Hatshepsut: First Female Pharaoh

Hatshepsut: First Female Pharaoh


Hatshepsut was the first female pharaoh of Egypt. She reigned between 1473 and 1458 B.C. Her name means “foremost of noblewomen.”
Her rule was relatively peaceful and she was able to launch a building program that would see the construction of a great temple at Deir el-Bahari at Luxor. She also launched a successful sea voyage to the land of Punt, a place located somewhere on the northeast coast of Africa, where they traded with the inhabitants, bringing back “marvels.”

Despite the apparent success of her reign, and a burial in the Valley of the Kings, her monuments would be defaced after her death, apparently by her co-ruler and step-son/nephew Thutmose III.

The fact that a woman became pharaoh of Egypt was very unusual. “In the history of Egypt during the dynastic period (3000 to 332 B.C.) there were only two or three women who managed to rule as pharaohs, rather than wielding power as the ‘great wife’ of a male king,” writes Egyptologist Ian Shaw in his book “Exploring Ancient Egypt” (Oxford University Press, 2003).


Hatshepsut, along with her sister Nefrubity, was the daughter of Pharaoh Thutmose I and his wife Ahmose. Thutmose I was a warrior king who launched successful campaigns into Nubia and Syria, expanding the territory under Egyptian rule.

After Hatshepsut became co-ruler of Egypt, she claimed to be of divine birth, the result of a union between her mother and the god Amun. She also claimed that Thutmose I had named her as his successor before his death.

“Underscoring her claim, one of the reliefs decorating Hatshepsut’s enormous funerary complex depicts Thutmose I crowning her daughter as king in the presence of the Egyptian gods,” write Helen Gardner and Fred Kleiner in “Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective” (Cengage, 2010).

Queen to Thutmose II



After the death of her father, the Egyptian throne passed to Thutmose II, Hatshepsut’s half-brother and husband. In ancient Egypt, it was not unusual for royalty to marry within their family. Like his predecessor, he fought in Nubia. “The Egyptian army continued to quell uprisings in Nubia and brought about the final demise of the kingdom of Kush at Kerma,” writes Betsy Bryan in a section of “The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt” (Oxford University Press, 2000).

In their personal life, the couple had a daughter named Neferure who would go on to assume royal duties. She “appears during her mother’s reign officiating as ‘God’s Wife of Amun’…”writes Michael Rice in “Who’s Who in Ancient Egypt” (Routledge, 1999).

Regency and elevation to pharaoh



With the death of Thutmose II, the throne fell to Thutmose III, a step-son and nephew of Hatshepsut. He was, however, a child and unable to rule Egypt, leaving Hatshepsut to serve as regent. She did this for three years until, for reasons unknown; she became a pharaoh in her own right (although technically a co-ruler with Thutmose III).

She took on a full throne name, and statues were created depicting her as a male king, right down to the beard. However, she did allow some feminine traits to come through. “Although for most of her reign Hatshepsut was depicted with the traditional image of a male king, the names that she used as king were formed with grammatically feminine participles, thus openly acknowledging her female status,” write Gay Robins in a 1999 article in “The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology.”

In addition, University of Toronto Professor Mary-Ann Pouls Wegner, whose team found a wooden statue at Abydos that may be of Hatshepsut, notes that her waist was depicted as being somewhat slimmer than her male counterparts.

“Even though she was portrayed as a man [in her statues], oftentimes they did give a nod to her female physique by making her waist narrower,” she is quoted as saying in a LiveScience article.

In addition, Hatshepsut appears to have taken care to cultivate loyalty and obedience among officials. Bryan notes that there was a “sudden increase in large decorated private tombs” at Luxor and Saqqara, and an inscription carved in her temple at Deir el-Bahari reads “he who shall do her homage shall live; he who shall speak evil in blasphemy of her Majesty shall die.”

“As a ruler, Hatshepsut inaugurated building projects that far outstripped those of her predecessors,” Bryan writes, noting that in conquered Nubia, she built monuments at a number of sites, including Qasr Ibrim, Semna, Faras and Buhen.

In Egypt proper, she launched a number of building projects. At the temple complex of Karnak, she erected a series of obelisks and built a “Palace of Ma’at,” a rectangular structure that was composed of “a series of small rooms with a large central hall for the placement of the central bark [a small ceremonial boat]. The walls of the palace were covered with carved and brightly painted relief scenes of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III,” writes a team of UCLA researchers working on the Digital Karnak Project.

Perhaps the most impressive architectural achievement of Hatshepsut’s builders is the temple at Deir el-Bahari. Shaw notes that its ancient name was djeser-djeseru “the most sacred of sacred places,” with its three colonnaded terraces leading to a sanctuary.

When archaeologists excavated the temple in the 19th century, Shaw notes, they found shrines dedicated to Hathor and Anubis. Shaw writes that they also found, on the lowest terrace, a relief showing Hatshepsut as a sphinx “triumphing over her enemies” and another “describing the quarrying and transportation of two granite obelisks from the quarries at Aswan.” He also notes that the middle terrace contains an “unusual group of painted reliefs” showing a trading expedition to the land of Punt.

Voyage to Punt



This voyage to Punt (also known as “God’s land”) was a key foreign relations triumph during Hatshepsut’s reign. Punt is believed to lie in northeastern Africa, somewhere in the area of Eritrea, Ethiopia and southern Sudan. Egyptians had made voyages to it for centuries by Hatshepsut’s time.

The depiction of Punt at the Deir el-Bahari temple shows “scenes of the Puntite’s village (with) conical reed-built huts built on poles above the ground, entered via ladders,” Shaw writes, adding that palms and myrrh trees can be seen. “The ruler of Punt is distinguished from the Egyptians primarily by his beard and unusual costume, and his wife is depicted as an extremely obese woman.”

An ancient record of the voyage indicates that it was wildly successful. “The loading of the ships very heavily with marvels of the country of Punt; all goodly fragrant woods of God’s-land, heaps of myrrh-resin with fresh myrrh trees, with ebony, and pure ivory, with green gold of Emu.”

After listing more goods, the record concludes that no Egyptian ruler had ever been so successful in Punt. “Never was brought the like of this for any king who had been since the beginning.” (Inscription from “Seagoing Ships and Seamanship in the Bronze Age Levant,” Shelley Wachsmann, Texas A & M University Press, 2009)

Death and defacement



Thutmose III, who was technically co-ruler with Hatshepsut, succeeded the female pharaoh after her death. Although Hatshepsut was given a burial in the Valley of the Kings, her memory was not honored.

“Soon after her death in 1457 B.C., Hatshepsut’s monuments were attacked, her statues dragged down and smashed and her image and titles defaced,” writes Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley in a 2011 BBC article. She argues that this may have been an attempt by Thutmose III to gain credit for some of the successes Hatshepsut experienced during her rule. “By removing all obvious references to his co-ruler Tuthmosis could incorporate her reign into his own. He would then become Egypt’s greatest pharaoh.”

Hatshepsut’s mummy


In 2007, researchers announced that Hatshepsut’s mummy had been identified in tomb KV 60 in the Valley of the Kings. A “CT scan of a single tooth in a box with Hatshepsut’s name on it perfectly matched a tooth socket in the mummy’s jaw,” writes Cornell University anthropologist Meredith Small in a LiveScience article. She notes that she was around 50 when she died, balding, suffering from diabetes and wearing black and red nail polish. She also had a desire for perfume.

Small writes that despite her health problems, and the post-mortem destruction of some of her images, history still remembers her as a successful ancient Egyptian ruler. “Hatshepsut’s image couldn’t be erased because even with the weight, the beard, and the nail polish, she was a ruler, and a grand one,” she writes. “In ancient Egypt, just like today, you simply can’t keep a good woman down.”

