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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Khwajasara’s of Jahangir and Shahjahan

1. Khwajasara Aitbar Khan and his tomb

2. Khwajasara Firuz Khan and his tomb


Aitbar Khan literally means-a trustworthy man. Perhaps this was the reason why Khwajasara Aitbar Khan was given the responsibility to manage the royal harem of Jahangir,

In 1663, Shahjahan son of Jahangir had revolted, but Aitbar Khan had refused to be an ally to him nor help him. Jahangir was very impressed by the loyalty of Aitbar Khan and presented him with the title “Mumtaj Khan’.

Aitbar Khan was made the Governor of Agra City, by Jahangir.

According to traditions of that era, Aitbar Khan who was in Agra at that time had got constructed his tomb. This tomb is present near a big lake called Guru ka Taal. In earlier time near Aitbar Khans tomb there used to be a Sarai and a Mosque also. But during the modern construction of Railway tract and Road, a major portion of this complex was destroyed and now only the Mosque and tomb structure remain.

Since this monument-tomb has 12 pillars, hence it is also known as ‘Barah Khamba’. The grave of Aitbar Khan is located in an accurate shaped tomb.

Guru ka Taal

On the outskirts of Agra, near Baluchpura Station and Sikandara is located the Guru ka Taal-a historic Gurudwara. This was commissioned by Sant Baba Sadho ji Muni. This hermitage was built to pay homage to the ninth Guru Shri Teg Bahadur ji. T

This Gurudwara has a pond which has historic importance because in this pond Guru Shri Teg Bahadur ji had kept his arms and thereafter surrendered himself to the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.

Initially this pond had 12 extensively carved minarets but due to vagaries of nature only 8 could remain standing. The architecture of this Gurudwara is heavily influenced by Mughal Architecture. That is why this building strongly resembles Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. Pilgrims from all over visit this Gurudwara every year.

As the trusted eunuch
Emperor Shah Jahan was a great Mughal ruler of India who built the famous Taj Mahal. He became ill In 1658 and was declared incapable ruling and thus was put on a house arrest by his own son Aurangzeb. Shah Jahan suffered a lot during his later life, his own son Aurangzeb put him to house arrest and declared himself as the new emperor. Aurangzeb hated his father like an enemy and made all possible attempts to make his life miserable.
Aurangzeb engaged an eunuch called I’tibar Khan (also known as Khoja Phul) to harass his father. I’tibar Khan was made in-charge of the Agra Fort where Shah Jahan was kept. I’tibar Khan troubled Shah Jahan and spared no chance of humiliating him.
I’tibar Khan was a male by birth. He was born in the province of Bengal in a very poor family. In earlier times the poor parents used to emasculate their sons and would employ them in the emperor’s royal harem to gain a source of income. I’tibar Khan was castrated as a boy and turned into eunuch and was employed as an escort and domestic servant in the Mughal royalty. This event caused a deep physical and mental impact on him. I’tibar Khan was a politically shrewd and cunning person. Soon he became the personal adviser of Aurangzeb. During the house arrest, I’tibar Khan troubled Shah Jahan and kept Aurangzeb updated about his moves.
On May 30, 1658, Shah Jahan’s elder son Dara Shikoh, was defeated by Aurangzeb in the Battle of Samugarh, and was ultimately beheaded. Aurangzeb murdered his own brother cruelly. It is said that Aurangzeb sent Dara’s head in a box at the hands of I’tibar Khan to the Agra Fort. That night I’tibar Khan waited until Shah Jahan sat for dinner. On the dinner table I’tibar Khan served Shah Jahan the box. When Shah Jahan opened the box he was shocked to see his son Dara’s head in it. He screamed and fell unconscious on the table. When Shah Jahan gained conscience, I’tibar Khan began pulling off the beard hairs from the severed head of Dara. As he plucked the hair, blood began to flow from the pores and I’tibar Khan enjoyed the whole act while helpless Shah Jahan cried in grief. Later I’tibar Khan narrated Aurangzeb and his sister Roshanara Beghum all the incident that took place. On hearing all this Aurangzeb and his sister rejoiced and listened with great amusement and laughed. Such was this cruel and inhuman eunuch I’tibar Khan.
On the advice of I’tibar Khan Aurangzeb gave Shah Jahan slow poison. I’tibar Khan would secretly mix dosage of poison in Shah Jahan’s food. This caused a great decline in the health of Shah Jahan and eventually he became bed ridden. I’tibar Khan once brought a poisonous massage oil and secretly ordered the royal masseur of Shah Jahan to massage that oil on Shah Jahan’s body. When this oil was applied on Shah Jahan’s body, it caused him severe itching. The pain was unbearable and within days his body had become cole black with puss filled boils and blisters. After all this pain and sufferings at the hands of his own son, Shah Jahan died on 22 January 1666. Aurangzeb didn’t attend his funeral. Shah Jahan’s body was buried next to his wife Mumtaz’s tomb inside the Taj Mahal.

