What did ancient Indians eat?

Excavation of the Mehrgarh period sites around 8000-6000 BC throws some startling facts about ancient Indian food habits. The domestication of plants and animals are reported in the subcontinent during that time. Wheat, barley and jujube were among crops cultivated, sheep and goats were among the animals domesticated for food.
In the Neolithic period roughly 8000-5000 BC, agriculture products were the dominant mode of food products. Agricultural communities became widespread in Kashmir valley around 5000 BC. As early as 4530 BC and 5440 BC wild Oryza rice appeared in the Belan and Ganges valley regions of northern India.
The earliest evidence of food in ancient India comes from excavated sites in the Indus Valley Civilization. Indus Valley civilization relied on the considerable technological achievements of the pre-Harappan culture, including the plough. The farmers of the Indus Valley grew peas, sesame, dates and rice. Agricultural activity during the second millennium BC included rice cultivation in the Kashmir and in other Harrappan regions.
Several wild cereals, including rice, grew in the Vindhyan Hills, and rice cultivation, at sites such as Chopani-Mando and Mahagara, was underway as early as 7000 BC.
The picture of ancient Indian food becomes much clearer after the Aryan settlement in the Gangetic planes. The compilation of the religious scriptures gives vivid account of the food that was in vogue during that time.
The people who settled in the Gangetic plains were good farmers. They ate both vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods. They cultivated barley wheat rice, melons and cotton. They domesticated cow, pigs, buffalo and sheep. They lived in banks of rivers and caught fish from river with fish hooks.
Food items mentioned in Vedic literature
The Vedic literature throws considerable light on the food and drink habits of the people of the ancient India. Among the food grains, the Rig Veda repeatedly mentions barley, particularly fried barley. Of frequent occurrence is the word anna which may not essentially mean rice; it denotes food in general.

Foods items in the age of Brahmanas

Ancient India Foods
Rice and wheat appear to have been the staple food in the age of Brahmanas. Different products of barley and rice, mentioned in the Aitareya are dhana, karambha, parivdpa, purodds`a and payasyd. These were mainly fried barley; cooked with butter, powder of dhana fried with butter, parched rice fried in butter, rice-cake, mixture of curd and milk.
Milk and various milk products that were used include clarified butter, curdled milk, dadhi (curd), karambha (porridge), ghrta (unmelted butter), navanita (cream or fresh butter), sdnndyya (mixture of curd and milk), mixture of milk and sotna, cam (milk, curd, honey, butter etc. mixed together), sara (thickened surface of milk), etc.
Udumbara (sacrificial fig), jujube and berries are some of the edible fruits mentioned in the Brahmanas. Shatapatha Brahmana mentions sugarcane. Aitareya Upanishad mentions shoots of Banyan trees and fruits of fig.
In the Kalpasutra the mentions use of various food grains, namely rice, barley, wheat, millet, sesame and pulses have been found.
Meat Eating in Ancient India
In ancient India meat was not only eaten, but was also regarded as the best kind of food. The meat of barren cows and sterile ox, goat and sheep was a delicacy. We learn from the Shatapatha Brahmana and Aitareya the vogue of beef-eating; it used to be served to a king or other highly respectable guests.
The Sutras also bear clear testimony to meat-eating. Meat, both roasted on spits and cooked in pots, appears to have been in use. It was an essential element in madhuparka offered to distinguished guests.
The Dharma sutras shed considerable light on the meat permitted and prohibited. As regards bird-meat, the Dharma sutras mention many birds permitted or prohibited. Also prohibited are the aquatic creatures called porpoise, nakra, kulira, cefa and gavaya. The Vedic texts also mention the usage of the meat of bulls, horses, buffaloes and even of dogs.
Vegetarian food, excluding animal and fish meat became the norm only after the coming of Buddhism. In the Gupta period people mostly ate vegetables, cereals, fruits, breads, and drank milk.

Fruits and Vegetables in Ancient India

Melons and Cotton
Of the fruits, mango seems to have been common. Apastamba Dhamasutra mentions it as a familiar example. Other fruits mentioned in the Sutras are kharjura (dates), variety of jujube called Badara, Karkandhu and Kuvala.
Of the vegetables and juicy substances, prohibited are karanja (red garlic), kisalaya (sprouts), kydku (mushroom), lasuna (garlic), nirydsa (substances exuding from trees; etc.
Drinks in Ancient India
Among the drinks mentioned are sura, honey, milk and fruit-juice. The Taittiriya Upanishad, mentions sura to be extracted from certain herbs or fermented from rice.
Madhu (honey) appears to have been used as an article of food. A preparation of fried rice, called laja, is mentioned. Dadhimantha perhaps means liquefied curd or clarified butter. Milk (kslra), curd (dadhi) and ghee is also mentioned. In the age of Sutras, the drinks that appear to have been in vogue besides milk are Takra (butter-milk mixed with water) and Mantha (a preparation of dry barley meal stirred in milk, curd, water or melted butter).

Intoxicating Drinks in Ancient India

The Veda also testifies to the wide prevalence of drinking wine. In the Vedic texts, among drinks that are mentioned are wine and somarasa; the latter was, perhaps, used by the upper classes, particularly in sacrifices. Somarasa appears to have been confined to the priestly class.
As regards intoxicating drinks, surd or spirituous liquor was the commonest. Surd appears to have been a very popular drink, especially at marriage and certain other rites.
Surd is condemned in Shatapatha Brahmana. The Shatapatha Brahmana also condemn Parisrut that appears to have been semi-fermented liquor. The two drinks were specifically prohibited for Brahmanas.
In certain ancient literary texts, female dancers drinking wine are mentioned. Other such drinks are madhu and maireya.

Popular Food of Ancient India

Their popular food in ancient India was products of wheat served with barley or rice along with fish and meat. Karambha seems to have been a popular food; it may mean a sort of gruel made with flour and curd or a sort of porridge prepared with unhusked, parched and kneaded barley grains.
Ksirapakvaanna, apupa (cake) appear to have been delicacies and crushed grain, mixed with curd, was also relished. Puroddsa (a kind of cake) was used in sacrificial offerings.
Among the preparations of rice are mentioned odana (cooked with water) and payasa or ksiraudana (cooked with milk), sthdlipdka (rice or barley cooked with milk or water) appears to have been a special dish meant for ceremonial occasions.
Dhanya is also mentioned, so is saktu (pulverised grain) that was commonly used.
Salt and sugar appear to have been added to food for adding to the taste. Among the condiments, Pippali (long pepper) and marica (black pepper) are mentioned. Two kinds of cakes, made of ground corn, are mentioned. Of these, Purodds was offered chiefly in sacrifices and Apupa was generally eaten by the people.
An inquisitive practice in vogue in ancient India was that certain articles, including a preparation of ground rice, barley or sugarcane-juice, were offered to serpents.

Food Items Mentioned in Ramayana

In the Ramayana it is mentioned that the Aryans were accustomed to both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.
The vanaras (monkeys) were used to vegetarian food alone, their food having been fruits, roots and leaves. The Raksasas were carnivorous. The Aryan people mainly used rice, barley, wheat and pulses.
Boiled rice appears to be the most popular food. Refined rice, mixed with curd and milk, was a favourite dish. Among milk products, curd, curd mixed with sugar and ghee was used.
Meat-eating appears to have been widely prevalent both among the Aryans and the non-Aryans. So far as drinking wine is concerned, the Ramayana condemns the practice particularly among the Brahmanas.
Wine appears to be of two main varieties, namely distilled and natural. Among other drinks mentioned are honey and madhuparka, the latter being an admixture of curd, ghee, honey, sugar and water.

Food items mentioned in Mahabharata

From certain references in the Mahabharata – Sesamum appears to be used as food. Milk and milk products like curd, ghee is mentioned. Of the sweets, cakes (apilpa), and sugarcane-juice (i.e. molasses) are mentioned.
Fruits, even some wild varieties, were eaten by people.
As regards meat-eating, the Mahabharata allows it at some places while condemning it at others. The meat of birds also appears to have been edible; their species, however, is mentioned.
Further, from certain references fish appears and used as food.
The food habit of the people in ancient India was vegetarian and non-vegetarian. While the vegetarian products were based on agricultural, that included cereals, fruits and vegetables, the non-vegetarian product came from domesticated animals and fishing.
As the economy was primarily agriculture, there was plenty of food available for everyone in ancient India.

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How did Babur die?

The circumstances leading to the death of Babur are curious.
It is stated that in 1530, Humayun fell sick and it was declared that there was no possibility of his survival. It was at this time that Babur is said to have walked three times round the bed of Humayun and prayed to God to transfer the disease of his son to him. And from that time onwards Humayun began to recover and the condition of Babur went from bed to worse and ultimately he breathed his last.
(It appears from the account of Gulbadan that Babur fell ill that very day and died soon after. But according to some historians, Babur was sickly for two or three months after the recovery of Humayun and some even claims that, the death of Babur was due to poison given to him by the mother of Ibrahim Lodhi.)
He died at age of 47 which is quite young age for person of his physique and capability as it has been said that he was incredibly strong and physically fit. As one of his exercises, he would carry two men, one on each of his shoulders, then run around and climb slopes. It is also believed that Babur swam through every major river in India, sometimes even against the current, so it is generally believed that he didn’t die a natural death rather was killed. It has been said that he was poisoned by mother of Ibrahim Lodi, whom he defeated in First Battle of Panipat. After becoming King he gave shelter to widow and mother of Ibrahim Lodi and to avenge death of his son she hatched plan to assassinate him.