From the Internet

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Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses

For all ancient people, the world was filled with mystery. Much of what they experienced in the world around them was unknowable and frightening. The ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses represented aspects of the Egyptians’ natural and “supernatural” surroundings and helped them understand its many aspects.


Demons were more powerful than human beings but not as powerful as gods. They were usually immortal, could be in more than one place at a time, and could affect the world as well as people in supernatural ways. But there were certain limits to their powers and they were neither all-powerful nor all knowing. Among demons the most important figure was Ammut – the Devourer of the Dead – part crocodile, part lioness, and part hippopotamus. She was often shown near the scales on which the hearts of the dead were weighed against the feather of Truth. She devoured the hearts of those whose wicked deeds in life made them unfit to enter the afterlife. Apepi, another important demon, (sometimes called Apophis) was the enemy of the sun god in his daily cycle through the cosmos, and is depicted as a colossal snake.

Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses

Most Egyptian gods represented one principle aspect of the world: Ra was the sun god, for example, and Nut was goddess of the sky. The characters of the gods were not clearly defined. Most were generally benevolent but their favor could not be counted on. Some gods were spiteful and had to be placated. Some, such as Neith, Sekhmet, and Mut, had changeable characters. The god Seth, who murdered his brother Osiris, embodied the malevolent and disordered aspects of the world.
The physical form taken on by the various Egyptian gods was usually a combination of human and animal, and many were associated with one or more animal species. And an animal could express a deity’s mood. When a god was angry, she might be portrayed as a ferocious lioness; when gentle, a cat. The convention was to depict the animal gods with a human body and an animal head. The opposite convention was sometimes used for representations of a king, who might be portrayed with a human head and a lion’s body, as in the case of the Sphinx. Sphinxes might also appear with other heads, particularly those of rams or falcons.
Many deities were represented only in human form. Among these were such very ancient figures as the cosmic gods Shu of the air, Geb of the earth, the fertility god Min, and the craftsman Ptah. There were a number of minor gods that took on grotesque forms, including Bes, a dwarf with a mask-like face, and Taurt, a goddess whose physical form combined the features of a hippopotamus and a crocodile.

Nut, Shu and Geb

Nut, Shu and Geb
Nut was the mother of Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephythys, Nut is usually shown in human form; her elongated body symbolizing the sky. Each limb represents a cardinal point as her body stretches over the earth. Nut swallowed the setting sun (Ra) each evening and gave birth to him each morning. She is often depicted on the ceilings of tombs, on the inside lid of coffins, and on the ceilings of temples.
Shu was the husband of Tefnut and the father of Nut and Geb. He and his wife were the first gods created by Atum. Shu was the god of the air and sunlight or, more precisely, dry air and his wife represented moisture. He was normally depicted as a man wearing a headdress in the form of a plume, which is also the hieroglyph for his name.
Shu’s function was to hold up the body of the goddess Nun and separate the sky from the earth. He was not a solar deity but his role in providing sunlight connected him to Ra. Indeed, he was one of the few gods who escaped persecution under the heretic king Akhenaten.
Geb was the father of Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephythys, and was a god without a cult. As an Earth god he was associated with fertility and it was believed that earthquakes were the laughter of Geb. He is mentioned in the Pyramid Texts as imprisoning the buried dead within his body.


Also Known as Amen, Amun, Ammon
Amun was the chief Theban deity whose power grew as the city of Thebes grew from an unimportant village, in the old Kingdom, to a powerful metropolis in the Middle and New Kingdoms. He rose to become the patron of the Theban pharaohs and was eventually combined with sun god, Ra who had been the dominant deity of the Old Kingdom to become Amun-Ra, King of the Gods and ruler of the Great Ennead.
Amun’s name means “Hidden One, Mysterious of Form,” and although he is most often represented as a human wearing a double plumed crown, he is sometimes depicted as a ram or a goose. The implication is that his true identity can never be revealed.
Karnak was Amun’s chief temple, but his fame extended well beyond the boundaries of Egypt. His cult spread to Ethiopia, Nubia, Libya, and through much of Palestine. The Greeks thought he was an Egyptian manifestation of their god Zeus. Even Alexander the Great thought it worthwhile consulting the oracle of Amun.


Protector of the Dead
Anubis is shown as a jackal-headed man, or as a jackal. His father was Seth and his mother Nephythys. His cult center was Cynopolis, now known as El Kes. He was closely associated with mummification and as protector of the dead. It was Anubis who conducted the deceased to the hall of judgment.


Bastet is depicted as a woman with a cat’s head or simply as a cat. Originally an avenging lioness deity, she evolved into a goddess of pleasure.
Her cult center was in the town of Bubastis in the Western delta. Many cats lived at her temple and were mummified when they died. An immense cemetery of mummified cats has been discovered in the area.


Unlike the other gods, Bes is represented full face rather than in profile, as a grotesque, bandy-legged, dwarf with his tongue sticking out. He was associated with good times and entertainment, but was also considered a
guardian god of childbirth. Bes chased away demons of the night and guarded people from dangerous animals.


Hapi was not the god of the river Nile but of its inundation. He is represented as a pot-bellied man with breasts and a headdress made of aquatic plants. He was thought to live in the caves of the first cataract, and his cult center was at Aswan.


Hathor was the daughter of Ra and the patron goddess of women, love, beauty, pleasure, and music. She is depicted in three forms; as a cow, as a woman with the ears of a cow, and as a woman wearing the headdress of a cow’s horns. In this last manifestation, she holds the solar disc between her horns. She was the consort of Horus, and her name actually means “House of Horus.” She had many temples the most famous of which is at Dendara.
There was a dark side to Hathor. It was believed that Ra sent her to punish the human race for its wickedness, but Hathor wreaked such bloody havoc on earth that Ra was horrified and determined to bring her back. He tricked her by preparing vast quantities of beer mixed with mandrake and the blood of the slain. Murdering mankind was thirsty work, and when Hathor drank the beer she became so intoxicated that she could not continue her slaughter.


Horus was the son of Osiris and Isis and the enemy of the wicked God Seth. He is depicted as a hawk or as a man with the head of a hawk. Sometimes he is shown as a youth with a side lock, seated on his mother’s lap. He was the god of the sky and the divine protector of kings.
Horus was worshipped throughout Egypt and was particularly associated with Edfu, the site of the ancient city of Mesen, where his temple can still be seen.
There are many stories of his wars against his uncle Seth, who murdered his father and usurped the throne. Eventually Horus defeated Seth and became the king of Egypt.


A very important figure in the ancient world, Isis was the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus. She was associated with funeral rites and said to have made the first mummy from the dismembered parts of Osiris. As the enchantress who resurrected Osiris and gave birth to Horus, she was also the giver of life, a healer and protector of kings.
Isis is represented with a throne on her head and sometimes shown breastfeeding the infant Horus. In this manifestation she was known as “Mother of God.” To the Egyptians she represented the ideal wife and mother; loving, devoted, and caring.
Her most famous temple is at Philae though her cult spread throughout the Medi-terranean world and, during the Roman period, extended as far as northern Europe. There was even a temple dedicated to her in London.


Also known as, Khepri, Khepra, Khepera, Khepre was a creator god depicted as a Scarab beetle or as a man with a scarab for a head. The Egyptians observed young scarab beetles emerging spontaneously from balls of dung and associated them with the process of creation. Khepre was one of the first gods, self-created, and his name means “he who has come into being,” Atum took his form as he rose out of the chaotic waters of the Nun in a creation myth. It was thought that Khepre rolled the sun across the sky in the same way a dung beetle rolls balls of dung across the ground.


Khnum, was depicted as a ram-headed man. He was a god of the cataracts, a potter, and a creator god who guarded the source of the Nile,. His sanctuary was on Elephantine Island but his best-preserved temple is at Esna. The “Famine Stele”, which is a carved stone tablet, contains appeals to Khnum during a famine caused by a low inundation of the Nile.


