Gul-Ara-Shah Jahan? Does not sound right. But it is true.
Mumtaj Begum was not the only beloved of Emperor Shah Jahan. When Shahzada Khurram aka Shah Jahan was the governor of Burhanpur area at the time of his Father Emperor Jahangir. He used to frequent the place. There he fell in love with a danseuse and singer called Gul-Ara.
The lady with her melodious voice and ethereal beauty soon captivated young Shahzada Khurram’s heart to the extent that he married her and honoured her with the title ‘Gul-Ara’.
He had two palaces made in Karara village near ‘Utavali’ river and named the village ‘Gul-Ara Mahal’. The Place is about 21 Km from Burhanpur.
Shah Jahan not only loved the Mistress of the place but the place from the beginning. So to make this location attractive, he planted a large beautiful garden.
He used to spend many moonlit nights absorbed in the beauty of the waterfall and cool breeze and exquisite singing of Gul-Ara.
This place was so enchanting that the writer of ‘Badshahnama’ Abdul Hameed Lahori had named it as “Tazgi–e–Hayat”. In ‘Shahnama’ the place has been compared to Kashmir. Shah Jahan’s favourite Poet- the doyen of Persian Poetry-Muheeb Ali Singhi used to call it as Paradise.
Mahal Gulara-800 years old mud dam on River badi Utawali
Emperor Shah Jahan Constructed the pool & rest houses on both the sides.
Burhanpur was also known for its Sufi saints, Hazrat Khwaza Mohammed Hashim Kashmi RA-a high ranking Sufi saint and a name in Persian Poetry had described the beauty of the place in a Persian poem which translates to: ”Oh, Waterfall, what makes you so sad that like me, all through the night you are banging your head on the stones and crying”?.
A place where beautiful Gul-Ara roamed has, facing each other towards East and west, the two identical palaces made with brick, limestone and stone. There are two beautiful big rooms in the palaces. There is a staircase for the roof.
The roof top presents a beautiful view of the water fall and greenery around. The waterfall is a delight to watch with the river falling 30 feet below and creating a mist of spray of water.
One can imagine Shah Jahan and Gul-Ara gazing the water fall and thereafter going from one palace to other by climbing beautiful stairs with octagonal pavilions, each presenting an enchanting view of the waterfall and its murmuring sound, sometimes loud and at times mild.
This was the story of Gul-Ara and Shah Jahan, wrapped in love, music, natural beauty, moonlit nights.
What became of Gulara is smothered behind the veils of stories of Mumtaj Begum and Shah Jahan, her death in the same Burhanpur, initial burial in Ahu Khana and thereafter the Taj Mahal.