Gali Surjan Singh
“This is not Europe – it’s a street in Lahore”, was the most received comment under the picture of Gali Surjan Singh, once it went viral on the social media in Pakistan. Tourists started hovering in the street to see if it was real or photoshoped because many myths and rumors were in the air. But in fact, the street looked so attractive that it pulled the tourists towards itself and that was the power of one model street restored and conserved by the Walled City of Lahore Authority and the Aga Khan Culture Service Pakistan.
Let us take you to this marvelous street located on the Royal Trail in Delhi Gate, Walled City of Lahore. As you enter the gigantic arches of the colonial-built Delhi Gate, you will be walking on the Royal Trail, a passage that was used by the Mughals to commute from Delhi to Lahore Fort. Walk a little ahead and on your right a narrow alley will lead you in the Surjan Singh Street. Well, you can ask anyone around as well for the street and they will guide you as Lahore is a city of love and hospitality and the people there are full of affection and admiration for the tourists.
Initially there are a couple of shops but as you cross them in the narrow street you will come across the beautiful street ‘Gali Surjan Singh’, and you will have to hold on to your breath to grasp the beauty for a while…its mind blowing. The Gali Surjan Singh was named after Hakim Surjan Singh, the 19th century physician. He lived in one of the houses in this street and was a well-known physician of that era. He had cured many people and the royal families and that is why the street was named after him.
The street is a wonder in itself because of its architecture. In 2012 the street was restored by the Aga Khan Culture Services Pakistan and the Walled City of Lahore Authority with the funding from German Embassy. During the restoration works, the electricity was taken underground, sewerage and storm water pipes were separated. Also, the telecommunication services and gas supply were improved. the facade of the houses in the street were also rehabilitated. Among the 57 restored streets by WCLA, Gali Surjan Singh is prominent because of its architecture and beauty.
In 2021 the street was decorated with plants and flowers by the Akhuwat Foundation and Walled City of Lahore Authority. Lahori dishes have also been arranged for the tourists and the office of a welfare organization like Akhuwat is also located in the same street. As you go a little ahead in the Gali Surjan Singh you will see different colorful shops and tea stalls among the vibrant life of the residents. The people living in the street are contented with the beautification and restoration of their area.
The built of the street and its architecture is amazing. The mesmerizing feature of this street is the thara (platforms outside houses) where the people still sit together during evenings and also during the day. There are 23 buildings here, 18 of which were constructed in the late 19th or early 20th century and catered to middle income households with limited budgets. These buildings also represent the transformations in technology, architectural expression and typology that were affecting Lahore during the colonial period. No doubt it is an interesting street to visit.