Thus it is said that the emperor who built the beautiful Taj Mahal, himself became ugly towards the end of his life and died a very gruesome death.

Involvement of Khawajasara Itibar Khan in Kafur’s Mosque and Stone Horse

This small three-arched mosque surmounted by a dome, measures 13×10 feet. Behind it was a set of rooms which have now dwindled and the well near it has been filled up. On a chabutarah, near it, is a life-size red stone sculpture of a horse, and on another, a tombstone.

There is a Persian inscription carved in relief on three panels above the arches. It records that Itibari Khan, who had a noble status by the grace of king Jehangir, built this mosque for Khwajah Kafur on the road (From Agra to Delhi) in Hijri 1015/1605 A.D.

Itibar Khan Khawajasara was an important Noble and Nazir (Superintendent) of Jehangir’s Harem.

He was extremely loyal, true to his title ‘Itibar’, and Jehangir reposed total faith in him. Jahangir has mentioned him fondly several times in his memoirs. Itibar Khan was governor of Agra in 1622. With charge of the defense of the Fort and the Treasury.

In 1623 when the rebel prince Shahjehan tried to take Agra, Itibar Khan successfully defended it against him. He was given the new title of ‘Mumtaz Khan’ and mansab of 6000 Zat and 5000 Sawar. He died the same year.

It seems that Khwajah Kafur was a Sufi Saint and Itibar Khan built this mosque for him and also a few living rooms and a well. The Tomb near the stone horse seems, obviously, to be that of Khwajah Kafur and the stone horse, a replica of his pet horse.

Itibar Khan’s vast ‘Rauzah’ (Garden-Tomb) was also situated in the neighborhood. This monument is protected and conserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (Government of India).

Shah Jahan’s Palace Harem Custodian-Khwajasara Firoz Khan

Khwajasara Firuz Khan was a noble of Shah Jahan. He constructed this tomb during his lifetime and named it Tal Firuz Khan. The monument is built in red sandstone and features a double storied main gateway on the eastern side. The terrace on the first floor has arched chambers and can be accessed using a broad staircase of thirteen steps.

The grave of Firuz Khan is on the ground floor, which has subsidiary octagonal stories. Four-pillared rectangular chaukhandis with pyramidal roofs on top are located on the northern and southern sides of the main building.

The main entrance to the ground floor, where the grave lies, is through the arched opening on the southern side. The roof of the building has a semi-circular dome, which is crowned by a kalash finial.

This 17th-century Tomb, is a signpost on the Gwalior Road, just 5 Km from Agra, indicates the turning to this unusual octagonal structure, standing on the edge of a lake in the village

Firoz Khan, died in 1647. This marks the spot where Khwajasara, Firoz Khan a natural-born castrate and the custodian of Shah Jahan’s Palace Harem, is buried.

The red stone edifice stands on a high plinth and has a gateway attached to the main building. Steps lead to the upper story where a central pavilion containing the grave is located. Highly stylized stone carvings embellish the surface. Interestingly, unlike other buildings of the period, there is an absence of calligraphic inscriptions.

If the tomb is closed it can be opened by contacting the village watchman.


Ek Khwajasara ki pukar………

Ek badnaam si aur adhoori si zindagi ka haqdar hoon,

Kya meri quahishein nahi, kya main insaan hi nahi hoon?

Kyon karun main intezaar agle purjosh janm ka, main koi qafir nahi,

Kya mere Khuda ko mere is haal mein hi, meri bandage qubool nahi?

Lagta hai meri bandagi qubool hui!

Aka ki nazar meherbaan hui!

Aaj daulat,rutba, kismet, sab mera qadam bosa karte hai,

Lekin shohrat mujhe milti hi nahi hai!

Kyon ki ek badnaam si aur adhoori si zindagi ka haqdar hoon!

Kaash ke qafir hota, toh mang leta, agle janam mein jindagi ek pursukoon…………………..

By yours truly…….


