Monday 13 November 2017

Gurdwara Singh Sabha & Khalsa Middle School In Lyallpur (Faisalabad)

As I mentioned in my previous post about the Ghanta Ghar of Faisalabad, this city is one of the newest cities of Pakistan. A well-planned city of 3.2 million. Its construction began in the 1890s as the centre of administration, trade, industry and education of the Chenab Colony. To populate vast but sparsely populated lands of the Sandal Bar, a large number of settlers were brought from more thickly populated districts of north-central Punjab.  These settlers were good and hardworking farmers and within a few decades turned these colonies into prosperous communities and granaries of India. 

Many of them were Sikhs from Amritsar, Ludhiana, Gurdaspur, Jullundur etc. Naturally, these people also established their places of worship also. One of them, probably the biggest, is in Faisalabad, erstwhile Lyallpur. I saw its pictures on the internet. However, I could not find much detail, so I marked it for my visit. And on one hot and humid day on 21 July, 2017, I reached there. The gurdwara complex is situated at 31°25'9.85"N, 73° 4'50.24"E, between Katchery Bazar and Rail Bazar.

It currently houses s school, Government Pakistan Model High School Faisalabad, claimed to be "The Best English Medium School", as the board on the school entrance shows. It was a time of summer vacations, so there were no students in the school. However, some staff members were present. The guard advised us to me the Headmaster in his office and inform him our purpose of the visit. We met Mr Shamim Mohiuddin, the headmaster in his office. He asked us about the purpose of our visit and if we had any permission, which obviously we did not have. I assured him that I was no journalist and only wrote on a most harmless kind of a blog. After just a little hesitation he allowed us to take "a few" pictures, now after some experience, I fully understand the meanings of this signal. So we went about our business and took a lot of photos, without any disturbance. 

Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Lyallpur. (21.07.2017.)

Towards the main entrance. (21.07.2017.)

Main gate of the School / Gurdwara. (21.07.2017.)

Structure of the gate. (21.07.2017.)

ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਗਰਲਸ ਮਿਡਲ ਸਕੂਲ
Khalsa Girls Middle School

The Headmaster, Mr Shamim Mohiuddin. (21.07.2017.)

Office Block. (21.07.2017.)

One can clearly see that the complex of this gurdwara actually has three main buildings. One is the gurdwara itself and the second is a Musafir Khana, the guest house, attached to the gurdwara. The third was actually a school, Khalsa Girls Middle School, as a Gurmukhi inscription clearly shows on the outer wall of the school. All the three buildings are architecturally different and were probably built at different times.

Beautiful facade of the gurdwara. (21.07.2017.)

The base of the Nishan Sahib, a pole for the holy Sikh flag. (21.07.2017.)

The picture given below is of a plaque on the marble base of the Nishan Sahib. 

੧ ਓੰਕਾਰ

ਸ਼੍ਰੀ ਨਿਸ਼ਾਨ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦੀ ਸੇਵਾ 
ਮਿਤੀ ਮਾਘ ੨ ਸੰਮਤ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ੨੪੦* ਨੂਂ
ਭਾਈ ਰਤਨ ਸਿੰਘ ਸੇਹਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ 
ਬਾਜ਼ਾਜ਼ ਲਾਇਲਪੁਰ ਨੇ ਕਰਾਈ
ਦਾਸ:ਸੰਗਤ ਜੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਸਿੰਘ ਸਭਾ

اک اونکار
شری نشان صاحب دی سیوا
مِتی ماگھ 2 سمت خالصہ 240* نوں
بھائی رتن سنگھ سہر سنگھ جی
بزاز لائلپور نے کرائی
داس: سنگت جی گروسنگھ سبھا

Ek Onkar
Honourable Nishan Sahib's Service
On Date 2 Magh 280* Khalsa
 By Brother Ratan Singh Sehar Singh Ji
Cloth Merchant Lyallpur Was Rendered
Servant: Sangat (Congregation) Ji Guru Singh Sabha (Meeting)

*The year is given as 240 of Samvat Khalsa. It seems to be different from Nanak Shahi or Samvat Bikrami.   

