Mubarik Haveli, Lahore
If ever there was a haveli that could be labeled as among the oldest, and also the finest, without doubt it would be Mubarak Haveli, just off Bazaar Hakeeman inside Bhati Gate. It was here that the Koh-e-Noor Diamond was recovered from a trapped Afghan king. This 'haveli' has stories galore, ones that make history so interesting.
A colossal ‘haveli’ built by Mir Bahadur Ali, Mir Nadir Ali and Mir Bahar Ali, sons of a well-known 'tabeeb' and 'hakeem' during the time of Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah. It took three years to build and when the three brothers moved in, Bahadar Ali's wife gave birth to a son. This was seen as a good omen and the 'haveli' was named Mubarak Haveli. The family continued to prosper in the field of 'medicine' and business. With time they branched off into two major components, the Fakir family and the Syed family.
With the start of the Sikh period began years of pillage and looting. Sikh mobs would come and loot whatever they could lay their hands on. While the Fakir family, because their influence in the Lahore Darbar remained in power, it was seen that the Syeds had to flee. The grand Mubarak Haveli remained empty for a few years and people inside the city began to steal the bricks of the western portion of the haveli. It presented a deserted look, prompting Maharajah Ranjit Singh to take it over, for himself and his guests. Afghan king Shah Shuja and his family, who were fleeing from Kabul because of fighting over the Afghan throne, came to Lahore as Ranjit Singh’s guests. The crafty Sikh ruler made them his prisoners and released them only after they gave him the unrivalled Koh-e-Noor diamond.
With the coming of the British the Mubarak Haveli was taken over and handed over to Nawab Ali Raza Qizilbash. The Nawab, out of respect to the original owners, rebuilt the haveli and converted a major portion into an Imambargah, which is considered among the finest in Lahore. The haveli then went on to his son Nawab Nawazish Ali Khan and his brother Nawab Nasir Ali Khan. These brothers also managed to rebuild major portions to help the old haveli regain its original glory. But this time the ancestors of the original owners moved to regain their rights of a property abandoned out of fear for their life. They managed to get the haveli back. But the number of owners was so large that it was decided to sell it off as one block to pay off all those who claimed a slice of the cake.
It so happened that Syed Maratab Ali Shah, one of the ancestors of the original owner decided to acquire the entire property of his mother's family. His own wife's name was also Mubarak Begum. So the Syed, in this grand gesture of preserving their family property, regained what was originally theirs. Syed Maratab Ali decided to form a trust, and the property now belongs to this trust, whose objective is to preserve the main haveli, to further the traditional skills that made Lahore among the eight great cities of the old world.
19 Century house set around a courtyard, aesthetically restored by Kamal Khan Mumtaz(one of the country's best Architects) and an intresting living example of local building techniques for restoration.