150th anniversary of Government College University, Abdus Salam Chair in Physics, Abdus Salam School of Mathematical Sciences, Allama Iqbal, Ashfaq Ahmed, ‘Courage to Know’, Bano Qudsiah, Bokhari Auditorium, Dr Abdus Salam, GCU, GCU Library, iconic landmark, Iqbal Hostel, Katchery Road, Maheen Hassan, Neo-Gothic architecture, Pitrus Bokhari, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Raja Dhyan Singh Haveli, Ravians, River Ravi, The Lovers’ Garden, W Purdon, Walled City
– The Main Building was built using brown bricks in 1877
2014 marks the 150th anniversary of Government College University (GCU) – one of Lahore’s most prestigious higher education institutions.
Neo-Gothic architecture… Established in 1864 as Government College Lahore, the college began operations at the Raja Dhyan Singh Haveli in the Walled City. In 1877, the campus was shifted to its current location on Katchery Road. The Main Building, which was designed by the British architect W Purdon in neo-Gothic architectural style, remains the centrepiece of the sprawling campus, and boasts of an octagonal clock tower, spacious verandahs and wide, well-lit hallways lined with photographs of GCU’s illustrious alumni. These include Allama Iqbal, Dr Abdus Salam and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Incidentally, GCU students proudly refer to themselves as ‘Ravians’ because the university was once located at the banks of the River Ravi, before it changed its course.
From a college to a university… In 2002, the college was upgraded to a university (GC University) and over the years a number of structures have been added, including the Iqbal Hostel (named after Allama Iqbal), the Bokhari Auditorium (in memory of GCU’s former principal and Urdu litterateur, Pitrus Bokhari), the GCU Library, the Abdus Salam Chair in Physics (a research centre) and the Abdus Salam School of Mathematical Sciences.
The fabled gardens … GCU is well-known for its beautifully landscaped gardens – with flowers in full bloom all year round, which serve as recreational spots for many of its students. The Lovers’ Garden is perhaps the most famous of these, since it is believed that it was a meeting point for literary legends Bano Qudsiah and Ashfaq Ahmed, who met at the College and married later.
In a nutshell… With its motto of ‘Courage to Know’, GCU Lahore is not just an educational institution that was the alma mater of some of Pakistan’s most influential personalities, but it is also one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
– Maheen Hassan
First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on February 2, 2014.