A corridor on the first floor of the gurdwara. (21.07.2017.)

A room on the 1st floor. (21.07.2017.)

Another view of the corridor on the first floor. (21.07.2017.)

The Darbar Hall of the gurdwara. (21.07.2017.)

A side view of the front of the gurdwara. (21.07.2017.)

The Musafir Khana (Guest House) of the gurdwara. (21.07.2017.)

Veranda of the first floor of the Musafir Khana. (21.07.2017.) 

A room in the Musafir Khana (Guest House). (21.07.2017.)

The building of the Musafir Khana is currently undergoing a complete renovation and hopefully will restore its original beauty and enhance its life for by a few decades. On the first floor, I found some plaques, providing some very interesting information about the construction of this building and the people who donated money for this sacred cause, in the memory of their loved ones. 

੧ ਓਂਕਾਰ
੪੦੦ ਮੁਸਾਫ਼ਰ ਖਾਨੇ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਾਈ ਭ. ਪਜਨ ਸਿੰਘ
ਨੇ ਆਪਨੇ ਪੁਤ ਦਿਆਲ ਸਿੰਘ ਤੇ
ਅਪਨੀ ਨੂਹ ਆਗੀਆ ਕੋਰ ਦੀ
ਯਾਦਗਾਰ ਵਿਚ ਸੰ. _______

۱ اونکار
400 روپے مسافر خانے کی سیوا کرائی بھائی پجن سنگھ
نے آپنے پُت دیال سنگھ تے
آپنی نوں آگیا کوردی
یادگار وچ سمت: _______

A service worth Rs 400/- was rendered for this guest house by Bhai Pajan Singh
in memory of his son Diyal Singh and daughter in law Aagiya Kaur,
In Samvat: _____

੧ ਓਂਕਾਰ
੩੬੪ ਕਮਰੇ ਦੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਾਈ
ਸ੍ਰ. ਭਗਵਾਨ ਸਿੰਘ
ਸਬ ਇੰਸਪੈਕਟਰ ਸਪੁਤ
ਭ. ਹੀਰਾ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਚਕ ਨੰ ੬੫
ਝੰਗ ਬਰਾਂਚ ਸੰ. ੧੯੮੦ 

۱ اونکار
368 روپے کمرے دی سیوا کرائی
سردار بھگوان سنگھ 
سب انسپکٹر سپُت 
بھائی ہیرا سنگھ جی چک نمبر 65
جھنگ برانچ سمت: 1980

A service worth Rs 368/- for this room was rendered by Sardar Bhagwan Singh,
Sub Inspector, son of Bhai Heera Singh ji, Chak No. 65 Jhang Branch.
Samvat: 1980 (1923 AD)

੧ ਓੰਕਾਰ
੪੦੦ ਮੁਸਾਫ਼ਰ ਖਾਨਾ ਚੁਬਾਰਾ
ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਾਈ ਭ. ਬਲਵੰਤ ਸਿੰਘ
ਲਕੜ ਮੰਡੀ ਵਾਲੇ ਨੇ ਆਪਨੇ ਪਿਤਾ
ਭ. ਬੂੜ ਸਿੰਘ ਦੀ ਯਾਦਗਾਰ ਵਿਚ
ਸੰ. ੧੯੮੩

۱ اونکار
400 روپے مسافر خانہ چوبارہ
کی سیوا کرائی بھائی بلونت سنگھ
لکڑ منڈی والے نے آپنے پِتا
بھائی بوڑ سنگھ دی یادگار وچ
سمت: 1983

A service worth Rs 400/- for the guest house and the upper storey was rendered by  Bhai Balwant Singh of the wood market, in memory of his father Bhai Bor Singh.
Samvat: 1983 (1926 AD)

੧ ਓਂਕਾਰ
੪੦੦ ਮੁਸਾਫ਼ਿਰ ਖਾਨਾ 
ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਾਈ
ਭ. ਨਿਹਾਲ ਸਿੰਘ ਨੇ ਆਪਨੇ
ਪਿਤਾ ਭ. ਸੈਹਜ ਸਿੰਘ ਦੀ ਯਾਦਗਾਰ
ਵਿਚ - ਸੰ. ੧੯੮੩

