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The Lahore Railway Station... | by Saad Sarfraz Sheikh
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The Lahore Railway Station...

Lahore Railway Station


When the British sought to colonise the Indian Subcontinent, building just roads wouldn't be enough. They needed something bigger and 'concrete'. This need led to an elaborate railway network, where rail-tracks were laid down and railway stations were built. Lahore was given a railway station too, and its old locality of Garhi Shahu, was colonialised from a residential colony to a railway officers residential colony.

The railway station in Lahore was the first building the British built.

John Lawrence laid the foundation stone in 1859, two years after the '1857 war of independence', and the station was built at a hefty cost of 500,000 rupees. When Lord John Lawrence broke the earth on the future site of Lahore Railway Station in February 1859, the silver shovel he used bore the Latin motto 'tam bello quam pace'- better peace than war. The motto was appropriate because the railways did play a vital part in creating a peaceful, united India, but the way the station was built, reflected more of a defensive/peace-keeping intention.

According to historian Noor, “the round bastions and high towers of the station were designed to be bomb proof, while the loop holes across the facade are not the mock arrow slits they appear to be, but placements for Maxim guns, which were drawn down carefully designed lines of fire. Even the cavernous train sheds could, in an emergency, be sealed with huge sliding metal doors, turning the whole complex into a colossal fortified bunker.”

The proud architect of the Lahore station, William Brunton, said that that “the whole station had a ‘defensive character’ so that "a small garrison could secure it against enemy attack". The building served to protect the safety of railway workers and provide them refuge in case of any conflict. Burton proudly exclaimed that the station had the best brick masonry in the world and could withstand any battle.

In 1860, the first train travelled to Amritsar, followed by connections to Bombay, Calcutta and Peshawar. In 1889, Karachi was linked to Lahore, and wheat from Punjab was exported from Karachi, making it the largest exporter.


Lovely cloudy sky that day...


Explore # 84

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Taken on September 3, 2009