January 13, 2009

Mughal Historical Hunting Lodge- Cum - Serai at Nurmahal-Big Game Hunting

Main Gate ; Front Side ( Facing Nakodar ) This Main Gate is a Barbican and a Later addition

View of Main Gate From Inside of Serai

A Chhajja on side of Gate
Beautiful statues of elephants supporting the platform

Front Gate- Side Extension ( Security Observation Posts)

Front Gate side
Symmetrical stone carvings

Upper Part With V.I.P. Chhajja on Top Centre

Inscription in Persian Below The Chhajja

Big Game Hunting Scene Blocks ( Front Gate)

Hunters On Elephants

Front Gate- Message in Persian Script

Hunting Scenes ( Note How One Hunter Is On Ground In front of Elephant )

Long Passage Between Two Gate System ( On Sides Elephant Mounting Platforms )

In side Serai Compound --A Fountain ?

Barrack Rooms ? Back Side Of Main Gate

Arched Ceiling Front Gate Inner Structure

Three Gate Arches of Front Gate. The Outer Highly Decorative Side is a Fort Barbican May Have Been a Later Addition

Inside Serai A V.I.P.Building

View Of Back Gate From Inside

V.I.P. Building Inside Serai Compound

Back Gate ( Phillaur Side ) View From Inside Serai

Arched Verandas On Insides Of Serai Walls

View of Main Gate ( Inside of Serai ) from Back Gate ( Phillaur Side )

Damaged Back Gate ( Facing Phillaur )

Annexe ? of V.I.P. Building

Magnificent V.I.P. Building ( With a Pool and Water Channels )

Well ( Khoo ) Inside Serai

Well ( Khoo ) For Water Supply

V.I.P. Building ( Side View )

View of Nurmahal Town From Front Gate Facing Nakodar

Sign Board

Front Gate

Front Gate Ceiling ( With Holed Slab Hinge For Holding Massive Gate Doors)

Visitors' Cars
These photos are part of Nurmahal_Sarai by Gopal Aggarwal

Caravansary at the historical town of Nurmahal (20 kilometres from Jalandhar)provides an excellent insight into various aspects of Mughal life and culture , particularly architecture , wildlife found in the surrounding area and hunting techniques deployed by the Royalty.

Nurmahal (meaning Light of the Palace) is named after the famous Queen of Emperor Jehangir. Empress Nurmahal was later given the title of Nurjahan (Light of the
Universe), probably a palace promotion of sorts. Empress Nurmahal (or Nurjahan) was an accomplished horse-rider and a keen hunter of big game.

Town Nurmahal and its surrounding wild lands was one of her favorite resting place and hunting ground whenever the Mughal Emperor's Durbar moved from Delhi/Agra to Kashmir or vice-versa.

The entrance complex of the Serai has double gates. A front gate and a back gate, somewhat like we have in prisons for security reasons. At any given time, only one gate was open. In the space between the two gates, there are staircases on each side, for mounting the "Howdah" of the elephants.

Elephants, in fact are the dominant feature depicted at the gate, both in the sculpture and in the intricate inscriptions. This shows the central role elephants played in the daily lives of the Royalty of those days.

The inscriptions decorating the front gate give graphic details of the surrounding wildlife in those days (this wlldlife has sadly vanished over the last three to four hundred years).

A unique and rare inscription vividly depicts the elaborate technique employed in the hunting of the great India rhinoceros. This was a team effort- the first hunter would attack from the front on the top side of the rhino forcing the animal to lift its head. This would enable the second hunter to get down at the neck of the rhino to fatally wound the rhino at its vulnerable neck area (where the enormous armour of rhino is probably missing). Sadly, these days the great Indian rhino has been pushed to the confines of jungles of Kaziranga National Park, Assam and Chitvan Park, Nepal.

Nurmahal is a must for reliving those glorious Mughal times and the abundant wildlife and hunting which took place in this area some three to four hundred years back.

Nurmahal serai was equally popular with the traders who moved along this route between Delhi-Agra and North and North-Western parts of India (to Lahore, Sialkot, Peshawar and Kashmir). The current G.T. Road from Ludhiana (then known as Lodhi-ana) was realigned probably under the British times. This serai like most of the serais of those times is built like fortress with walls and fortification of all sides. The inside of the serai provides extensive remains if the activities that went on during those times. There are numerous rooms on all sides. Large well to provide fresh water and open space where animals, carts could be stationed. Some important buldings inside the compound stand out among the ordinary rooms.

Nurmahal Sarai- Western ( Lahori ) Gate Inscriptions

1 ) Ba-daur adl Jahangir Shah Akbar Shah
kih asman-o-zamin, misl-au nadarad yaad
2) bina-i Nur Sara shud ba-khitab-Phalor
ba-hukam Nur Jahan Begam farishtah-nihad
3) barai saal binayash sukhan war-i-khush guft
ke shud za Nur Jahan Begum ain Sarai abaad 1028
4) chu, shud taman khirad guft bahaar tarikhash
ba-shud za Nur Jahan Begum ain Sarai abaad 1030

( Please Note :Years are in Hijri Era )


1) During the just rule of Jahangir Shah son of Akbar Shah
whose life neither heaven nor earth remembers
2) The Nur Sarai was founded in the district of Phalor
By command of the angel-like Nur Jahan Begum
3) The date of its foundation the poet happily discovered
' This Sarai was founded by Nur Jahan Begum ( 1028)
4 ) The date of its completion wisdom found in the words
" This Sarai was erected by Nur Jahan Begum " ( 1030 )

Akhaz rahdari abwab
Mamndah bamujib amar Nawab
Zakariya Khan Bahadur Nazim
Subah muaaf harkas az Faujdaran
Doabah bagirad, bar zanan
Talak, Talak,Talak


" Taking payment from travellers is forbidden,
Nawab Zakariya Khan, Governor of the District,
having exempted them.
Should any Faujdar of Doab collect these dues,
May his wives be divorced."

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