A mammoth palace sprawling across 125 acres, Sadiq Garh palace is now merely a vestige of the opulence of the Nawabs of Bahawlpur.
The palace was built more than 100 years ago by Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan (IV). Approximately Rs15 million were spent constructing the architectural marvel. Reportedly, 15,000 labourers toiled for 10 years in order to construct the palace.
The structure boasts of around 120 residential rooms. Every two rooms have been decorated according to the culture and tradition of a specific place and country, which enable the Nawab’s foreign visitors to feel right at home. The palace also has a large court where the Nawab would hold ‘darbar’.
In addition to having two elevators, the three-storey palace also has a basement where paths leading to other palaces in the vicinity were also built. For 150 years, the cover for the Holy Kaaba was made in Bahawalpur State. The covers that were removed were then hung and displayed in Sadiq Garh Palace’s darbar. Further, the palace’s mosque, constructed along traditional lines, it also a masterpiece of craftsmenship.
Cars used by the Nawab of Bahawalpur were also parked at the palace once upon a time. However, with the passage of time some of them were auctioned while others were taken by relatives.
Unfortunately, the structure is no longer the palace it once was. This is the case with most of the historic buildings in Bahawalpur State such as Noor Mahal, Gulzar Mahal, Darbar Mahal and Derawar Fort. The downfall of these historic buildings started when the Nawab’s property was taken into government custody by former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. After 40 years, on the orders of the Supreme Court, the Nawab’s property was divided among 23 heirs.
Before that, all the doors of the Nawab’s properties were padlocked while valuables antiques, weapons and other heirlooms were left to become victims of robberies and break ins. Virtually all valuables have been stolen while dozens of robbery and theft cases have been registered at police stations.
Despite being an important cultural and historic building, the palace is essentially a mere shadow of the structure it once was. The palace and its grounds are in shambles, waiting expectantly for a messiah to save the day.
“The palace is an important part of the culture and heritage of the people of Bahawalpur,” says Muhammad Ishaq, a resident of Ahmedpur East. However, due to the negligence of those concerned the structure is crumbling before our very eyes, he expresses.
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