Lahore has been the capital of Punjab for nearly 1,000 years. Besides being the Mughal show-window, Lahore is the cultural, academic and intellectual centre of Pakistan. For 200 years, beginning from about 1525 AD, Lahore remained a thriving cultural centre of the great Mughal Empire, when the city was beautified with palaces, gardens, monuments and mosques. During the British regime, many monuments sprang up in Lahore which blended beautifully with the Mughal, Gothic and Victorian styles of architecture.
Legend has it that the city was founded by two sons of Rama about 4,000 years ago. Reminiscence of its hoary past are the remains of a subterranean temple (attributed to Rama, the legendary hero of Ramayana) found in the northern part of the Royal Fort. Historically, it has been proved that Lahore is about 2,000 years old. Hieun-tsang, the famous Chinese Pilgrim, has given a vivid description of Lahore city, which he visited in the early 7th century AD. Abu Rehan Al-Biruni, in his Tarikh-e-Hind, at the time of Mahmud Gazni's invasion, also mentioned Lahore in detail.
Lying on the main trade and invasion route through South Asia, Lahore has been ruled, built and plundered by a number of dynasties and hordes. From 1021 to 1186, it was governed by Mehmud of Ghazni and the Ghaznavid dynasty, then by Muhammad of Ghor and finally by the various Sultans of Delhi. However, it touched the zenith of its glory during the rule of the great Mughals (1524-1752), who were fond of art, architecture and culture and gave Lahore some of its finest monuments that are extant today.