Also known as Khons Khensu, Khuns
Khonsu was the son of Amun and Mut, with whom he formed the Theban triad. He was a moon god depicted as a man with a falcon-head wearing a crescent moon headdress surmounted by the full lunar disc. Like Thoth, who was also a lunar deity, he is sometimes represented as a baboon. Khonsu was believed to have the ability to drive out evil spirits. Rameses II sent a statue of Khonsu to a friendly Syrian king in order to cure his daughter of an illness.
His temple was within the precincts of Karnak.


Ma’at was the goddess of truth and justice, embodying the essential harmony of the universe. She was depicted as a seated woman wearing an ostrich feather, or sometimes just as the feather itself. Her power regulated the seasons and the movement of the stars. Ma’at was the patron of justice and the symbol of ancient Egyptian ethics, so the Vizier who was in charge of the Law Courts went by the title Priest of Maat.
Ma’at was the ultimate judge in the afterlife, and the heart of the newly deceased was weighed against her feather in the Hall of Two Truths. Ammut, devourer of the dead, ate those who failed her test.


Montu was a warrior god who rose to become the state god during the 11th dynasty. He was associated with king Montuhotep I (“Montu is satisfied”), who reunited Upper and Lower Egypt after the chaos of the First Intermediate Period.
During the Twelfth Dynasty Montu was displaced by the rise of Amun, but he took on the true attributes of a war god when warrior kings such as Thutmose III and Rameses II identified themselves with him.


Mut formed part of the Theban Triad. She was one of the daughters of Ra, the wife of Amun, and mother of Khonsu. She was the Vulture goddess and is often depicted as a woman with a long, brightly colored dress and a vulture headdress surmounted by the double crown. In her more aggressive aspect she is shown as a lion-headed goddess.
Like Isis and Hathor, Mut played the role of divine mother to the king. Her amulets, which depict her as a seated woman suckling a child, are sometime confused with those of Isis.


Daughter of Geb and Nut, sister of Isis, wife of Seth and mother of Anubis, Nephythys is depicted as a woman with the hieroglyphs for a palace and ‘Neb’ (a basket) on her head. She is thus known as “Lady of the Mansions” or “Palace.” Nephythys was disgusted by Seth’s murder of Osiris and helped her sister, Isis, against her husband, Seth. Together with Isis she was a protector of the dead, and they are often shown together on coffin cases, with winged arms. She seems to have had no temple or cult center of her own.


Osiris was originally a vegetation god linked with the growth of crops. He was the mythological first king of Egypt and one of the most important of the gods. It was thought that he brought civilization to the race of mankind. He was murdered by his brother Seth, brought back to life by his wife Isis, and went on to become the ruler of the underworld and judge of the dead.
He is usually depicted as a mummy holding the crook and flail of kingship. On his head he wears the white crown of Upper Egypt flanked by two plumes of feathers. Sometimes he is shown with the horns of a ram. His skin is depicted as blue, the color of the dead; black, the color of the fertile earth; or green, representing resurrection.
Osiris’s head was thought to have been buried at Abydos, his main cult center. Each year, during his festival, there was a procession and a reenactment of his story in the form of a mystery play.


Ptah was a creator god, said to have made the world from the thoughts in his heart and his words. He was depicted as a mummy with his hands protruding from the wrappings and holding a staff. His head was shaven and he wore a scull cap. Ptah was associated with craftsmen, and the High Priest of his temple at Memphis held the title Great Leader of Craftsmen.


Also known as Re
The supreme sun god was represented as a man with the head of a hawk, crowned with a solar disk and the sacred serpent. However, in the underworld through which he passes each night, he is depicted as ram-headed.
Each day Ra traveled across the sky in the form of the sun, riding in his solar boat, and each night he journeyed through the underworld where he defeated the allies of chaos. He was reborn each morning in the form of the sunrise. His influence on the other gods was so strong that he subsumed many of their identities. Thus Amun became Amun-Ra, Montu became Montu-Ra and Horus became Ra-Horakhty. Pharoah Akenaten’s god, the Aten, was another form of Ra, the solar disk.
The Egyptian kings claimed to be descended from Ra, and called themselves “The Son of Ra.” His cult was very powerful during the period of the Old Kingdom,when Sun Temples were built in his honor. His cult center was at Heliopolis, which nowadays is covered by the northern suburbs of Cairo.


Sobek was a crocodile god, depicted as a crocodile on an altar or as a man with a crocodile head wearing a headdress in the form of the sun disk with upright feathers and horns. Sobek’s main cult centers were at Medinet el Fayum and at the temple of Kom Ombo, which he shared with Horus and which still exists today. There was a pool at Kom Ombo containing sacred crocodiles and it is still possible to see original mummified crocodiles at the temple.


Also known as Set, Setekh, Suty and Sutekh
Seth was the son of Geb and Nut, and the evil brother of Osiris. He was the god of darkness, chaos, and confusion, and is represented as a man with an unknown animal head, often described as a Typhonian by the Greeks who associated him with the god Typhon. He is sometimes depicted as a hippopotamus, a pig, or a donkey. Seth murdered his brother and usurped the throne of Egypt and most of the other gods despised him.
Horus eventually defeated Seth, but it was thought that their battle was an eternal struggle between good and evil. Although Seth failed to keep the throne of Egypt he continued to be a companion of Ra. He sometimes accompanied Ra across the sky in his solar boat, causing storms and bad weather.
Seth was venerated by some, and his main cult center was at Naqada. Some kings would liken themselves to Seth in battle, but for the most part the people loathed him and his defeat by Horus was regularly celebrated.


Tefnut was the wife of Shu and mother of Nut and Geb. She and her husband were the first gods created by Atum. She was the goddess of moisture or damp, corrosive air, and was depicted either as a lioness or as a woman with a lioness’s head.


Thoth was the god of writing and knowledge, and was depicted as a man with the head of an ibis holding a scribe’s pen and palette, or as a baboon. The Greeks associated him with Hermes and ascribed to him the invention of all the sciences as well as the invention of writing. He is often portrayed writing or making calculations.
Thoth stands apart from most of the other gods. He was as old as the oldest gods and often acted as an intermediately between gods. He was associated with the moon, and is sometimes shown wearing a moon disk and crescent headdress. One of his most important roles was to record the deeds of the dead at the day of their judgment and is often seen doing this in the Book of the Dead. His main temple was at Hermopolis in Middle Egypt.



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The Dilmun Burial Mounds- Bahrain

Map showing the locations of the ancient burial mounds.

Burial mounds in A’ali

The Dilmun Burial Mounds are a number of necropolis areas on the main island of Bahrain dating back to the Dilmun, the Umm an-Nar Culture and later eras. Known since ancient times as an island with a very large number of burials, the (originally) quite a number of square kilometres of mounds were said to be one of the largest cemeteries in the ancient world. The cemeteries are concentrated in the north of the island, on the hard stony areas slightly above the arable farming soils – the south of the island is mainly sandy and desert-like. Recent studies have shown that the estimated/approximately 350,000 ancient grave mounds could have been solely produced by the local population over a number of thousands of years. The graves are not all of the same era, or of exactly the same styles, and can vary considerably in size in different areas of the moundfield. Research, under the auspices of the Bahrain National Museum (with the Bahrain Historical and Archaeological Society taking a keen interest), is still continuing, to establish a firm timeline for all these variations and continuations, as well as considering the implications for the society or societies that produced them.


