By Aamir Latif
Istanbul Chowk (square), located in the heart of Lahore, has added colors to the already rich architecture of Pakistan's cultural hub in recent years.
Inaugurated in November 2015 by
The new structure is designed by a group of famous Pakistani architects from Lahore College of Arts, Punjab University, and
The idea was conceived in 2012 during the visit of Istanbul's Mayor Kadir Topbas amid an ever increasing partnership between the two countries in several sectors.
To keep the tradition alive, the design contains a pole with hundreds of bird houses erected in the middle of the square.
Thousands of birds, mostly pigeons, fly by Istanbul Chowk every day, which
"Before this (structure), a model boat was placed here, and we even being locals, didn't know the name of this place," Mohammad Asif, a local resident, who now frequently visits the site to feed pigeons, told Anadolu Agency.
The new design, he observed, had changed the atmosphere here.
Symbol of Pak-Turkey friendship
"Istanbul is not a new name to us. We have been familiar with this city since our childhood. We read about Ataturk and Istanbul in our course books," Asif recalled and added: "Now we know Turkey because of its courageous leadership, which raises voice for Muslim Ummah".
"President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan is the only leader in the world who has raised voice for Rohingya Muslims", he noted.
Allah Ditta, another resident of Lahore, noted that the new structure had given a pleasant look to the entire locality.
"It was a dull place before. I would not even bother to look at whenever I passed by", Ditta, sitting on a bench under the shadow of an old tree and enjoying a pleasant evening, told Anadolu Agency.
"But now the entire atmosphere has changed. It does not only gives a soothing touch but also reminds us
Several Turkish government and private agencies have been assisting Pakistan, mainly in Punjab, in health, education, energy and transport sectors.
"This (Istanbul Square) is not only a symbol of Pak-Turkey friendship but also a beautiful addition to Lahore's already rich culture and architecture", Mayor Lahore Mubasshir Javed told Anadolu Agency.
"Istanbul is not only one of the beautiful cities in the world but also Lahore's sister city. That's why we chose the center of the city to name after Istanbul," he added.
Turkish identity in Lahore
Lahore and Istanbul were declared sister-cities in 1975.
Istanbul Chowk is not the only structure carrying a Turkish identity in Lahore. The city government has already named two bridges after former President Abdullah Gul, and a road after Mayor of Istanbul in Lahore -- the country's second largest city after Karachi.
Straddled between the new and the original "walled" Lahore, Istanbul Chowk connects the two different cultures in one city. In its north, located
In the south, it borders the original walled city comprising 12 gates (entrance to old Lahore), where
Narrow stone streets, mostly consisting of old styled wooden and brick houses with hanging balconies in a bit haphazard way, present a different look to an outsider.
Historical Nasir Bagh -- the Lahore's hub of political protests and gatherings -- is barely 50 meters from Istanbul Chowk towards east. The western side of the square leads to the imposing building of over a century-old Government College Lahore, one of the prestigious educational institutes in Pakistan.
"You just cross either