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Ancient Egyptian cuisine

An early Ramesside Period mural painting from Deir el-Medina tomb
depicts an Egyptian couple harvesting crops.

The cuisine of ancient Egypt covers a span of over three thousand years, but still retained many consistent traits until well into Greco-Roman times. The staples of both poor and wealthy Egyptians were bread and beer, often accompanied by green-shooted onions, other vegetables, and to a lesser extent meat, game and fish.

Depictions of banquets can be found in paintings from both the Old Kingdom and New Kingdom. They usually started sometime in the afternoon. Men and women were separated unless they were married. Seating varied according to social status, with those of the highest status sitting on chairs, those slightly lower sat on stools and those lowest in rank sat on the raw floor. Before the food was served, basins were provided along with aromatics and cones of scented fat were lit to spread pleasant smells or to repel insects, depending on the type.

Lily flowers and flower collars were handed out and professional dancers (primarily women) entertained, accompanied by musicians playing harps, lutes, drums, tambourines, and clappers. There were usually considerable amounts of alcohol and abundant quantities of foods; there were whole roast oxen, ducks, geese, pigeons, and at times fish. The dishes frequently consisted of stews served with great amounts of bread, fresh vegetables and fruit. For sweets there were cakes baked with dates and sweetened with honey. The goddess Hathor was often invoked during feasts.

Food could be prepared by stewing, baking, boiling, grilling, frying, or roasting.
Spices and herbs were added for flavor, though the former were expensive imports and therefore confined to the tables of the wealthy. Food such as meats was mostly preserved by salting, and dates and raisins could be dried for long-term storage. The staples bread and beer were usually prepared in the same locations, as the yeast used for bread was also used for brewing. The two were prepared either in special bakeries or, more often, at home, and any surplus would be sold.
Honey was the primary sweetener, but was rather expensive. There was honey collected from the wild, and honey from domesticated bees kept in pottery hives. A cheaper alternative would have been dates or carob. There was even a hieroglyph (nedjem/bener) depicting a carob pod that bore the primary meaning of “sweet; pleasant.”

Carob Pod

Oils would be made from lettuce or radish seed, safflower, ben, balanites and sesame. Animal fat was employed for cooking and jars used for storing it have been found in many settlements.

A depiction of the royal bakery from an engraving in the tomb of Ramesses III in the Valley of the Kings. There are many types of loaves, including ones that are shaped like animals. 20th dynasty.


Egyptian bread was made almost exclusively from emmer wheat, which was more difficult to turn into flour than most other varieties of wheat. The chaff does not come off through threshing, but comes in spikelets that needed to be removed by moistening and pounding with a pestle to avoid crushing the grains inside. It was then dried in the sun, winnowed and sieved and finally milled on a saddle quern, which functioned by moving the grindstone back and forth, rather than with a rotating motion.
The baking techniques varied over time. In the Old Kingdom, heavy pottery molds were filled with dough and then set in the embers to bake. During the Middle Kingdom tall cones were used on square hearths. In the New Kingdom a new type of a large open-topped clay oven, cylindrical in shape, was used, which was encased in thick mud bricks and mortar.

Dough was then slapped on the heated inner wall and peeled off when done, similar to how a tandoor oven is used for flatbreads. Tombs from the New Kingdom show images of bread in many different shapes and sizes. Loaves shaped like human figures, fish, various animals and fans, all of varying dough texture. Flavorings used for bread included coriander seeds and dates, but it is not known if this was ever used by the poor.

Other than emmer, barley was grown to make bread and also used for making beer, and so were lily seeds and roots, and tiger nut. The grit from the quern stones used to grind the flour mixed in with bread was a major source of tooth decay due to the wear it produced on the enamel. For those who could afford there was also fine dessert bread and cakes baked from high-grade flour.


“Egyptian beer”
Stela depicting a Syrian mercenary drinking beer. Egyptian New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, Amenhotep IV. Neues Museum, Berlin.

In Egypt beer was a primary source of nutrition, and consumed daily. Beer was such an important part of the Egyptian diet that it was even used as currency.[5]Like most modern African beers, but unlike European beer, it was very cloudy with plenty of solids and highly nutritious, quite reminiscent of gruel. It was an important source of protein, minerals and vitamins and was so valuable that beer jars were often used as a measurement of value and were used in medicine. Little is known about specific types of beer, but there is mention of, for example, sweet beer but without any specific details mentioned.
Globular-based vessels with a narrow neck that were used to store fermented beer[6] from pre-dynastic times have been found at Hierakonpolis and Abydoswith emmer wheat residue that shows signs of gentle heating from below. Though not conclusive evidence of early beer brewing it is an indication that this might have been what they were used for. Archeological evidence shows that beer was made by first baking “beer bread”, a type of well-leavened, lightly baked bread that did not kill the yeasts, which was then crumbled over a sieve, washed with water in a vat and then left to ferment. This “beer bread” closely resembles the bouza that is still consumed in Egypt today. There are claims of dates or malts having been used, but the evidence is not concrete.
Microscopy of beer residue points to a different method of brewing where bread was not used as an ingredient. One batch of grain was sprouted, which produced enzymes. The next batch was cooked in water, dispersing the starch and then the two batches were mixed. The enzymes began to consume the starch to produce sugar. The resulting mixture was then sieved to remove chaff, and yeast (and probably lactic acid) was then added to begin a fermentation process that produced alcohol. This method of brewing is still used in parts of non-industrialized Africa. Most beers were made of barley and only a few of emmer wheat, but so far no evidence of flavoring has been found.
Fruit and vegetables
Vegetables were eaten as a complement to the ubiquitous beer and bread; the most common were long-shooted green scallions and garlic but both also had medical uses. There was also lettuce, celery (eaten raw or used to flavor stews), certain types of cucumberand, perhaps, some types of Old World gourds and even melons. By Greco-Roman times there were turnips, but it is not certain if they were available before that period. Various tubers of sedges, including papyrus were eaten raw, boiled, roasted or ground into flour and were rich in nutrients.
Tiger nut (Cyperus esculentus) was used to make a dessert made from the dried and ground tubers mixed with honey. Lily and similar flowering aquatic plants could be eaten raw or turned into flour, and both root and stem were edible. A number of pulses and legumessuch as peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas were vital sources of protein. The excavations of the workers’ village at Giza have revealed pottery vessels imported from the Middle East, which were used to store and transport olive oil, as early as the 4th Dynasty.
The most common fruit were dates and there were also figs, grapes (and raisins), dom palm nuts (eaten raw or steeped to make juice), certain species of Mimusops, and nabk berries (a species of the genus Ziziphus). Figs were so common because they were high in sugar and protein. The dates would either be dried/dehydrated or eaten fresh. Dates were sometimes even used to ferment wine and the poor would use them as sweeteners. Unlike vegetables, which were grown year-round, fruit was more seasonal. Pomegranates and grapes would be brought into tombs of the deceased.

Meat, fowl and fish

Hunting game birds and plowing a field.
Depiction on a burial chamber from c. 2700 BC. Tomb of Nefermaat I and his wife Itet.

Meat came from domesticated animals, game and poultry. This possibly included partridge, quail, pigeon, ducks and geese. The chicken most likely arrived around the 5th to 4th century BC, though no chicken bones have actually been found dating from before the Greco-Roman period. The most important animals were cattle, sheep, goats and pigs (previously thought to have been taboo to eat because the priests of Egypt referred pig to the evil god Seth).
5th-century BC Greek historian Herodotus claimed that the Egyptians abstained from consuming cows as they were sacred by association with Isis. They sacrificed male oxen but did not eat them and buried them ritually. However, excavations at the Giza worker’s village have uncovered evidence of massive slaughter of oxen, mutton and pork, such that researchers estimate that the workforce building the Great Pyramid were fed beef every day.
Mutton and pork were more common despite Herodotus’ affirmations that swine were held by the Egyptians to be unclean and avoided. Poultry, both wild and domestic and fish were available to all but the most destitute. The alternative protein sources would rather have been legumes, eggs, cheese and the amino acids available in the tandem staples of bread and beer. Mice and hedgehogs were also eaten and a common way to cook the latter was to encase a hedgehog in clay and bake it. When the clay was then cracked open and removed, it took the prickly spikes with it.
Foie gras, a well-known delicacy which is still enjoyed today, was invented by the Ancient Egyptians. The technique of gavage, cramming food into the mouth of domesticated ducks and geese, dates as far back as 2500 BC, when the Egyptians began keeping birds for food.
A 14th century book translated and published in 2017 lists 10 recipes for sparrow which was eaten for its aphrodisiac properties.


