Michael Foley’s Walled City of Lahore

Posted on September 8, 2008
Filed Under >Darwaish, Architecture, Culture & Heritage, People, Photo of the Day
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Michael Foley is a brilliant photographer who has captured the faces of development in images that express the strength and vulnerability of the people in struggle. He has also beautifully captured the nature and the wonder of human achievement in cityspaces and architecture. Michael loves Lahore and is a frequent visitor of his most favorite city in South Asia. He writes about Lahore: What a glorious city, Lahore – vibrant, throbbing with life and so beautiful. We present eight selected photographs of Michael Foley’s collection and invite readers to tell us what is the first thing that comes in their mind when they see each photograph.

Originally from Dublin, Ireland but currently living in Washington DC, Michael works for the World Bank and has travelled a lot to developing countries, specially South Asia, helping to establish the Global Development Learning Network.

As Michael writes: I have certain interests across a spectrum, from faces to places, and from nature to architecture. In my pictures I try to catch the strength and the vulnerability of the human spirit, the beauty of nature and the play of light on form. While photography captures the fleeting moment, it also preserves it forever, and so the snapshot of today can be the historical document of tomorrow. You could say that Photography is history, its imprints gaining value as years go by, for what it says about a time, a people and a place.

Michael’s work can also be found here, here, here and here.

Photograph Details: Photographs 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 were taken in June 2007, along the route of the “Royal Walk” in the walled city of Lahore. A cultural heritage project, funded by the World Bank, and involving the Gov of Punjab and the Agha Khan Trust for Culture is planned for the area. Photographs 1, 2, 6, 8 are from the Cooco’s Den in Walled City, Lahore. 3, 7 are from Masjid Wazir Khan and rest are taken inside the narrow streets of Dehli Gate.

24 Comments on “Michael Foley’s Walled City of Lahore”

  1. Owais Mughal says:
    September 8th, 2008 8:21 pm

    Darwaish, I have never seen Lahore more colorful in any other set of photos than it appears here. Wonderful collection and great photography.

  2. Saad Zaffar says:
    September 9th, 2008 1:43 am

    WOW!! This is just brilliant. beautiful colors of lahore.

  3. Khajida says:
    September 9th, 2008 1:57 am

    Beautiful. I must have dined at Cooco’s Den zillions of times but never before I have seen the room in second picture.

    Thank you for sharing this Darwaish.

  4. Umar Shah says:
    September 9th, 2008 10:43 am

    Darwaish, thanks for writing this. Michael Foley’s Lahore is very colorful, makes me want to go back and enjoy this beautiful city again.

  5. Jay says:
    September 9th, 2008 12:52 pm

    I have lived in Lahore for decades and frequent visitor of places shown in these pictures. I must admit though that never before I have seen Cooco’s Den and walled city captured so beautifully. The color contrast is absolutely amazing.

    Well done Michael Foley.

  6. awahid says:
    September 9th, 2008 2:26 pm

    Very nice as well. I got the chance to meet him when he was in Islamabad. We kinda arranged a meetup and showed slide show of ours[local photographers].

  7. Ahsen Pervez says:
    September 9th, 2008 4:31 pm

    Great collection. Really nice capture of true colors of my beloved Lahore.

  8. September 9th, 2008 5:18 pm

    Excellent pictures, thanks for sharing.

    For those who may be interested, the Lahore Walled City Project has been documented here in this PDF file from Aga Khan Development Network’s Trust for Culture.


    Page 17.

    You may also search the term Lahore at my blog for media stories on this subject.

  9. Sajida Batool says:
    September 10th, 2008 8:38 am

    A truly wonderful collection. I have been away from Lahore since 2004 and now I really wanna go back :(.

  10. Noman says:
    September 10th, 2008 8:57 am

    Ismaili Mail: Its encouraging to know that AKDN is doing something for lahore too. What are their ongoing/future projects in Lahore?

  11. Adnan Zahoor says:
    September 10th, 2008 3:45 pm

    Lahore Lahore aie!!!! Beautiful colors.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  12. Andre says:
    September 10th, 2008 4:00 pm

    Where is picture number 5 taken from? This place is begging for restoration indeed.

  13. PMA says:
    September 10th, 2008 5:07 pm

    Have heard of Cuckoo’s Nest but what is this Cooco’s Den featured in these pictures. Does name of the restaurant has any thing to do with the gaudy colored exterior of the defaced building?

