Bilqis Begum was the queen of ill-fated Prince Shah Shuja, born on 23 June 1616, in Ajmer, was the second son of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and empress Mumtaz Mahal.
Shah Shuja was also among the Sons of Shah Jahan, vying for the throne as soon as Shah Jahan fell sick. It is history, how Aurangzeb was victorious, and Shah Shuja had to take flight, and later after betrayal of the Arakan King he either died fighting in Arakan, or was shipped to Mecca. There are a thousand different tales about Shuja’s fate are there, yet and nothing could be conclusive.
Portrait of Shah Shuja
Burhanpur has been witness to years of Mughal rule, its grandeur, its deaths and sorrows. After the decline of Faruqi rule, the Mughal era took over, resulting in Prince and Princesses frequenting the place. Shah Shuja was the ‘Subedar’ of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and was visiting Burhanpur with his favourite queen Bilqis Begum.
Bilquis Begum gave birth to a Daughter-a princess, but could not survive child birth and even after immense therapy she died in 1042 H. 1632 AD.
Emperor Shah Jahan was visiting Kashmir then. Upon hearing of the tragedy he rushed to Buranpur. He was aware that Shah Shuja loved Bilqis Begum immensely and feared that her death may cause Shah Shuja to harm himself.
Shah Jahan, condoled Shah Shuja and held the little princes in his arms, they say that there were tears in Shah Jahan’s eyes, when he beheld the little baby. He named her “Dil Pajir” (close to heart).
Begum Shah Shuja-Bilqis Begum was interred with state honours, and in time a gorgeous Maqbara was built over her grave.
Of all the Mughal monuments built in Burhanpur, this Maqbara is unique in terms of its construction style. The Maqbara is built 4 ft. above the ground and designed to sit on a platform cut like a rose petal.
Maqbara-Begum Shah Shuja
The tomb belongs to Begum Shuja. It stands on a raised fluted circular plinth. It is built of stone and plastered with shell mortar and decorated with paintings. The tomb is crowned with a fluted dome. (C.16th CAD).
The Maqbara is built to resemble a Melon, has intricate carving done on it with adequate facility of air and sunshine through ventilators.
In the centre of the Maqbara lies the Mazaar of Begum Shuja, decorated with beautiful carving of plants and creepers. Inside the Maqbara, colourful designs have been made. The paint looks fresh even today. The remarkable feature is that no design has been repeated.
The tomb is currently under the supervision of the Department of Archaeology.
Source: Burhanpur Live-Aitihasic Dharohar
Images: India Mart