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Ruqaiya Sultan Begum

Ruqaiya Sultan Begum
Padshah Begum
Shahzadi of the Mughal Empire
Empress consort of the Mughal Empire
Predecessor Bega Begum
Successor Saliha Banu Begum
Died 19 January 1626 (aged 83–84)
Agra, Mughal Empire (modern day India)
Burial Gardens of Babur, Kabul
Spouse Akbar
House Timurid (by birth)
Father Hindal Mirza
Mother Sultanam Begum

Ruqaiya Sultan Begum (c. 1542 – 19 January 1626) was empress consort of the Mughal Empire from 1557 to 1605 as the first wife and chief consort of the third Mughal emperor Akbar.
She was also the longest serving Mughal empress, having tenure of almost fifty years.
Ruqaiya was a first cousin of her husband, and was a Mughal princess by birth. Her father, Hindal Mirza, was the youngest brother of Akbar’s father Humayun. She was betrothed to Akbar at the age of nine and married him at 14, but remained childless throughout her marriage. In later life, Ruqaiya raised (virtually adopted) Akbar’s favourite grandson Khurram (the future emperor Shah Jahan). As Akbar’s chief consort, Ruqaiya wielded considerable influence over him and played a crucial role in negotiating a settlement between her husband and her stepson, Jahangir, when the father-son’s relationship had turned sour in the early 1600s, eventually helping to pave the way for Jahangir’s accession to the Mughal throne.

She died just a year before her foster-son, Shah Jahan, acceded to the throne after a fratricidal struggle.
Hindal Mirza, presents young Akbar’s portrait to Humayun, during Akbar’s circumcision celebrations in Kabul, c. 1546 AD[8]
Ruqaiya Sultan Begum was born into the Timurid dynasty as a Mughal princess, and was the only daughter of Mughal prince Hindal Mirza, the youngest son of the first Mughal emperor Babur from his wife Dildar Begum.
Ruqaiya’s mother, Sultanam Begum, was the daughter of Muhammad Musa Khwaja and the younger sister of Mahdi Khwaja, who was the brother-in-law of Emperor Babur, being the husband of his sister, Khanzada Begum. Ruqaiya was named after the Islamic Prophet Muhammad’s daughter, Ruqayyah bint Muhammad.
Ruqaiya’s oldest paternal uncle was the second Mughal emperor Humayun (who later became her father-in-law as well) while her most notable paternal aunt was the imperial princess, Gulbadan Begum, the author of Humayun-nama (“Book of Humayun”).
Ruqaiya, being the paternal granddaughter of Emperor Babur, was of Miran Shahi birth just like her husband Akbar. She was a descendant of the lines of the highest Central Asian aristocracy: Timur or Tamerlane the Great through his son Miran Shah, and Genghis Khan through his son Chagatai Khan.
Ruqaiya was thus, Akbar’s only wife who was his equal in birth and stature.
Marriage to Akbar
On 20 November 1551, Hindal Mirza died fighting valorously for Humayun in a battle against their half-brother, Kamran Mirza’s forces. Humayun was overwhelmed with grief upon the death of his youngest brother, who had expiated for his former disobedience by his blood, but his emirs consoled him by saying that his brother was blessed in having thus fallen a martyr in the service of the Emperor.
Out of affection to the memory of his brother, Humayun betrothed Hindal’s nine-year-old daughter, Ruqaiya, to his son Akbar. Their betrothal took place in Kabul, Afghanistan, shortly after Akbar’s first appointment as a viceroy in the province of Ghazni.
On their engagement, Humayun conferred on the imperial couple, all the wealth, army and adherents of Hindal and Ghazni, which was one of Hindal’s jagir, was given to Akbar, who was appointed as its viceroy and was also given the command of his uncle’s army.
During the period of political uncertainty following Humayun’s death in 1556, Ruqaiya and the other female members of the imperial family were staying in Kabul., Ruqaiya came to India and joined Akbar in Punjab, shortly after Sikandar Shah was defeated and had submitted to the Mughals.
She was accompanied by her mother-in-law Hamida Banu Begum, her aunt Gulbadan Begum, and many other female members of the imperial family. Ruqaiya’s marriage with Akbar was solemnized near Jalandhar, Punjab, when both of them were 14 years-old. About the same time, her 18-year-old first-cousin Salima Sultan Begum, married Akbar’s considerably older regent, Bairam Khan.
After resting for some four months in Punjab, the imperial family set out for Delhi. The Mughals were at last ready to settle down in India.
Fatehpur Sikri: Hujra-I-Anup Talao or the Turkish Sultana House, a pleasure pavilion attached to a pond, was used by Empress Ruqaiya
Ruqaiya became Empress of the Mughal Empire at the age of fourteen years following her husband’s accession to the throne in 1556. She remained childless throughout her marriage but assumed the primary responsibility for the upbringing of Akbar’s favourite grandson, Prince Khurram (the future emperor Shah Jahan).
Ruqaiya’s adoption of Prince Khurram signified her rank and power in the imperial harem as one of the special privileges of women of rank (in the Mughal Empire) was to care for ranking children not their own.
Just prior to Khurram’s birth, a soothsayer had reportedly predicted to Ruqaiya Sultan Begum that the still unborn child was destined for imperial greatness. So, when Khurram was born in 1592 and was only six days old; Akbar ordered that the prince be taken away from his mother, Jagat Gosaini, and handed him over to Ruqaiya so that he could grow up under her care and Akbar could fulfill his wife’s wish, to raise a Mughal emperor.
Ruqaiya even oversaw Khurram’s education, for she, unlike her husband, was well educated.[22] The two shared a close relationship with each other, much like the relationship that Akbar had shared with Khurram, who, in the words of Jahangir “always recommended him [Khurram] to me [Jahangir] and frequently told me there was no comparison between him and my other children.
He [Akbar] recognized him as his real child.Jahangir also noted in his memoirs that Ruqaiya had loved his son, Khurram, “a thousand times more than if he had been her own [son].”Khurram remained with her, until he had turned almost 14. After Akbar’s death in 1605, the young prince was then, finally, allowed to return to his father’s household, and thus, be closer to his biological mother. Later, Ruqaiya also brought up Khurram’s first child, a daughter, Parhez Banu Begum, who was born to his first wife, the Safavid princess Kandahari Begum.
Despite not bearing children, Ruqaiya was always kept in high regard by her husband. She remained his sole chief consort from the time of their marriage in 1557 until his death in 1605. Ruqaiya was thus, the most senior lady in the imperial harem and at court during her husband’s reign as well as in his successor’s (Jahangir) reign.
This was primarily due to her exalted lineage, being Mirza Hindal’s daughter, a Mughal princess as well as Akbar’s first and chief wife.
The Empress also took an active part in court politics and wielded considerable influence over Akbar. She played a crucial role (along with her cousin and co-wife Salima Sultan Begum) in negotiating a settlement between her husband and her step-son, Salim (Jahangir), when the father-son’s relationship had turned sour in the early 1600s, eventually helping to pave the way for Salim’s accession to the Mughal throne.
In 1601, Salim had revolted against Akbar by setting up an independent court in Allahabad and by assuming the imperial title of “Salim Shah” while his father was still alive.He also planned and executed the assassination of Akbar’s faithful counselor and close friend, Abu’l Fazl.
This situation became very critical and infuriated Akbar so much that no one dared to petition for Salim. In the end, it was Ruqaiya Sultan Begum and Salima Sultan Begum who pleaded for his forgiveness. Akbar granted their wishes and Salim was allowed to present himself before the Emperor. The prince was finally pardoned in 1603 through the efforts of his step-mothers and his grandmother, Hamida Banu Begum.
Akbar, however, did not always pardon a wrong doer and sometimes his decisions were irreversible. Once, Ruqaiya and her mother-in-law, Hamida Banu Begum, by their joint effort could not secure pardon for a Sunni Muslim who had murdered a Shia in Lahore purely out of religious fanaticism.
During Jahangir’s reign, Ruqaiya and Salima Sultan Begum played a crucial role in securing pardon for the powerful Khan-i-Azam, Mirza Aziz Koka, who would’ve surely been sentenced to death by Jahangir had not Salima interceded on his behalf.
Apart from her own palace at Fatehpur Sikri, Ruqaiya owned palaces outside the fort in Agra, near the Jamuna river, a privilege given to Mughal princesses only and sometimes to empresses who were kept in high esteem; Ruqaiya was both.
Dowager empress
In 1607, Ruqaiya made a pilgrimage to the Gardens of Babur in Kabul and for the first time, visited the mausoleum of her father Hindal Mirza, as well as those of her other ancestors.She was accompanied by Jahangir and Prince Khurram.[In the same year, Sher Afghan Khan, the jagirdar of Burdwan died and his widowed wife, Mehr-un-Nissa (later Empress Nur Jahan) was summoned to Agra by Jahangir to act as lady-in-waiting to his step-mother, the Dowager empress Ruqaiya.
Given the precarious political connections of Sher Afghan before his death, his family was in great danger and therefore for her own protection, Mehr-un-Nissa needed to be at the Mughal court in Agra. Ruqaiya, having been the late Emperor Akbar’s principal wife and being the most senior woman in the harem, was by stature and ability, the most capable of providing the protection that Mehr-un-Nissa needed at the Mughal court.
Mehr-un-Nissa was flattered to have been brought with her daughter into Ruqaiya’s service, for even though she had relatives at court, such as her father Mirza Ghias Beg. Her husband had gone down in ignominy and she could have rightly expected only the worst.] It was under Ruqaiya’s care, then, that Mehr-un-Nissa was able to spend time with her parents and occasionally visit the apartments where the emperor’s women lived.
Mehr-un-Nissa and her daughter, Ladli Begum, served as ladies-in-waiting to the Empress for four years while earnestly endeavoring to please their imperial mistress.The relationship that grew up between Ruqaiya and Mehr-un-Nissa appears to have been an extremely tender one and there is every indication that the former treated the latter as her daughter. The Dutch merchant and travel writer, Pieter van den Broecke, described their relationship in his Hindustan Chronicle: “This Begum [Ruqaiya] conceived a great affection for Mehr-un-Nissa [Nur Jahan]; she loved her more than others and always kept her in her company.
Inside the Gardens of Babur, located in Kabul, Afghanistan
Ruqaiya died in 1626 in Agra, at the age of eighty-four, having outlived her husband by more than twenty years. She was buried on the fifteenth level in the Gardens of Babur (Bagh-e-Babur) in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Gardens of Babur is the final resting place of her grandfather, Emperor Babur, as well as that of her father, Hindal Mirza. Her tomb was built by the orders of her foster-son, the fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.
Jahangir speaks fondly of Ruqaiya in his memoirs and while recording her death in it, he makes note of her exalted status as Akbar’s chief wife.




