The land of milk and honey lay over three hours drive from Multan by car. It was a land ruled by benign rulers and inhabited by contented subjects. This then was the princely state of Bahawalpur, encompassing an area of 17,494 square miles, with its northern and western borders stretching along the southern banks of River Sutlej and River Indus, and its southern and eastern flanks rubbing shoulders with the princely states of Jaisalmer and Bikaner. Founded in 1802 by Nawab Muhammad Bahawal Khan II, Bahawalpur acceded to Pakistan on October 7, 1947 retaining its status till it was merged in what was then West Pakistan on October 14, 1955. My association with Bahawalpur began, when my elder sister was married into one of the leading families there. My siblings in laws belonged to Delhi and had moved to Bahawalpur, when one of their patriarchs was appointed tutor to the underage nawab in the early 1900s. On formal accession to the throne, the grateful ruler bestowed his mentor with the gift of several villages, but the gift was returned with the words that his salary was enough recompense for the duties he had performed. Intent on compensating the family, the nawab ultimately appointed his tutors son and my sisters father in law as collector of canals in the state. Bahawalpurs outstanding features were and still are, the magnificent palaces that the nawabs built for themselves. Three of them adorn the city landscape, while the fourth called Sadiq Garh Palace can be seen at Dera Nawab Sahib, a town located some distance along the national highway to Rahimyar Khan and Karachi. Mercifully these structures, except the one at Dera Nawab, were handed over to the Pakistan Army, which while using them also restored them as national heritage monuments. Noor Mahal is a neo-classical structure on the lines of an Italian Chateau. It was designed by Mr Hennan, a British engineer, and built in 1872. According to one story, Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan IV had the palace made for his wife, who spent only one night and abandoned it the next day when she spotted an adjoining graveyard from her balcony. The magnificent structure remained unused during the remaining period of the nawabs reign. It is also said that a map and some coins were buried in the foundations, as a token of good luck. Darbar Mahal also known as Bahawal Garh Palace is a classic example of Muslim and sub-continental architecture. It was constructed in 1876 and had an exterior of red brickwork. The rooms and galleries were adorned with beautiful motifs that were restored to their original grandeur. Gulzar Mahal is another example of classical Italian architecture and was constructed on the orders of Nawab Bahawal Khan V in 1902 (some sources give the year of construction as 1904). It is said that the central hall of this building had a wooden floor and alternated as an audience chamber and a ballroom. The floor rotted away and was replaced by a marble surface with mosaics. The palace and the garden around it is surrounded by a high wall accessible through an outer arched gateway. This building was also restored in an admirable fashion by the Pakistan Army. I am told that while Noor Mahal has been purchased from the descendants of the nawabs by the army, Darbar and Gulzar Mahal were returned to their owners for division of assets. Sadiq Garh Palace located at Dera Nawab Sahib remained the administrative headquarters of the state for many years. This palace is a magnificent structure that stands amidst sprawling grounds. It is said that more than a thousand people were employed to maintain the palace and its gardens. The interior of the building boasts nearly 100 rooms decorated with crystal chandeliers, drapes, paintings and carpets. The palace was sealed for many years after the nawabs demise on orders of the government because of intra-family disputes. I have had the opportunity to visit the three palaces in Bahawalpur City and have stood outside the gates of Sadiq Garh for a long time. Yet, every time I have been there, the lifeless buildings have sprung into life, as if yearning for a restoration of the pomp, glory and fanfare of the time, when there was vibrant activity there. n The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City. His forte is the study of History.