Burial mounds in A’ali

A Danish group in the 1950s was excavating at Qal’at al-Bahrain, the capital city of the Bronze Age, when they opened some tumuli and discovered items dating to around 4100–3700 BP of the same culture. Many others began to excavate more of the graves, providing a view of the construction and content on these graves.
Each of the tumuli is composed of a central stone chamber that is enclosed by a low ring-wall and covered by earth and gravel. The size of the mounds varies, but the majority of them measure 15 by 30 ft (4.5 by 9 m) in diameter and are 3–6 ft (1–2 m) high. The smaller mounds usually contain only one chamber. The chambers are usually rectangular with one or two alcoves at the northeast end. Occasionally there are additional pairs of alcoves along the middle of the larger chambers.
Although the chambers usually contained one burial each, some contain several people and the secondary chambers often contain none. The deceased were generally laid with their heads in the alcove end of the chamber and lying on their right sides. The bodies were accompanied by few items. There were a few pieces of pottery and occasionally shell or stone stamp seals, baskets sealed with asphalt, ivory objects, stone jars, and copper weapons. The skeletons are representative of both sexes with a life expectancy of approximately 40 years. Babies were generally buried at and outside the ring-wall. The average number of children per family was 1.6 persons.
Attempts to protect the burial mounds have run into opposition by religious fundamentalists who consider them unIslamic and have called for them to be concreted over for housing. During a parliamentary debate on 17 July 2005, the leader of the salafist Asalah party, Sheikh Adel Mouwdah, said “Housing for the living is better than the graves for the dead. We must have pride in our Islamic roots and not some ancient civilization from another place and time, which has only given us a jar here and a bone there……………………………. Dilmun Burial Mounds.



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Untouched Heritage Sites of India &Unexplored Heritage Sites

Matter taken from Internet and being posted here for the interest of heritage enthusiasts…………………..

Beyond the pages of Indian history there are many untold stories that are no less remarkable than the ones jotted down by the historians. Walking through the past, through the ancient ruins, pilgrimage, rock arts and palaces, you can’t miss the nauseating effect they have on you. Some of these stories have been unearthed by the wary traveler, while others are bidding their time. Let us glance through some of the unexplored heritage tour in India and discover what story they have to tell.

Lost and Found… Petroglyphs from Iron Age, Domkhar, Ladakh
Domkhar, Ladakh

Recent studies by scholars have revealed some of the lost culture of our forefathers carved on the rocks that forms a vast museum, secluded and untouched up in the undulated highland of Domkhar, in Ladakh. These rock arts embody the lifestyle of the pre-historic era that dates back to the 2nd and 3rd millennium BC. These ancient art forms dating back to the Iron Age showcases a narrative form with scenes depicting hunting, wars and festivals. It also has images of various animal species as well as stylish human figures. The petroglyphs in Domkhar, surely a gateway to the lost era, were first noticed by The Moravian Missionary A.H. Francke in 1902. These rock arts thave striking resemblance to those unearthed in the Central Asian steppes. The Domkhar rock art sanctuary falls on the Khaltse-Batalik route, approximately 120 kilometers away from Leh, and houses some of the finest engravings on display. Other places that house such unexplored heritage in Ladakh are the sites of Takmachik, Shara and Ledo.

The Chhattishgarh You Didn’t Know…

The Laxman Temple- Sirpur

Hewed out from the state of Madhya Pradesh, the history of Chhattishgarh dates back to the early 10thcentury and has been dominated by several dynasties over the years, namely the Sarabhpurias, Panduavanshi, Somvanshi, Kalachuri and Nagvanshi. Engraved inscription further reveals that Sirpur, a town that is approximately 80 kilometers from Raipur, further dates back to the 5th century and hosts one of the finest brick temples, the Laxman Temple, with a stone doorframe and intrinsic cravings. Set in the midst of a lush green landscape, the Laxman Temple, which is still one of the unexplored heritage sites in India, was first discovered by Lord Cunningham in the year 1872. Further excavations in and around the site unfolded 12 Buddh Viharas, 1 Jain Vihara, monolithic statues of Buddha and Mahavira, 22 Shiv temples and 5 Vishnu temples. Some other attractions of Sirpur are the Gandheshwar Mahadev Temple, ruins of Swastik Vihar, ruins of ancient market and Surang Tila.

Ruins of Devrani and Jethani Temples, Bilaspur

Ruins of Jethani Temple

Once part of the Kalchuri dynasty of Ratanpur, Bilaspur today is the second largest city in Chhattishgarh that exhibits the ruins of a vast temple complex holding intrinsic sculptures conforming Shilpa Sastra and various mythological beliefs. Approximately 30 kilometers from Bilaspur, the ruins of Devrani and Jethani Temples in Talagaon are still the riddles of an iconic era. Portraying the artistic works from the Guptan style, the temple complex is said to date back to the 6th century AD. Nonetheless, several attempts have failed to establish similarities between the art style of the Devrani and Jethani Temples with that of Gandhara and Mathura. The closest match could be the ruins at Sisdevri of Baloda Bazaar Tahsil in Raipur District of Chhattisgarh. The detailed work carved on the walls still demonstrates images and sculptures of reptiles, mammals, humans, insects as well as daemons. Most of the temple complex is in ruins with fragmented sculptures lying scattered all around.

Rock Cuts and Brick works from the Tale of two religions from Unakoti Hills and Boxanagar respectively, Tripura

Rock Arts from Unakoti Hills

Far into the North East of India, steer to the Unakoti Hills, that lies approximately 180 kilometers away from Agartala. In the midst of vast natural diversity, there is an ancient pilgrimage site with huge rock-cut images and stone sculpture of Lord Shiva that dates back to the 7th – 9th centuries. Other than the rock-cut sculpture of Lord Shiva, it also hosts images and carves artifacts of various Hindu deities like Lord Ganesha and Goddess Durga.

Ancient Buddhist remains. Brick Works from Boxanagar

Approximately 200 kilometers south-west from Unakoti and 40 kilometers from Agartala, Boxanagar hosts the remains of an ancient brick structure delving into the footsteps of Buddhism in North-East India. The site exhibits a sprawling gallery, in the midst of a lush green landscape, of Buddhist stupa, chaityagriha, a monastery and other associated burnt brick structures. Moreover Boxanagar, hitherto an unknown era… has exhibited several remnants that leavens the museum of ancient Tripura.

The Deccan Edge, Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh


Asirgad Fort, Burhanpur

Named after Sheikh Burhan-ud-Din, Burhanpur is one of the historical sites that recently came into the eyes of travellers and is the grandeur of Madhya Pradesh Tourism. It hosts several monuments reflecting the Mughal Era. The Sarai and Ahukhana weretwo sites that were Royal leisure pavilions during the Mughal time and is believed that the body of Mumtaj Mahal was buried at this place for six months before she was shifted to Taj Mahal in Agra. Further Burhanpur also hosts a mosque, the Jama Masjid; Raja ki Chatri, which was built by Emperor Aurangazed in the memory of Raja Jai Singh; Dargah-E- Hakimi that is an Islamic pilgrimage site; Asirgad Fort that secludes a temple dedicated to Hindu Goddess Asha-devi; Shahi Qila and a Gurudwara.

Relics from the Mughal Era that is close to New Delhi, Farrukhnagar, in the border of Gurgaon and Jhajjar districts

Ruins of Sheesh Mahal, Farrukhnagar Fort

Farrukhnagar is a medieval gallery exhibiting the imperial era of the Mughals. The historical town was founded by Faujdar Khan, the first Nawab of Farrukhnagar and a governor of Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar in 1732. The town exhibits several monuments like Sheesh Mahal, Baoli and Jama Masjid that was built by Faujdar Khan. The town also hosts many memorials. The architectural works display an unique combination of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture.

Bengal over Clay… Bishnupur, Joypur, Kotulpur and Gokulnagar

Rasmancha Temple, Bishnupur

Approximately 140 kilometers away from the cultural capital of India, Kolkata, Bishnupur is a popular weekend destination for the Bongs, and is still a less explored part for global travellers. Bishnupur hosts some of the finest examples of terracotta temples built during the reign of Malla Rulers of Bengal,dating back to the mid 7th century. Most of the terracotta works flourished in the late 17th century and today Bishnupur is dotted with 21 terracotta temples that mark an essential part of unexplored heritage tour in India. These temples, depicting various themes from ancient epics, are dedicated to various Hindu deities and one can enjoy the impressive art works hanging on the walls of Rasmancha Temple, Jor-Bangla Temple, Pancha Ratna Temple.