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Ala-ud-din Khilji’s tomb and madrasa

Ala-ud-din Khilji’s tomb and madrasa

Alauddin Khilji’s Madrasa, which also has his tomb to the south, ca 1316 AD
At the back of the complex, southwest of the mosque, stands an L-shaped construction, consisting of Alauddin Khilji’s tomb dating ca 1316 AD, and a madrasa, an Islamic seminary built by him. Khilji was the second Sultan of Delhi from Khilji dynasty, who ruled from 1296 to 1316 AD.

The central room of the building, which has his tomb, has now lost its dome, though many rooms of the seminary or college are intact, and since been restored. There were two small chambers connected to the tomb by passages on either side. Fergusson in his book suggested the existence, to the west of the tomb, of seven rooms, two of which had domes and windows. The remains of the tomb building suggest that there was an open courtyard on the south and west sides of the tomb building, and that one room in the north served as an entrance.

It was the first example in India, of a tomb standing alongside a madrasa. Nearby stands the Alai Minar, an ambitious tower, he started constructing to rival the Qutb Minar, though he died when only its first story was built and its construction abandoned thereafter. It now stands, north of the mosque.

The tomb is in a very dilapidated condition. It is believed that Ala-ud-din’s body was brought to the complex from Siri and buried in front of the mosque, which formed part of the madrasa adjoining the tomb. Firoz Shah Tughluq, who undertook repairs of the tomb complex, mentioned a mosque within the madrasa.

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The Khilji-Allauddin Khilji

The Khilji dynasty was named after a village in Afghanistan.
Jalal-ud-din Khilji overthrew Balban’s successors and founded the Khilji Dynasty, which ruled large parts of South Asia between 1290 and 1320. His own nephew and son-in-law Alauddin Khilji, killed Jalal-ud-din and took over as the new ruler. That was the second dynasty to rule the Delhi Sultanate of India.
Some historians believe that they were Afghans, but Bharani and Wolse Haig explain in their accounts that the rulers from this dynasty, who came to India, though they had temporarily settled in Afghanistan, were originally Turkic”.
The Khiljis were a Central Asian Turkic dynasty but having been long domiciled in Afghanistan, and adopted some Afghan habits and customs. They were treated as Afghans in Delhi Court”. The three sultans of the Khilji dynasty were noted by historians for their faithlessness and ferocity.
To some extent, the Khilji usurpation was a move toward the recognition of a shifting balance of power attributable to the developments outside the territory of the Delhi Sultanate (in Central Asia and Iran) and to the changes which followed the establishment of Turkic rule in northern India. The court languages of the Khiljis were Persian, followed by Arabic, their native Turkoman language and some northern-Indian dialects.
Although it was not their native language, the Khilji sultans encouraged the use of Persian. This co-existence of different languages gave birth to an early form of Urdu. According to Ibn Batuta, the Khiljis encouraged conversion to Islam by making it customary to have the convert presented to the sultan (who would place a robe on him and reward him with gold bracelets). During Ikhtiyar Uddin Bakhtiyar Khilji’s control of Bengal, Muslim missionaries in India achieved their greatest success in the number of converts to Islam.
The founder of the Khilji Dynasty in South Asia, Malik Firuz, was originally the Ariz-i-Mumalik appointed by Kaiqubad during the days of decline of the Slave Dynasty. He took advantage of the political vacuum that was created due to the incompetence of the successors of Balban.
To occupy the throne, he only had to remove the infant Sultan Kaimurs. On June 13 1290, Malik Firuz ascended the throne of Delhi as Jalal-ud-din Firuz Shah.
Khiljis were basically Central Asians but had lived in Afghanistan for so long that they had become different from the Turks in terms of customs and manners.
Thus the coming of Khiljis to power was more than a dynastic change. As majority of the Muslim population of Delhi was Turk, the arrival of a Khilji ruler was not much welcomed. Yet Jalal-ud-din managed to win the hearts of the people through his mildness and generosity.

