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The Ghulam Rasool Building remains an impressive example of colonial architecture (Photo: Arif Ali/White Star)

During the British Raj, Mall Road (now known as Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam) was Lahore’s most fashionable commercial strip. Several important public buildings, educational institutions and recreational areas were located there. One of the most impressive examples of colonial architecture on the Mall remains Number 60, popularly known as the Ghulam Rasool Building.

A tycoon and his masterpiece… Named after Haji Ghulam Rasool Tarar, a real estate tycoon and one of Lahore’s wealthiest men of the times, the building was erected in 1916 and covers 5,000 square yards. The building is truly an architectural masterpiece; with a striking central dome, it is divided into five sections or modules with a grand staircase located in the central module. Each module is separated by a 36-inch thick stone wall.

A bookstore and some businesses… The Ghulam Rasool Building was intended to be a commercial building although it offered residential facilities at one point in time. The building now houses a number of shops on rent. Its most famous tenant remains the Ferozsons Book Shop, once the largest book store in the country. Beloved to generations of Lahori book lovers, this cultural icon was the victim of a fire last year. The blaze damaged books worth millions and priceless memories, but the thick walls managed to contain the fire and prevented it from spreading to the rest of the building. Sadly, what was once a grand book store is now restricted to a fraction of its former space on the ground floor – for the moment at least.

Beyond the bookshop… International Sports, a sports equipment shop that is frequented by customers from all over Lahore, is located in the Ghulam Rasool Building. The adjacent buildings are also fine examples of colonial architecture and house several offices and shops. Also located in proximity are a number of cinemas including Alfalah and Regal that usually screen Lollywood movies. A theatre is also located on the premises of Alfalah Cinema. These entertainment avenues ensure that the area remains lively in the evenings.

Restoring former grandeur… The Ghulam Rasool Building along with other historical structures along the Mall is set to be restored to its former glory. This restoration will be done under Dilkash Lahore, a project aimed at rehabilitating Lahore’s historical sites and preserving the city’s heritage.

In a nutshell… The Ghulam Rasool Building remains one of the Mall’s most impressive buildings despite the passage of time.

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– Maheen Hassan
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First published in the Real Estate Review Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on January 13, 2013.