Madanmohan Temple, Lalji Temple and Radha Madhava Temple

Giri Gobardhan Mandir and Sridhar Temple- Kotulpur

Gokulnagar’s Gokulchand Temple

En route the unique terracotta temple works of Depara and Dattapara at Joypur, the heritage of Bengal drives further to the terracotta works of Giri Gobardhan Mandir and Sridhar Temple, which is located in Kotulpur. Further heading… the five-pinnacled Gokulchand Temple at Gokulnagar is yet another impressive terracotta work.

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Shah Alam’s Tomb and Bridge over Sahibi River-Wazirabad Delhi


Shah Alam was a famous saint who rose to prominence during the rule of Feroze Shah Tughlaq in 14th century. History says Shah Alam’s Tomb was erected by Feroze Shah Tughlaq himself after Shah Alam’s death.


This tomb is located at the crossing of Outer Ring Road and Loni Road in the locale of Wazirabad near the banks of Yamuna River. Adjoining the tomb of Shah Alam, there is a mosque with three domes.

Architecture of Shah Alam’s Tomb:

Shah Alam’s Tomb in Delhi stands as a symbol of homage to the famous saint of 14th century. The attraction of Shah Alam’s Tomb is the architectural splendor and intricate designs of the tomb.
• Besides the tomb of Shah Alam, there exists a mosque with three domes that rest on 12 pillars.


• There is a chamber for prayer which is sliced by five arches and is two-bay deep.
• A tiny chamber in the mosque, which was built for the use by women. (Previously I was informed by the priest there that the chamber was made by the Imam). The delicate and elaborate screens of the chamber are testimony to the structural perfection of the tomb and architectural beauty of the site.


• The square-shaped tomb of the saint was built in the courtyard of the mosque
• There is also a bridge with nine arches that was built over a nullah. The oldest bridge of Delhi, it was built of rubble so that it could resist Yamuna River’s water from entering the drain.The bridge Feroz Shah Tughlaq (1309-1388) built on the Yamuna at Wazirabad has been in use for over six centuries. The Yamuna no longer flows below it. Instead, filth and overgrown shrubs lie below. But the bridge still looks sturdy. With its arches, colonnades and screened windows, the bridge was an engineering marvel when it was built in the 14th century. With the Delhi Government building an ambitious overpass at Wazirabad—and that too a bit too close to the heritage structure—it’s not only the bridge but also the adjoining tomb of Sufi saint Shah Alam, a medieval mosque and a gallery for women devotees that are under threat.

images (1) images (2)

I had several hand clicked photos Shah Alam’s Tomb, intricately carved stone lattices of Women’s chamber in mosque and the bridge but lost them during formatting my computer. Hence all the photos are from Internet.


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Afsarwala (?) Mosque and Tomb Complex

Afsarwala Mosque & Tomb Complex.

Afsarwala Mosque and Tomb Complex
1803 Painting

IMG_20170827_125836 (2)

Mosque of Afsarwala


Tomb of Afsarwala


The mosque sits on a raised platform, to the southwest of Humayun’s Tomb. The tomb adjacent to the mosque is better preserved.
Though the identity of the person buried in the tomb is not known, it is popularly believed that he was some noble or military officer during the time of Mughal emperor Akbar.
But who knows it may be a name given in a later period and not the original name.
The interior of both mosque & tomb were once beautifully decorated, with the carved medallions still visible. However most of the decorations are now lost with time & even the plaster is now flaking away from the walls & roof.

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A reminder of the past

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A well decorated grave in the tomb of Afsarwala

The tomb is cruciform in plan and contains 6 graves, one of them inscribed with verses from the Koran & the number 974, which probably refers to the date in the Hijra era corresponding to AD 1566-67. Out of the 6 graves in the tomb- 1is principal the principal grave and 5 others. [1 is a females grave]).
The Afsarwala Tomb has a grave with the date 974 marked on it, that corresponds to 1566-67. (Akbars Period – 1542, to1605). The tomb and mosque were built sometime before 1566, based on the date is inscribed on one of the graves inside.
The building is of local quartzite with red sandstones.. The domes are topped by inverted-lotus filials. At one time perhaps their domes were covered with plaster & tiles, but now they have lost all artwork,
S.A.A.Naqvi’s writing in 1947 mentions unidentified graves in the courtyard of the mosque, but these must have been done away with and are no longer to be seen.

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A solitary grave is a grim reminder of unidentified graves in the courtyard of the mosque


Book: Delhi Travel Guide
By Bluworlds, Joydip Das
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Delhi Information (Explore Indian Capitol)
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Afsarwala Tomb and Mosque-India Picks
File: Afsarwala Tomb and mosque, near Humayun’s tomb. 1803 Painting.

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Madhi Masjid and Baagh e Naazir-Delhi

I chanced upon Madhi Mansjid whils I was looking for Baagh e Naazir.

Little did I know that the area has now been taken over by Ashoka Mission, a Buddhist organization.

Baagh e Naazir (“Garden of Nazir”) was built by the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah Rangila’s Khwaja Sara (chief eunuch) Nazir in 1748 (1161 A.H.).

It is located in Mehrauli, near Jamali Kamali and Mehrauli Archaeological Park.
This garden contained a number of pavilions, the most notable among which was made of red sandstone. Others were made of stone and plaster. The garden was surrounded by a stone wall, large sections of which still exist.

800px-Buddhist_shrine_that_used_be_a_dalan(_pavilion)_,_Baagh_e_Naazir,_Mehrauli,_New_DelhiBuddhist shrine that used to be a dalan( pavilion), Baagh e Naazir, Mehrauli, New Delhi

Detailed view of the sandstone facade,Baagh e Naazir, Mehrauli, New Delhi67px-Late_mughal_sandstone_facade_at_the_back_of_the_buddhist_shrine,Baagh_e_Naazir,_Mehrauli,_New_DelhiLate mughal sandstone facade at the back of the buddhist shrine,Baagh e Naazir, Mehrauli, New Delhi

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s seminal work on the monuments of Delhi, Aasar us Sanadeed , contains a description and a sketch of the monument as it appeared in 1854.


Sketch of Baagh e Naazir. sketched by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in 1854 for Aasar us Sanadeed

Inscription on the gateway of Bagh e Naazir, as recorded in Aasar us Sanadeed

Madhi Masjid (The Forgotten)

Massive gateway to the Madhi Masjid (Old Photo)

Madhi Masjid
Its prayer hall combines the features of an open wall-mosque and a covered mosque. It is profusely ornamented with colored tiles. Based on the massive proportions of its square gateway like the gateway of Bara Gumbad, this mosque can be assigned to Lodi or early Mughal period.

Looking for BaghiNazir I stopped on the road at a signboard that reads “Jain Mandir Dadabadi”.

I thought of going to Jain Mandir, hence took a left turn, and suddenly chanced to see Fort-like boundary walls and an ancient well!

The Builder or period when Madhi Masjid was built is unknown, but the architecture is similar to the Lodi Garden tombs hence presumably it may belong to the same period- late Lodi or early Mughal.

The mosque is an unusual combination of a covered mosque and a wall mosque. It retains some remnants of colorful tiles used for decoration. Its Central Mihrab, faces west in the direction of Medina.

