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Ambala Cantonment in Haryana, present from the British times, has a lot of colonial bungalows and wide tree lined roads typical of British cantonments

The state of Punjab was one of Great Britain’s most important assets in colonial India. It was the state’s political and geographic predominance that gave Britain a base through which they ruled over the princely states in India. Lahore was then the centre of learning and culture under the British rule and Rawalpindi became an important army installation. After partition of Punjab in 1947, following independence of India, noted french architect Le Corbusier was commissioned by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India to build the new city of Chandigarh. With the brief of the designs the new city had to showcase a city which was ‘unfettered by the traditions of the past, a symbol of the nation’s faith in the future’. Corbusier and his team built not only large assembly and high court buildings, but also all major buildings in the city. Today many of the buildings are recognised as modern masterpieces, though most are in a neglected state. The Clock Tower in Ludhiana, known as Ghanta Ghar is more than 100 years old. It was inaugurated by the then Lt- Governor of Punjab and its dependencies, Sir Charles Montgomery along with Deewan Tek Chand, the then Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana. The tower had been erected as a memorial to the silver jubilee year of Queen Victoria’s regime. The original watch, installed nearly when the tower was built by the British, had to be wound manually and was replaced with an electronic watch about twelve years ago.

The Clock Tower in Ludhiana, known as Ghanta Ghar is more than 100 years old

Manjit Singh Walia of Mohini Tours n Travels says, “The state government has been taking measures to promote heritage sites in Punjab and promote heritage tourism as a niche tourism concept. With the potential that this segment holds, we see a lot of foreigners opting for such tours who are interested in knowing more about the history of a particular destination for their field of education. We customise packages accordingly as per the convenience and choices of our customers.”

Ambala Cantonment in Haryana, present from British times, has a lot of colonial bungalows and wide tree lined roads typical of British cantonments. It also gets a mention in Rudyard Kipling’s book Kim. The Cantonment Church Tower, which is 35 metres in height is an old tower situated in the district of Karnal. This is a rare british architecture and has been named after St. James and was dismantled after the shifting of the cantonment to Ambala in 1841 AD. St Paul’s Church is one of the oldest churches in Ambala Cantonment which was built on January 4, 1857, was bombed during the 1965 Indo-Pak war which destroyed its building surviving with its tower only. Since then, a portion of the parsonage is being dedicated and used as church.

The Sirhind Club was constructed in 1891 under the supervision of Lt. Col. G Henry, J M Champion and Major E Blunt and started functioning under the Chairmanship of Brigadier General G.T. Pretyman. The club was damaged in 1965 during the Indo Pak Conflict. It has been renovated and expanded over the years. Recreational institutions like the Sirhind Club were built by the British not only for socialising but also primarily to promote political interest of the British Government through loyalty of select Indianswho were allowed membership to these institutions.

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