Atmaramji Shrine (late 19th, early 20th century)

 At the intersection of the Grand Trunk Road and Parao Road in the heart of Gujranwala sits the Atmaramji shrine. It was built between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century to honor Acharya Vijayanand Suri (1837–96), a renowned Jain monk whose ashes were deposited here. Vijayanandsuri rose to popularity as the first monk to receive the title Acharya in many centuries, a prestigious distinction among Jain believers. A wise and learned man, he traversed Gujarat and the Punjab on foot while attempting to open Jain Bhandaras (library), which were not easily accessible to the general populace. His efforts led to the discovery and duplication for distribution of some old Jain writings. Western academics took notice of him as a result and invited him to the Chicago World Parliament of Religions in 1893. He sent Virchand Gandhi as his replacement even though he rejected to compete; for his efforts, he received a silver medal and press coverage in American publications. His book “The Chicago-Prashnottar, or Questions and Answers on Jainism for the Parliament of Religions Held at Chicago U.S.A. in 1893″—the first book-length introduction to Jainism to be published in English—was based on his experiences. In May 1896, not long after achieving this feat, he passed away in Gujranwala. Although the memorial was constructed by Jain devotees of Vijayanandsuri, it substantially borrows from Sikh samadhis, which served the same function. The center octagonal chamber and its dome resemble the Mahan Singh Samadhi, which is located 800 meters to the north, almost exactly. Due to these parallels, it was falsely believed that the monument was Ranjit Singh’s grandfather’s samadhi. However, this is implausible for several reasons. First, a picture of the monument that looks to be in pristine condition can be seen in The Chicago-Prashnottar, a 1918 book about Acharya Vijayanand Suri that was translated from a 1905 Hindi edition. Second, Vijayanandsuri built several Jain mandirs (temples) and libraries while he was alive, and he was so well-known that his followers would have been hard-pressed not to honor his departure with a suitable monument. Third, the Gujranwala Heritage Foundation asserts vehemently that the structure is Vijayanandsuri’s memorial and cites numerous historical sources to support this claim (for example, they point out that the building has Jain votive plaques embedded in the floor and that it is listed as a Jain temple in the Department of Funds and Land Revenue Board records). The building was taken over by the local police in 1984 to be used as a police station, but the majority of the officers moved to a new structure in 2003, therefore it is no longer in use by the Jain community. The building was used until 2015, according to the Pakistan Express Tribune, by traffic wardens and police combatting vehicle theft. Only the centre chamber, which serves as the Gujranwala Deputy Police Superintendent’s office, is still used by the police at this time. Nevertheless, the Express Tribune claims that this might be “a blessing in disguise” because the police presence prevents the neighborhood’s “land mafia” from seizing the building. Vijayanandsuri’s memorial has thus far escaped the fate of Ranjit Singh’s Summer Residence, which was frequently unlawfully invaded or even demolished of important components.