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.

IMG_20170827_125550 (1)

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
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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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‘Nai-ka-Maqbara’ (in the fore ground)
Internet Photo

Barber’s Tomb or ‘Nai-ka-Maqbara’ as it is locally refered, is located in Humayun’s Tomb complex.

It stands on a platform on the south-east side of Humayun’s Tomb, which is not even 3 minutes away.

It is said that it was built for Emperor Humayun’s royal barber. Hence one can imagine how important that barber might have been in Humayun’s life, although, there is no mention of his name anywhere.

It is known that the individuals interred in the two graves present inside the tomb are of male & female respectively, but their identity is not clear.

No one knows who are buried inside this picturesque tomb of red and grey sand stone.

Is the tomb really of Emperor Humayun’s royal barber?

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The Forgotten Talkatora

Remnants of Talkatora
Photo Credit-Monika Bradoo

Talkatora Bagh/Garden is a Mughal-era Garden situated on the Mother Teresa Crescent (previously Wellingdon Crescent) in New Delhi. In ancient times, it used to be a tank and a Swimming pool. The Marathas defeated the Mughals in the Battle of Delhi (1737) at this place.
The garden is now more famous for the Talkatora Stadium. It attracts a large number of tourists.
There was a tal (tank) at the west side of the garden, surrounded by hilly ground forming a katora (bowl shaped natural depression) which gives the place its name. Although the pond has gone missing long ago, here still exists at the northwestern end of the garden, a long wall domed octagonal pavilion s at the two ends. this was an embankment (bund) to hold back rain water flowing into that tank. there is another link to the past. the place around this was used as a camping ground by the Maratha army in 1736-37. Writes GS Chhabra in his book.

Saadat Ali Khan I

Source: Internet

“Saadat Khan (a Mughal army official) had attacked a contingent of marching Maratha army after it had crossed Jumna (Yamuna River). He retired to Mathura saying he had defeated the main Maratha army.

Peshwa Baji Rao, had however, taken different route to reach Delhi. He did not pillage the city and camped at the Talkatora grove.”

The other Mughal Sardars of the doab – Mohammed Khan Bangash and Khan Dauran joined Sadat Khan at Agra. From there, Sadat Khan sent messages to the emperor apprising him of how he had routed the ‘main’ Maratha army at Jaleshwar and that he would now proceed to finish Bajirao with the help of other Mughal Sardars!

Onward march for the historic Battle of Delhi on 28 March 1737

Bajirao Peshwa-Shaniwarwada-Fort-pune

Source: Internet

After death of Trimbak Rao, Bangash’s alliance against the Marathas had fallen apart. Consequently, the Mughal emperor recalled him from Malwa, and re-appointed Jai Singh II as the governor of Malwa.

However, the Maratha chief Holkar defeated Jai Singh in the Battle of Mandsaur in 1733. After two more battles, the Mughals decided to offer the Marathas the right to collect ₹ 22 lakh as chauth from Malwa.

On 4 March 1736, Bajirao and Jai Singh came to an agreement at Kishangad. Jai Singh convinced the emperor to agree to the plan, and Bajirao was appointed as Deputy Governor of the province.

Jai Singh is also believed to have secretly informed Bajirao that it was a good time to subdue the weakening Mughal emperor.

Following successes in Malwa and Rajputana region during the 1730s, the Peshwa decided to pressurize the Mughal emperor to grant him various provinces, places and tribute from other Mughal provinces.

In brief, Baji Rao’s demands were as follows: (May 1736)

1. Subhedari of Malwa.
2. Sardeshpande to be appointed by Peshwa to the six subah of the Deccan.
3. The forts of Mandavgarh, Dhar and Raisin.
4. Bundelkhand upto Chambal to be ceded to the Peshwa.
5. Fifty lakh rupee tribute to be paid by Bengal to the Peshwa.
6. The Mughals to hand over the holy places of Mathura, Prayag, Varanasi and Gaya to the Peshwa.
7. Dues of chauth from Gujarat.

In return, Bajirao agreed not to attack any other territory under the Mughals, and station 500 Maratha troops at Delhi etc.

