Ancient History and Origin of Lahore – Part 1

An 1876 engraving of Chauhan Rajputs of Punjab, from the Illustrated London News

As per Hindu Heritage history, based on oral traditions, states that Lahore was named after Lava, son of the Hindu god Rama, who founded the city. Lahore Fort has a vacant temple dedicated in honour of Lava. Likewise, the Ravi River that flows through northern Lahore was said to be named in honour of the Hindu goddess Durga.

Ptolemy, the celebrated astronomer and geographer, mentions in his Geographia a city called Labokla situated on the route between the Indus river in a region described as extending along the rivers Bidastes or Vitasta (Jhelum), Sandabal or Chandra Bhaga (Chenab), and Adris or Iravati (Ravi).

Hinduism

The city of Lahore has a history of Hindu presence. The earliest princes were said to be Rajputs from Ayodhya, of the same family as those who reigned in Gujarat and Mewar.

Hieun Tsang, the Chinese traveller, who visited the Punjab in 630 AD, speaks of a large city, containing many thousands of families, chiefly Brahmans, situated on the eastern frontier of the kingdom of Cheka, which he says, extended from the Indus to the Beas river.

Around 580 BC., when king Bimbisara ruled South Asia, the society came to be divided into different communities based on their occupation. One of their communities was called Kshatriyas and King Luv’s descendants were classed with them and came to be known as Luvanam, which was also referred to as Luvana. The Luvanas from Loharghat became known as Loharana (masters of swords; or iron (“Loha”) chiefs (“Rana”)), which later became Lohana.

Chinese traveller Faxian, who visited South Asia between 337 and 472 CE, calls Lohana a brave community ruling the northwest territory of South Asia, in his diary. Another Chinese traveler, Kurmang who came in the eleventh century A.D. speaks of a Lohrana kingdom as a mighty power. Historian Burton writes Lohanas were brave people and says they were spread over today’s Baluchistan (Pakistan), Afghanistan and eastern fringes of Central Asia. Col. Todd, who delved into history of Rajasthan, describes Lohanas as one of the oldest Kshatriya community.

The Foundation

Many historians agree that Lahore was founded by an ancient Hindu colony sometime between the first and seventh centuries, probably as early as the beginning of the second; that it soon rose to be a place of importance, the parent of other colonies, and eventually the capital of a powerful principality, to which it gave its name. There are some grounds supporting that the old Hindu city of Lahore did not occupy exactly the site of the modern city. Tradition points the site of old Lahore to the vicinity of Ichhra – which is now a part of Lahore city – but was back then a village about three miles to the west.

The name of the village was formerly Icchra Lahore. Moreover, some of the oldest and most sacred Hindu shrines are found within this locality, namely Bhairo ka sthain and the Chandrat. The gate of the present city, known as the Lahori or Lohari Gate was so called as being the gateway looking in the direction of Lohawar or old Lahore just as the Kashmiri Gate looks towards Kashmir, and the Delhi Gate of modern Delhi to the ancient city of that name.

There are no architectural remains of the old Hindu city of Lahore, a circumstance which might well be explained by the absence of stone material, and the numerous destructive invasions to which the city has been subjected.

Jainism

Plutarch as well as many other scholars suggest that Jainism was the most ancient and original religion in Punjab. Lahore was the cultural centre of Jainism. A book written by Plutarch, Life of Alexander talks about the encounters between Alexander the Great and Digambara Jain saints called gymnosophists. Bhabra or Bhabhra is an ancient merchant community from Punjab region which mainly follows Jainism. It is believed to be connected with the Bhavadar or Bhavada Gachchha to which the Jain Acharya Kalakacharya belonged to. They may have originated from the Bhabra town (32° 13′ 30″: 73° 13′). Inscriptions suggest that Bhavada Gachchha had survived until the 17th century. There were Jain temples at localities still called Thari Bhabrian and Gali Bhabrian.

Invasions

In 682 AD, according to Ferishta, the Afghans of Kerman and Peshawar, who had, even at that early period, embraced Islam, wrested certain possession from the Hindu prince. A war ensued, and after centuries of wars, it was the end of Ancient Era. How did the invasions happen, and what happened next?

Let’s keep that for part 2.

(Article source: Wikipedia & Culture of India)

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