Today’s topic is about canal rest houses and their journey.when British Came to India to trade and rule, but not to settle down, an attitude which increased the distance between the rulers and the ruled. By modern standards, British rule in India lasted a long time: nearly 200 years. During this era we saw many ups and downs in political issues. Religious prejudices were also at best where Muslims used to hate all other Non-Muslims and in the same way they were also used to be treated. But Apart from all these political or religious matters today I would like to highlight one of the greatest effort done by British In India sub-continent. If we have a look on Mughal Empires, we see that every king was very fond of making forts, gardens and resorts etc. But as far as British govt. is concerned they have put a lot of effort in the progress of this area.
They cultivated the seeds and still we all are getting it’s fruits infect if we had taken care of all that stuff we could be getting more from it. we see hospitals, colleges, Bridges etc. in Pakistan which were actually constructed by British. They made a vast Irrigation system in this area where we are living right now but today I will try to focus the Canal rest houses they built in all different canal colonies and how these canal rest houses are now converted into Ruins.
When I opened my eyes I found myself in south Punjab, a place surrounded by lush green fields, canal, pure food etc. also noticed a huge building which had a vast verandahs and that time it looked to me a gigantic place.it was nothing but “Canal Colony” and “Canal rest house”.in British Era The canal Engineer used to travel with his staff and donkeys, mules or camels used to carry their baggage. His assistant, clerks and other helpers used to travel with him.
Due to these sort of traveling’s Rest houses were placed purposefully at every 30 to 40 kilometers. Some of these old rest houses were situated in the remotest of places because irrigation officers had to travel with their team in remote areas as well and after spending a tough day these rest houses used to give a abundant luxury to them. A cook and a watch man were the regular servants of rest houses.
These rest houses were built stunningly.it had high roofs and vast well ventilated rooms and everyone used to enjoy to stay there.as time proceeded these canal rest houses started losing their importance. The whole irrigation department started retrograding and authorities started paying less attention towards these beautiful buildings. It all started happening when British were no more here and Pakistan was on the world map with its own identity. After few decades when a lot of roads started building, motor traffic was also increased these rest houses started to become almost jobless.
There were diff a lot of rest houses built by British, I’m not sure but I hope there would be hundreds of them in only Punjab province. The size of the building could be different but mostly these rest houses had a typical same sort of style and shape.as I have mentioned earlier that it had verandas. The most beautiful thing was the architectural style used in it.it has some round shaped design and had some pillars as well.
The roofs were higher as compared with today’s constructions. The reason could be the summer season. In front of these rest houses a separate small building was also constructed which had few rooms for the staff like cook, watch man etc. and a proper separate kitchen was also sued to be the part of it. mostly the rest houses near river or barrages used to be wider and well-constructed.
I always heard a word a name in canal colony and that was “Taar Baahu”.but never understood that word after so many years when a noticed a separate room near canal rest house with the title “Taar Ghar”or “Telegraph Office”. Actually Taar bahu used to be a person who was responsible to convey diff official messages to irrigation officials, in ancient times when there was no Mobile phone and PTCL was also not that common so these Taar Baaho used to do the job.
As far as my own reflection is concerned I have noticed that these rest houses lost their worth quickly just last 2 decades before. If we look some 20 years back. Most of the rest houses were at least a little bit of use. There was a time when their boundaries were planted with diff beautiful flowers and guests used to come and stay over there. Any building or place is actually populated with its inhabitants who stay there, live there, maintain the place but if there is no one then a big castle can easily be converted into Ruin.
Same things is done with these beautiful canal rest houses there was a time when these rest houses were a symbol of gorgeous residence but due to lack of interest by government officials those buildings are out of date now. Many of them are being sold in auctions and few rest houses have been grasped by different people and there might be very few rest houses which are in better and active .Pathar kothi rest house which is located at head Rasul,Mandi Bahau din,is one of very few canal rest houses which is still in better condition.i have shared the picture of canal rest house Bhakkar as well that’s also in a better shape.
I wish Govt. would pay some attention towards these heritages and preserve their actual vastness and beauty. Those were British who built such great buildings for us and today we could not do anything but have lost them.