But as soon as Bajirao turned south and left for Pune, the Mughals decided to renege on his word! He continued to have Sawai Jai Singh as the subhedar of Malwa and consented to Bajirao being only a deputy subhedar.

On 12 November 1736, Bajirao Peshwa started a march to the Mughal capital Delhi from Pune.
On hearing about the advancing Maratha army, the Mughal emperor asked Saadat Khan who was at Faizabad, to march and attack him at Agra and check the Maratha advance.
Saadat Khan led a force of 150,000 against them, and ‘defeated’ them. He then retired to Mathura, stating that the Marathas had retreated.
The Maratha chiefs Malhar Rao Holkar and Pilaji Jadhav crossed Yamuna and plundered the Mughal territories in the Ganga-Yamuna Doab.

But the fall of Ater and Bhadavar meant that Baji Bhivrao now controlled the crossing places on the Yamuna. Early in the month of March 1737, Baji Bhivrao and Malharrao Holkar crossed the Yamuna with troops numbering 10,000 and raided the towns of Shikohabad, Ferozabad and Itimadpur.

They then proceeded to Jaleshwar, where a contingent under Sadat Khan opposed Malharrao Holkar. But this was just an advance guard sent by Sadat Khan under Mansur Ali Khan, meant to draw the Marathas towards Sadat Khan’s main army which was far more numerous. Mansur Ali Khan controlled only 12,000 of Sadat Khan’s army which totaled over 60,000!

Holkar unfortunately fell for this ploy and found himself in front of Sadat Khan’s large army. The Pathan Nawab’s forces outnumbered the Marathas, and in the fighting that followed, Holkar ‘lost’ over a thousand men before managing to retreat and cross the Yamuna .

Sadat Khan then moved north to Agra, which the Peshwa had already vacated for Gwalior. Malharrao Holkar joined Bajirao Peshwa at Gwalior around the middle of March.

The other Mughal sardars of the doab – Mohammed Khan Bangash and Khan Dauran joined Sadat Khan at Agra. From there, Sadat Khan sent messages to the emperor appraising him of how he had routed the ‘main’ Maratha army at Jaleshwar and that he would now proceed to finish Bajirao with the help of other Mughal sardars! Malharrao Holkar’s and Baji Bhivrao attacked the doab.
However, Bajirao advanced to Delhi and encamped at Talkatora. The Mughal emperor dispatched a force led by Mir Hasan Khan Koka to check his advance.
The Marathas defeated this force in the Battle of Delhi on 28 March 1737. Bajirao then retreated from Delhi, apprehensive about the approach of a larger Mughal force from Mathura.

Help for Mughals

Muhammad Shah

Source: Internet

The Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah then sought help from the Nizam. The Nizam set out from Deccan, and met Bajirao’s returning force at Sironj. The Nizam told Bajirao that was going to Delhi to repair his relationship with the Mughal emperor.
On reaching Delhi, he was joined by other Mughal chiefs, and a massive Mughal army set out against the Peshwa.

Moreover, the Mughal decided to attack the Peshwa so as to prevent him from entering Malwa again. For this, the emperor sounded the Nizam of Hyderabad as well as Mughal sardars in the Ganga – Jamuna doab such as Sadat Khan, Mohammed Khan Bangash and Khan Dauran.

A formidable force, stretching across the cow – belt of present day India was formed to attack the Peshwa.
In September of 1736, the Emperor sent a sanad , confirming Peshwa as deputy subhedar of Malwa. All other demands of Bajirao were entirely ignored.

The Peshwa also assembled a force of 80,000 soldiers and marched towards Delhi, leaving behind a force of 10,000 under Chimnaji to guard Deccan. The two armies met mid-way at Bhopal, where the Marathas defeated the Mughals in the Battle of Bhopal on 24 December 1737.

Once again, the Nizam was forced to sign a peace agreement, this time at Doraha on 7 January 1738. The province of Malwa was formally ceded to the Marathas and the Mughals agreed to pay ₹ 5,000,000 as indemnity.

This time, the Nizam took an oath on Koran to abide by the treaty.