Its small serrated star-shaped depressions, slender elegant minarets, exquisite plasterwork medallions inscribed with Quranic calligraphy and geometric patterns, finely-described “kangura” patterns (battlement-like leaf motif ornamentation) and a line of slightly slanting eaves (“chajja”) supported upon seemingly heavy stone brackets. Each rectangular chamber is pierced by three arched entrances and their roofs, though externally perfectly flat, are marked corresponding each squat entrance by three concave domes along their interiors which are supported on rudimentarily simplistic honeycomb brackets. Towards the rear, the corners are fortified with immensely thick conical towers. Exquisite plasterwork medallions inscribed with calligraphy, finely-described “kangura” patterns and overhanging windows (“jharokha”) surmounted by melon-like fluted domes.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has done a remarkably commendable job in conserving the monument, restoring its numerous ornamental features and maintaining the tiny grass-covered space abutting its gateway.

Madhi Masjid is one of Delhi’s exquisitely carved medieval monuments but was forgotten amidst wilderness with supreme cultural indifference.


Translation of Aasar Us Sanaadeed, 2nd edition. By Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, published by Delhi Urdu Academy, Delhi.


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Tales of Lost Pride

Article taken in toto from Internet

Living a `lost’ legacy

Of the many descendants of the Moghuls living in Hyderabad are Begum Laila Umhani and her sister Husn Jahanara Begum and their families. Shorn of any royal or political patronage, the sons of Laila Umhani have adapted themselves to survive in today’s world.

The reclusive Begum Laila Umhani

THE KUTCHA road in the suburb of Asman gadh of Hyderabad goes up like a memory lane to the house of the descendants of the Moghuls. These surroundings are hardly the kind their ancestors would have dreamt of for their scions. The fourth and fifth generation of the dynasty, which spanned more than 300 years of Indian history, lives today in conditions hardly befitting their grand lineage. Bereft of her royal legacy, Begum Laila Umhani, the great, great granddaughter of the last Moghul emperor of the country, Bahadur Shah Zafar and his wife Begum Ashraf Mahal, leads a quiet unpretentious life with her two sons and their families.

The unobtrusive, cloistered world of Begum Laila, an octogenarian, was thrown open with the making of a documentary The Living Moghuls produced by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust and financed by Prasar Bharti and directed by Arijeet Gupta. Screened on the national network on television and at special screenings in New Delhi, this documentary unravels the story of their survival down the decades.

As one enters the home of Ziauddin Tucy, the eldest son of the Begum (his brother Masihuddin Tucy is also present) one is struck by the stark middle-class ambience. Except for a few photographic portraits of some of the erstwhile Moghul emperors, the house looks like any ordinary home shorn of any grandeur or ostentation that their forefathers lived in. The documentary traces the history of this family of Bahadur Shah Zafar after his arrest and exile to Rangoon during the Revolt of 1857 till 2002. It records the statement of Ziauddin on how one of the sons of Bahadur Shah Mirza Quwaish fled from India to Kathmandu, Udaipur before landing in Aurangabad. His son Mirza Abdullah came to Hyderabad around 1895 in search of shelter. Abdullah’s son Mirza Pyare (the father of Begum Laila Umhani and her sister, another octogenarian) married one of the close granddaughters of Khan Bahadur Tipu Khan, a close associate of the Nizam.
History is rather silent on the period after the Revolt. But memory is a gift mankind possesses by which many things are passed on to posterity.

Memory Lane:

The Begum leads a quiet, unpretentious life with her two sons and their families.
Begum Laila Umhani recounts her younger days when her father spoke glowingly about the magnificent royal court and the times of crisis – tales that he had heard from his father and grandfather to his friends. “I have very faint memories of my grandmother but I used to find my father’s descriptions interesting,” she says with a smiling face. And through this she imbibed details of her royal genealogy.

Even now when she does remember snatches of incidents, she acquaints the grandchildren of their family tree.

What is surprising is the family’s anonymity. The nonchalant approach of other people is intriguing. Very few know of their presence and their ancestry. “While some who know respect us, there are others who even doubt our lineage. Who are we today? What is left of the past? There is nobody to listen to our fariyad. So it is better to remain anonymous. This is life – full of ups and downs,” says a stoic Begum. “We are leading this life as we have unfortunately, not reaped any benefits of any sort. With great persuasion, my mother consented to speak to Arijeet Gupta who made many trips to Hyderabad. The documentary was made and we are still what we are. Nobody from the government (Central or State) has come forward to take notice of us or help us,” rules Ziauddin Tucy.
The family has seen rough times indeed – during the Nizam’s rule, police action and post-independence.

Their late father’s property (quite a few hundred acres) was confiscated under the Jagirdari Act and Inam Abolition Act. “The cases are pending in the Revenue courts,” inform the brothers. Their father “hailed from the family of Nizam-ul-Mulk Tucy who was prime minister to the kingdom of Baghdad,” they add.

Such circumstances forced the sons (the Begum has four sons, one died some years ago and three daughters) to look for avenues for employment.

After all one cannot live merely under a lost glory. Ziauddin joined government service, but retains the interest in poetry like Bahadur Shah Zafar himself. Masihuddin, on his return from the Middle East, took up a job as a food consultant with the ITC Welcome Group of Hotels. Masihuddin is trying to revive and popularise the lashkari cuisine of the Moghuls. The third brother is in the Middle East. The brothers have brought up their cause for upliftment but so far their pleas have gone unheard. “For the last forty years we have made representations for jobs and shelter but nothing has happened,” says a bitter Ziauddin. It is surprising to know that both live in rented houses quite close to each other and are yet to possess a house of their own. “We want justice to be done so that our children’s welfare would be ensured,” chips in Masihuddin.

What about the other members of the family? The family has established the Moghul Family Society (a Trust) for the welfare of its members and has publicised it in the media. When asked about the presence of another contender, Pakeeza Begum, who also belongs to the fourth generation of Bahadur Shah, the brothers reply “despite the media coverage, nobody has come forward so far. When we were in Delhi for the screening of the documentary (a special screening was arranged at the Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi on August 10 which was attended by diplomats, historians and many cultural personalities) we heard about this. We will welcome any such member to the Trust. Since the family of Bahadur Shah (after his exile to Rangoon) got scattered (as some of the sons fled) it is difficult to keep track of the family. We know one line is in Burma (now Myanmar) as one of Bahadur Shah’s sons married a Burmese and settled down there and another one at Kolkata. Our aunt (mother’s sister Husn Jahanara Begum – named after emperor Jahangir’s daughter) is feeble and bedridden while our maternal uncle is no more.

While the governments in the country have not helped the family, the brothers were invited to Uzbekistan to attend the 510th birth anniversary of Babur.
Begum Laila reminds everyone in the family about the heritage and keeps the genealogical tree alive besides the cuisine of the emperors. “She is my professor in cuisine matters,” says Masihuddin, who is engaged in research on lashkari cuisine.

She has numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren who still do not know of their glorious past. Perhaps even if they know, their footprints will be lost in the sands of time like those of the rest if nothing is done. They will go into the annals of history as unsung members of a great dynasty.

But for the time being, every minute of life is being lived against historical and biological clocks which tick away.

The last lines of the documentary end aptly with the lines from the Baburnama which concludes “Like us many have spoken over `history’ but they were gone in the twinkling of an eye. We conquered the world with bravery and might, but we did not take it with us to the grave.”

The last Mughal

Pakeezah Begum is the last direct descendant of the Mughal emperors, the great-great granddaughter of Bahadur Shah Zafar.

Pakeezah Begum‘s great grandfather was Mirza Fakhru,
the last official claimant to the Mughal throne.

Lagta nahin hai dil meraa ujde dayaar mein
(My heart has no repose in this despoiled land)
Kis ki bani hai a’alam-e-napaayedaar mein
(Who has ever felt fulfilled in this futile world)

When Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor to have ruled India, wrote these lines, he would have scarce believed that one day, they would best describe the situation his last surviving relative would face. Zafar died in exile in Burma’s Rangoon, present day Yangon, sent there by the British to spend his last days in solitude. It was a punishment inflicted on the ageing king for having challenged the authority of the colonial masters during the 1857 war of independence, also termed as the sepoy mutiny. Pakeezah Begum, who describes herself as the last surviving direct descendant of the great Mughals, who once ruled this subcontinent for centuries, is also in exile, in a sense.

