Lahore or simply GCU, is synonymous with Lahore. Among the most
famous of Lahore colleges, it is among the first educational
institutions that were established in the Punjab. Generations of
students have passed through its portals and attained eminent
positions in all walks of life in Pakistan.
establishment of a Central College at Lahore was sanctioned in 1856
with the condition that the teachers should be graduates of Oxford,
Cambridge, Dublin or Durham, it was not until January 1,
that the college opened its doors in the palace (haveli)
of Dhian Singh/Khushal Singh, in Lahore's Walled City.
In April 1871 the college moved to a large Bungalow near Anarkali. In 1873 its location was changed to another house
called Rahim Khans Kothi. It was in 1876 that the college moved
into the present building.
The construction had started almost in mid 1872 and was completed in
1877. Situated in the heart of the city, the site is surrounded by main
business and administrative areas, schools, colleges and Punjab
University old Campus. Presently raised to the status of university,
Government College University (GCU) site is located at the
junction of the Mall and the Lower Mall and occupies a focal
The first principal
was the famous Dr. G. W. Leitner whose name is closely attached to
the College. In April 1871 the college moved to a large Bungalow
near Anarkali. In 1873 its location was changed to another house
called Rahim Khan’s Kothi.
When it was decided
to move to more suitable premises, a site on an eminence north of
the Soldier's Garden (Gol Bagh) was selected, and a 'picturesque
building', with a large central clock tower was constructed. That
Gothic was the chosen style for the building is not surprising.
Among the first major structures of Lahore, the missionary zeal
frequently expressed by the Lawrence brothers (Henry and John
Lawrence) no doubt had an impact on the architectural expression of
The building was designed by W. Purdon,
Superintendent Engineer, and constructed under the supervision of
Executive Engineer Kannhaiya Lal. It was completed in 1877 at a cost of Rs.
320,000. A couple of years after its
completion. Viceroy Lord Lytton presided over the convocation of
'Punjab University College' (1879) held in its convocation hall with
its enormous height—"the great hall of the Lahore College, which was
tastefully decorated and arranged for the occasion." Lytton papers
recorded that the event was witnessed by "a large number of ladies
and gentlemen, European and Native."
From the main road
the main college building is seen above the landscaped terracing
through the foliage of trees, presenting a picture postcard view.
The Lahori brick is combined with sparing use of black Chiniot stone
in the first floor columns as well as in the borders lining the
openings. Pointed arches on the facade are accented with simple
moldings, and the building is topped by a steeply sloping roof.
According to Kannahiya Lal, the slate for the roof covering was
acquired from Dalhousie Mountain hundreds of miles away.
The centre of the GCU main building is
marked with an enormous entrance tower—a most impressive element
representing the image of Government College. Placed on a 15' high
podium, and accessible from the garden by a wide flight of stairs,
the tower rises to a total height of 176'. Divided into four
distinct storey, it is terminated in the form of a spire. The
battered sides of the octagonal tower carry quaint dormer windows,
with its enormous clocks visible from great distances. The
classrooms are accessed from a deep verandah which also provides
protection from the strong Punjab sun.
The Main Building
The academic campus of any educational
institute plays an important part in the upbringing of
its students. It
imparts a sense of belonging and pride to them. Built during the
colonial era, the architectural style, known to be the celestial gothic,
best suited the academic building. Government College University (GCU)
Lahore is considered to be one of the most majestic and gorgeous
buildings in the sub-continent. Reflecting the neo gothic tradition, the
building imparts the grandeur and mannerism that adapts the climatic and
environmental requirements in the form of its wide verandahs and high
ceilings. Further scale and grandeur is added to the building by placing
it on the highest level of its contoured site. Sprawling lawns combined
with an intricate landscape are the integral parts of GCU's overall
perception. Not only did the architect design a majestic building but
also complemented this grandeur with the openness of its grand lawn, the
legendary "Oval Ground" of the University Campus. Oval Ground is the
place where Ravians sit, relax, talk, study, discuss, analyze, ponder,
and even muse and meditate. Here they make new contacts and explore new
ways to manifest their liking for the unknown. The Oval offers them with
opportunities to display the dynamic talents they possess.
The Main Hall
The most prominent part of the building is the Main Hall
(now called Dr. Abdus Salam Hall). It
Consists of a central nave and
aisles running along the 4 sides. The nave has double height. The 4
aisles are double storeyed and they form a gallery on the upper floor.
The main entrance to the hall is through a porch on the West side.
Another entrance on the South faces the Oval ground. This is an arched
opening with grand and traditionally carved wooden door. After entering
through this magical opening, a passage leads into the hail. Inside the
hall, where the aisles cross each other at corners, big rooms have been
provided. The hail is a wonderful example of composed mannerism that
depicts harmony, symmetry and balance. The main conical-type clock tower
at the facade is square at the base. The first two storeys are square
and a squinch arch is placed to convert the square plan into octagon.
The first two storyes are followed by two storeys of octagonal plan with
arched openings and triangular projections.
New Postgraduate Block
Next to Bokhari Auditorium is the New Post-Graduate
Block. This block was constructed to meet the needs of the increasing
number of students. The foundation stone was laid in 1993 and the
building was completed in June 1999. This building has 4 floors and
includes a basement that houses the postgraduate library.
New Chemistry Block
New Chemistry Block and New Science Block are among the
later additions. Both these buildings are situated to the East of the
main building. New Chemistry Block is a true extension of GCU's main
building. Gothic features and detailing have been incorporated in its
exterior. The building rises upto 2 floors only. Buttresses and four
centered pointed arches are used to increase the verticality of the
building. Detailed brickwork and ornamentation is similar to that of the
main building that has always been the original source of inspiration.
New Science Block
The New Science Block is a much earlier addition than the
New Chemistry Block and was constructed mainly for utility purpose.
Apart from the brick facing the only element taken from the main
building is the use of gothic arches in the verandahs.