Alauddin Khilji was one of India’s greatest kings and one of the world’s greatest military geniuses.
He was born in Delhi in 1266 AD (and hence an Indian; not a foreign invader) and ruled as Sultan of Delhi from 1296 AD – 1316 AD.
Khilji greatly expanded the empire that he inherited from his uncle, Sultan Jalaluddin Khilji, after killing him. Khilji is often seen as a villain.
He retained most of the officers holding key positions in the Slave Dynasty.
From 1296 AD to 1316 AD Alauddin Khilji dominated the Delhi sultanate with many courageous achievements.
Soon after becoming the Sultan of Delhi Alauddin Khilji in 1297 AD went out to win over the various parts of Gujarat state Ala- ud-din also was able to implement startling economic reforms, although their effects were probably restricted to Delhi and the 100 mile radius around it.
Nevertheless this was truly creditable for he achieved what modern governments in India have not completely achieved. Ala-ud-din re-organized the market so that there were fixed prices which were affordable, he developed warehousing facilities to ensure ready stock of goods; the government entered the business of transportation and provided facilities for the swift movement of goods.
Alauddin’s reign is marked by innovative administrative and revenue reforms, market control regulations and a whirlwind period of conquests. It is considered the golden period of the Khilji rule. However, before the death of Alauddin, his house was divided into two camps. This resulted in the ultimate collapse of the Khalji dynasty. He died on January 1316 due to an acute health condition.
The impact of Alauddin Khilj-13th century Sultan of Delhi.
A critical dialogue on the legacy the 13th century Sultan left behind.
It is time for a reckoning not only in how we see Khilji, but historical figures in general.
Many historians have accurately pointed out that the real Khilji was highly influenced by Persian culture, that he used cruelty as a strategy and that he kept the Mongols out of India.
A comprehensive assessment of Khilji’s policies and achievements.
The most long-reaching effects of Khilji’s career were not merely military or territorial, though those were important. His policies also played an important and decisive role in India’s economic and political history.
Cruelty and conquest
The shockingly rapid progress of Turkic and then Mongol hordes through the world from roughly the 10th century begs the question of why they were so successful in the first place. Their meritocratic, well-drilled and highly mobile cavalry armies crushed larger forces from China to Hungary and India. However, their true talent lay in psychological warfare.
Jack Weatherford in Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (2014) points out that the Mongols always offered cities as the option of surrender before ordering their complete destruction. Often, the brutal levelling of one city and the massacre of its ruling elite would lead to the rapid surrender of its neighbors to Mongol rule, thus saving on manpower. In the case of both the Turks and the Mongols, it took barely a generation to go from “barbaric” conquerors to rulers.
This is a marked departure from earlier tribal confederacies such as the Huns and Vandals, but closer to the Kushans and Parthians. They would adopt local cultural practices, spread technology, enable trade and not interfere too much in the religious practices of their new subjects.
The Turks differed in the last because they had already converted to Islam, but rulers like Alauddin Khilji were nevertheless more pragmatic than we generally think (Khilji, as attested to by Ziauddin Barani—a 13-14th century chronicler in the Delhi Sultanate—was one of the rare sultans who dared skip the Friday prayer). In one of history’s strange twists, by the 13th century, the once-nomadic Turks had to face the recently nomadic Mongols.
It is in this context that we should see Alauddin Khilji. He is a Machiavellian (dare we say Kautilyan?) figure. In fact, Khilji’s ruthless adherence to the principle that the state must benefit at all costs, while being agnostic to religion, is strikingly similar to the views of the Arthashastra.
As a young man, he led a lightning raid into the wealthy fort of Devagiri, supposedly capturing the raja while he was at dinner and holding him hostage until a ransom was paid and a marital alliance concluded. The funds thus accumulated were used to assassinate his uncle and place himself on the throne.
As sultan, Khilji needed to defend his frontiers from Mongol incursions while simultaneously fending off assertive vassals and independent Indian states. The Indian powers were terrorized into submission through a ruthless application of psychological warfare, as Khilji’s actions against the Rajputs proved. This is because during his rule, the Mongols of the Chagatai Khanate invaded India. Khilji, by his military brilliance, managed to defeat the Mongols not once, but five times: in 1298 AD (led by Ulugh Khan, and inflicting 20,000 casualties on the Mongols), 1299 AD in Sindh (led by Zafar Khan), 1299 AD in Delhi (leading the army himself against the Mongols), 1305 AD (led by Malik Nayak, and inflicting 8000 casualties on the Mongols), and 1306 AD (led by Malik Kafur); and a “draw” in the sixth Mongol invasion of 1303 AD (again personally leading the army), where the Mongols were unable to defeat Khilji, but were able to sack Delhi.
This was a military feat unprecedented in those days, because the Mongols were an unstoppable force wherever else they went. No one in the rest of the world – whether the Russian Empire or the mighty Persian empire or the Baghdad Caliphate – could stand up to the dreaded Mongols. Khilji defeated them 5 times and had a draw in a 6th confrontation. The armies of the Delhi sultanate under Khilji were some of the most disciplined and well-trained in the world, and that is why they could defeat the Mongols time and again. Now, people who do not know about the Mongols may ask at this point: “so what’s the big deal? A Muslim ruler whose ancestors were foreign invaders defeats another foreign invader!”
But that would betray a colossal ignorance of Mongol warfare.
The Mongols had a very peculiar way of conducting war. When they did conquer a country, they would raze it to ground. They used to leave nothing in that place – no trace of the civilization that existed there. They never settled in the place they conquered. They would take whatever of value they could back home to Mongolia (or, in the case of the Chagatai Khanate, Uzbekistan), especially what new technology they could find; they would take away women as slaves and kill the men, except those with special skills that they did not have and could use; and they would leave a wasteland behind. The Mongols did not just invade and conquer; they exterminated civilizations. There is a reason the Mongols were referred to as the “scourge of God.”
Had the Mongols conquered India, India would have been set back at least two or three hundred years in its development. All knowledge and culture that had been accumulated in India over millenia would have been destroyed. Every library, every school, every temple, every home would have been burnt to the ground. When Hulagu Khan of the Mongol Ilkhanate sacked Baghdad in 1258, he left the city largely depopulated. He destroyed all the great libraries of the Abbasid empire (it is said that the rivers turned black with ink because of the huge number of books the Mongols took from the libraries and threw in them), and blood was flowing in the Euphrates and Tigris for weeks after his assault. He single-handedly ended what is known as the Islamic Golden Age. A similar thing happened to Russia after the Mongols invaded it; it is considered that the Mongol invasion of Russia set it back by 200 years in its development.
So the Mongols were not like any other invader. If Khilji had lost to the Mongols, it would not have been as benign as when Ibrahim Lodi lost to Babur. In that case, one Muslim ruler was replaced by another, but India itself did not suffer greatly. If the Mongols had won against Khilji, they would have wiped Indian civilization off the map of the world.

For better or worse, they have brought us to where we are, and remind us what we can do better.

But to keep this up, he would need a large standing army, not a traditional feudal levy to be raised only when in danger.
In an almost Ciceronian bent of mind, he seems to have recognized that the sinews of war were infinite money, in addition to Mongol-style psychological attacks. Using the territory of his compulsory ally, Devagiri, he dispatched a series of raiding expeditions south under his general Malik Kafur, while terrorizing the Mongols, building their severed heads into the foundations of Siri Fort in Delhi .
Kafur, too, used shock-and-awe tactics. The infantry and elephant-focused armies of the south were out maneuvered, supply lines severed, and smashed separately before they could converge. The rougher terrain of the Deccan gave them some edge against cavalry (which does best on flat terrain, but the Turkic officer core and army organization, perfected in mobile battlefields of Central Asia. As a result, kingdoms such as the Hoysalas and the Kakatiyas tried to buy time with ransoms but were ultimately defeated.
A new status quo
Khilji’s campaigns completely upset the Indian status quo. The dynasties which he had uprooted adhered to an older form of kingship, a sort of sedmented sovereignty which compelled the ruler to recognize the hereditary rights of interest groups such as village councils, landed nobility, and merchant guilds.
But recent scholarship, especially work done by Burton Stein, points to a broader trend of migration of hardy warrior-peasants (especially from Andhra) into the rocky Deccan that was already in place, creating new urban centers which threatened the older landed order . By shattering this older order, he cleared the way for the creation of new states, the emergence of new interest groups, and therefore new social and political equilibria.
The turmoil which he caused opened up military and administrative careers to castes that would otherwise have been excluded. It might not have been intended, but it is no less real or significant.
Khilji, however, was not interested in setting up shop in the turbulent and distant south. His primary concern would remain the Mongol incursions and maintaining his grip on his North Indian territory.
Booty from raids was generously spread among his supporters, increasing the money supply and causing skyrocketing inflation. This could be one of the reasons for the implementation of his infamous system of price controls. Another could be the expense of maintaining a large standing army, which, like in most empires, necessitated a vicious cycle of more conquest to fuel an even larger army.
The Indian states of the 13th century onward were more integrated into the global economy and the latest technological and military advances. The Bahmani Sultanate and the Vijayanagara Empire learnt well from the campaigns of Alauddin. Trade was a major priority for Vijayanagara, and control of the ports of Tamilakam and the Konkan Coast was deemed important enough to call halts to civil wars.
Sovereigns took care to import the best cavalry from the Arabs and gunpowder weapons from the Portuguese, and recruit Turkic officers. Armies (in the initial period) were relatively meritocratic and many, including the family of the famous ruler Krishna Deva Raya, rose to prominence through military service.
Other groups of cultivators-turned-rulers, remain prominent to this day, and the migratory movements which could happen due to the anarchy of the 13th century left a significant imprint on the demographic profile of India.
A wonder of the world?
The sultan’s price control department wasn’t just an organization full of harmless bureaucrats with misplaced incentives (our modern equivalent perhaps is). The Diwan-e-Riyasat started by keeping essential commodity prices low for soldiers (so Khilji could pay them less) and soon expanded to every item in Delhi’s markets, from camels to cloth.
But these price controls inevitably led to black market trading as a new equilibrium was reached between buyers and sellers. In addition, famines inevitably led to hoarding and shortages.
To deal with this, an intricate spy network ensured that any violations to the system were reported and dealt with. In times of scarcity, the entire city of Delhi was put on rations and fed only from government granaries, which acquired grain at fixed prices.
Barani informs us that any merchant who was found cheating the standard rates was penalized by cutting off an equal weight of flesh from his limbs. Still standing in the heart of South Delhi, functioning as roundabout for traffic, is Khilji’s Chor Minar. This was used to display the heads of thieves or dacoits who tried to defraud the system.
These are further examples of the sultan’s willingness to use calculated, deterring cruelty to further what he saw as the interests of the state, and again an eerie echo of the Arthashastra. Both adhere to a cold-blooded form of political realism, explored at length by scholars such as R.P. Kangle, J. Patrick Olivelle and Thomas Trautmann, which is often visible in the subcontinent.
Within a few years of Alauddin’s accession, Delhi became unrecognizable. Practically a surveillance state where the Big Sultan knew all , its markets boasted possibly the most elaborate system of price controls ever conceived, at relatively cheap prices compared to global standards.
In times of famine, amazingly, every household in the city had something to eat, enabled by a sophisticated system of go downs and warehouses. Contemporary travelers’ accounts describe the fixed prices, come hell or high water, as a wonder of the world. The system allowed Alauddin to maintain, arguably, the largest, best equipped force ever fielded by the Delhi Sultanate, with observable results. But the policy had other ramifications.
The peasantry and landed nobility had little incentive to increase production, struggling under heavy tax burdens. The sultan refused to lower the taxes they paid and his land surveys—the first in the history of the Sultanate—allowed him to keep a keen eye on defaulters, and tax cultivators directly. Merchants, too, could not pursue profits beyond what the sultan allowed (a departure from Kautilya, who has more farsighted views on fair prices and profiteering).
Irfan Habib points out in Cambridge Economic History of India Vol-1 that real wages for labourers remained low, and Khilji often had to subsidizes merchants, though Abraham Eraly argues that the improved functioning of state institutions could have allowed for some degree of prosperity.
While prices were kept constant in Delhi and nearby markets, they kept increasing as per the free market in other parts of the world, creating excellent arbitrage opportunities for traders who were willing to take the risk of getting their heads chopped off.
Gujarati textile merchants made full use of this opportunity, buying cheap cloth from Delhi and selling it at places like Mecca for a delicious 700% profit. Coastal trade grew leaps and bounds, with wealth essentially being transferred from the once-dominant urban center of Delhi to new ones on the coast. These new centers came at a point when the fledgling empires of the Deccan were rising, and would have played a vital role in integrating India into global maritime trade, which was rapidly expanding. This is an important effect, which most Delhi-centric views of Khilji’s rule neglect.
Ultimately, it is difficult to say whether Khilji was a savior or a villain. But that is the point of looking critically at our past—nobody can fit into a single category. Value judgements on those whose values were so different from ours do not help us move forward.
Indeed, the idea of a normative approach to something as inexorable as the march of time and history is absurd. Instead, we need to objectively understand what historical figures did and how it impacted our ancestors—not just in one part of the country, but throughout our subcontinent.