A few years ago, Pakeezah Begum told William Dalrymple, India based British author that Delhi was built by her ancestors, a claim with certain historical merit. Dalrymple put that in his book, City of Djinns. When reminded of her pronouncement, she chuckles. “Well, of course, not just Delhi but all of India belongs to the Mughals,” she says, sitting in her Noida home. It has been three to four years since she has shifted here, to live with the family of one of her relatives. “I came here after my husband expired. My in-laws wanted a division of the house we shared in Neeti Bagh. I sold off my share and shifted here,” she says. Her husband, Danial Latifi, was a famous jurist who represented Shah Bano in the case regarding alimony post-divorce for Muslim women in the late 1980s. They married late. “My mother was paralysed and I had to tend to her. That is why my marriage was delayed and I could not have any children,” she adds.  

One of the very first things she says is that she does not like living in Noida, which is in Uttar Pradesh, just across the Delhi-UP border. “I feel unhappy that I left Delhi. I don’t like the aab-o-hawa (environment) here. My friends are there. So are the clubs I am a member of, like the Gymkhana club, and the India International Centre. I miss the company I kept. It is disgusting.”

While there are several claimants to the Mughal ancestry, Pakeezah Begum asserts that she is the last surviving direct descendant of the last emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar. “I am the great-great granddaughter of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the great granddaughter of the last Wali Ahd (successor) to the throne and the granddaughter of his only surviving son,” she explains, insisting that this complicated bit of lineage is grasped properly by this correspondent.

Pakeezah Begum told William Dalrymple that Delhi was built by her ancestors. Dalrymple put this in his book, City of Djinns.

According to historical records, Mirza Fakhru, alias Mirza Fateh-ul-Mulk Wali Ahd Bahadur, was the last official claimant to the Mughal throne. However, he was killed along with almost everyone of the royal family by the British, post the 1857 war. His son, Mirza Farkhunda Jamal, was saved by his wet nurse, who stealthily smuggled him out of the capital and kept him away for five years before returning after general amnesty was assured by the British, narrates Pakeezah Begum. “She kept his identity concealed during those years to protect him,” she says.

Bahadur Shah Zafar

Mirza Fakhru was married to the niece of Mirza Ilahi Bux. At the latter’s name, the Begum’s eyes shine with unconcealed contempt. “He was a traitor. He was in cahoots with the British and got everyone from the royal family killed,” she says. However, Ilahi Bux saved his niece from being killed and kept her with him following the mutiny. It was to this house that Mirza Jamal was brought back to and where he grew up. Later on, he married one of Bux’s daughters. 

Pakeezah Begum spent her childhood in Old Delhi, like everyone else in her family. Her father, Mirza Jamal’s son, died when she was still a child. “I can recognise him only through his remaining photographs,” she says.

Her father was appointed as the panch of the area near Jama Masjid, Daryagunj and Kucha Chelan by the British. “He considered the populace of Delhi as his subjects in his mind,” says the Begum. “People would come to him and tell him that they had a marriage at their home and needed to feed a few hundred people. He was a very good hunter, like the others men in the house. He would go hunting and shoot down deer which he would later give away to the needy,” she says. During monsoons, the family would go to Qutub Sahib, near Qutb Minar, rent a house and have night-long revelries. “They really used to live it up,” adds the Begum.

The British granted her father a pension, which was inherited by her mother after the former passed away. However, the pension stopped with her demise.

Pakeezah Begum was sent to the Aligarh Muslim University for her studies as the situation after Independence was still not considered safe in Delhi. After completing her studies, she came back, at the insistence of her mother. She got a job at the Lady Shri Ram College, but since she was not fond of teaching, she quit and took up a librarian’s job at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, under the Ministry of External Affairs. Later, she served on the Africa desk at the ministry and became the director of Foreign Cultural Centres in the capital.

She is not the only living descendant of the Mughals. There are others, in Hyderabad and Kolkata, who claim the legacy. However, the Begum reiterates that unlike them, she is descended directly from the emperor and this gives her the “superiority” over their claims.
The claim of her family was recognised by the Indian government when her mother was invited to a function to commemorate the failed mutiny or the war for independence, after India won its freedom. “They carried my mother on a takht (throne) to the venue. Panditji (Nehru) asked her if she had any problems. But we never asked the government for anything,” she says.

Pakeezah Begum is now in her 70s. She is a heart patient and finds it difficult to move around without aid. Her trips to Old Delhi have completely stopped. “No one lives in our old house now,” she laments. She visits Delhi sometimes for her health check-ups, a city she now finds hard to identify with. “It is completely changed from our times. It is so congested, with flats coming on top of each-other,” she rues. All one hopes is that at the end of her days, she would not be reminded of another couplet written by her ancestor, Bahadur Shah Zafar.

Kitnaa hai badnaseeb zafar dafan ke liye
(How unfortunate is Zafar, that for his burial)
Do gaz zameen bhi na mili ku’h-e-yaar mein
(Not even two yards of land were to be had, in the land of his beloved.)


Article taken in toto from Internet

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8 Indian Royal Families Once Wealthy but Struggling To Survive Today

(Compiled from Internet)

The wealth of royal families (500+ of them) in India has been in decline for all, for a long time. Their flamboyant lifestyles have been whittling away dramatically after independence from Britain in 1947. The various royals, maharajas and maharanis, nawabs, begums, nizams , princes and princesses, have all seen their powers stripped away, their land seized and some even remain uncompensated, since the abolition of the privy purse .
While some of them have managed to become powerful businessmen and politicians, others are struggling to stay afloat, having sold off piles of their gems/jewelry; entire fleets, etc., living a life of indebtedness.
Here are some of their stories.

1. Osman Ali Khan, The Last Nizam of Hyderabad-Once the richest man in the world, now his descendants possess less than a fraction of his wealth.

By the early 20 th century, the Nizam’s wealth accumulated to approximately £100 million in gold and silver bullion, and £400 million in jewelry alone, making him the richest man in the world. He used a 185-carat diamond worth $200 million for a paperweight and apparently, had enough pearls to fill up Piccadilly Circus.
He had a prodigious appetite for sex and had sired children from 86 mistresses in his harem and had more than 100 illegitimate children. Because of this, by the 1990s, the claimants to his wealth had gone up to 400 legal heirs.
Among the most unfortunate of the descendants is one Mukarram Jah, who lives as a frail old diabetic in a small apartment in Istanbul, amidst memories of untold wealth, expensive ex-wives and 14,718 courtiers who bled his inheritance dry.

2. Raja Brajraj Kshatriya Birbar Chamupati Singh, Mahapatra of Tigiria
Forced to sell his palace and stripped of royal privileges, he lives at the mercy of the village folk now.
He is the last surviving former ruler in Odisha, and was once the life of India’sroyal party circuit. He had a fleet of 25 luxury cars and lived in palace with 30 servants. He was known for his prowess as a shikari , who had shot 13 tigers and 28 leopards.
However, his fortunes vanished after Indian Independence, when he lost his state’s tax revenues and was given a privy purse of £130 pounds a year instead. He was forced to sell his palace in 1960 for £900 and later separated from his wife. In 1975, the Government withdrew the last remaining royal privileges and he lost his annual income.
Today he lives at the mercy of the villagers who bring him rice and lentils for lunch, in a mud hut of dilapidated condition, covered in cobwebs.
Despite his spectacular fall from grandeur, he remained happy, he told the Telegraph .
“Then I was the king. Now I’m a pauper. But I have no regrets whatsoever.”

