Sir Colin Campbell, Company Bagh & Jawala Ram Singh

Beautiful memories peeking through the windows of the past, talking about the golden days of Campbellpur.

This series of articles was written by Honorable Syedzada Sakhawat Bukhari, patron of our magazine, under the title of Campbellpur to Attock for Urdu section. I am translating it into English with different titles.

Aagha Jahangir Bukhari

At the time of the War of Independence in 1857, Sir Colin Campbell was the head of the British forces in India. According to his thinking and plan, in order to protect the British interests in this region from the insurgency arising from the north-west frontier region of India i.e., the present Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a military cantonment was established at some distance from the historical site of Attock and the river Attock (Indus), which we now know as the Artillery Centre. Since it was an important population in this area, it became a landmark or identity and till our childhood, the first-generation people (elders) used to call Campbellpur only by the name of “Chhawni” or Chhunri.

Note that the cantonment was established much earlier and then, around 1908, a town was founded to the west, named Campbellpur after British military commander Sir Colin Campbell.

Sir Colin Campbell
Sir Colin Campbell – Wikipedia

I don’t know the architect of this city, but it would be unfair not to appreciate him. According to the rules of geometry, straight and spacious streets, small wards, a spacious square in the middle of each ward and a water well in the middle of it, these squares were used for various social events in that era.

In 1970, when I was a 4th year student at Government College, Campbellpur, one of my essays was published in the college magazine, Mashaal, titled “Campbellpur Ka Jughrafia” (Geography of Campbellpur). This title was chosen by me in consultation with the respected teacher, the late Prof. Muhammad Anwar Jalal Sahib, inspired by Patras Bukhari’s essay ” Lahore Ka Jughrafia” (Geography of Lahore). Since Campbellpur was in its original state till then, the real picture of the city and its surroundings can be seen in this article of mine.

The streets of the city were paved with bricks from the kiln of Jawala Ram Singh, of Jassian, a well-known brick maker of the time. I wrote satirically in my article that the people of the municipality, in the name of repairing the streets, overturn the bricks. When the brick penetrates, after a year or two, the same brick is installed with the up side down. Although our childhood was the age of tongas, camel carts, bullock carts and bicycles, cars and bikes were rarely seen, tractor trolleys, suzukis, wagons and chingchis were not even born. Still, to prevent accidents, the city’s planners designed the streets for one-way traffic. On one side of each street, carved stones from the nearby hills were installed in the form of small pillars so that pedestrians could pass but no kind of riding could pass.

The city that started from Pleader Line used to end at Chhoei Road. A small town, a sparsely populated, clean and peaceful environment, a market from beginning to end, which was named the Civil Bazaar by the British, used to close in the evening. A high school for both boys and girls each, a government college where co-education was till our time. There were only a few primary schools in the city. The place where the girls’ college is now located, near Kamilpur Syedan, was the first government hospital in the city. The present District Headquarters Hospital was built during our childhood.

There was a vast ground for sports called “Krishna Ground”, now known as Lalazar or some other name. Apart from this, there was a Government High School (currently Pilot), a Government College ground and a prison ground, where today there is a judicial complex and a telephone exchange near the main bus station. There was Company Bagh in the name of the East India Company (now Jinnah Park) adjacent to the Deputy Commissioner’s House for amusement.

Jawala ram Sigh

The first power house in the city was built south of Chhoei Road. It was owned by Sardar Mumtaz Ali Khan. There was no electricity transmission anywhere except the old city, so we, the residents of Aminabad and adjacent villages, spent their childhood and grew up in the light of lanterns. A classmate of mine, Muhammad Zaman Qureshi, resident of Gulabad Haji Shah, who is now a prominent lawyer of Attock, and I, while preparing for the BA examination, would light a common lantern and sit around and study throughout the night.

There was a Hindu cremation ground (Shamshan Ghat) near our neighbourhood, Aminabad, in the limits of Mohalla Shahabad, where the last Hindu lawyer of the city, Lala Faqir Chand, was cremated. I remember Lala Faqir Chand, an advocate who was blind. He used to sit near a pillar on the veranda of the bar room with a Hindu turban tied, his secretary would read the newspaper to him and he would listen quietly.

I remember from the newspaper, the Khazina E Ilm O Adab was the center of newspapers, magazines and books on Kachhehri Road. Newspapers of that time, Kohistan, Imroz, Nawa E Waqt and Tameer were prominent. Later, Jang and Mashreq joined this caravan. Newspapers were provided in the municipal library for those who could not buy newspapers.

Among the well-known restaurants is Master Fazal Din’s Hamdard Restaurant. It was the Pak Tea House of Attock where poets and writers used to gather, Taj and Habib were well-known restaurants inside the Chowk.

To be continued . . . . .

Aagha Jahangir Bukhari

Founder and CEO