Muslim Slave System in Medieval India by K. S. Lal


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‘Abdu’n Nabi’–At the court of Akbar

Akbar showed great respect for the two leading religious leaders at the court, Makhdum-ul-Mulk and Shaikh Abdul Nabi. Makhdum-ul-Mulk, who had been an important figure during the reign of the Surs, became even more powerful in the early days of Akbar.

‘Abdu’n Nabi aka Shaikh Abdul Nabi held the post of ‘Sadr‘, a kind of ecclesiastical registrar, in Akbar’s reign and enjoyed his confidence and was an important person in the court of Emperor Akbar.

Also known as Shaikh Abdul Nabi, who was appointed sadr-ul-sadur in 1565, was given authority which no other holder of the office (the highest religious position in the realm) had ever enjoyed. Akbar would go to his house to hear him expound the sayings of the Prophet, and he placed his heir, Prince Salim, under his tutorship. “For some time the Emperor had so great faith in him as a religious leader that he would bring him his shoes and place them before his feet.”

The assemblies in the Ibadat Khana had been arranged by Akbar out of sincere religious zeal, but ultimately they were to drive him away from orthodoxy. This was partly the fault of those who attended the gatherings. Questions were asked to belittle rivals, and soon the gatherings degenerated into religious squabbles.

The two great theologians of the court, Makhdum-ul-Mulk and Shaikh Abdul Nabi, arrayed on opposite sides, attacked each other so mercilessly that Akbar lost confidence in both of them. His disillusionment extended to the orthodoxy they represented.

Shaikh Abdul Nabi, although not personally accused of graft, is said to have had corrupt subordinates. He was a strict puritan, and his hostility toward music was one of the grounds on which his rival attacked him in the discussions in the House of Worship.

The petty recriminations of the ulama disgusted the emperor, but probably a deeper cause for his break with them was an issue that is comparable in some ways to the conflict between the church and the state in medieval Europe. The interpretation and application of Islamic law, which was the law of the state, was the responsibility of the ulama. Over against this, and certain to come in conflict with it, was Akbar’s concentration of all ultimate authority in himself.

Furthermore, with Akbar’s organization of the empire on new lines, problems were arising which the old theologians were unable to comprehend, much less settle in a way acceptable to the emperor.

i) One such problem brought matters to a climax in 1577. A complaint was lodged before the emperor by the qazi of Mathura that a rich Brahman in his vicinity had forcibly taken possession of building material collected for the construction of a mosque and had used it for building a temple. “When the qazi had attempted to prevent him, he had, in presence of witnesses, opened his foul mouth to curse the Prophet, and had shown his contempt for Muslims in various other ways.”

The question of suitable punishment for the Brahman was discussed before the emperor, but, perplexed by conflicting considerations, he gave no decision. The Brahman languished in prison for a long time.

ii) Ultimately Akbar left the matter to Shaikh Abdul Nabi, who had the offender executed. This led to an outcry, with many courtiers like Abul Fazl expressing the view that although an offense had been committed, the extreme penalty of execution was not necessary. They based their opinion on a decree of the founder of the Hanafi school of Islamic law. Abdul Nabi’s action was also severely criticized by the Hindu courtiers and by Akbar’s Rajput wives.

iii) He was sent by the emperor to Mecca with money for distribution to the poor, but on his return he failed to account for the money and was put in prison and murdered in 1584-85.

iv) A similar incident is mentioned in a book Themes in Indian History by Raghunath Rai, in the following words:

The king (Akbar) listened to the viewpoints of all the scholars and sometimes asked very intelligent questions. But he was much disgusted with the orthodox Muslims religious leaders like Makhdum ul Malik, Abdul Nabi and others as they showed obnoxious intolerance of another’s views.

v) Again in another book titled Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World by Ruby Lal, Abdul Nabi is not mentioned in good words:

One one occasion, even the Sadr (chief Judge) of the empire Shaykh Abd un Nabi has sought “protection from secluded ladies”.

Abd un Nabi was the grandson of Abdul Qaddus Gangohi, a great saint of his time.

Akbar had appointed Abd un Nabi the Sadr of the empire but found cases of bribery and murder against him, and therefore gave his position to Sultan Khvajeh.

Abd un Nabi was banished to Mecca. It was after his return that he sought refuge with the women.

In due time Akbar gave orders for his arrest “in such manner that the ladies should not know of it.”Abd un Nabi was later put to death: but it is interesting that Akbar had to do all this quietly, without crossing swords with the senior women of his Harem.

vi) Even his famous contemporary historian Abdul Qadir Badayuni, also seems to be not happy with the gentleman and his opinion is expressed in the following words:

Badauni not only has his complain only for Shias or Hindus, he too has reservations for many people from among Sunni faith. Shaikh Abd un Nabi, the chief Sadr, a bigoted Sunni is great target of him, in spite of his being good terms with Sadr, he related too many ‘infamous’ act of the Sardr.