The First Battle of Delhi or The Raid of Delhi took place on 28 March 1737between Maratha Empire and the Mughals.

By 1735, the Marathas had gained control over entire Gujrat and Malwa. But some towns and areas under the influence of local Mughal officers and Zamindars refused to acknowledge Maratha control.

The Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah was also dillydallying over passing an official order chartering chauth and sardeshmukhi rights to the Marathas. Efforts by Bajirao to seek audience with the Mughal emperor were also ignored.

The Marathas decided to assert themselves.

The Peshwa realized that mere negotiations would no longer help his cause. Unless he moved his armies to Delhi, the Mughal emperor would not budge. Accordingly, in October of 1736 (Pansolar. Marathyancha itihas by G.H Khare, quotes this as November 1736), Bajirao moved into Malwa via Nandurbar and joined Holkar, Shinde and Pawar who were already present there. Together they totaled over 50,000 troops.

In January of 1737 Peshwa moved further north to Bhelsa near Bhopal and captured it. Then he moved to Datia (near Gwalior) as also Ater by February of the same year. The Raja of Bhadavar opposed Bajirao at both places, but was comprehensively defeated.

The Marathas obtained 20 lakhs tribute from him. Thus by early 1737, Bajirao had extended Maratha influence almost to Delhi and were in fact in the vicinity of Agra . He then ordered Malharrao Holkar and Baji Bhivrao to attack the Ganga – Jamuna doab region, so as to prevent any help reaching Delhi from that region as also to prevent the Pathan Nawabs of the region from attacking the Marathas who had by then reached the precincts of Agra.

Bajirao I personally marched towards Delhi with a large Maratha army in Dec 1737. He divided the army into two. One contingent was led by Peshwa Bajirao and the other by Pilaji Jadhav and Malharrao Holkar.

The contingent of Holkar was however annihilated by a much larger army led by Sadat Khan, the Nawab of Oudh and mughal governor of Agra.

Malharrao Holkar himself managed to escape and reach the other group led by Bajirao. The contingent of Bajirrao, in a swift movement, completely bypassed the encamped Mughal army and reached the outskirts of Delhi (28 March 1737), covering a ten-day journey in just forty eight hours.

What followed thereafter was the direct attack on Mughal army. The Mughal emperor himself hid in the safe confines of Red Fort, while Bajirao and his men gain control of the countryside. A twelve thousand strong Mughal army led by Mir Hassan Koka did try to take on Bajirao, but they were hopelessly outmaneuvered and Mir Hassan himself was wounded in the skirmish.

Then before the Mughal army could get reinforcements and gather their wits, Bajirao with his entourage returned to the Deccan. On 31 March 1737, the victorious Maratha army left Delhi with their large booty leaving behind Mughals, mauled and humbled.

On the way back to Pune, Bajirao planted his trusted lieutenants at various places won from Mughals in north and central India, which were to remain their permanent places of influence in the near future.

Bajirao attacks Delhi!

Bajirao now decided to directly attack Delhi, where the emperor, emboldened by Sadat Khan’s letters, had become slightly complacent. He moved from Gwalior, and keeping Agra 14 – 15 miles to his east, galloped to Delhi at a speed of over 70 miles a day. Passing Newataya , Barapula and the Kalika mandir (today’s Kalkaji Temple of Delhi) camped at Kushbandi on the 28th of March 1737.

Kushbandi was in today’s New Delhi area.

On the 1st of April, Sadat Khan and the others received news of Bajirao’s march to Delhi. The three Mughal sardars started moving from Agra to Delhi via Mathura.

Bajirao now had the Red Fort well within his sights. His initial plan was to attack Delhi with all his troops to loot, pillage and burn the Mughal capital. But later on, he decided against such an act. His reasons being, that Delhi held a special place in the minds of many people, zamindars and sardars across the region and suddenly breaking the thread of politics might create insurmountable political problems. Moreover, the Marathas had more to gain by the politics involving the badshah and Khan Dauran.

Lastly, dethroning the Mughal was frowned upon by Shahu. The Mughal armies were also numerous and the campaign would not be easy. As a result, Bajirao abandoned his plans to torch Delhi, and instead sought to menace the Mughal emperor and annex territories surrounding Delhi so as to tighten the Maratha grip over Delhi.