The third and last ruler of the Khilji dynasty in India was Qutb-ud-Din Mubarak Shah. He was the weakest ruler of all and during his reign, all taxes and penalties were abolished. He released all prisoners of war who were captured after waging gruesome battles. He was ultimately murdered by Khusru Khan and this ended the Khilji dynasty in India.

Was Alauddin Khilji actually after Rani Padmini?

The Rajput community was fighting against the film and calling for a ban since they wanted to protect the dignity of Rani Padmini in whatsoever manners.
Alauddin Khilji was one of greatest emperors in Indian history. He was the one who protected India from Mongolese. Had he not been there, there might not be the India we live in today.
Author RV Smith in his book ‘India that no one knows’ and ‘Delhi: Unknown Tales of a city’ has said that Alauddin Khilji had attacked the city of Chittor to expand his region, and not to win Rani Padmini. After defeating The King of Chittor Maharaja Ratan Singh, he came to know about the beauty of Rani Padmini and he just wanted to have a look at her.
Smith, in his book, said that after 250 years of the death of Khilji poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi made the most notable work is the epic poem Padmavat. To make it more entertaining, he added some fiction.
He even crossed out the fact that Rani Padmini committed Jauhar in order to save herself from the hands of Alauddin Khilji. She jumped into fire to commit Sati which was a common practice at that time since her Husband Ratan Singh lost the war.
It is said that Khilji was the first emperor of Delhi who stopped Black Hoarding.
From Different sources.

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Begum Samru

Begum Samru


Joanna Nobilis Sombre (ca 1753– 27 January 1836), a convert Catholic Christian, popularly known as Begum Samru and also, as Begum Sumru, (née Farzana Zeb un-Nissa) started her career as a Nautch (dancing) girl in 18th century India, and eventually became the ruler of Sardhana, a small principality near Meerut.

She was the head of a professionally trained mercenary army, inherited from her European mercenary husband, Walter Reinhardt Sombre. This mercenary army consisted of Europeans and Indians. She is also regarded as the only Catholic ruler in India, as she ruled the Principality of Sardhana in 18th- and 19th-century India.

Begum Sumru died immensely rich. Her inheritance was assessed as approximately 55.5 million gold marks in 1923 and 18 billion deutsch marks in 1953. Her inheritance continues to be disputed to this day. An organization named “Reinhards Erbengemeinschaft” still strives to resolve the inheritance issue. During her lifetime she had converted to Christianity from Islam.

Begum Samru was of slight stature, fair complexion and distinguished by exceptional leadership abilities of an uncommon order. More than once, she headed her own troops in action. She was of Kashmiri descent.

When she was in her early teens, she married (or started living with) a mercenary soldier Walter Reinhardt Sombre of Luxembourg, who was operating in India. Walter Reinhardt Sombre, a European mercenary, then 45-years-old, came to the red light area and fell for the charms of Farzana, then a girl of 14, says Johan Lall in his “Begum Samru – Faded Portrait in a Gilded Frame”.

A soldier of fortune, Sombre moved from Lucknow to Rohilkhand (near Bareilly), then to Agra, Deeg and Bharatpur and back to the Doab.
Farzana helped him in those times of intrigue and counter-intrigue.
On the death of her husband Walter Reinhardt, she succeeded to his Principality yielding about £90,000 per annum.

Farzana was courted by some of the European officers who were associated with her husband. Among them were Le Vassoult, a Frenchman, and George Thomas, an Irishman.

The Begum favored the Frenchman and when, in 1793, the rumor spread that she had married him, her troops mutinied.

The couple sought to escape secretly by night – Le Vassoult on horseback and the Begum in a palanquin. Misinformed that Le Vassoult had been shot, she stabbed herself but survived.

Her lover, however, died of a self-inflicted wound to the head.
One version has it that she suggested a suicide pact but only nicked herself when the unsuspecting Le Vassoult shot himself dead.

When British General Lord Lake met the Begum in 1802, in a fit of enthusiasm he gave her a hearty kiss, which appalled her troops. But with her customary tact, Begum Samru pacified them by saying that it was only “the kiss of the Padre to a repentant child”.

The Begum, though only 41⁄2 feet tall, wore a turban and rode on horseback as she led her troops to battle. So invincible did she seem that the superstitious spread the word that she was a witch who could destroy her enemies just by throwing her cloak towards them.

Her army occupied the left of the Maratha line at the battle of Assaye and hers was the only part of the Mahratta force that was not driven in disarray from the battle field.

Having annihilated an advance by the 74th Highlanders and a picket detachment commanded by a Colonel Orrock, her army then withstood a cavalry charge from the Raj before marching from the field in good order. She inducted Jats into her irregular armies.

Throughout her life, she had only one friend, Begum Umdaa, who belonged to the other Jagirdar Family of Sardhana became her closest friend with time and fulfilled her relation until her death with Begum Samru.

Even after Begum Umdaa was married, Begum Samru took out time to visit her to Meerut in good and bad.

After the fall of Aligarh in September 1803, she was induced to surrender to Lord Lake and afterwards lived on good terms with the British, receiving visitors including the Bishop of Calcutta, Reginald Heber, Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army Lord Combermere and Italian adventurer Jean-Baptiste Ventura. Her conduct in the internal management of her estate was highly commendable.

Over time, she became powerful, ruling over a large area from Sardhana, Uttar Pradesh. On 7 May 1781, aged around forty, Begum Samru was baptized Joanna Nobilis, by a Roman Catholic priest.

She died at Sardhana in January 1837 at the age of 85, bequeathing the greater part of her property to David Ochterlony Dyce Sombre, who descended from Walter Reinhardt Sombre, from his first wife. His grave is near the statue of Begum Samru in her Church at Sardhana.
Several stories and novels have been written based on her political and diplomatic astuteness and on crucial battles fought by troops directly commanded by her.

There is a rumor that one of the sons of the Begum had been killed by the Begum herself, as he had some physical disorder due to which he couldn’t get married to any lady.

Begum Samru’s Palaces at Chandni Chowk, Jharsa and Sardhana

She built palaces at Sardhana, Chandni Chowk in Delhi and Jharsa. The paragana of Badshahpur-jharsa in Gurugaon in Haryana was also ruled by Begum Samru.

Jharsa palace and cantonment in Gurugram

Begum Samru Place at Gurugram lies between Badshahpur-Jharsa in Gurgaon. The paragana of Badshahpur-Jharsa was ruled by Begum Samru. She built a palace for herself between Badshahpur and Jharsa. Jharsa was the place of Samru’s principal cantonment. Parts of her fort compound have been completely lost to encroachments.

Palace building is located between Gurgaon and Jharsa village, which is used as the official residence cum camp office of the district collector of Gurugram district. The Jharsa place is built in Islamic style.
A 1882 land revenue settlement report records that the idol of Sitla Mata was brought to Gurugram 400 years earlier (15th century). Begum Samru claimed the offering to Sitla Mata temple of Gurugram during the Chaitra month and the revenue from the offerings given to the deity for rest of the month was distributed among the prominent Jat zamindars of the area.

In 1818, Bharawas district was disbanded and Gurugram was made a new district. In 1821, the Bharaswas cantonment was also moved to Hidayatpur in Gurugram.

Sardhana palace

The palace built by her in Sardhana near Meerut was the centre of much activity during the reign of Mughal Emperor, Akbar Shah. Shah Alam II, the predecessor and father of Akbar Shah, regarded Begum Samru as his daughter. He did so because the Begum had saved Delhi from an invasion by a force of 30,000 Sikhs, under Baghel Singh in 1783.
They had encamped at Tis Hazari (the name of the place being derived from the number of those who constituted the force, estimated at 30,000). Thanks to the Begum’s parleys, the Sikhs did not enter the city and went back to Punjab after getting a generous monetary gift from Shah Alam.

In 1787(?), when the emperor, Shah Alam, blind and feeble, was in pursuit of Najaf Quli Khan and trying to quell the rebellion stirred up by him, an incident occurred at Gokalgarh that brought the Begum closer to Shah Alam. Seeing that the emperor’s troops were wavering in their resolve to attack the rebel leader, she advanced with a force of 100 men and whatever big guns she had and opened fire on Najaf Quli Khan and his men. This did the trick and Najaf sought the Begum’s help to make his peace with Shah Alam. Thankful for her intervention, the emperor bestowed special honours on her at the royal court and declared her to be “his most beloved daughter”.