Abdul Nabi Mosque

(Internet Photo)

Tilak Bridge, On Mathura Road, New Delhi
Dedicated To : Abdu’n Nabi
Built In : 1575-76

Abd un Nabi aka Abdul Nabi had constructed a beautiful mosque in Delhi. It was construct in 1575/76.

Abdul Nabi Mosque

Abdul Nabi Mosque, about 400m north of the Tilak Bridge, lies with its back on the Mathura road. It is a rubble-built structure consisting of a prayer-hall entered through three arched openings, the central apartment of which is provided with a dome. The cloisters on the sides of its courtyard have disappeared.
Originally, there was an inscription above the main arched bay of the prayer-hall, from which it is learnt that it was built by Shaikh ‘Abdu’n Nabi in 983 AH (1575-76). The façade of the prayer-hall was originally decorated with colored tiles, which have largely disappeared. The original features of the mosque have suffered during its recent renovation.

Tomb of Abd un Nabi aka Abdul Nabi (?) in District Gujranwala-Pakistan

Though it is clear from historical references that Abd un Nabi was a prominent courtier of Akbar, during the early decades of his rule. But it cannot be said with certainty that the same person is buried in this tomb. I found the following references about Abd un Nabi on the net, which I would like to share with you.

On 28 May, 2015, an article by Aown Ali was published in Dawn. on Abd un Nabi and his tomb.

This idea is based on the research of some of our renowned archaeologists, for example Ihsan H. Nadiem in an article on historic monuments in Gujranwala writes:

“The tomb is associated with Sheikh Abdul Nabi who was a tutor of the great Akbar. The Sheikh reached the status of Sadrus Sudur but was exiled to the holy places (Makkah and Madina) when the emperor was poisoned by Sheikh Faizi and Abdul Fazal.”

“He was ordered not to return to his country unless called by the emperor. On receiving rumors of disturbed conditions in India under Akbar he, however, came back without the permission of the emperor and settled in Ahmadabad in Gujarat in 1583. He was, therefore, arrested by Akbar and sent to prison under the charge of his old rival, Abul Fazal”.

“Another version tells of his having been murdered, while yet another attributes it was a natural death. But both accounts agree that it happened in 1584.”

Furthermore, in the same article, the veteran archaeologist says that there is no dated inscription record about the monument yet the architectural features on comparative basis suggests it dates back to the early 17th century of Shahjahan’s rule (1628-1658).

However, the comparative historical notes suggest that Sheikh Abdul Nabi was imprisoned and died in Fatehpur Sikri in 1583. It seems strange that the body of a person who was oppressed by the emperor was shifted so far away, and for what reason? Why was he buried in this great wilderness, as it surely has been towards the end of 16th century when the sheikh died?

Archeologists do not accommodate this query. But the historic record that we do have is a testament to the fact that Sheikh Abdul Nabi, the Sadrus Sudur, was buried in Narnaul in the Indian state of Haryana. This place is not too far from Fatehpur Sikri where the sheikh died while in prison.

The other school of thought regarding the tomb relates it to the Diwan Abdul Nabi Khan who is said to be the governor of Wazirabad under Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb’s era. Dr. Saif ur Rahman Dar the archeologist and Salman Rashid the travel writer are leading on this thought. Dr. Dar even establishes that Diwan Abdul Nabi Khan was a tutor of the grandchildren of Nawab Saad Ullah Khan, the prime minister, under Shah Jahan.


Tomb of Abd un Nabi at Kotly Maqbara


(Internet Photo)

Tomb of Abd un Nabi is a majestic building located in district Gujranwala, near a small village Kotly Maqbara. It is situated in such a remote country side. The huge tomb is a grand building standing tall in the green fields and visible from a long distance. Its sheer size and beauty of architecture is simply marvelous. Folk lore call it a work of Djins.

Due to negligence, it is fast approaching a stage when it would be difficult to repair or restore it. Already huge cracks have appeared in one of the four cupolas of the tomb. The main building is eroding at the lower parts.


The board reads: There are three graves under this tomb. In centre, Sheikh Abd un Nabi, on the west  side his son and on the east side his disciple lie buried.