۱ اونکار
400 روپے مسافر خانہ 
کی سیوا کرائی
بھائی نہال سنگھ نے آپنے 
پِتا بھائی سیہج سنگھ دی یادگار 
وچ - سمت 1983

A service worth Rs 400/- for the guest house, was rendered by Bhai Nihal Singh
in memory of his father Bhai Sehaj Singh.
Samvat 1983 (1926 AD)

੧ ਓਂਕਾਰ
੫੦੦ ਮੁਸਾਫ਼ਿਰ ਖਾਨੇ ਤੇ ਬਰਾਂਡੇ
ਦੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਾਈ ਭ. ਗੁਰਦਿਰ ਸਿੰਘ
ਨੇ ਆਪਨੇ ਪਿਤਾ ______ ਸਿੰਘ ਤੇ
ਭਰਾਤਾ ਬਖਤ ਸਿੰਘ ਦੀ ਯਾਦਗਾਰ
ਵਿਚ ਸੰ. ੧੯੮੩

۱ اونکار
400 روپے مسافر خانے تے برانڈے
دی سیوا کرائی بھائی گوردِت سنگھ
نے آپنے پِتا _________ سنگھ تے
بھراتا بکھت سنگھ دی یادگار
وچ - سمت: 1983

A service worth Rs 400/- for the guest house and veranda, was rendered by
Bhai Gurdit Singh in memory of his father ______ Singh and brother
Bakht Singh. 
Samvat 1983 (1926 AD)

੧ ਓਂਕਾਰ
੫੦੦ ਏਹ ਕਮਰਾ ਅਤੇ ਬਰਾਂਡੇ
ਦੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਮਾਤਾ ਪ੍ਰਸਿਨ ਕੋਰ
ਜੀ ਨੇ ਆਪਨੇ ਪਤੀ ਗੁਰਪੁਰ
ਨਿਵਾਸੀ ਸ੍ਰ. ਈਸ਼ਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਜ਼ੇਲ
ਦਾਰ ਪਿੰਡ ਡਸਕਾ ਚਕ ਨ: ੧੫੩
ਰਖ ਬਰਾਂਚ ਜੀ ਦੀ ਯਾਦਗਾਰ
ਵਿਚ ਬਨਵਾਇਅ ਸੰ. ਬਿ, ੧੯੭੯ 

۱ اونکار
500 روپے ایہ کمرا آتے برانڈا
دی سیوا ماتا پرسِن کور 
جی نے آپنے پتی گورپور
نواسی سردار ایشر سنگھ جی ذیل
دار پنڈ ڈسکا چک نمبر: 153
رکھ برانچ جی دی یادگار
وچ بنوایا - سمت بکرمی 1979

A service worth Rs 500/- for this room and veranda, was rendered by mother Parisan Kaur ji
in memory of his late husband Sardar Eshar Singh ji Zaildar Daska pind, Chak No. 153
Rakh Branch. 
Samvat Bikrami 1979 (1922 AD)

੧ ਓਂਕਾਰ ਸਤਿ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦ
੩੫੦ ਇਸ ਕਮਰੇ ਦੀ ਸੇਵਾ
ਭਾਈ ਆਸਾ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਦੀ ਸੁਪਤਨੀ
ਭਾਈ ਕਹਿਨ ਸਿੰਘ ਭਾਈ ਹੀਰਾ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਦੀ
ਮਾਈ ਨੇ ਕਰਵਾਈ

۱ اونکار ستِّ گرو پرساد
350 روپے اِس کمرے دی سیوا
بھائی آسا سنگھ جی دی سپُتنی 
بھائی کاہن سنگھ بھائی ہیرا سنگھ جی دی
مائی نے کروائی

A  service worth Rs 350, for this room, was rendered by Bhai Aasa Singh ji's 
wife and Bhai Kahan Singh Bhai Heera Singh's mother. 
Imposing inner view of the main entrance of the Khalsa Middle School For Girls. (21.07.2017.)

Left Wing of the school. (21.07.2017.)