3. Sultana Begum, wife of the great grandson of Bahadur Shah Zafar

After her husband’s demise, her life has been reduced to a measly pension from which she has to support her 6 children.
She had married the great-grandson of Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Since her husband Prince Mirza Bedar Bukht died in 1980, Sultana has descended into a life of poverty. The heiress is forced to live in a tiny two-room hut in a slum area of Kolkata. She shares a kitchen with her neighbours and washes in the street using water from public taps.
Despite evidence that she is related to the 19th century royal family, Sultana goes about her daily life on a basic pension of around 6000 INR per month, within which she has to cover herself and her six children, five daughters and one son.

4. The Scindias of Gwalior
A family who almost went into ruination because they were too careful with their treasury.

The Tomars built the magnificent Fort of Gwalior, the Mughals turned it into an infamous prison, the 1857 rebels used it as a strategic outpost and eventually it became a stronghold of the Scindias.
The Gwalior fort was used by the Scindias to as an armoury as well as a treasury.The Scindias had huge collection of wealth known as the ‘Gangajali’ and the same was kept in it. It was said that this wealth was accumulated so that it could be used during emergencies such as wars and famines.
Maharaja Jayajirao Scindia who was responsible for this treasury, died soon after and was unable to pass on the secret code required to access it to his son Madhav Rao, as he was just a child. The family then went into a state of financial ruin for many, many years.
For years, the wealth remained lost and life was a struggle. Fortunately though, eventually Madhav managed to find the chamber and their financial issues were largely resolved.
When he found the treasure, he decided to liquidate the assets and invested it in many industries and companies, including Tata.

5. Ziauddin Tucy, descendant of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor
An apparent descendant of the wealthy Mughal dynasty, who now lives on a pension.
Ziauddin Tucy is the sixth generation descendant of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and today struggles to make ends meet. Living in a rented house, he still believes that the government will release properties of the erstwhile Mughals to the legal heirs.
He also demands restoration of a Rs. 100 scholarship for Mughal descendants, that was discontinued by the government a while back. He wants that the amount be raised to Rs 8,000. and that the government should grant the economically depressed Mughal descendants the money for their upliftment.
Tucy has two unemployed sons and is currently living on pension.
6. Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma , the former King of Tranvancore

The family that gave away all their fortune to God.
By 1750 Travancore had become rich and big. So the then king, made a unique spiritual and historical contribution. He decided to surrender all his riches to the temple – Padmanabhaswamy who is also their family deity.
Then in 1839, almost two decades before the mutiny, they rose against the British again, but the subsequent punishment was severe. The royals of Travencore were rid of their army of 50,000 and ordered to pay reparations for upkeep of British regiments.
Later, in 2011, on the discovery of the immense wealth in the vaults of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, the government ordered state protection to it. However, the King had made a statement saying that the treasure belonged to neither him or the government, but to God.
7. Descendants of Tipu Sultan


One of the greatest warriors India has produced, whose descendants are now pulling rickshaws for a living.
Revered as the “Tiger of Mysore”, Tipu Sultan achieved fame through his military genius and statesmanship and died fighting the British at Seringapatnam in May 1799. His lineage now is in danger of extinction. Tipu Sultan’s descendants have been reduced to abject penury and been forced to take up menial jobs to survive. This is despite the fact that they continue to be heirs to one of the country’s biggest and richest Muslim trusts, the Prince Ghulam Mohammed Trust.
Seven out of his 12 sons have no surviving male heir. Of the other 5, the descendants of only 2, Mooniruddin and Ghulam Mohammed, are traceable. Their descendants earn their livelihood as small-time businessmen, the survivors of Ghulam Mohammed’s lineage live in squalid poverty in a dilapidated haveli.

8. Princess Sakina Mahal of Awadh


Once ruling over a massive stretch of land, this family who lives in a notorious Mahal, tucked away in a forest of Delhi.
Princess Sakina Mahal, whose family were the rulers of the Kingdom of Oudh, were once ruling over a mammoth swath of central India. Currently, the princess Sakina and one prince Riaz, who would both be middle-aged by now, live in Malcha Mahal, a structure that was once a Tughlaq era hunting lodge, and has now disintegrated into a dilapidated building to say the least.
After a 9 year long legal battle with the government, they were finally allotted the premises in addition to a sum of Rs 500 at the end of every month.
These are just a few stories among many, of India’s dying royalty.

(Compiled from Internet)

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Jehangir-The Curious Emperor (From Jahangir-Nama)



Jehangir can be called the first scientist emperor (and only) of India. He had child like enthusiasm to discover something new and keenly observed nature and animals.

Jehangir’s temperament for discovering new things and new facts was unmatched.

He was not only interested in experiments but also a naturalist.

Here are some of his curious experiments

1) Jehangir correctly wrote in his autobiography that an Elephant gestation period is 18 months by observing his pet elephants and it was confirmed later in 20th century.

2) Once a deer was thrown into Jehangir’s tiger cage for meal and they became friends. The deer would sleep keeping its head on tigers chest and the tiger licked it like a parent and showered attention. This matter was informed to the emperor who was awe struck and decided to conduct an experiment on animal psychology.

Then he got an idea and removed that deer from cage and brought a similar deer(size, age) and put it in cage. The tiger immediately attacked and killed it and ate it.

Then a sheep was put inside and it met the same fate.

When the other deer was then put in back with the tiger, the tiger treated it with the usual love and affection liking its face and allowing it to sleep by placing its head on his chest.

3) Jehangir even cross bred animals for eg: Markhur goats with Barbary goats, lion with a tiger etc.

4) He like dissecting animals and checking what is inside them. His dissection experiments included reptiles, crocodiles, birds, lions, tigers etc. Once he had a lion dissected to check from where it derived its strength and courage and concluded that it was because of its gall bladder enclosed in its liver and another time because of its paws etc

5) Once a person got bitumen from Persia because it was reputed to mend broken bones. Jahangir conducted experiments and concluded the claim was false.

6) He conducted experiments on soil from various locations and concluded that some places like Gujarat had better fertile lands than places like Agra.

7) Once a man claimed that laughter arises because people eat saffron and if you eat in large quantities it leads to death. So he got a hardened criminal to eat half a kilo saffron in front of him and that person neither laughed nor died.

8) Once a yogi came and claimed that he can eat any quantity of arrack but be in his senses. So Jehangir made him drink arrack and after a few pints he passed out.

9) For 5 years Jehangir kept two saras cranes with him and observed them and recorded all their behavior, mating, kids etc in accurate detail that would make any biologist proud.

10) Once a person claimed and cheated people that he can give long life. So Jehangir told him he will tie his hands and legs and push him in Yamuna river from top of fort. If he comes out alive he will give him all his wealth and even his crown. The man got scared and accepted he had lied.

11) A person once told him that lions/tigers cannot change their true nature and will kill any human if give opportunity. So he brought a few of his pet lions/tigers and made them be in his room for weeks and they never tried to kill him. He had such good camaraderie with animals(or knew psychology of animals very well) that sometimes in forest wild deer etc would come and eat out of his hand.

12) He conducted many more experiments that have been recorded in Mughal chronicles and even Jehangir-nama. He was a person who could not be easily convinced to do anything because he demanded proof for everything instead of believing.

13) He would often challenge/question claims of holy man and it would be tough for them to prove him their claims about the things written in scriptures. Hence they labelled him as an atheist. Like Jehangir told the Jesuits that he will convert to Christianity if they threw the cross in fire and it does not burn as they claimed.

14) He was a naturalist who observed nature, animals etc .and gave details of flora and fauna of that time.

15. He was a contradictory person. He loved his pet animals very much and would get upset and mourn for days if he lost them and also build them tombs. His pet lions and tigers he fed with his own hands sometimes. But also he was a prolific hunter.

(Source: Compiled from Jahangir-Nama)

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