(Internet Photo)


Passage to the lower a chamber containing graves


(Internet Photo)

There was one interesting story in November 1991: a woman had, of late, started to visit Abdul Nabi’s mausoleum. She dismounted from her escort’s motorcycle some ways away and came dancing to the tomb where she did all sorts of genuflexions at the subterranean graves.

(By the way-In the old days, when you came in front of your social superiors, you were expected to genuflect: that is, bend your knee and bow submissively. You did it before kings and nobles, and everyone did it before God.)

She told the people that a vision in her dream had informed her that these three were great heroes of Islam, who had come from Arabia and whose exertions had done much for religion in the heathen land of India.

Upon investigations it was revealed that this seer of visions was a superannuated dancing woman and prostitute from Chhicherwali, a village outside Gujranwala.


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Inside a Harem – Dar Harem Awurd-Dar Nikah Awurd

Dar Nikah Awurd (brought into the legal wedlock) and Dar Harem Awurd (admitted to the harem) these were used in order to indicate the manner in which particular women were admitted into the Harem, as the number of legally wedded were few; the number of others was often very large.



‘The Reception’ (1873) by John Frederick Lewis


Maintaining a large harem was cumbersome Personal jealousies and intrigues were rampant.

Sultan Mahmud of Gujarat had understood this fact and maintained a peaceful atmosphere in the Harem. According to his rules any lady who laughed at or derided the other, both were killed.

The harem of the Sultans comprised the mother of the Sultan, his wives, sisters and daughters, concubines and slave girls. Some of them were daughters of important nobles or chiefs. The principal wives had each a house, maiden, guards and servants. The ladies of the Harem enjoyed respectable positions and were held in high esteem by the Sultans.

Some royal ladies enjoyed high prestige and were endowed high titles such as Malika-i- Jahan, Makhduma-i Jahan and Khudavanda-i Jahan etc.

Among the prominent ladies of Mamluk, Khilji and Tughlaq Dynasty come the names of Khudavanda-i Jahan = Shah Turkan (wife of Sultan Iltutmish), Malika-i- Jahan, (wife of Sultan Jalaluddin Khalji), Makhduma-i Jahan and Khudavandzada (the mother and sister of Sultan Mohammad Bin Tughluq) respectively.

Interestingly the aspect of harem life of the Delhi Sultans was that, in order to strengthen their position, they established matrimonial relations with the royal family. Some significant examples are:

i) Qutbuddin Aibak’s daughter was married to Iltutmish

ii) A daughter of Iltutmish was married to Balban

iii) Altunia married Raziya

iv) Balban gave one of his daughters in marriage to Nasiruddin Mahmud

v) A daughter of Malik Chajju was married to Kaiqubad

vi) A daughter of Kaiqubad was married to Alauddin Khalji

vii) A daughter of Sultan Jalaluddin Khalji was married to Alauddin Khalji

viii) A daughter of Alauddin Daughter Khalji was married to Ghiyasuddin Tughluq

x) A daughter of Mubarak Khalji was married to Firozshah Tughluq

x) A daughter of Sultan Muhammad of the Syed dynasty was married to Mahmud Sharqi


‘The Harem’ by Gustave Boulanger

Petticoat Government run from the Harem-Some examples: from Mamluk, Khilji and Tughlaq Dynasty.

Shah Turkan


Shah Turkan

Iltutmish’s death in 1236 was a signal for the nobles to initiate factional politics. His vigilance and political adroitness had as yet kept the nobles strictly under his control throughout his life time.

As mentioned by contemporary historians of Sultanate of Delhi, the name of Khudavanda-i Jahan Shah Turkan surfaces.

She was originally a slave girl of Turkish origin, purchased by Iltutmish. She rose to the status of chief queen of Sultan Iltutmish by dint of her beauty and qualities.

An ambitious lady, possessing intelligence and ability, she took over the reins of government in her own hands, after the passing away of her husband, because the new Sultan, her son Sultan Ruknuddin Firoz had become neglectful of his duties, owing to his over indulgence in pleasure.

She patronized men of letters and bestowed munificent generosity towards the men of learning and piety and endowments. She won the support of the nobility, and it was with their active cooperation that she succeeded in setting aside the will of Sultan Iltutmish and claimed the throne for her son Ruknuddin Firoz in place of Raziya Sultan.

Shah Turkan had ambitious and intriguing nature. She rose to prominence because of the incompetent and pleasure loving temperament of her son, Sultan Ruknuddin Firoz. The Sultan preferred a life of merry making with wine and women ignoring his responsibility in the affairs of the state.

