2008 12:15 pm

    Atif, thanks for the info. on Shahdara’s name. Appreciate it.

  9. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    February 8th, 2008 12:37 pm

    atif: Respectfully. The word ‘dara’ here, is ‘darra’ as in ‘dar’ in Persian language meaning door. Before the age of permanent bridges, in order to cross the rivers via ‘boat bridges’ the royal armies or entourage had to stop and regroup at the banks of the rivers. The place was known as ‘Shah Darra’ meaning entrance point to the royal courts and the city which stood on the other side of the river. Emperor Alamgir, the subject of Hindu and Sikh hatred, and Prince Darashiko come much later; two generations later if you please.

  10. Roshan says:
    February 8th, 2008 1:45 pm

    @ atif
    I really like this analogy:
    “Aurangzeb, the Ziaul Haq of the Mughals”

  11. atif says:
    February 9th, 2008 1:01 pm

    @parvaiz munir alvi
    You have a point. The geography of the place, the sound of its name, and the nearby bridge of boats (and there were many such bridges on many rivers by many forts and palaces) can logically prove your point.

    Historically however, the name of that area on the other side of Ravi was “Dilkusha Bagh”, a garden commissioned by Empress Nur Jehan.

    Here’s an excerpt on Jahangir’s death from my copy of ‘Tuzk-e-Jahangiri’ in Urdu: “…maqsood khan ke sapurd ker diya, jis ne lahore le ja ker juma ke din ravi ke kinaare nur jehan ke lagaye bagh mein dafan kiya.”

    ‘Sultan Darashikoh’ and ‘Aurangzeb’, as referred to in Jahangir’s biography, are mentioned many times before Jahangir’s death in that book.

    The name Shahdara or Shahderah were used commonly in Ranjit Singh’s times (18th c) and the British era.

    Many British era maps and books also refer to the area as ‘Dilkusha Bagh, now known as Shahdara’.

    I like this version too because dara is my favorite mughal character together with anarkali and nur jehan.

    Great article series by the way, Owais.

  12. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    February 9th, 2008 4:41 pm

    atif: I appreciate your interest in the subject. If you are familiar with Urdu/Persian languages, the word ‘Dara’ in Shahdara and in Darashikoh are spelled very differently. Also the name and the place Shahdara precedes the Dilkusha Gardens. Shahdara had developed as a staging place even in the days of Emperor Akbar. At their marriage in year 1611 Emperor Jahangir bestowed his bride Mehr-un-Nisa with title Noor Mahal and granted her lands and Dilkusha Gardens in Shahdara. Upon his death in year 1627 at age 59, his body was brought to Shahdara from Kashmir and buried within the Dilkusha Gardens. My one Mughal era map shows Shahdara at a distance of one ‘korwah’ (in Persian) along left side of the road to Lahore and Jahangir Mausoleum along the right side of the road. Korwah is Kose in Urdu and is equal to four thousand yards. The place along N5 identified as Shahdara in this post is not the historical town of Shahdara. The historical town is further upriver. If one crosses the old Ravi bridge, the location on the right bank of the river was called ‘Shadara More’ (junction). Bus passengers used to disembark at that point and take a ‘tonga’ to go upriver to the town of Shahdara. With time, as is the case with other places in Pakistan, the population and commerce moved right on the British built G.T. Road and that is what is commonly known as Shahdara today.

  13. atif says:
    February 9th, 2008 10:22 pm

    I can’t argue against a mughal era map that does not show the tombs. Spelling of common words inside proper names like cities’ can change over time. But again you have valid points and I don’t mean to spread misinformation. If I find any references to that name in older texts I’ll let you know. Thanks.

  14. Muse says:
    February 10th, 2008 4:25 am

    Great post, very informative and interesting. I went last year for the first time to a town called Khatala near Gujrat where my great-grandfather is from. My grandparents are currently buried there and it was a transforming experience for me to see it for myself. I was wondering if anyone has heard of it and knows anything about it. I’ve been trying to find more information, but in vain. Perhaps its because its considered a part of Gujrat itself? If someone can shed some light, it’ll be much appreciated. Thanks.

  15. Uneeb Walayat says:
    March 4th, 2008 4:37 am


    Thank you very much for writing Part IV and we all are looking forward to its last episode. I would appreciate if you could please inform where did you get the roadmap of Pakistan (the first image of this episode). Please do share the complete map with us (if possible) as I have not found such a detailed map on net so far.

  16. atif says:
    April 3rd, 2008 11:24 am

    To Pervaiz Munir Alvi.
    I have found evidence of your position on the name of Shahdara. The name of that place near Lahore is mentioned in the Akbarnama of Abul Fazl. My mis-information was obtained from a few articles by Majid Sheikh in Dawn and other places.
    I would edit my comments here if I could.

  17. Naim Akhtar says:
    September 13th, 2008 11:49 am

    As far as I understand that the name SHAHDARA has two parts
    first is SHAH…. and the next is….. DARA.
    SHAH means the KING …… and DARA reflects the meaning of DOOR (Darawaza).if we combine these two words.. then we can say it is the door or darawaza from where any one enter into the Mahal or Fort..Gateway to enter in the King place.

  18. Owais Mughal says:
    March 12th, 2009 7:42 pm

    S.A.J. Shirazi writes a short blog on N5′s GT road portion here

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