On the 29th of March, the Marathas looted some outlying areas near Delhi, forcing the emperor to station a force of a few thousand outside the Red Fort. Bajirao sent Malharrao Holkar, Ranoji Shinde, Tukoji Pawar and Yashwantrao Pawar to battle this Mughal force. The Maratha and Mughal armies, each numbering around 8,000 clashed near Rakab Ganj (near today’s Parliament House).

Over 400 Mughal soldiers were killed and an equal number were wounded, along with a number of their leaders. The Mughal contingent beat a hasty retreat to the safety of the Red Fort’s walls.
Peshwa Bajirao then shifted his camp to Malcha, a village near Talkatora. The Mughal emperor sent a force under Kamruddin Khan, who attacked from Patshahpur. In the skirmishing that followed, the Marathas captured a number of horses, guns and an elephant.

The camp was mentioned as ‘Kushbandi’, which was somewhere in New Delhi.

Bajirao moves south:

Bajirao’s mission had by the beginning of February been accomplished. He had reached the very walls of the Red Fort and defeated many different Mughal sardars. Peshwa Bajirao and other Maratha generals had, by dint of speed, managed to make the various Mughal sardars run around in circles – whether it be Malwa, Chambal, Doab or Delhi. That he now dictated terms was obvious.

Seeing that there was a large water body behind them, the city of Delhi some distance away and Kamruddin swiftly making his way to Talkatora, Bajirao decided to shift his camp once again.

Another major reason being that the armies of Sadat Khan, Khan Dauran and Mohammed Khan Bangash were closing upon Delhi. The Peshwa moved south to Kot Putli, around a 100 km away.

The Mughals had been sufficiently harassed, and would not dream of attacking the Peshwa again directly.

Aftermath of the Battle of Delhi

The Mughals were devastated by the fierce attack and ask all muslim rulers to help against the Hindu army of Marathas. Nizam left Deccan to rescue Mughals from the invasion of Marathas, but was defeated decisively in the Battle of Bhopal. The Marathas extracted large tributaries from Mughals and signed a treaty which ceded Malwa to the Marathas.

This Maratha plunder of Delhi weakened the Mughal Empire, which got further weakened after successive invasions of Nadir Shah (1739) and Ahmad Shah Abdali (1750s). While Marathas got support from local Hindus who welcomed them partly due to religious freedom and taxation.
The continuous attacks led to an end of Mughal Empire by year 1757 in which Marathas became the rulers of Delhi.

The Peshwa had achieved his objective of menacing the Mughal emperor. This campaign showed once and for all, that the Marathas controlled the strings at Delhi and any adventure by the Mughal would be dealt with sternly. The Mughal emperor on his part, was shown his much diminished position in Hindustan. Moreover, the Khan Dauran agreed to pay 13 lakh to Bajirao as tribute.

The Mughal emperor, understandably enraged at having been attacked in the Red Fort itself, decided to join the Nizam of Hyderabad in one last attempt to check the Peshwa.

Peshwa Bajirao’s response is the famous battle at Bhopal of 1738. This famous clash with the Nizam in 1738, cemented the Maratha’s place as the major power in India.

It is even chronicled that:

The Peshwas make a Second Attempt at terminating the Mughals in secret collaboration with the Nawabs of Awadh.

Peshwa Baji Rao I headed towards Delhi had the secret support of Saadat Khan and his son Safdarjung, the Nawabs of Awadh, who had also managed to convince Muhammad Shah that they were the best military commanders to deal with the Maratha threat.

Leading a strong force of 150,000 horsemen, Saadat Khan engaged in a brief skirmish with the forces of the Peshwa. Then Saadat Khan mysteriously withdrew and encamped at Mathura. From there, he sent news to the remaining Mughal military commanders that the Peshwa had been defeated and had left for the Deccan. The remaining Mughal military commanders left Delhi completely unguarded and began to celebrate.

In reality, the Marathas had hidden themselves in a natural depression surrounded by hills at Talkatora.

Source: E-books

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