Noor Mahal (Noor Palace) is a palace located in Bahawalpur, Pakistan. Built in 1875 AD, the palace is nearly one hundred and fifty years old, and, is the most recent monument in Punjab to be notified under the Antiquities Act. The state of Bahawalpur was merged in Pakistan in 1956 AD and control of the palace was given to Dep. of Auqaf under the Antiquities Act. It was locked under a judicial order but not before most of its rich holdings were smuggled out. Its furniture, carpets, paintings and crockery were sold almost all over the country.
Pakistan Army took responsibility for palace in 1999 and helped to restore and preserve the building into its original shape. The building was declared a “protected monument” in September 2001 by the Government of Pakistan’s Department of Archeology. Currently department of Archeology is responsible for the look after of the palace and they have opened it for general public, students, and to delegations and visitors from other countries.
Although there are several stories told in Bahawalpur about the construction of Noor Mahal but among all, famous legend is that Nawab Subah Sadiq Muhammad Khan IV laid the foundation for constructing this palace in honor of her wife. The palace was meant to be the residence of the late Subah Sadiq Muhammad Khan and his family but legend says they spend only one night as they were cautioned against so on account of its proximity to the Basti Maluk Shah graveyard. The palace was later used as state guest house. The Nawab also held occasional cabinet meetings here and gave audience to notable guests.
The construction work for Noor Mahal began in 1872 AD. The palace was completed in 1875 AD at a cost of Rs 1.2 million.
Noor Mahal was designed by Mr. Hennan, who was a British Engineer and was working as a state in engineer in Bahawalpur. The palace cannot be related to Taj Mahal in any way but there is some little resemblance, as both the monuments were built in honor of wives. It was designed like an Italian chateau on neoclassical lines, at a time when modernism had set in. The building covers an area of 44,600 square feet (4,140 square meters). It is a double storey building with a basement as well. There are 32 rooms in the building, having 14 in basement. It contains 6 verandas and 5 domes.