The Brief History Of
Commissioner Residence, Jalandhar
The Commissioner Residence was acquired immediately after the first Angloo-Sikh War by the first Commissioner of CIS Satluj Doab region, Sir Johan Lawrence. The building along with the vast stretch of land around it belonged to Maharaja of Kapurthala. Initially, the British Government took it on rent. However, as the roots of the British Raj became stronger, it was considered viable by the British Government to buy this palace and estate, around the latter half of the Nineteenth century. In 1906, the value of the house was assessed to be around Rs. one lac. Finally, taking all deprecation into account, the then Executive Engineer suggested a payment of around Rs. 55,000/- to be paid to the Maharaja of Kapurthala. An offer was accordingly made by the Maharaja, who had no option but to accept it.
The building is sited like all garden pavilion in the middle of a large open space which must have been historically a landscape garden. The original building is a single storied, square, symmetrical structure of nine squares. The building is built in the early nineteenth century intended as a pavilion. The original name, baradari is derived from the twelve bays of the building, three on each facade. The structure was later provided with a verandah and a porch probably in the mid of nineteenth century when in was used by Sir John Lawrence as a residence from 1846-48, the first Commissioner of Jalandhar.
The bays have been formed by foliated arches, the central most bay has singly foliated arch while the side ones have three smaller ones in each. It is an excellent mix of later Muslim and colonial architecture. The house has extremely high ceilings which are supported by wooden beams and sleepers The thickness of the walls is approximately 3 to 3 1/2 ft. and the circumference of pillars is around 10 to 12 ft. broad. The area around, known as Baradari is synonymous, with the Commissioner's Residence, where the central room has 12 doors i.e. 3 in each wall. Its elaborate construction speaks what the Royal Kings of yore could achieve.
At the entrance of the residence there are two black stones fitted on each side of the door. The first right hand side is characterized on a plain black stone and announces about the residence of first Commissioner, Sir John Lawrance from 1846 to 1848 and reads as follows:-
IN THIS HOUSE LIVED
JOHN LAWRANCE 1846 TO 1848
It has been gathered that it was installed around the year 1906 by the then Commissioner.The second stone is rough and crude in appearance and the words engraved are also in different language. It is not known by whom and when this stone was installed here. These were deciphered only a few years back. The engraving however reads as follows:-
"KAMIN SEMCHEN TAMCHE DUKHUNALE TEL"
This means: ALL THE KIND PERSONS SHOULD BE FREE FROM SUFFERING.
Apart from this architectural value, its historic significance is unmatched. It has housed Commissioners or heads of local government during the East India Company period, British period and after the independence in an unbroken manner. Stalwarts of history such as Sir John Lawrance, D.F. Macleod, F.D. Forsyth, R.E. Younghusband, C.A.H. Townsend and the first Indian Commissioner R.B. Pandit Hari Kishan Kaul have all passed through the portals of this building. There is, therefore, no doubt that this historic monument needs to be preserved. The P.W.D. Deptt. which is presently maintaining this building needs the assistance of Department of Archeology in its repair and maintenance. The Department of Cultural Affairs may declare this building a "Heritage Monument" thereby verging any changes that may be made by the P.W.D. by pulling down the filed-khanna (elephant quarters), tables and other etc. Since the purpose of the monument has been the same for the last 150 years, it may continue to retain that i.e. residence of the Commissioner as it is in continuation of the history but its maintenance and modifications may be continued to be done by the P.W.D. Department under the supervision of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Archeology.