This led Shah Turkan to control the administration of the Sultanate. She enjoyed the support of the officers of the house and the Turkish officers of the capital.

All powers were concentrated in her hands, to the extent that she issued royal farmans (royal mandates) in her own name. She meted out her vicious treatment against the other wives, sons and daughters of the deceased husband. Out of sheer jealousy she started harassing the ladies of the royal household. On the pretext of personal grievances, she brought about the assassination of several co wives of Sultan Iltutmish as she enjoyed the status of queen mother. Hence, she avenged being treated as base and inferior by her co wives.

The treasury was unduly spent to cater for the Sultan’s pleasure. This vicious, petticoat rule produced the inevitable reaction and his own supporters now set about to make amends for their hasty action. But Shah Turkan wanted to keep the throne safe and secure for her son Ruknuddin Firoz.

This brought her in conflict with another son of Sultan Iltutmish named Qutbuddin. He was a young prince having many talents and merit. By the order of Shah Turkan and Ruknuddin Firoz, he was blinded and finally put to death.

All these activities of Shah Turkan led to mutual distrust in the government. Rebellions broke out in different parts of the country.

The so called forty (Turkan-i-chahalgani) the prominent figure of the period felt that for preserving the dynasty and good name of their master Ruknuddin Firoz must be deposed.

To make the matters worse the provincial governors such as Malik Ghiyasuddin Mohammad Shah, a son of Iltutmish rose in rebellion in Oudh and plundered the treasure of Lakhnauti, which was being taken to Delhi. He also sacked and plundered several towns and created lawlessness.

Malik Izzuddin Mohammad Salari, the iqtadar of Badaun, also rebelled. The iqtadar of Multan, Malik Izzuddin Kabir Khan Ayaz and the Iqtadar of Hansi, Malik Saifuddin Kochi and the iqtadar of Lahore Malik Alauddin Jani, collectively rose against Ruknuddin Firoz.

It was a formidable combination of some of the most influential and powerful maliks of the empire.

Firoz marched from Delhi in order to deal with them, but the imperial officers themselves were either afraid of the power of the rebels or not loyal to the king. Nizamul Mulk Junaidi, the wazir deserted the army at Kilugarhi and fled to Koil, and from there went to join Malik Jani and Kochi.

The rebellion of the maliks and amirs spread like a wild fire. Ruknuddin Firoz led an army towards Kohram. At this time the Turkish amirs and slaves of the household, who formed the core centre of the army of the Sultan, further complicated the situation by intriguing with the many of Tazik (non Turk) officers in the neighbour hoods of Mansurpur and Tarain.

Rebellions and disorders in the empire encouraged Raziya also to take advantage. Her relations with Shah Turkan were far from cordial. Shah Turkan wanted to secure her position therefore she challenged Raziya. The generosity of the Sultan perhaps had kept the people of the capital in check so long, but during his absence from the capital Shah Turkan quarreled with Raziya. A rebellion broke out in the city in favor of Raziya . She deepened the crisis by inciting the masses of Delhi against the oppressive measures of Shah Turkan.

The Sultan was forced to return to the capital, but situation was already out of control, in response to an appeal from Raziya whom shah Turkan had attempted to capture and put to death, the people of Delhi were in favour of Raziya and Shah Turkan’s conspiracy failed miserably.

The Sultan retired to Kilugarhi and the revolt of the people met with success. The amirs and the soldiers, when they came back to the city took their oath of allegiance to Sultan Raziya. Ruknuddin was arrested from Kilugarhi and was imprisoned and put to death in Nov. 1236 A.D. He had ruled for only six months and twenty eight days.

The influential phase of Shah Turkan demonstrates that women in the Delhi Sultanate could be powerful. They were able to change the course of events and winning the nobles to their side.

Unscrupulous acts ultimately made some of the prominent nobles oppose her and plotted to bring end of her reign. She also became influential in political arena because of her son’s incompetence.

If Ruknuddin would have proved to be an able ruler then she with her son could have been successful for a long period of time.

Raziya Sultan


Razia Sultan of the Delhi Sultanate during its early phase, left her mark as a real ruling Sultan. She was the daughter of Sultan Iltutmish (1236- 1240 A.D.) and the first woman Sultan of Delh.

Ibn Battuta says that Raziya wore the garments of the oppressed and appealed to the an-nas (army). But most of the soldiers including the Turkish guards were absent from the capital and the appeal of Raziya must have been to the people of Delhi.

The people of the city hearing about the conspiracy of the queen mother against Raziya rose up in rebellion, attacked the royal palace and seized Shah Turkan.

