Glimpses Of Old Rawalpindi


Rawalpindi is Islamabad's "twin" or "sister" city. These two places are seperated by hardly 15 kilometers, but neverheless, they lie a world apart. Unlike its 45 year old neighbour, Rawalpindi has existed for centuries - according to archeologists, minor settlements may in fact have existed on it already thousands of years ago. 

Rawalpindi was an important regional center in the 15th century, was occupied by the Sikhs in 1765 and later taken over by the British East India company after their defeat of the Sikh Empire and subsequent annexation of the Punjab in 1849. Under British rule, Rawalpindi was connected to the Indian railway network and it soon became the largest garrison city in the western part of British India. Today, old colonial-era military and administrative buildings dot the cantonment area which remains the city's most well-kept district. After Pakistan gained independence in August 1947, Rawalpindi became for a while the capital of the country and the headquarters of the Pakistani army, which it remains to this day.

Located in Punjab province, Rawalpindi's population exceeds that of Islamabad by almost half a million. It's charm lies in its traditional, somewhat chaotic subcontinental hustle and bustle atmosphere in its traffic-jammed mostly narrow streets, contrasting quite sharply with the tree-lined alleys, cleanliness and peace of Islamabad. Though not the kind of place I would choose to live in, Rawalpindi does have much to offer for visitors.  It has a number of bazaars offering virtually everything from locally handcrafted items to sophisticated consumer electronics at a reasonable price. Ayub Park is a beautiful place to relax in Autumn and Spring. Rawalpindi boasts a number of universities and colleges and hospitals. Older sights include a large British colonial-era cemetary and several Churches and Hindu Temples.

Detailed information on Rawalpindi can be found at the website of the free on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia and at the website PindiPlus



These are four photos of Hindu Temples in Rawalpindi taken from various angles. Note the beautiful stone carvings on the temple facades. In the photo on the extreme right, which was taken from a narrow ally, note the carving of the elephant-shaped Hindu God Ganesh on the upper facade. Pakistan has a large number of such temples but, unfortunately, many are in a sorry condition and precious little has been done for their betterment.


These photos are of a mosque and were taken from a roof-top somewhere in Rawalpindi. The loudspeakers in the photo on the left are used by Muslim clergy to call the faithful to prayer and can be heard for miles around. The minaret on the right has a pavillion-shaped top and is characteristic of the Indo-Muslim architectural style.


Now we come to the Churches of Rawalpindi of which there are several, some having been constructed over a hundred years ago under British colonial rule. The Anglican Church captured in both photos is located on the Mall Road in Rawalpindi and was built in the 19th century to cater to the spiritual needs of British officers and their families in Rawalpindi, which was a very important Indian garrison city at the time. It's wonderful classical architecture is remiscent of countless small-town Churches you'd find in England.



These photos were taken inside the Church. The interior is simple but unmistakenly Church-like in appearance with altar, beautiful stained glass window, pews etc. Off course, the British officers and their families are long gone and nowadays the main Church-goers are Pakistani Christians of which there is a fairly sizeable community in Rawalpindi.


More photos of the interior of the Church. If you would walk into the Church without knowing you're in Pakistan, you'd probably think you're walking into an English Church. 


Now we come to the Catholic Church I visited that day. It's appearance is distinc-tively more modern than its Protestant counterpart. There is a beautiful white statue of the Virgin Mary with her child inside the Church (see photo on the right).


After our round of the Church, we went to see the workshop on its premises where young women were busy sewing. In the photo on the left are our group members looking at the working women, who can be seen in the photos. New photos from October 2006 can be seen at my St. Catherine's Convent webpage.




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