I decided to check into Sarai Nur Mahal and experience 17th century hospitality.
As this sarai was on the caravan route of Lahore to,Agra I could be coming from either destination.
I could imagine the grandeur of the Sarai from it’s majestic gateway with it’s exquisite carvings of elephants and tiger fights and floral decorations, as well as intricate carvings depicting birds, camels and even fairies on the Lahore Darwaza.
I imagined the royal steward welcoming me and the now broken cell walls lit with diya, the heady smell of incense and the aromatic fragrance coming from the cooking pots.
I would have quickly visited the hammam for a relaxing bath and then gone to the mosque for prayers. The hauz in front would have held my attention as would have the muqarnaas inside.
A restful sleep and I was ready to be on my way the next day.
I would have either entered or exited from the now dilapidated Delhi darwaza. It is now grilled but would have welcomed me or said farewell back then.
I would have offered grateful thanks to Nur Jahan Begum who got this Sarai built in 1618 to
Zakariya Khanthe then Governor of the Doab under whose supervision it was constructed.
There were plenty of rooms, as well as the Emperor’s quarters.
The Emperor Jahangir himself wrote in his memoirs:
“…I took up my quarters in Nur-Saray. At this spot the Vakils of Nur Jahan Begam had built a lofty house, and made a royal garden. It was now completed. On this account the Begam, having begged for an entertainment, prepared a grand feast, and by the way of offering, with great pains produced all kinds of delicate and rare things. In order to please her I took what I approved. I halted two days at this place.”