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General view of the Caravanserai at Nurmahal

General view of the Caravanserai at Nurmahal

Photographer: Cole, Henry Hardy

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1875

Shelfmark: Photo 1003/(923)

Item number: 1003923

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the caravanserai, a resting place for travellers on the road, at Nurmahal in the Punjab, Pakistan, taken by Henry Hardy Cole [or possibly Joseph David Beglar] in the 1870s. It was constructed under the patronage of Nur Jahan, empress of the Mughal ruler Jahangir, and inscriptions give its completion date as 1620-1. This view looks towards the outer walls of the caravanserai with the main gateway at the left of the print. This building, which had accomodation for about 100 people inside plus space for more in a large exterior court-yard, is described in A. Cunningham's Report of a tour in the Punjab in 1878-79, 'The sarai is 551 feet square outside, including the octagonal towers at the corners. The western gateway is a double-storeyed building faced on the outside with red sandstone from the Fatehpur Sikri quarries. The whole front is divided into panels ornamented with sculpture ...there are angels and fairies, elephants and rhinoceroses, camels and horses, monkeys and peacocks, with men on horseback and archers on elephants. The sides of the gateway [are] limited to foliated scroll-work with birds sitting on the branches...Over the entrance is a long inscription...In the north side of the court-yard there is a masjid, and in the middle a fine well. On each side there are 32 rooms, each 10 feet10 inches square, with a verandah in front.In each corner there were three rooms, one large and two small. The Emperor's appartments formed the centre block of the south side, three storeys in height.' (Archaeological Survey of India, vol. XIV, 1882)

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