Sunday, March 12, 2017

Lawrence College Ghora Gali in the Hindsight-Part 2

A Chapter from my upcoming Book: I was Born at Taxila

March 12, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
Lawrence College is one of the illustrious and the most prestigious residential educational institutions in the sub-continent. The other such educational institutions are Petaro Military College in Punjab, Sarai Aalamgir College in Jhelum Punjab, Petaro in Sindh province and Cadet College at Hasan Abdal near the capital of Pakistan Islamabad.
Lawrence College at Ghora Gali is a place some ten miles short of actual city of Murree and isolated in the maze of thick forests for which one had to traverse an ascending serpentine road on foot. There was another bus stop before the actual stop of Bansra Gali. It was Ghora Gali. Although the college carries the name of Ghora Gali, in effect it is built along the Bansra Gali road which branches off from the main highway between Islamabad and the Murree Hills.
The distance between Ghora Gali and Bansra Gali should be about 6 miles. Being totally unaware of the environment and the real destination. On my first visit for the initial interview I mistakenly alighted at Ghora Gali and went into a forest rest house that was quite far my actual destination. There I was told by someone about location of the Lawrence college. Then I came to know that I had landed at a wrong place.
There was another detour from behind the hills of Bansra Gali than ran through the Murree Brewery buildings destroyed during the 1947 partition fiasco. It was situated between Ghora Gali and Bansra Gali. The burned building still looked silhouetted along the slopes of the ridge. It was steep climb up for about two hours. When one would reach the precincts of the Famous College it would be first the senior school that he or she would see before him. Murree Brewery was later recommissioned and is ever since making Beer which is called “Murree Brewery Beer”.
Lawrence College was one of most sought after educational institutions for the parents for a variety of reasons. It offered serene, healthy and unpolluted atmosphere to the residents. It was panoramic and resplendent with natural beauty. It was isolated from the din and noise of the cities. It was residential and was established in the finest traditions of the British educational systems.
Since 1860 to the present year 2017(157 years) there have been 29 principals of the college. The college is run on the military pattern with houses to be commanded by each house master. The Principal is the head of the institution. Administratively the college is controlled by a Board of Governors. The Governor of the Punjab is the Chairman of the Board of Governors. There is also an executive committee whose chairman is the GOC of the 12th infantry division stationed at the city of Murree.
The college is divided into three sections. Each section is called school and has a separate head, self-contained buildings and a separate geographical entity. Since the whole building network and structures are built on the slope of the mountain ridge, these are in separation physical locations. On top is the junior school that is headed by a female principal. The Preparatory school is in the middle and is run by a headmaster.
The senior section which is situated in the lowest part of the mountain is a much larger building It is also headed by a headmaster. On top is the principal whose office at the senior school section. The classes at the junior school are from I to IV. This section caters for the age group 5 ½ to 9 ½ years and is headed by a Headmistress. In my time, there were 12 mistresses and 4 matrons. It prepares boys for the Preparatory School.
The classes in preparatory school are from V to VII. This section caters for the age group 9 ½ to 12 ½ years and is headed by a Headmaster. There were 8 Masters and 2 Mistresses and Matrons when I served there. At the end of class VII Promotion Examination the students pass out to go into the Senior School, Organization of house system forms the basis of all curricular and extra-curricular activities. The boys develop house affiliation and have a keen sense of competition.
Houses have independent common rooms. They have their organized excursions and inter-house competitions in sports, academics, debates, social activities and plays. The four houses that came into being in 1920 were named after the most distinguished principals. Their names are Witwhick, Wright, Peake, and Walker. In 1973 these names changed to Babar, Iqbal, Tipu and Jinnah that remained in vogue until 2010 when again the previous names were restored. its name was changed to Pine Hills College in 1973, Ghora Gali College in 1979 and then back to Lawrence College Ghora Gali Murree in 1986.
The teaching staff is provided free accommodation within the precincts of the college. Those who cannot cook at home can eat at the Staff Club. The Staff Club provides indoor and outdoor facilities such as snooker and bridge game and tennis courts. Each school has its own catering system with a banquet hall where the students assemble three times in a day: in the morning for breakfast, noon time for lunch and in the evening for dinner. 
The school bus would take the staff members to Murree each weekend for shopping and for a free time to sip tea or eat out at the restaurants. This trek which is all steep ascension for about 6 miles is surrounded by lush green pine hill trees on both sides and replete with breath taking natural beauty. The return downward journey is also steep.
Like most of the houses in Murree Hills the houses, the barracks and rooms, are erected from the wooden planks. There were some houses also made from bricks and stones and offered to the senior teachers. The main buildings are all in the original shape and look majestic and imposing and remind one of the colonial grandeur of the British monarchy and height of glory. There is a specious convention hall for holding functions from banquets to literary events such as Mushaira and debates.
Countless alumnae of Lawrence college attained distinctions and fame in their respective fields later in life.  Some of these luminaries are Gen. Shamim Alam Khan, Lt. Gen. Khan, Zafarullah (former Prime Minister), Khan, Mumtaz Bhutto, Aftab Sherpao, Shahid,Sarfraz Bugatti,Gulgee, Ikram and Ayaz Amir.


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