Explore the city of Bahawalpur, Punjab - I



Bahawalpur is one of the major cities in Punjab. It is the 13th most populous city of Pakistan. Bahawalpur has royal history, and it is now developed as a metropolitan city. As this city has been home to most of the kings and nawabs, it is a vital attraction for tourists and history lovers. The Palaces built by these kings are major tourist attraction.

“People come to stay here, NOT to run away”

A saying of a local when we were trying to escape and reach the bus station in time to depart from Bahawalpur. Bahawalpur city is surrounded by Cholistan desert which locally called Rohi. This city is said to be blessed by a Sufi “Khwaja Ghulam Farid” when the Nawab seeked blessings for his state to grow in population. He said to Nawab, “Loki Ronday Aaysan, Tay Ronday Waysian” meaning people will come crying (thinking they are in the middle of desert) and leave crying (They would not like to leave the city). We have somewhat similar feeling while leaving the city. 

Nawab of Bahawalpur, Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V

The historical walled city of Bahawalpur had seven gates among which few are still stand today. Farid Gate, which is considered identity of the city, provided the only entrance to the city for its kings. The gate still it good condition and now is located in a busy market in the inner city. The city which was founded in 1802 by Nawab Mohammad Bahawal Khan Abbasi on the bank of Sutlaj River has bunch of historical buildings which one must visit. Bahawalpur state joined Pakistan on 14th October 1955. To explore the city, we reached the city early in the morning as we planned to visit some of the Palaces of Nawabs and slowly move out towards the Cholistan desert and explore Derawar fort.

Noor  Mahal (1872)


Our first target was Noor Mahal, located inside the city, the Palace was built in 1872; it was inspired with the modern architecture from Italy; many of the materials was imported from England and Italy. It is said, that the Mahal did not use Cement or Rebar. It is also said, that the Mahal was built by Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan IV for his wife; however a night after when she realized an adjoining graveyard; she refused to stay any longer in the Palace. The Palace was used to hold meetings and Durbars during the region. 

Noor Mahal, Bahawalpur
Noor Mahal, Bahawalpur
Main gate to enter the main hall of the Mahal
Main Hall of the Noor Mahal
Main Hall of the Noor Mahal
Full view of the Main hall of Noor Mahal
Full view of the Main hall of Noor Mahal
Old photographs of Noor Mahal and Nawab
Old photographs of Noor Mahal and Nawab Sadiq

Having a double storey building; Noor Mahal also houses old furniture and beautiful fixtures such as chandeliers and cupboards. It is made more attractive with an outstanding collection of arms, some of the swords and muskets which are displayed on palace walls. 

Gulzaar  Mahal


After visiting Noor Mahal, we went to see this gem. Another one of the famous palaces in Bahawalpur, Gulzar Mahal was built in the time of Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan IV. Its beautiful architecture contains European influences just like Noor Mahal. Interestingly the Mahal was the first building in Bahawalpur to be equipped with concealed electric wiring, and the system operated using a diesel generator. Gulzar Mahal presents beautiful synthesis of traditional and Islamic architecture and it is worth paying a visit.

Gulzaar Mahal, Bahawalpur
Gulzaar Mahal, Bahawalpur
Gulzaar Mahal
Gulzaar Mahal, Bahawalpur
Main Hall of Gulzaar Mahal
Main Hall of Gulzaar Mahal
Interior of Gulzaar Mahal
Interior of Gulzaar Mahal

This Mahal is enovated recently; we found that the rooms were decorated with fabulous furniture and spectacular carpets. Shining marble on the floor, roofs made up of mosaic and large lamps were enhancing the beauty of the place.There is big gallery within the main hall which was used as an art gallery containing rare images of times’ ago. Today this gallery only has few pictures of the former rulers of Bahawalpur which are displayed on its walls.

For a long time this palace was in use of the son (Nawab Abbass Abbassi) of the Nawab. Now this palace is used as an Army office. The total area of this Palace is 34 acres.

Painting inside Gulzaar Mahal
Painting inside Gulzaar Mahal

Sadiq Public School (1953)


After exploring the beautiful Gulzaar Mahal, it was time for a much needed lunch break. On the way, we stopped for a while at Sadiq Public School. It is one the biggest schools in Pakistan with the area of 1,851 acres. The school was founded by Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V in March 1953.

Sadiq Public School - Bahawalpur
Sadiq Public School - Bahawalpur

When Pakistan gained independence in 1947, There were only two public schools in the country; Aitchison College, Lahore and Lawrence College, Ghora Ghali, Murree. Students who wanted to study were sent to these schools from all our the country. Looking at the need of a public institution Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V founded the school which could provide the quality education the to students in Southern Punjab.

Sadiq Public School is one of the only two schools of Pakistan which are the members of The Headmasters' and Headmistresses Conference (HMC). This school is rated 5 star school and hostel by Cambridge University.

Sadiq Public School - Bahawalpur
Sadiq Public School - Bahawalpur

Central Library (1927)


The Central Library is an old architecture which was built in 1927 by Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V in the celebration of his crown. The people of the Bahawalpur state aided about one lac rupees which were provided in installments. Sir Sadiq provided approximately 88 canals 10 Marlas area for the building of the library. The construction of the building started from 1927 and was unfortunately not completed in seven years because of the lack of funds.

Central Library of Bahawalpur
Central Library of Bahawalpur
Central Library of Bahawalpur
Central Library of Bahawalpur

It has the collections of 105,000 books. The building itself is a piece of art which construction started in 1927 people of Bahawalpur devoted 100000 rupees for construction. It is the 2nd biggest public library of the province. It possesses, besides vast collection of old newspapers since 1947 and even later than it, more than lac books and a fair number of manuscripts.

Interior, Central Library of Bahawalpur
Interior, Central Library of Bahawalpur

Bahawalpur Bazaar


The main shopping centers of Bahawalpur are Shahi Bazaar, Rangeela Bazaar, Machli Bazaar, Farid Gate and the Mall. The pathway from Farid Gate which passes by Phoolon Wala Chowk to reach Shahi Masjid is a major shopping pathway. When the sunsets, The food stalls starts to appear and many people gather and those stalls. Its Food and Shopping which is a major attraction in the city. The city has many traders and craftsmen selling all sorts of artwork for travellers and tourists.

Busy life in Main Bazaar, Bahawalpur
Busy life in Main Bazaar, Bahawalpur
Colorful bangles, Bahawalpur
Colorful bangles, Bahawalpur
Bazaar is full of Colors, Bahawalpur
Bahawalpur Bazaar is full of Colors
Another example of wide spread colors in the Bazaar
Another example of wide spread colors in the Bazaar
One of the Famous food stall inside main Bazaar, Pappu Anda-Shami
One of the Famous food stall inside main Bazaar, Pappu Anda-Shami

Shahi Masjid Bahawalpur


It was made by the Nawab Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V at the elevation of more than 12 feet from earth. It can house 50k to 60k people at a time, during the Eid Festivals. It is a well reputed Mosque in Pakistan like other prominent Mosques of Pakistan.

Shahi Masjid Bahawalpur
Shahi Masjid Bahawalpur
Shahi Masjid Bahawalpur
Inside view of Shahi Masjid Bahawalpur
Inside view of Shahi Masjid Bahawalpur
Find out more and check the PART-2 of "Explore the city of Bahawalpur - Punjab"
References:

Around Pakistan: Gulzar Mahal in Bahawalpur

Central Library Bahawalpur History

Sadiq Garh Palace - Bahawalpur - Pakistan

Uch Sharif: where the shrine culture began

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