Right Wing of the school. (21.07.2017.)

A general view of the school and the courtyard. (21.07.2017.)

Corridor of the school. (21.07.2017.)

The first floor of the school. (21.07.2017.)

A beautiful cupola like structure on the top of the school building. (21.07.2017.)

Umair Riaz. (21.07.2017.)

Tariq Amir. (21.07.2017.)

A wooden balcony of an old house, in front of the main entrance. (21.07.2017.)

I could not find the date of its construction, but some sources on the internet give its date of construction as 1911. Probably the foundations of the gurdwara were laid down in 1911 and then the constructions continued for a long time, perhaps to the very end of the era of united India. The plaques on the wall of Musafar Khana, clearly shows that it was constructed in the mid 1920s. The building of the Khalsa Girls Middle School is actually so modern and in such a good condition, that for some time I thought it to be a post-independence addition, until I noticed the symbol of the Sikh faith and read the inscription on the outer wall. Due to the summer vacation, some sections of the school were closed and the administration was reluctant to open them for us. The passage to the cupola over the main gate was also locked. However, the visit was fruitful and I learned about a piece of our history and heritage. 

Tariq Amir

November 13, 2017.

Doha - Qatar.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Ghanta Ghar of Faisalabad (The Clock Tower of Lyallpur)

According to the latest census of 2017, Faisalabad with a population of 3.2 million is the third largest city in Pakistan, biggest being Karachi and Lahore on the second place. But it is amazing to know that just a little over a century ago this city did not exist at all. Indeed Faisalabad is one of the youngest cities of Pakistan.

The British took control of Punjab in 1849, after defeating the Sikhs' Khalsa State in the same year. Later on, they embarked upon many projects to irrigate vast areas of Punjab, particularly more arid western Punjab. One of these ambitious projects was the development of Chenab Colony in the Sandal Bar, an arid and sparsely populated area between the rivers Chenab and Ravi. In connection with the development of Chenab colony, foundations of a new city were also laid down in 1898 (or 1896). This new city was to serve as the administrative and commercial centre of this vast colony. The city was named Lyallpur, after the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, James Broadwood Lyall (1838 - 1916), who was closely involved in the development of this colony.

In my childhood, a few things quite fascinated me about Faisalabad. The first thing was its English sounding name. Though it had been changed from Lyallpur to Faisalabad in 1979, still in the early eighties, it was commonly referred to as Lyallpur (or more accurately Laelpur in our Punjabi accent). The second was, the city to be referred as "the Manchester of Pakistan" (in my Social Studies textbooks), for being the centre of the textile industry in Pakistan. And the third was the Ghanta Ghar or the clock tower, its most famous landmark. 

During the last three decades, I passed many times through Faisalabad, always going to or returning from somewhere. Once or twice I even had a glimpse of the tower as well, but never saw it from a close distance. That wish was fulfilled on 21 July, 2017. It was a Friday and most of the shops were closed, that provided us an opportunity to see it more peacefully. The first impression was that I found it bigger and more beautiful than my imagination. Obviously, the city administration has taken a good care of the tower and the surrounding bazaars. The tower is located in the centre of the city at  31°25'7.13"N;  73° 4'44.94"E.

The Ghanta Ghar of Faisalabad. (21.07.2017.)

The Ghanta Ghar of Faisalabad. (21.07.2017.)

Another view of the Clock Tower. (21.07.2017.)

Beautiful columns and wooden door are visible. (21.07.2017.)


The other side of the tower. (21.07.2017.)

ملکہ معظمہ وکٹوریہ قیصرہ ہند کی یادگار میں
آبادی نہر چناب کے باشندگان نے یہ گھنٹہ گھر تعمیر کرایا ہجری 1321 تا 23

This side of the tower carries a plaque in Hindi. (21.07.2017.)

