Marble Pavilion at Charing Cross

To enjoy Sullivan's grand concept of Charing Cross, one must stand at the junction of Sharah-e-Quaid-e-Azam (the Upper Mall) and Sharah-e-Fatima Jinnah (Ferozpur Road). This spot allows you to see the pristine marble pavilion with its elegant cupola as the focal point, against the backdrop of the Punjab Assembly building, the whole ensemble framed by similar buildings on two sides—the original Masonic Lodge on the right (east) and Shah Din Building on left (west).

Approaching it from Regal Chowk on the Upper Mall, although the pavilion appears to have been sidelined, but is still impressive in its purity of form.

The 'Moghul-style canopy', as it is referred to in contemporary accounts, is a memorial to 'Her Majesty's glorious reign'. The pristine white marble pavilion was built to house a massive statue of Queen Victoria, wearing a widow's veil and complete with her royal regalia.

The design and the material for the canopy was well chosen by the neo-Mughal rulers, as the British are referred to by Stanley Wolpert. White marble has been long associated with Mughal royal buildings: the greatest Mughal builder, Shah Jahan ordered some of his most elegant structures in marble for a chaste and highly decorative architectural expression.

When completed in 1902, the canopy with its regal occupant immediately formed the focus of the Mall. Later, the roads in the area were realigned as part of the ambitious Charing Cross scheme, taken up to beautify Lahore. Basil M. Sullivan, Consulting Architect to the Government of the Punjab, designed the whole neighborhood in 1914 and the realignment of the roads, with the objective of providing Victoria Memorial with a dignified setting.

The Anglo-Mughal design, a style particularly in vogue since the construction of Mayo School of Art and Aitchison College etc., was selected to convey the feeling of a benevolent rule overseen by a benign queen. Situated as the pavilion was on the most important thoroughfare of Lahore, at the most significant location that the road had to offer, it was certain that nobody who lived in Lahore could miss the gracious queen looking down upon the city's populace. Many statues were removed from the streets of main cities of Pakistan upon independence and have been irretrievably lost or broken. Lahore's Queen Victoria, however; resides in the basement of Lahore Museum, and can still be seen in its pristine glory.

Although the attractive pavilion still occupies a place in the open square in front of the Assembly Hall, Victoria's former place in the pavilion has been taken over by a larger than life Holy Quran. For some, the importance of the pavilion and that of the fine public square which it once dominated has been compromised, due to the erection of the Islamic Summit Minar nearby.

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