  14. Darwaish says:
    September 11th, 2008 11:47 am

    Alvi Sahab: It is actually called Cooco’s Den & Cafe or Coco’s Den & Cafe. For reader’s interest let me share whatever I can remember about Cooco’s Den and its owner Iqbal Hussain.

    Situated in the old Lahore’s Diamond Market (Heera Mandi), Cooco’s Den is an old Haveli, converted into a restaurant. It was originally a brothel and family home of one of Lahore’s finest and yet most controversial painters, Iqbal Hussain. Those who are familiar with iqbal Hussain’s know that he is particularly renowned for painting courtesans of this area (Diamond Market), dancers, musicians and the landscapes around River Ravi. The walls of Cooco’s Den & Caf

  15. PMA says:
    September 11th, 2008 2:21 pm

    Thanks Darwaish for the detailed response. I used to walk from ‘Zila Kachehri’ (District Courts) to ‘Badami Bagh’ (Almond Garden) to catch a bus. Entering from ‘Bhaati Darwaza’ (Bhatti Gate) in the south one could reach Roshnai Darwaza (Lighted Gate) in the north without any problem. The walk went through ‘Shahi Mahalla’ (Royal Street) and the ‘Hazuri Bagh’ (Royal Garden). Being familiar with the neighborhood I could well imagine where Cooco’s Den Restaurant would be located. But even in those days most of the ‘Havelies’ (Mansions) were in bad condition and taken up as multi-family residences and businesses and trade shops. Exception were the brothels that were always well maintained and brightly lit up at night. But early in the morning is the best time to go through the ‘Royal Walk’. That is the time when the ‘shady side’ of the night is fast asleep and the scavengers go through the rubbles………..Looking forward to your post.

  16. Sidra Iqbal says:
    September 11th, 2008 3:23 pm

    Michael Foley has a great eye. Excellent photography of Lahore.

    And thank you darwaish for writing wonderful article and a very informative comment. I have just recently discovered ATP and I must congratulate the team for the great work. Well done guys and keep it up!!

  17. Maira Ahmad says:
    September 12th, 2008 11:35 am

    What a lovely post indeed. Iqbal Hussain is no doubt one of the most under-rated artists of Pakistan. I saw his interview on DAWN News and he was brilliant.

    In one of his interviews with BBC in 2007 he told that when Cooco’s Den was formed, his students from NCA used to wait here on voluntarily basis and two of his colleagues were the regular customers for many months

  18. Sarwar Bhatti says:
    September 13th, 2008 5:07 pm

    amazing color contrast. beautiful.

    Isn’t Iqbal Hussain the same painter who loves to do nude paintings? I remember he showed some of his nudes in that bbc interview mentioned by maira ahmed.

  19. Abid Javed says:
    September 15th, 2008 3:21 pm

    Iqbal Hussain is just good painter. He has chosen to paint nude to get attention and he has got enough, I think.

    There are much better painters than him int his country and unfortunately, they don’t get the attention and respect they deserve.

    The photography is nice though.

  20. Mehreen Zubair says:
    September 25th, 2008 7:36 am

    Fantastic colors. Never seen Lahore like this before. Thanks for sharing this.

  21. Watan Aziz says:
    January 24th, 2009 5:32 am

    Each trip to the inner “androon” city was a Hansel and Gretel experience for me. I would leave mental crumbs on how many right or left turns. Which narrow alley, where only one person can pass at a time. How many crossovers of the open “nali”. Which house door did I see that looked unique enough to remember.

    I always feared that I will not rememeber my way back and asking directions in unknown area is not the smartest thing to do. And that I will never get out of this maze of alleys and pathways.

    However, that never happened. And I did manage to ask directions from friendly corner shopkeepers.

    You can find the names of all the gates here, Gates of Lahore.

  22. annie says:
    March 25th, 2010 5:20 am

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful images.

  23. Zohaib says:
    June 24th, 2010 5:48 am

    I am a young journalist and Documentary maker from Pakistan. I am Associate Producer News at the only English News Channel of Pakistan Express 24/7. Being a responsible citizen of the walled city of Lahore, I am producing short research based documentaries on Walled city of Lahore and these short reports are being telecast on Express 24/7 on every Sunday. So far I have made six reports out of fourteen and rest of them are in pipeline which will be telecast every Sunday.

    here are the links of those six reports that I mentioned above.







  24. July 8th, 2011 3:12 am

    lahore is Well known from its History point of View, but old buildings in lahore are miserable now…no 1 take any tension to fix them…that is the most unfortunate stuff.:(

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