LAHORE: Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale feels that her great-grandfather, Sir Ganga Ram while building buildings for Lahore city, not only erected physical structures but also created spaces for well-rounded societies to be developed in the future.

American politician and activist Ms Hinsdale, a senator from Vermont, US, sat at a session themed “Bridging the Divide” at Alhamra on Saturday and shared her experiences about her week-long tour of the city. Her husband, Jacob Hinsdale, also sat on the stage, while writer F. S. Aijazuddin conducted the session.

She said the city that preserved her great grandfather’s legacy was full of cultural monuments, and it was an honour for her to visit the city and reconnect with history.

She said she was privileged to be in the company of Nayyar Ali Dada, an ace architect from Pakistan.

Lahore keeps on celebrating the memory of Sir Ganga Ram by preserving the buildings designed and constructed by him during British Indian rule. The landmark monuments include the General Post Office, the Lahore Museum, Aitchison College, Mayo School of Arts (now the National College of Arts), Ganga Ram Hospital, Lady Maclagan Girls High School, the chemistry department at Government College University, the Albert Victor wing of Mayo Hospital, Sir Ganga Ram High School (now Lahore College for Women), the Hailey College of Commerce (now the Hailey College of Banking & Finance), and Model Town and Gulberg.

“Model Town was designed by Sir Ganga Ram to bridge gaps between Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, the four major communities of Lahore,” said Aijazuddin. The housing scheme had a mosque, temples and a church to create harmony among the residents.

Senator Hinsdale was born to a Jewish mother and a Hindu father in Los Angeles.

She said that while growing up in the US, she was yelled at and often faced security scrutiny because of her colour and background.

Her father’s migration from Punjab to the United States haunted her, but she did not give up; instead, she promoted dialogue among different communities and enjoys representing the public.

Her husband Jacob Hinsdale said he was impressed to see the work and legacy of Sir Ganga Ram intact despite the passage of several decades.

He said Lahore was a proud host to Mughal monuments, which had imposing grandeur and splendid looks.

This was the couple’s last public appearance of their tour to Lahore.

The audience gave them a rousing ovation as an acknowledgement of Sir Ganga Ram’s great services for the region.

Before the dialogue, an exhibition of photographs and maps of Lahore monuments was arranged by the Office for Conservation, and Community Outreach. The event showcased the work of Sir Ganga Ram, John Lockwood Kipling and Nayyar Ali Dada.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2022

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