Nurmahal (31 06’N 75 36’ E) is a small town situated on the Lohian Khas-Nakodar -Ludhiana line of the Northern Railways, Nurmahal is 20 km from Phillaur, the Tehsil/Sub Division headquarters and 13 km from Nakodar. It is also connected with Phillaur and Nakodar by road which runs parallel to the railway line. The town is also directly connected by road with Jalandhar (33 km), the district headquarters. It is a class II municipality.
Lying on the old imperial road from Delhi to Lahore. Nurmahal is built on the site of an ancient town, as is testified by the large size of bricks that have been dug up as well as by numerous coins found there. Sir Alexander Cunningham obtained one punch marked silver coin, one copper piece of the satrap Rajubul, and one of Mahilpul of Delhi. The bricks are finger marked by three concentric semi-circles with a dot in the centre. Nurmahal is said to have been built on the site of a town, called Kot Kalur or Kot Kahlur, which, according to Barkley, was a place of importance and is said to have been ruined about A.D.1300 "by the oppression of the government of the day, the Hindus deserting it, and separate villages of Muhammedans taking the place of the old mohallas(wards)". But Cunningham thinks that this in an error due to misreading of the words ba-khitah phalor in the inscription over the western gate way of the serai.
The modern town is due to the fostering of Nur Jahan (after whom it is named), the consort of Emperor Jahangir(1605-1627 A.D) and who is said to have been brought up here. She had the imperial serai constructed by Nawab Zakariya Khan Governor of the Doab between 1619 and 1621 A.D and settled numerous families in her new town. In 1738-1739 Nadir Shah exacted a ransom of three lakhs of rupees" from Nurmahal, which seriously injured its prosperity. "In 1756-1757 Ahmad Shah demanded a like sum and the people being unable to pay he ordered them to be slaughtered and plundered, and burnt the town". Almost immediately afterwards the Punjab independent of Delhi and Nurmahal was seized by the Ahluwalia Sikhs and was held for the Kapurthala Chief by Sirdar Kaur Singh and his descendants. It would seem as if before this the Talwan Rujputs had taken possession of the town. They subsequently on the final invasion of Ahmad Shah recovered the serai. The west gateway of this building was restored at public expense during the British rule towards the close of the nineteenth century.
The sarai is remarkable specimen of oriental architecture. The serai is maintained as a protected monument by the Archaeological Department. This closed quadrangle consists of one hundred forty cells on all over the four sides, two gateway placed in the central of the eastern and western wings. and double storeyed pavilions in the centre of the northern and southern wings, two storied octagonal tower having three cells on the basement at the corners; a well and a mosque with in the quadrangle. of the two gateways, the eastern on is simple while the western one is ornamented. The gateway comprising guard rooms on either side of a central passage and projecting out has casing of red sandstone. The sliced outer angles are relieved with arch recesses placed one over other. The whole facade is divided in to panels, ornamented with sculptures in bas-relief and foliated scroll work with birds sitting in branches. The arched opening of the entrance is encased with in a bigger arch and its spandrels being decorated with lotus medalions. on either side of the spandrels are placed projecting domed balconies supported on four pillars topped with carved brackets. The space in between the pillars is closed with low stone railings showing fine pierced tracery work. To the corner of the gates are added guldastas which rise above the battelments of the tarrace. (Notification no. 4687 dated 18.02.1919 Archaeological Survey of India, Chandigarh Circle)