Sir Ganga Ram and his heritage

The knighted Ganga Ram

Today Sir Ganga Ram [ b. 1851- d. 1937] is remembered for the charity institutions that he created. The eponymous hospitals in New Delhi and Lahore run by the Sir Ganga Ram Trust provide succor to millions every year. The medical training that is associated with these hospitals creates some of the best trained doctors in the subcontinent. Sir Ganga Ram Trust in Lahore manages a large number of charities that are run in the name of Sir Ganga Ram. The Evacuees Property Trust Board in Pakistan takes care of these properties. The Board also has made special efforts to preserve the memory of Sir Ganga Ram by taking care of his Samadhi on what was once the banks of the river Ravi. We were told that plans are in place to deck up the currently plain Samadhi and landscape its surroundings. In 1976 the river shifted some 3 kms away so currently the Samadhi is not on the river bank any more.

Sir Ganga Ram was the kind of man from whom many in the subcontinent need to learn. His life was marked by two big failures and each was used to rebuild himself. Ganga Ram began his entrance into public spaces by failing in his first major exam, the matric exam. Then in 1903 he failed to find mention in the Christmas Honours list. After the first failure Ganga Ram decided to make himself an accomplished engineer. After the second failure he decided to take charge of his own life, work independently to create a much better world around him.

The entry to the Agarwal Dharmshala that houses the Sir Ganga Ram Heritage Foundation trust in present day Lahore

As a government engineer he was credited with making some of the major landmarks of modern Lahore town. Many of the colleges and schools along the mall, the Lahore railway station, the museum and much more along the Mall connecting Lahore town with the cantonment at Mian Mir, were executed under the supervision of Ganga Ram. He built two townships in the canal colonies that are considered model townships even today. The water supply and sewerage system that he built for the town of Lahore is still in use today after more than a century.

The Lahore Museum: one of the many majestic buildings that Ganga Ram executed

He took voluntary retirement from government service in 1903. Subsequently he concentrated on irrigation projects on his +5000 acres landholding. He converted the semi arid hinterland of Lahore into lush fields. His example was used by other land holders to improve their lands using modern technology.