The GPO (General Post Office) was built in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
The British ruled Lahore for just under a hundred years from 1849 to 1947. Capitalising on a crisis of succession following the death of Ranjit Singh of the Sikh Empire, the British would oust the Sikhs and annex the Punjab. Lahore was made the capital of British Punjab.
Like in the other major cities of the British Raj, the colonial occupiers would leave their legacy on the urban landscape by way of monumental civic and commercial buildings that still continue to stand today.
While British colonial period architecture exists all over Lahore, the greatest concentration of these buildings occurs along Mall Road, which links the Old City to the Cantonment, and – then as now – was / is the most important thoroughfare in the city.
On and around Mall Road stand most of the major cultural, civic and educational institutions – including the Governor’s House, the General Post Office (GPO), the High Court, the Lahore Museum, the Town Hall, and a few major Government High Schools, Colleges and Universities. Many of these buildings were built in the Gothic or Indo-Saracenic style. Some of these buildings – especially the colleges, look as though they came straight out of Cambridge or Oxford.
Just off Mall Road also stand some of the city’s most important churches, looking again, like they were plucked straight out of the English countryside and placed here.
No visit to Lahore can be without a drive down (or up) Mall Road. With its broad boulevards and wide pavement, it is also entirely possible to walk along Mall Road. Unfortunately, many of the buildings are enclosed within large grounds and are not visible from the Road itself – this includes the Governor’s House and some of the schools on the Eastern end of the Road.
The best walk, therefore, would be to go from the Quaid-e-Azam Library (the former Lawrence and Montgomery Halls) at the Bagh-e-Jinnah Park (formerly Lawrence Gardens) to Government College University of Punjab – a walk that would take some 2 hours to complete, but which boasts most of the architectural highlights on the Road.
This gallery presents some of the buildings along this walk.
The Quaid-e-Azam Library was built in 1886 as the Lawrence and Montgomery Halls. In 1906, it became the Lahore Gymkhana. It was re-opened as a public library in 1986. The building sits in the former Lawrence Gardens (1885) – today’s Bagh-e-Jinnah – which houses the zoo, botanical gardens, cricket grounds, amongst other amenities.
The Al-Hamra Arts Centre was completed in 1992.
The ginormous Pearl Continental Hotel (Lahore’s main international hotel) sits on Mall Road.
The Charing Cross Pavilion (which once housed a statue of Queen Victoria), and the Islamic Summit Minar (1974), on Charing Cross (a.k.a. Faisal Square), which is a major intersection on Mall Road.
The Punjab Assembly Building (1935).
Shaahdin Manzil, 1914.
Colonial era commercial buildings around Charing Cross.
Ghulam Rasool Building (1916), housed the iconic Ferozsons Books up until 2017.
Bawa Dinga Singh Building (1927).
The Art Deco-ish Zaman Plaza.
Former Chemists building.
Art Deco Mall Mansions.
Lahore High Court.
Art Deco E. Plomer & Co Chemists and Druggists.
The GPO, designed by Sir Ganga Ram in an Indo-Saracenic Style.
Supreme Court of Pakistan Branch (left) and
Sacred Heart Cathedral (1907).
Church of Pakistan Diocese, Holy Trinity Church (1881).
Pak Teahouse (1940) – favourite gathering spot of intellectuals.
Cathedral Church of the Resurrection (1887) is the city’s Anglican cathedral.
Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue Lahore.
GM Chowdri & Sons Building.
Residential building with lovely balconies.
The Lahore Museum, designed by Pakistani architect, Sir Ganga Ram, in an Indo-Saracenic Style and completed in 1894.
The interior of the museum, including this door, was also partly designed by John Lockwood Kipling, the father of Rudyard Kipling.
Across from the Museum sits the University College of Art and Design, also designed in an Indo-Saracenic Style.
The Punjab University College of Pharmacy sits beside the University College of Art and Design and is similarly
Town Hall, Lahore – Indo-Saracenic.
Government College University – in Gothic Revival style.
And finally… a backward glance at the Lahore GPO.
References: Colonial Lahore – A History of the City and Beyond, by Ian Talbot.