Friday, October 7, 2011

Historic Horse Tram Returns to Gangapur

Owais Mughal

This post has turned 180 degrees in its tone in the past 30 minutes of our editing. Read below how.

I found the title photo of this post in a web search and was totally mesmerized by it. I strarted writing this post with an admittedly ignorant view of the subject and almost made fun of why a horse driven trolley could be a project to inaugurate in today’s modern world - as shown in the title photo.

But boy was I wrong! As I started a quick web search on this project, I realized the historical value of this seemingly old and rusty trolley. And now I am very grateful that someone has actually taken the initiative to rehabilitate this part of our history.

Chak Number 591-GB is a small village in Faisalabad Division. It is also called Gangapur - named after the famous philanthropist and Indian Civil Engineer Sir Ganga Ram. Some text on the web suggests that Sir Ganga Ram owned the village of Gangapur (confirmation needed). It is said that he was a landlord here and turned it into a model village of the late 19th century. He introduced modern agricultural means and machinery of the time to Gangapur. One such machine was a heavy duty Electrical Motor which was installed in 1898 on Gogira branch canal to pump water for agriculture. This motor was brought to Gangapur from Lahore by railways and this is where the story of our today’s post starts.

The nearest Railway Station from Gangapur is another village called Buchiana (101 km from Lahore on Sheikhupura - Shorkot branch line). From Buchiana to Gangapur the distance is approximately 3 kilometers and in 1890s there were no means avialable to transport a heavy electrical motor from Buchiana Railway Station to Gangapur. Therefore Sir Ganga Ram ordered a special railway track to be built for the purpose between the two villages and a horse-driven trolley was used to transport this electric motor to Gangapur. After the motor was installed, the horse driven trolley remained in operation to transport people between the two villages.

Therefore the horse driven trolley that we see in the title photo is now 112 years old (built in 1898). It remained in continuous operation for 100 years until 1998 when financial problems and disrepair of track and trolley put an end to the service. That was until yesterday. As our title photo from March 9, 2010 suggests that after 12 years of dis-repair and non-service the horse tram of Gangapur has now been rehabilitated and put back into service. Yes!

I’ve also read on the web that both PTV and BBC had made documentaries on this horse tram which attracted many tourists to the area.

OK. Now that I’ve given the serious history of the project, how about we go back to my original idea of discussing some lighter details of the title photos here.

Note how many pink color haar (garlands) have been put in the neck of the chief guest. As if they were not enough, a guy is holding several more spares in his arms on the same trolley. The single-vehicle entrouge has been provided with its own ample security too. One can see a policeman standing towards the back of the trolley along with several media people.

I want to end the post with this sher (poetic verse) - which I’ve used in another post earlier too - but let me repeat it anyways:
rau mein hai rakhsh-e-umr, kahaaN dekhiye thamay
na haath hai baag par, na paa hai rakaab meiN

Photo Credits: Tasawar Abbas at APP

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