Cathedral Church

Seen across the Shaharah-Quaid-e-Azam (the Upper Mall) from the High Court, is a contemporary stained glass tower which marks the entrance to one of the most important neo-Gothic buildings of the city—the impressive Cathedral Church of the Resurrection.

The cathedral is set well back from the road, but you will enjoy walking up the long drive, full of old trees and wonderful ambiance. You will admire the residence of the bishop, the well maintained quaint bungalow, which adds to the 19th century aura of the place. The sprawling compound, containing the looming towers of the cathedral, provides a haven in the middle of the bustle of downtown Lahore.

The story of the establishment of the Anglican Church in the Punjab can be traced to the first chapel that was set up in Lahore Fort, in the once sumptuous Diwan-e-Khass of Emperor Shah Jahan with the altar occupying the eminent position once reserved for the most celebrated of the Great Mughals.

Once the Punjab had been brought fully under subjugation, a church was established in another historic building, the Tomb of Anarkali—the tragic heroine of the famous romance between the beautiful court attendant and the Mughal prince Salim, later Emperor Jahangir. As the ruling population in the city grew—the number of local Christians also increasing due to the efforts of missionary organizations—it became essential to move from the limited space of the tomb to a specially designed cathedral.

Also, after the laying out of the Upper Mall and the shifting of Anarkali Cantonment to Mian Mir, Anarkali's tomb became redundant due to its location and small size.

By this time Lahore had emerged as the hub of several railway lines, and the city grew rapidly due to an influx of British administrators and experts arriving to administer the province as well as the railways.

Accordingly, a site was chosen on high ground that lay between the Upper Mall and Mcleod Road. The Upper Mall provided easy accessibility from the civil station of Anarkali in north west and Government House and Mian Mir Cantonment in the south and southeast, and Mcleod Road linked the Railway Station and Railway Colony established at Naulakha in the northeast.

Although the foundations of the cathedral had been sunk, the work was stopped in December 1867 when the Punjab was constituted a separate diocese. It was decided to enlarge the building into a "larger church fitted as a cathedral, with library, chapter house, etc." Oldrid Scott, the son of the celebrated architect Gilbert Scott whose neo-Gothic exploits had become the rage of London and Bombay, was commissioned to design the new cathedral. The work was carried out in an unusual combination of fine brickwork and grey stone which was procured from the Taraki quarries beyond Jheulm.

The church designed in "decorated early English style" has a footprint 226' in length and 152' in breadth. Although it was only partially completed, it began to be used in 1885, while its two large saddleback western towers, were completed much later. The two Norman towers guarding the main entrance once carried tall steeples, which were taken down for safety reasons after the earthquake of 1911. Both the weathercock and the lantern tower that it topped are no longer extant; however, the name Kukkar Girja (Rooster Cathedral) that it is referred to in local parlance survives. The ringing bells are in the southwest tower. The Cathedral guide-book says 'Originally the frame for the bells was made to accommodate eight, but only six of them arrived from England. They were cast in 1903 by John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough. The largest bell is about 1 ton in weight and when in use, the foundations used to vibrate.' Lahore Cathedral is famous for its Taxila cross erected inside the cathedral and its stained glass windows, bells, pipe organ and a clock from 1862 which rests in the top floor of the northwest tower, disused, with a clock bell hung from a portion of the clock-case. The bell has radial angular canons from which it is hung.

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