Freedom of women of the Harem

Daughter of Sultan Iltutmish

The relevant evidence about the daughter who happened to be the real sister of Sultan Muizuddin Bahram Shah (1240- 1242 A.D. ) shows that a Muslim woman did not think it derogatory at all to seek divorce from her husband if there was temperamental incompatibility.

She was first married to the son of Qazi Nasiruddin but the marriage was dissolved afterwards. Again she was married to Aitigin, who had become the Naib-i- Mulk (regent ) after her brother’s accession to the throne in 1240 A. D.

Widow of Sultan Iltutmish

Another widow of Sultan Iltutmish, she also married a senior noble, Qutlugh Khan and with the support of her new husband and his friends at the court she compelled Sultan Alauddin Masud Shah (1242- 1246 A.D. ) to release from prison the sons of Sultan Iltutmish, prince Nasiruddin Mahmud (her own son) and prince Jalaluddin.

On the advice of nobles her son, Nasiruddin Mahmud was entrusted with the charge of the territorial unit of Bahraich, while Jalaluddin was posted as the wali (governor of) of Qanauj.

She is also said to have accompanied her son to Bahraich, because the latter was still a minor, aged less than fourteen years.

Two years later she plotted in league with her husband against Sultan Alauddin Masud and won over the nobles at the court to support her son’s claim to the throne. She confidentially carried on correspondence with the nobles in Delhi, and finally she secretly approached with her son from Bahraich for Delhi.

On her departure for Delhi, she announced that her son was taken to Delhi for medical treatment. Both of them were taken in a palanquin, escorted by sawars (horsemen). In Delhi nobody, except the accomplices in the conspiracy, knew about their arrival till Sultan Alauddin Masud Shah was dethroned and her son was placed on the throne instead.

She further tried to conciliate her son’s position by having the daughter of Balban married to the Sultan. By now Balban had emerged as the leader of powerful Turkish nobility of the court.

Soon after Balban manipulated to undermine her and Qutlugh Khan’s position at the court.

Malika-i- Jahan w/o Jalaluddin Khilji

As wife of Sultan Jalaluddin Khalji, she enjoyed complete influence over her husband. The nobles obeyed her because she wielded great influence at the court and amongst the nobility she commanded a respectable status.

Though a veteran Sultan Jalaluddin Khalji leant ears to his wife, allowing her to prevail in the affairs of the empire.

Barani informs us that when Sultan Jalaluddin Khalji expressed his wish to adopt the title of Al Mujahid fi – Sabilullah (the fighter in the path of Almighty), because he had confronted the Mongols, and so he might be appropriately mentioned in the khutba Al- Mujahis fi Sabilullah. He sought his consort’s (Malika-i- Jahan) advice.

He also requested her to speak on his behalf to the nobles, the Qazis and other religious men to propose the title to him in the court. Since Malika-i- Jahan commanded a lot of respect among the nobles, she found no problem in gaining their consent. It was at her persuasion that the nobles and Qazis proposed the Sultan to accept the title.

But his eyes filled with tears and acknowledged that he had directed Malika-i- Jahan to make the suggestion but he had since reflected that he was not worthy of the title ….as he had fought for his own gratification and vanity.

So later on the Sultan himself declined to accept it.

This event shows that Malika-i- Jahan acted as an advisor to the Sultan. And even enjoyed a respectable position among the nobility also and they welcomed her suggestions.

Alauddin Khilji had strained relations with his mother in law Malika-i- Jahan and with his wife, the daughter of the Sultan-Jalaluddin Khilji. He was apprehensive of the intrigues of Malika-i- Jahan, who had great ascendancy over her husband.

Unable to incur the displeasure of Malika-i- Jahan, he could not even complain to his uncle against his wife’s disobedience and misbehavior towards him. Malika-i- Jahan had caused strain in Alauddin’s relation with his father in law.

This episode to a great extent was responsible in aggravating the domestic unhappiness of Alauddin. He was averse to bringing the disobedience of his wife before the sultan because he could not brook the disgrace which would arise from his derogatory position being made public.

It greatly distressed him and he often consulted his intimates at Kara about going out into the world to making a position for himself by conquering a far off territory, and rule over it independent of his uncle so that he could remain away both from his wife and his mother in law.

We learn from Tarikh-i- Firozshahi that she was aware of his ambitious and intriguing nature and kept a close watch over him. She warned her husband about Alauddin’s alleged intention to carve out an independent principality for himself 30 in some remote corners of the country. Perhaps it was she who created a feeling of suspicion in the mind of the Sultan.