यह घंटाघर स्वर्गवासी श्रीमती भरते __ महरानी विक्टोरीया की यादगार में नैहर
चन्द्रभागा की नवीन निवासी प्रजा ने बनवाया विक्रमा दित्य संबत १९६० x १९६२

[یہ گھنٹہ گھر سورگواسی شریمتی بھارتے_____ مہارانی وکٹوریا کی یادگار میں نہر
چندربھاگا کی نویں نواسی پرجا نے بنایا وکرما دتیا سنبت 1960-1962]

The fourth inscription on the tower is in Gurmukhi. 

ਇਹ ਘੰਟਾ ਘਰ ਚਨਾਬ ਨੇਹਰ ਦੀ ਨਵੀ ਆਬਾਦੀ ਵਾਲੇਯਾਂ ਨੇ ਆਪਣੀਂ
ਦਯਾਵਾਨ ਮਹਾਰਾਣੀਂ ਵਿਕਟੋਰਿਆ ਦੀ ਨਿਸਾਨਾ ਲਈ ਬਣਵਾ ____ ਨਂਮਤ ਵਿਕ੍ਰਮਾ

[اے گھنٹہ گھر چناب نہردی نوی آبادی والیاں نے آپڑیں
دیاوان مہارانڑیں وکٹوریا دی نواسا لئی بنڑوا _____ سنبت وکرما 1960-1962]

All the four writings are not exactly the same. They essentially carry the same information but convey different emotions. Inscription in English is formal and in Urdu it is terse.  However, Hindi and Gurmukhi writings call the queen to be "in heavenly abode" and "merciful", respectively.  

As the above inscriptions in English, Urdu, Hindi and Gurmukhi show that tower was built during 1903-05, in honour of Queen Victoria, who died two years earlier in 1901. It also shows the religious and cultural diversity of that time. It was constructed in the centre of the main bazaar. The bazaar and the tower were designed by Poham Young (Wikipedia). The design was based on the Union Jack the British Flag. 

The city was developed as a Mandi Town, the main centre for trade and administration of the Chenab Colony. Eight bazaars emerge from the tower which are, Rail Bazaar, Katchery Bazaar, Bhawana Bazaar, Jhang Bazaar, Aminpur Bazaar, Karkhana Bazaar, Chiniot Bazaar and Montgomery Bazaar. 

Before 1947, the city was culturally and religiously a much more diverse place, as the table given below shows.

Population Of Lyallpur (Census of 1941)

62.85 %
14.61 %
18.82 %
3.70 %


54.52 %
18.08 %
22.08 %
5.30 %


32.89 %
47.04 %
15.58 %
4.33 %

A beautiful view of the Ghanta Ghar. (21.07.2017.)

The tower is located in a roundabout, at the junction 8 bazaars of Faisalabad. (21.07.2017.)

Busy Bazar around the tower. (21.07.2017.)

Umair Riaz. 

Tariq Amir

Ludhiana Sweets, Ludhiana Fas Food & Ludhiana Fry Fish. Names of the shops suggest the origin of the shop owners. (21.07.2017.)

Another beautiful view of the Ghanta Ghar. (21.07.2017.)

The following website gives some information about the history of Faisalabad:

The city of Faisalabad is not more than a century old. Just hundred years back this region was the center of keeping livestock. This city was irrigated in 1892 when Jhang & Gogera branches were supplied water. The foundation of first ever-residential area was laid in 1895. Its main purpose was the construction of a market. During those days, the area across the river Chenab was called Sandal Bar. Before the establishment of Lyallpur City the ancient residential area was called Pakka Marri now known as Pakki Marri (1). It became headquarters of the Lower Chenab Colony and in 1898 was incorporated as a municipality.
The caravans used to stay at this place while traveling from Jhang to Lahore. The English travelers of those times wanted to convert this area into a city. In the beginning the small establishment was called Chenab Canal Colony which was later named Lyallpur after the name of Governor of Punjab Lt. General Sir James B Lyall.

