About Sir Ganga Ram


Faith in God and pride in his country served as turbines in the young Ganga Ram sensibility to generate a fervent patriotism. However, it is an ironic testament to the imperial and national history of the Punjab that Ganga Ram is only remembered as an Executive Engineer, the builder of Lahore, that is for career in imperial service, which he gave up prematurely in 1903 at the age of 42.In the popular imagination, he surfaces as messiah, who invested his personal fortune earned through imperial service, business and industry in education, health and welfare of the common people of the Punjab. However what he really strive to achieve in the next 24 odd years, goes much beyond his contribution as a builder or philanthropist.

It is all but forgotten that, being an agriculturalist at heart, he struggled to revolutionize the economic conditions of India agriculture. He stood what one may call the emancipated mind, the mind which is free from narrow prejudices of race or language, province or dialect, religion or caste. We had in Ganga Ram the civilized mind. There is no doubt that we will not see the like of him again.

Ganga Ram is tirade against M.K.Gand hi’s gospel of re-building Indian economy and agriculture through hand spinning with the charka-which’ he through was fit only to be burnt as firewood. His practical critique of swadesi politics, and his scientific solution to the question of Indian poverty, demonstrates a grasp of details, which when as a counter posed to the emancipator narrative of Hindu and Muslim nationalism, reveals the hollowness of nationalist politics in colonial Punjab. His radical proposal to the Indian Industrial Commission in 1920 to abolish land revenue and settlement in the Punjab, the apparatus of basis of his scrupulous calculation of enhanced economic productivity in agriculture goes unnoticed in the class analysis of Marxist historians of the Punjab.

A Brief Background of Sir Ganga Ram

Ganga Ram was born in 1851 in Mangtanwala about forty miles from Lahore and fourteen miles from Nankana Sahib, his father, Doulat Ram, who was a junior Sub inspector at a Police Station in Mangtanwala, later moved to Amritsar to become a copyist of the Court. Here Ganga Ram passed his matriculation from the Govt. High School and joined the Govt. College Lahore in 1869 Afterwards he obtained a Scholarship to the Thomson Engineering College at Roorki in 1871, where he passed with the gold medal in 1873. He was appointed Assistant Engineer and called to Dehli to help in the building of the Imperial Assemblage. Impressed by his work, Lord Ripon sent him to Bradford in the U.K to get further training for two years in Water Works and Drainage. He came back to India and served the Punjab Goverment in various districts and builtn courts and goverment offices in Lyallpur, Sheikhupura. He was honored as Rai bahadur when he came to Lahore in 1885.

The Genius That Was

It was in 1873 that Ganga Ram appeared in his final examination, which he passed, standing third in order of merit, and topping the list in the project paper. This success won for him gold medal, a much-prized distinction, and it was instrumental in securing for him almost immediate recognition. He was appointed assistant engineer, and posted to Lahore, to serve his apprenticeship under the late R. B Kanayyah Lal then executive engineer of Lahore. Ganga Ram had covered a span of twenty-two years, and before him lay the unopened book of his career.

Rai Bbahadur kanhaya Lal the executive of engineer Lahore, who was considered a very great man those days, gets down the following remarks about him.

Lala Ganga Ram made a vivid impression on my mind. I still remember his white turban and Kullah, his well-chosen dress posture, his laughing face, and above all the slanting scar on his right eyebrow, which shone like a star and added to his appearance. And he was wearing boots, which were, then, rarely worn by Indians.

He had prepared the table showing the population of India classified according to age, the estimated quantity of food required for each person of the specified age per head, and the total quantity of food required for the whole population. It might be urged. He said, and with considerable force, that the average of 16Oz. per head per day which I have assumed for the adult population of India will not, ordinarily, suffice for the total rural adult population and still less for the male portion there of 8Oz. per head day to the male adult rural population of the country. In addition to this. Some allowance must be made for sweets. etc, which  form  an important element of consumption at marriage and similar festive occasions. For this purpose, I have taken an average of 1 Oz. per head per day. This gives us a total quantity of 3208008 tons for the whole of India for one year.

In 1900, Ganga Ram was selected by Lord Curzon to act as superintendent of works in the imperial darbar to be held in connection with the accession of King Edward the Seventh. He finished the work at the Darbar managing its manifold problems and challenges but his name was not included in the New York Honors list. The bureaucratic jealousy blocked him from being rewarded for his valiant achievements. Consequently , he retired prematurely from service in 1903.

In my opinion the greatest service which GANGA RAM rendered was to teach people of every religion that there are two aspects of religion. One separates and differentiates and create hatred. This is the fake aspect. The other, the true spirit of religion, brings people together , it creates understanding, it lies in the spirit of service in sacrificing the self for others. It implies belief in unity, in the essential unity of things. And this is a lesson for all those who want to form factions based on language or caste or creed and aim to destroy the unity of our life. The disease which ails us today is that small and narrow loyalties have succeeded in gaining the upper hand. We are more attached to the little groups and do not fully comprehend the biggest group. We have to subordinate our matter loyalties to our bigger ones. It is not necessary to break the smaller loyalties to our bigger ones. It is not necessary to break or destroy the smaller loyalties. It is not necessary that we cease being a Sikh, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Parsi but we muat put the whole mankind first before we can be worthy being called a true, Hindu, a true Muslim, a true Sike, or a true Parsi. The life of Sir Ganga Ram offers a radiant example of this ideal. this is what we need most at present our policies and in social set up.

