Omer Hayat Mahal is a wooden architectural wonder of Chiniot, Pakistan. It was built in 19th century and also known as Gulzar Manzil. Omer Hayat Mahal is located in the heart of city and was a five story building. In 1993, because of storms and heavy rainfall the upper two stories were removed that were affecting the adjoining buildings. For local and foreigner visitors this wooden carved building has great tourist attraction.
Around 18th and 19th century the Sheikh family migrated to Chiniot city from Calcutta. After migrating here, Omer Hayat who was the successful trader decided to build a magnificent Mahal in 1923 for his newborn son. Omer Hayat was born in a middle-class family.
The task of Palace construction was assigned to Syed Hassan Shah. Construction of palace was continued day and night for ten years by the popular artisan of different places that were gathered by Hassan Shah. The wood carving work was done by the Rahim Bakhsh Pirja and Elahi Bakhsh Pirja who were maters of this work. Omer Hayat died in the year 1935, just a couple of month before the completion of Palace. He unfortunately could not see a complete standing palace.
Omer Hayat constructed this palace for his only son Gulzar Muhammad. Gulzar Muhammad got married in 1938 and history claims that in the shape of his death his marriage brought an ironic twist of fate. Next day of Gulzar’s marriage, he found dead in the palace. The news of Gulzar’s death brought loads of grief on his mother and eventually she died remembering her son. The palace was considered a subject of bad luck for the Sheikh family by the relatives who then left the palace.
The palce is Mughal Revival building. The doors, windows and jhirokas have their own attraction because of the unique carving work. A perfect interior is made by the balconies, roofs, terraces, stairways and the stucco designs. The front of the palace is decorated with the shining marbles and is finely inlaid with the bricks.
Omer Hayat palace, after Hayat’s relatives left it came into the hands of servants who lived here couple of years and then an orphanage was established here but soon abandoned by them after the collapse of the top story. Later Qabza group occupied the building and destroyed most of the building. Deputy Commissioner of Jhang, Athat Tahir took the custody of building seeing the death of it and with an expenditure of RS 1,700,000 he started its renovation.
After renovation, this building was handed over to local municipal committee. It was then converted into library by placing a collection of thousands of rare books in it and was opened for public.