Not only that, she was also confirmed in her estate at Sardhana, which was the subject of a dispute with Louis Balthazar alias Nawab Zafaryab Khan, another son of her late husband, General Sombre, by his first wife, Badi Bibi (senior wife).

Until his death, Emperor Shah Alam and his major wives treated her almost as a relative, and embraced her when she entered the zenana (women) quarters, as the English visitor Ann Deane noted in late December 1808: ” ….and afterwards I accompanied her to the royal residence ……we then ascended ….to the zenanah [‘women’s quarters’]…. the begum now led the way through crowds of eunuchs ….Here we were met by the queen Dowager….an ugly, shriveled old woman, whom the begum embraced.

Chandani Chowk palace

Begum Samru’s palace in Chandni Chowk, now called Bhagirath Palace, was built in a garden gifted by Akbar Shah, a later day mughal, to the Begum when he ascended the throne after the death of Shah Alam in 1806. Her palatial building still stands in Chandni Chowk, New Delhi.



Inscription on the Statue of Begum Samru at the Basilica of Our Lady Of Graces in Sardhana

Begum Samru died on 27 January 1836 at the age of 90 and was buried under the Basilica of Our Lady of Graces which she had built.



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Dargah Qadam Shareef



Inner Tomb Complex
. The Dargah Qadam Sharif in Paharganj, Delhi consists of a small tomb complex, built in 1375-1376 CE, it also houses a mosque, a madrasa and a shrine (“dargah”), which is surrounded by a massive gated wall


Feroze Shah Tughlaq (1309 – 1388) constructed the large rectangular tomb at its core for himself, and surrounded it with massive walls and impressive gates in typical Tughlaq style. However, when his son Fateh Khan died in 1376, he repurposed the tomb to be used for his son. Also added was a stone with a foot print of Muhammad, which Feroze Shah had brought in from Mecca.
This foot print (“Qadam Sharif” = “Footprint of the Prophet” in English) gave the whole complex its name, Dargah Qadam Sharif. A mosque and a madrasa are present round out the inner tomb complex.
In the centuries since then, the whole area has been “absorbed” by housing and commercial buildings, although the tomb, most of the walls as well as a couple of the gate houses are still clearly visible. Furthermore, the madrasa and mosque at the tomb are still actively used.
The complex is located just northwest of the New Delhi Railway Station in a dense “urban jungle. “Most of the maps are highly inaccurate.
Nearby (and barely noticeable as a U-shaped building) are the remains of one of the glorious Seven Mosques of Feroze Shah’s WazirKhan-i-Jahan Maqbul Tilangani (Khan Jahan).
The Tradition is that in the time of the Emperor Feroze Shah about five centuries ago, a celebrated Devotee and a Disciple of the Emperor’s was deputed to Mecca (to which all true Mohammedans are bound to make one Pilgrimage, if they hope for Salvation) to obtain from the Caliph of that place a Khillut or Dress of Honor.
The Boon was granted, and in addition as a mark of high consideration the Slab in question was also consigned to the care of the Devotee.
Dargah Qadam Sharif or Shrine of the Holy Foot.
The tomb of was built by Feroze Shah Tughlaq (r.1351-88) for himself, but when his son Fateh Khan died in 1374, he interred him in the tomb. Over the grave of the Prince was a stone bearing a footprint (qadam) of the prophet, which according to tradition was brought to India for Feroze Shah Tughlaq, by his spiritual guide-Inscribed: naqsha-i dargah-i qadam-i sharif ast. Mazhar ‘Ali Khan.

When Qadam Shareef arrived in Delhi the Emperor and all his Nobles proceeded to a Distance of 15 Miles from the City to do Honor to this precious Relic. It was escorted with much Pomp and finally deposited by order of the Emperor in the Royal Treasury.
Subsequently, the Prince Fateh Khan, a son of the Emperor having been permitted to select from the Treasury what he deemed most valuable, claimed possession of the Relic. The Emperor refused to bestow it, considering it as his own exclusive Property but decreed that is should be placed over the Remains of the one who should first demise.
To the Prince’s lot it fell and the Emperor fulfilled his Promise and around the Prince’s Grave the celebrated Shrine is present………..
The exact coordinates for the tomb are (28.649818, 77.211879) and the U-shaped building are (28.649328, 77.217689).
On a side note, Feroze Shah Tughlaq’s final resting place was in a new tomb in Hauz Khas.
‘Reminiscences of Imperial Delhi’, by Sir Thomas Theophilus Metcalfe (1795-1853), the Governor-General’s Agent at the imperial court.

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Facts about Ancient Egypt

1. Cleopatra was not Egyptian.

Along with King Tut, perhaps no figure is more famously associated with ancient Egypt than Cleopatra VII. But while she was born in Alexandria, Cleopatra was actually part of a long line of Greek Macedonians originally descended from Ptolemy I, one of Alexander the Great’s most trusted lieutenants. The Ptolemaic Dynasty ruled Egypt from 323 to 30 B.C., and most of its leaders remained largely Greek in their culture and sensibilities. In fact, Cleopatra was famous for being one of the first members of the Ptolemaic dynasty to actually speak the Egyptian language.

2. The ancient Egyptians forged one of the earliest peace treaties on record.

2For over two centuries the Egyptians fought against the Hittite Empire for control of lands in modern day Syria. The conflict gave rise to bloody engagements like 1274 B.C.’s Battle of Kadesh, but by time of the pharaoh Ramses II neither side had emerged as a clear victor. With both the Egyptians and Hittites facing threats from other peoples, in 1259 B.C. Ramses II and the Hittite King Hattusili III negotiated a famous peace treaty. This agreement ended the conflict and decreed that the two kingdoms would aid each other in the event of an invasion by a third party. The Egyptian-Hittite treaty is now recognized as one of the earliest surviving peace accords, and a copy can even be seen above the entrance to the United Nations Security Council Chamber in New York.

3. Ancient Egyptians loved board games.


After a long day’s work along the Nile River, Egyptians often relaxed by playing board games. Several different games were played, including “Mehen” and “Dogs and Jackals,” but perhaps the most popular was a game of chance known as “Senet.” This pastime dates back as far as 3500 B.C. and was played on a long board painted with 30 squares. Each player had a set of pieces that were moved along the board according to rolls of dice or the throwing sticks. Historians still debate Senet’s exact rules, but there is little doubt of the game’s popularity. Paintings depict Queen Nefertari playing Senet, and pharaohs like Tutankhamen even had game boards buried with them in their tombs.

4. Egyptian women had a wide range of rights and freedom

4 While they may have been publicly and socially viewed as inferior to men, Egyptian women enjoyed a great deal of legal and financial independence. They could buy and sell property, serve on juries, make wills and even enter into legal contracts. Egyptian women did not typically work outside the home, but those who did usually received equal pay for doing the same jobs as men. Unlike the women of ancient Greece, who were effectively owned by their husbands, Egyptian women also had the right to divorce and remarry. Egyptian couples were even known to negotiate an ancient prenuptial agreement. These contracts listed all the property and wealth the woman had brought into the marriage and guaranteed that she would be compensated for it in the event of a divorce.

5. Egyptian workers were known to organize labor strikes.
5Even though they regarded the pharaoh as a kind of living god, Egyptian workers were not afraid to protest for better working conditions. The most famous example came in the 12th century B.C. during the reign of the New Kingdom pharaoh Ramses III. When laborers engaged in building the royal necropolis at Deir el-Medina did not receive their usual payment of grain, they organized one of the first recorded strikes in history. The protest took the form of a sit-in: The workers simply entered nearby mortuary temples and refused to leave until their grievances were heard. The gamble worked, and the laborers were eventually given their overdue rations.

6. The pyramids were not built by slaves.

6The life of a pyramid builder certainly wasn’t easy—skeletons of workers commonly show signs of arthritis and other ailments—but evidence suggests that the massive tombs were built not by slaves but by paid laborers. These ancient construction workers were a mix of skilled artisans and temporary hands, and some appear to have taken great pride in their craft. Graffiti found near the monuments suggests they often assigned humorous names to their crews like the “Drunkards of Menkaure” or the “Friends of Khufu.” The idea that slaves built the pyramids at the crack of a whip was first conjured by the Greek historian Herodotus in the fifth century B.C., but most historians now dismiss it as myth. While the ancient Egyptians were certainly not averse to keeping slaves, they appear to have mostly used them as field hands and domestic servants.

7. Egyptians kept many animals as pets.

The Egyptians saw animals as incarnations of the gods and were one of the first civilizations to keep household pets. Egyptians were particularly fond of cats, which were associated with the goddess Bastet, but they also had a reverence for hawks, ibises, dogs, lions and baboons. Many of these animals held a special place in the Egyptian home, and they were often mummified and buried with their owners after they died. Other creatures were specially trained to work as helper animals. Egyptian police officers, for example, were known to use dogs and even trained monkeys to assist them when out on patrol.