The Achievements of Sir Ganga Ram for Lahore

Lahore is a modern city with a rich history. It has kept the marks of great men in its folds for centuries. SIR GANGA RAM was one of such men who contributed immensely to Lahore’s development as a modern city, but was forgotten millions of the people are acquainted with his name because of the Ranga Ram Hospital, nobody knows that who Ranga Ram was. He dedicated a major part of his life to Lahore as a disfurnished engineer and a warmhearted philanthropist but the name of his hospital is in people’s consciousness. He supervised the construction of high court. Cathedral and constructed the Aitcheson chiefs college. He also gave Lahore new water works in addition to many other building. For twelve years he was the executive engineer of Lahore, a period which, in retrospect, has been called as “Ganga Ram period of Architecture”.

Gangapur Agricultural Project

The great achievement of Sir Ganga Ram is Gangapur agricultural project writes Sir Edward Mclegan  Lieutenant governor of the Punjab who visited the Farm in 1920. A special feature of the whole of the Gangapur enterprises was extent to which scientific invention and machinery was used to make the project a gigantic success. Gangapur was the first farm to introduce a mechanical reaper, and ridger, and harrows, scythes, sprays and new type of gardening instruments were among the many modern designed and improved tools used. Agricultural experiments the use of modern mechanical devices with steam and electric power, and village planning on a most practical basis are all unique features, of striking or originality and breath of vision and have made the reputation of the estate, but the real triumph of Gangapur lies in yet another thing, the trolley which connects the estate with the railway station.

Lahore Museum

At the conclusion of his imperial service, the GOVT. allotted him 500-acres of land in the newly settled chanab colony in Lyallpur. The land was only two miles away from the railway station. With the vision to do better he had done in the Government service, Ganga Ram Became a great agriculturist.

Generally, people think that the Hailey College Was Founded by Sir Malcolm Hailey. Contrarily to that it was Sir Ganga Ram who conceived this 1st Commerce College of Lahore. With his donation of few hundred thousand rupees and the support and approval of the Governor. For years the College has served the students of Lahore and even now stands as a prestigious institution of Commerce education. In addition, Ganga Ram also built and endowed the Maynard hall and Hailey hall for the Punjab University. During the period of his posting as executive engineer of Lahore he has the credit of designing constructing the magnificent buildings of the Lahore museum, the mayo School of Arts, the general post office, the Albert victor wing of the Lahore , mayo hospital and the Govt. College, Chemical laboratory.

No accounts of his work in Lahore can be complete without mentioning the part he played in the remaking og the old town as an ex-officio municipal commissioner. “the present generation of Lahore” are told by an old citizen, “have on idea of the brick-laid-streets, the narrow drains with dead ends, and the horrible stench which they emitted resulting in disease, cholera, and malaria which played havoc all the year round.

The water works scheme in the city was started as late as   1875 and that time they were still incomplete and there was on efficient draining system. For that, the city of Lahore is indebted to Ganga Ram. It is to him that they own metalled street, paved lanes and properly laid drains which lessens the rigorously of malaria and thus material herbed in rising the standard of health of the citizens. Thus Ganga Ram’s influence went much deeper then the spectacular out side building which every one can see and affected a much larger number of people then a cursory glance might estimate. If we added to these reforms of Lahore the tremendous and mainly unacknowledged influence that Ganga Ram And his ideas had on domestic architectures, the sum totalled is tremendous. His new ideas on construction were admired and copied by a good many of the private constructions in Lahore. The stamp of his particular mind on the general appearance of residential quarters of Lahore is obvious to anyone who goes about whit his eyes open. in 1925 he was made governor of the imperial bank of India, during that time his trust, the Ganga Ram trust building was constructed on the mall.

Post Retirement Period.

Soon after his retirement Patialla State acquired his services as superintending Engineer for a gigantic project of reconstruction of the city. In the year of his services to the Patialla state he changed its whole face and the Motibagh palace, the Ijlas-i-Khas, the secretariat building, the Victoria Girls School, the city high school, the low courts, the police station and the dispensary all bore the stamp of his handwork during that period he also got involved in banking through the me war bank which he ran for the state. At the end of his services the Patialla state he stated a new life of creative activity at his own farm. A Larg bungalow was built there in addition to dispensaries, a central square, shops and functional buildings. Today’s Faisalabad (Lyallpur) has extended far beyond its limits but Gangapur still stands as a model village.

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital

Sir Ganga Ram hospital was constructed in 1921 on the land purchased near Yachhowali. The hospital contained a women’s wing, a dispensary and a girls hostel. A medical college(re-named later as the Fatima Jinnah Medical college) was built near the hospital

The Mall Road

From the leafy end of the mall that begins with the Aitcheson college to the university and down by the museum it is the spirit and creative vision of Ganga Ram  which pervades the air. The arches, the love of traditions mirror themselves in his buildings and they look at home on soil. But in their construction, all the tricks and devices  of the scientific west have been employed to improve them, to protect them from the heat and the cold of the Punjab climate, to ensure that sanitation we efficient and unobtrusive, more modern styles have since invaded the mall and the future will show many others with more modern construction and technique but the simple dignity of Ganga ram’s building will bear comparison with the best that the future has to offer.

Sir Ganga Ram died in his London home when the dawn was breaking on the 10th of July 1927. his body was cremated and the ashes were brought back to the subcontinent, a portion of them was consigned to Ganga Ram river and the rest buried in Lahore in his Samadhi on the banks of Raver Ravi.