Noor Mahal, Lost Architecture but Still Alive
Entering Bahawalpur, the road leads to the stunning Noor Mahal Which means (the Palace of Light).
Bahawalpur is considered as the 12th largest city of Pakistan and was once the capital of the Princely State of Bahawalpur.
Among our historical places, Noor Mahal also maintains its grandeur. It was built in 1875 and took three years to complete. There are several reasons why it was built, but the most famous is that it was made for the fifth ruler Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan’s wife Noor.
Because of his passion to build great buildings he was also known as Shah Jehan of Bahawalpur. The Nawab and his family only slept there one night though, since his wife did not feel comfortable to be living near the graveyard as the Basti Muluk Shah Graveyard is located a few metres away.
However, the Nawab later used it for state meetings, to talk with negotiators and also used it as a state guesthouse.
Architectural Design of Noor Mahal
Under the supervision of British architect, Mr. Hennan, Noor Mahal was constructed. It stands in the middle of a large garden of fountains and occupies a total of 44,600 square feet. Double storied Noor Mahal has six verandahs and 32 rooms, of which 14 are in the basement.
The design of the windows is said to look like an Italian château. It is nevertheless based on both Greek and Islamic models of architecture.
The structure is most complex in Greek Corinthians and is used in columns, balustrades, pediments and arches. A fine example of this is Durbar Hall Whereas the five-stucco dome (a decorative surface used on bricks, concrete or wood) which is a symbol of the palace are an example of Islamic architecture.
In the vaulted ceiling and visual-looking mosaic tiled floors that add to its splendor can also be seen Islamic Arabesque (another type of art).
Interior Design of Noor Mahal
Building and furnishing totaled Rs. 1.2 million, as can be seen by the beautiful architecture of the building and furniture, heavy brocade curtains of pelmets, tapestries or crystal chandeliers (studded with diamonds), while the walls are decorated by majestic paintings and art.
A portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah as playing Poole is included in the collection Quaid e Azam gifted the Nawab to that particular table with the pool sticks. Most of the furniture and fabrics in Noor Mahal was imported from Great Britain and Italy. A baby piano had also been imported from Germany and mirrors were imported from Belgium.
The palace had a natural refrigeration system because there were small rooms in the basement where cold water was kept and the water vapors were entering the rooms through openings in the floor That is how the warm air was dismantled by the small windows on the top. Now air conditioner took their place.
Important Events That Took Place in Noor Mahal
His Highness, Prince Albert Victor, (grandson of Queen Victoria) stayed at the Palace for one night in 1890. It is a matter of great honor A court was also convened in 1897 to mark the 60th birthday of Queen Victoria.
The Fifth Nawab (later the ruler of Bahawalpur) built a mosque at the premises in 1906. Repairs were required in the 1920s.
Bahawalpur joined Pakistan in 1956 and the palace was taken over in the Auqaf department under the 1975 Antiquities Act (the legislation on protecting the antiquities located in Pakistan). This is one of its purposes.
The Pakistan Army rented it in 1971. Army purchased it in 1997 and then restored it to its previous grandeur within two years. Then the military used it as a garrison club as a guest house and for dignitaries ' meetings
In 2001, the Government of the Pakistan Archeological Department, which oversees it, recognized it as a protected site.
It was used for Drama series like Noor Pur Ki Rani 2009 and Noor Bano 2010 respectively.
It is therefore also our honor to be part of our cultural heritage, the jewel of a palace like Noor Mahal, a sight to be enjoyed not only by tourists, but also us.