Before the bloody partition of 1947 divided the two neighbouring nations, India’s Amritsar and Pakistan’s Lahore both were part of the Indian state of Punjab. The two cities are also called sister cities or twin cities as they share a close resemblance in terms of food, culture and traditions. The distance between them is just 50 km which can be easily covered within an hour.
Lahore and Amritsar are both walled cities that have several gates that were built to deal with invaders. The twin cities also have comparable maps as there is Badshahi Mosque, Shahi Qilla, and old city on one corner in Lahore while Amritsar has a Hindu temple Durgiana Tirath, and the Gobindgarh Fort on the other side of the border. Moreover, they both have Lahori and Mori gates in their old cities.
During the partition, Lahore’s Shah Alam market and Amritsar’s Hall Bazaar both bore the brunt of the fire that engulfed the cities. Reportedly, most of the migration during the independence took place between the refugee camps of Lahore and Amritsar. The twin cities were major commercial hubs where people of all three communities resided.
According to author Pran Neville who has written a book on Lahore, Lahore: A Sentimental Journey, there was no formal border between the twin cities until 1965, he told Daily Times. He claimed during that period, people used to commute between the cities. From businessmen to authors including Balwant Singh, Khushwant Singh and Amrita Preetum moved from Lahore to different parts of India.
Similarly, even some authors from Amritsar shifted to Lahore because of the proximity of the cities and Lahore being the cultural hub of Punjab. Ahmed Rahi, Firozdin Sharaf, and Saifuddin Saif were among the poets who moved from Amritsar to Lahore. The Kashmiris who migrated from Amritsar to Lahore in 1947 are also said to have a significant influence on the Pakistani city’s culture and cuisine.
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