Tag Archives: Lawrence Gardens

The Pakistan Diaries by Sudheendra Kulkarni

This Article was originally published on NDTV

 

(Sudheendra Kulkarni is a socio-political activist and columnist.)

Bagh-e-Jinnah is to Lahore what Lodi Garden is to Delhi. Both are iconic parks, laden with history. But the former is bigger and, going by the number of aam aadmi who come there for recreation, less elitist. It was formerly known as Lawrence Gardens, honouring John Lawrence, India’s viceroy from 1864 to1869. Along with his older brother, Henry Lawrence, he played a major role in the affairs of the united Punjab during the British Raj, a saga well chronicled by Rajmohan Gandhi in his new book Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten.

An early morning walk from my hotel, Pearl Continental, has brought me to Bagh-e-Jinnah. It being the middle of June, the sun is already up and bright. As in Delhi, a city with which Lahore has so many similarities (both have majestic forts, built by Moghul rulers at a time when Partition was inconceivable), it’s hot, which explained to me why there were so few people in the garden. I am a little disappointed, because I have come here as much to meet common Pakistanis as to savour the joy of a morning walk in a garden. My purpose is to have as much of Track III dialogue – conversations leading to contacts between ordinary Indians and Pakistanis – as possible during my brief five-day visit to Pakistan, to complement the Track II dialogue for which I had gone to Islamabad a couple of days back.

For the uninitiated, Track II is that conflict-resolution activity in which some of those who once took part in Track I – official government-to-government talks – but are now retired continue to meet, along with journalists, professionals and peace activists, to seek solutions to the vexed issues between our two countries. Cynics see Track II as a post-retirement opportunity for former diplomats, soldiers, and senior government officials to travel and talk. In his new book Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum, American scholar Stephen P. Cohen writes about a journalist who sarcastically quipped at an Indo-Pak Track II meeting in Salzburg ‘where the formers were suddenly and most insistently advocating peace’: “We ought to extend the age of retirement, because it seems as if once an official retires he becomes committed to peace with the other side.”

But Track II can also disprove cynics by promoting a constructive and hope-giving exchange of views. This was evident at the Pakistan-India Bilateral Dialogue in Islamabad on June 14, organised by the Regional Peace Institute, a non-governmental body founded by Pakistan’s former foreign minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, and supported by Hans Seidel Foundation, a German NGO. I was one of the 14 Indian members of a delegation that was led by Mani Shankar Aiyar. Mani, an irrepressible votary of India-Pakistan détente, argues, notwithstanding all the flak he receives from the critics of this argument, that the official Track I dialogue between our two governments must go on in an “uninterrupted and uninterruptible” manner, irrespective any provocation or unpleasant development. The delegation also included our former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid. The Pakistani contingent comprised former minsters and retired diplomats and officials of the army and ISI, besides a few prominent journalists.

I have some experience of being associated with the Track I dialogue between India and Pakistan, having travelled with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his historic Bus Yatra to Lahore in 1999 at the invitation of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s then and present prime minister. I had also accompanied Vajpayee on his visit to Islamabad for the 2004 SAARC summit, on the sidelines of which he had an important meeting with Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s then president. That meeting yielded the path-breaking joint statement in which Pakistan gave a commitment not to “permit any territory under its control to be used to support terrorism in any manner”. Continue reading

Nostalgia for Lahore

Found this comment on my piece on the Lawrence Gardens Lahore.

(Raza Rumi)

Surfing the net, I stumbled upon this write-up on the beautiful Lawrence Gardens of Lahore, and bitter-sweet memories came flooding back…

I was born in Lahore in 1936. We lived not far away from the Gardens, at No. 10 Egerton Road. Some of my earliest memories are of going to the gardens in a tonga, down Lawrence Road, next to the unending wall around Governor’s house, the main entrance guarded by white British soldiers. I remember a large plantation of tall pine trees at the beginning of the gardens, near the Gymkhana Club. I remember the Cosmopolitan Club, where my father was a member, the big lawns outside where we often played. Also, as an avid cricket fan, I remember watching Abdul Hafeez Kardar score 176 runs against the visiting Australian cricket team in the ground which was located inside the gardens.

After 1947, I have never been able to return to Lawrence Gardens or see my beloved Lahore again.

Sometimes, when meeting Lahorians abroad, I have enquired about our old house at 10 Egerton Road. It was a large red kothi with a ‘nehar’ flowing outside down Egerton Road. I was told once that it had been broken down and replaced by a 5 star hotel.

Anyway, many thanks for making me remember the wonderful days of my childhood at Lahore!

Subhash Mahindra
Hyderabad, India

Gymkhana at the Lawrence Golf Club

The Lahore Gymkhana Golf club is considered to be one of the oldest Golf Clubs in pakistan. and is believed to have been founded in the late years of 19th century. some time after the 1857 War of independence. Continue reading

The misuse of Lawrence Gardens must be stopped

Weddings and parties drive away visitors from Bagh-e-Jinnah

 * CC president confirms having accepted advanced-bookings for parties
* Bagh-e-Jinnah DD says lawns leased to the CC on understanding that no parties would be held
By Hina FarooqLawrence Gardens

LAHORE: Frequent wedding parties and social gatherings at Bagh-e-Jinnah are annoying regular visitors and compromising the garden’s beauty, and the garden’s authorities and the Cosmopolitan Club (CC) have locked horns over holding future on the garden premises.

In January 2006, the garden authorities, the CC and the Lahore Ladies Club had signed an agreement not to organise parties on the park’s premises.

The garden’s authorities had also issued notices to the CC members who were in “violation of the agreement”.

Punjab Advocate General and CC President Aftab Iqbal said he had made all bookings for parties in advance, but from now onwards would not take bookings. Continue reading

Lahore’s Lawrence Gardens

I am homesick so I am posting an old piece on the majestic Lawrence Gardens of Lahore.

Lahore ‘s Lawrence Gardens, baptised the Bagh-i-Jinnah in the post-independence era, represent the quintessential Raj ethos.Lawrence Gardens

Built primarily for the sahibs and memsahibs, the park has managed to maintain its dream-like beauty for a century and a half. The colonial maps drawn up in the mid-nineteenth century show that eastward of Charing Cross, Gardens existed on the right. In the place of the Freemasons’ Hall, there was once a ‘circular garden’; and what is now the Lahore Zoo was another park called the New Garden.

This was followed by the Agricultural and Horticultural Society Garden, which was the original name of the city’s beloved Lawrence Gardens. The Agriculture Horticulture Society of India established it in 1860 and years later, in 1904, the department of agriculture assumed maintenance responsibilities.

Since 1912, approximately seven acres of the park have been managed by the Government College, Lahore. To this day, it maintains a delightful botanical garden replete with a greenhouse and experimental fields.

The annexation of the Punjab in 1849 and the successful control of the 1857 uprising in many regions of northern India resulted in the consolidation of the British Empire. Due to its strategic location, the Punjab was central to the architecture of the colonial power. Lahore was to become a major outpost of the empire. Therefore, the sahibs had to create social and cultural spaces for themselves in otherwise unfriendly and unfamiliar surroundings. A garden in the heart of British Lahore was essential.

True to the colonial policy, the new garden would be a continuation of the Mughal tradition of creating baaghs as the aesthetic expression of self-indulgence. This project, however, was to reflect the expanse of the Empire. Thousands of saplings of different exotic species were imported from many colonies around the world. By 1860, all the necessary preconditions – such as identifying and acquiring hundreds of acres of land – had been met. Continue reading