Its most distinguished feature (now indescribably filthy (2)) is the town center which was laid out patriotically by Sir James Lyall in the shape of the British flag----a rectangle containing a cross and two diagonals. At the center is a clock tower where eight roads meet. These eight segments form the town's main bazaars. It is also called the city of eight bazars, which emerge from clock tower and laid out in the shape of the Union Jack (British Flag).
In 1910, the famous and oldest Chenab Club was constructed. There, British rulers used to spend their evenings to entertain themselves with drinks & music. In 1908, Punjab Agricultural College and Khalsa School were opened. Later Khalsa School was upgraded as Khalsa College, which is now called Municipal Degree College. The first railway started in 1910. The first residential area was Douglas Pura established in 1920. Industrialization was started in 1930. The project of Lyallpur Cotton Mills was completed in 1934. With the establishment of Pakistan as the population increased the city also expanded. When Pakistan came into being the area of this city was 3 sq. miles. Now it is more than 10 sq. miles. New residential areas were established like Peoples Colony, Ghulam Muhammadabad, Lahore colony, Afghanabad, Jail road etc.
The foundation of Lyallpur was laid in 1896. Its famous clock tower was built on a well. The decision of its construction was taken by the then Jhang deputy commissioner, Capt Beke. Sir James Lyall laid its foundation stone on Nov 14, 1903.
The well, which formerly existed at the exact location of the Clock Tower, was filled with earth brought from the farms of Chak Ram Dewali (3on the Sargodha Road. The stone used in its construction was brought from the Sangla Hill (4), about 50 kilometres from here.
The Clock Tower stood in two years at a cost of Rs.40,000 (5) after which a function was arranged to celebrate its completion. The then Punjab financial commissioner, Mr Louis, was the guest of honour.
The construction of this clock tower was completed in 1906 under the supervision of Gulab Khan who belonged to the family who built Taj Mahal in Agra. The clock was brought from Bombay. It is believed that the clock tower was built in the memory of Queen Victoria who had died 80 years earlier. By the time this tower was built the eight bazaars were already operational.
The map of Faisalabad is just the copy of British flag Union jack designed by an architect Desmond Yong. However, the real design on which this city is planned was of Sir Ganga Ram, who was a famous town planner of his time. The total area of 110 sq. acres was used to build eight bazaars & clock tower in a round shape. All these eight bazaars are connected with each other through another bazaar, which is called Goal Bazaar.
Although the Clock Tower is in good shape and does not require repairs from outside even at the age of 100 due to fine quality of material used in its construction, its interior needs immediate attention of the authorities concerned.
At the time of its construction, fountains had been installed in front of four bazaars - Aminpur Bazaar, Katchery Bazaar, Karkhana Bazaar and Jhang Bazaar - which were visible from all the eight bazaars. However, two of the fountains have now disappeared.
However, the plaster of the Clock Tower has started decaying and cracks have appeared on stairs inside and outer pillars. The railing has been broken and roofs have become a shelter for birds. Pedestals inside the tower are in bad shape. Moreover, visitors to the tower are shocked to see its fading stones, crumbling base-pad and dust all around.
1. Pakki Marri Mosque: 31°25'34.54"N;  73° 5'56.39"E.

2. It was written on February 6, 2012. But during my visit, I found the place very neat and clean and with good well-constructed roads all around.

3. Chak No. 112 J.B. Ramdewali or Ram Diwali: 31°35'37.38"N;  73° 4'38.53"E.

4. Sangla Hill:   31°42'36.31"N; 73°23'3.38"E.

5. Wikipedia gives the following account of the resources gathered to finance this project:
The foundation of majestic Clock Tower was laid on 14 November 1903 by the British lieutenant governor of Punjab Sir Charles Riwaz and the biggest local landlord belonging to the Mian Family of Abdullahpur. The fund was collected at a rate of Rs. 18 per square of land. The fund thus raised was handed over to the Municipal Committee which undertook to complete the project.

The Ghanta Ghar of Pakistan is undoubtedly the most beautiful Clock Tower in Pakistan. It is not just a symbol of Faisalabad, but also of a by-gone era. It was built during the height of the British Empire in the memory of one of the Britain's greatest monarchs in their two thousand years history. Its four sides, with inscriptions in four different languages, reminds of a culturally rich and diverse society in the past, when the country was ruled by the British and Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs co-existed peacefully. I could not describe the architecture of the tower. I hope somebody will share its architectural aspects with us. 

Tariq Amir

November 7, 2017.
Doha - Qatar.