Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The old fountain from London

The fountain in the heart of Bahawalpur is not an ordinary landmark; it’s a gift from the legendary Queen Victoria to Nawab Sadiq Khan Abbasi

So the story goes that in 1880, Queen Victoria commissioned W.T. Allen and Company in London to construct two exquisite fountains — one was to be installed near the Buckingham Palace while the other shipped across the oceans to Karachi, from where the delicate fountain was to be transported upcountry to the state of Bahawalpur. It was a gift from the legendary queen to Nawab Sadiq Khan Abbasi IV, the ruler of 17 gun salute state.

The fountain was installed in front of the Sadiqgarh Palace, the royal residence at Dera Nawab Sahib, a few kilometres outside Bahawalpur. It remained there for the next few decades as a symbol of respect for the crown and the Nawab of Bahawalpur.

Queen Victoria’s gift was a masterpiece. It had multiple layers where water would fall from top to first to second and finally to last and biggest pool on the ground level.

This was a typical Victorian-era masterpiece with a jet water flow system which was at some point in time changed with modern water pumping system.

A plaque at the fountain’s base reads, “State of Bahawalpur, 1880, Nawab His Highness, Sadik Muhammadd Khan” and built by “W.T. Allen and Co, Lambeth Hills, Upper Thames Street, London”.

Back then, W.T. Allen and Company was England’s leading manufacturer of ornamental cast iron and metal products, and their products included the Victorian postboxes, ornate lamps at Trafalgar Square – and, of course, decorative fountains.

In 1903, Bahawal Khan Abbasi was installed as the nawab after a four-year regency period under Leopold John Herbert Grey, following the death of Nawab Sadiq Khan IV in 1899. Nawab Abbasi was a benevolent as well as an enterprising soul. He ordered reinstallation of the fountain in the centre of Bahawalpur city, and personally supervised the operation.

The fountain was inaugurated by none other than Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, who was in Bahawalpur to supervise the Nawab’s coronation in November of 1903.

For the next century or so, the fountain served the people of Bahawalpur. It was cleaned and run on all state and national occasions. It became one of the city’s main landmarks, popularly called the Fowara Chowk.

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