8. Egyptians of both sexes wore makeup.

Vanity is as old as civilization, and the ancient Egyptians were no exception. Both men and women were known to wear copious amounts of makeup, which they believed gave them the protection of the gods Horus and Ra. These cosmetics were made by grinding ores like malachite and galena into a substance called kohl. It was then liberally applied around the eyes with utensils made out of wood, bone and ivory. Women would also stain their cheeks with red paint and use henna to color their hands and fingernails, and both sexes wore perfumes made from oil, myrrh and cinnamon. The Egyptians believed their makeup had magical healing powers, and they weren’t entirely wrong: Research has shown that the lead-based cosmetics worn along the Nile actually helped stave off eye infections.

9. Some Egyptian doctors had specialized fields of study.

An ancient physician was usually a jack-of-all-trades, but evidence shows that Egyptian doctors sometimes focused on healing only one part of the human body. This early form of medical specialization was first noted in 450 B.C. by the traveler and historian Herodotus. Discussing Egyptian medicine, he wrote, “Each physician is a healer of one disease and no more…some of the eye, some of the teeth, some of what pertains to the belly.” These specialists even had specific names. Dentists were known as “doctors of the tooth,” while the term for proctologists literally translates to “shepherd of the anus.”

10. Egyptian pharaohs were often overweight.


Egyptian art commonly depicts pharaohs as being trim and statuesque, but this was most likely not the case. The Egyptian diet of beer, wine, bread and honey was high in sugar, and studies show that it may have done a number on royal waistlines. Examinations of mummies have indicated that many Egyptian rulers were unhealthy and overweight, and even suffered from diabetes. A notable example is the legendary Queen Hatshepsut, who lived in the 15th century B.C. While her sarcophagus depicts her as slender and athletic, historians believe she was actually obese and balding.

11. King Tut may have been killed by a hippopotamus.

Surprisingly little is known about the life of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamen, but some historians believe they know how he died. Scans of the young king’s body show that he was embalmed without his heart or his chest wall. This drastic departure from traditional Egyptian burial practice suggests that he may have suffered a horrific injury prior to his death. According to a handful of Egyptologists, one of the most likely causes for this wound would have been a bite from a hippopotamus. Evidence indicates that the Egyptians hunted the beasts for sport, and statues found in King Tut’s tomb even depict him in the act of throwing a harpoon. If the boy pharaoh was indeed fond of stalking dangerous game, then his death might have been the result of a hunt gone wrong.



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Built during a time when Egypt was one of the richest and most powerful civilizations in the world, the pyramids—especially the Great Pyramids of Giza—are some of the most magnificent man-made structures in history. Their massive scale reflects the unique role that the pharaoh, or king, played in ancient Egyptian society. Though pyramids were built from the beginning of the Old Kingdom to the close of the Ptolemaic period in the fourth century A.D., the peak of pyramid building began with the late third dynasty and continued until roughly the sixth (c. 2325 B.C.). More than 4,000 years later, the Egyptian pyramids still retain much of their majesty, providing a glimpse into the country’s rich and glorious past.


During the third and fourth dynasties of the Old Kingdom, Egypt enjoyed tremendous economic prosperity and stability. Kings held a unique position in Egyptian society. Somewhere in between human and divine, they were believed to have been chosen by the gods to serve as mediators between them and the people on earth. Because of this, it was in everyone’s interest to keep the king’s majesty intact even after his death, when he was believed to become Osiris, god of the dead. The new pharaoh, in turn, became Horus, the falcon-god who served as protector of the sun-god, Ra.
Did You Know?
The pyramid’s smooth, angled sides symbolized the rays of the sun and were designed to help the king’s soul ascend to heaven and join the gods, particularly the sun god Ra.
Ancient Egyptians believed that when the king died, part of his spirit (known as “ka”) remained with his body. To properly care for his spirit, the corpse was mummified, and everything the king would need in the afterlife was buried with him, including gold vessels, food, furniture and other offerings. The pyramids became the focus of a cult of the dead king that was supposed to continue well after his death. Their riches would provide not only for him, but also for the relatives, officials and priests who were buried near him.


From the beginning of the Dynastic Era (2950 B.C.), royal tombs were carved into rock and covered with flat-roofed rectangular structures known as “mastabas,” which were precursors to the pyramids. The oldest known pyramid in Egypt was built around 2630 B.C. at Saqqara, for the third dynasty’s King Djoser. Known as the Step Pyramid, it began as a traditional mastaba but grew into something much more ambitious. As the story goes, the pyramid’s architect was Imhotep, a priest and healer who some 1,400 years later would be deified as the patron saint of scribes and physicians. Over the course of Djoser’s nearly 20-year reign, pyramid builders assembled six stepped layers of stone (as opposed to mud-brick, like most earlier tombs) that eventually reached a height of 204 feet (62 meters); it was the tallest building of its time. The Step Pyramid was surrounded by a complex of courtyards, temples and shrines, where Djoser would enjoy his afterlife.
After Djoser, the stepped pyramid became the norm for royal burials, although none of those planned by his dynastic successors were completed (probably due to their relatively short reigns). The earliest tomb constructed as a “true” (smooth-sided, not stepped) pyramid was the Red Pyramid at Dahshur, one of three burial structures built for the first king of the fourth dynasty, Sneferu (2613-2589 B.C.) It was named for the color of the limestone blocks used to construct the pyramid’s core.


No pyramids are more celebrated than the Great Pyramids of Giza, located on a plateau on the west bank of the Nile River, on the outskirts of modern-day Cairo. The oldest and largest of the three pyramids at Giza, known as the Great Pyramid, is the only surviving structure out of the famed seven wonders of the ancient world. It was built for Khufu (Cheops, in Greek), Sneferu’s successor and the second of the eight kings of the fourth dynasty. Though Khufu reigned for 23 years (2589-2566 B.C.), relatively little is known of his reign beyond the grandeur of his pyramid. The sides of the pyramid’s base average 755.75 feet (230 meters), and its original height was 481.4 feet (147 meters), making it the largest pyramid in the world. Three small pyramids built for Khufu’s queens are lined up next to the Great Pyramid, and a tomb was found nearby containing the empty sarcophagus of his mother, Queen Hetepheres. Like other pyramids, Khufu’s is surrounded by rows of mastabas, where relatives or officials of the king were buried to accompany and support him in the afterlife.
The middle pyramid at Giza was built for Khufu’s son Khafre (2558-2532 B.C). A unique feature built inside Khafre’s pyramid complex was the Great Sphinx, a guardian statue carved in limestone with the head of a man and the body of a lion. It was the largest statue in the ancient world, measuring 240 feet long and 66 feet high. In the 18th dynasty (c. 1500 B.C.) the Great Sphinx would come to be worshiped itself, as the image of a local form of the god Horus. The southernmost pyramid at Giza was built for Khafre’s son Menkaure (2532-2503 B.C.). It is the shortest of the three pyramids (218 feet) and is a precursor of the smaller pyramids that would be constructed during the fifth and sixth dynasties.
Approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone (averaging about 2.5 tons each) had to be cut, transported and assembled to build Khufu’s Great Pyramid. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote that it took 20 years to build and required the labor of 100,000 men, but later archaeological evidence suggests that the workforce might actually have been around 20,000. Though some popular versions of history held that the pyramids were built by slaves or foreigners forced into labor, skeletons excavated from the area show that the workers were probably native Egyptian agricultural laborers who worked on the pyramids during the time of year when the Nile River flooded much of the land nearby.


Pyramids continued to be built throughout the fifth and sixth dynasties, but the general quality and scale of their construction declined over this period, along with the power and wealth of the kings themselves. In the later Old Kingdom pyramids, beginning with that of King Unas (2375-2345 B.C), pyramid builders began to inscribe written accounts of events in the king’s reign on the walls of the burial chamber and the rest of the pyramid’s interior. Known as pyramid texts, these are the earliest significant religious compositions known from ancient Egypt.
The last of the great pyramid builders was Pepy II (2278-2184 B.C.), the second king of the sixth dynasty, who came to power as a young boy and ruled for 94 years. By the time of his rule, Old Kingdom prosperity was dwindling, and the pharaoh had lost some of his quasi-divine status as the power of non-royal administrative officials grew. Pepy II’s pyramid, built at Saqqara and completed some 30 years into his reign, was much shorter (172 feet) than others of the Old Kingdom. With Pepy’s death, the kingdom and strong central government virtually collapsed, and Egypt entered a turbulent phase known as the First Intermediate Period. Later kings, of the 12th dynasty, would return to pyramid building during the so-called Middle Kingdom phase, but it was never on the same scale as the Great Pyramids.


Tomb robbers and other vandals in both ancient and modern times removed most of the bodies and funeral goods from Egypt’s pyramids and plundered their exteriors as well. Stripped of most of their smooth white limestone coverings, the Great Pyramids no longer reach their original heights; Khufu’s, for example, measures only 451 feet high. Nonetheless, millions of people continue to visit the pyramids each year, drawn by their towering grandeur and the enduring allure of Egypt’s rich and glorious past.



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