The strained relation between Sultan Alauddin Khalji and his wife were further complicated by the uncharitable attitude of his mother in law Malika-i- Jahan.

Afraid of public disgrace and reluctant to hurt Sultan Jalaluddin Khalji.34 Alauddin Khalji did not openly protest against undesirable activities of his wife and mother in law.

But in heart of hearts, he felt very dejected. This was the main cause of his remaining away from his wife and mother in law.

Malika – i– Jahan w/o Allauddin Khilji

Daughter of Malika – Jahan w/o Jalauddin Khilji, was married to the Sultan’s nephew, Alauddin, the daughter became so overbearing that her husband had become disgusted with her.

The extent of her influence on her husband can be illustrated by the following episode narrated by Barani.

Malika-i- Jahan, wife of Alauddin Khalji, being the daughter of the king always tried to domineer over her husband. The sudden rise of her father had made her exceedingly vain. Alauddin refused to become hen pecked. Being disgusted with the behavior of his wife, he began to neglect her and she made this ground for saying many unpleasant things. This made matter worse. Jalaluddin’s wife tried to mind matters by brow- beating Alauddin which led to greater estrangement. Alauddin was wary of these ladies, life lost all charm for him, and he tended to grow indolent, insipid and dispirited. Her impudence greatly distressed Alauddin, but he was averse to bringing the disobedience of his wife to the notice of the Sultan.

Haji-ud-Dabir in Zafar-ul-walih elucidates the cause of misunderstanding between Alauddin and his consort. He says that the prince had two wives – one the daughter of the Sultan Jalaluddin Khalji, and the other Mahru, the sister of Malik Sanjar, later known as Alp Khan.

Jalaluddin’s daughter had no knowledge about the other marriage, but when she came to know about it, she began to fret out their private life. One day when the Sultan was sitting with Mahru in a garden when she suddenly appeared and enraged at the sight began to beat Mahru with her shoe. Alauddin could hardly bear this insult and became infuriated and attacked her with his sword. She however escaped luckily only with a few minor injuries.

The position of Alauddin’s harem is not known but he had several wives- Jalaluddin’s daughter, a sister of Alp Khan, Badshah Begum, a daughter of Kaiqubad, known as Malka Mahik and mother of Mubarak, Kamla Devi the daughter of Ram Dev, became the chief queen of Alauddin Khalji.However K.S. Lal has rightly remarked that the Sultan does not seem to have been under feminine influence as such.

Makhduma-i- Jahan, widow of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughluq and the mother of Sultan Mohammad Tughluq ( 1225-1351 A.D. ).

As wife of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq

The Tughluqs also had great regard for the ladies. The harem life of the Tughluq Sultans was characterized by sobriety, dignity and restraint. Ghiyasuddin Tughluq’s personal life was extremely chaste and pure. His harem was perhaps very restricted and small.

While we possess very little information about the harem life of Ghiyasuddin Tughluq, all that can be inferred is that he had several wives and that his first wife was the mother of Juna Khan (Mohammad Tughluq ) , his eldest son.

She influenced him many years and was seen in her old age by Ibn Battuta as the mother of the ruling Sultan Mohammad Tughluq. She was the queen dowager, enjoyed the title of Makhduma-i- Jahan (mistress of the world). Her advance age combined with the fact that she had borne Mohammad Tughluq, his eldest son, already a grown up man under Sultan Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah, able to command armies and cut a prominent figure in war, encouraged the conclusions that she was the first wife of Ghiyasuddin Tughluq.

In all probability he married her on his arrival in India soon after the death of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban, as is evident from the memoir of their son, Sultan Mohammad Tughluq. Barani and Ibn Battuta are unanimous in praising the exalted lady and the Sultan’s devotion to her. She was one of those virtuous, benevolent and charitable ladies who left their mark as great philanthropists. She received envoys, guests at court and gave magnificent reception to them in the capital

As Mother of Mohammed Bin Tughlaq

Our knowledge about Mohammad Tughluq’s harem life is almost nil. However he looked after his mother, sisters and others with great personal concern. Tughluq dynasty witnessed the political influence of Makhduma-i- Jahan, widow of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughluq and the mother of Sultan Mohammad Tughluq (1225-1351 A.D. ). He was always respectful towards the queen mother and even he allowed her to exercise influence in matters of state throughout her life. It appears that she enjoyed precedence over the queens of the Sultan.

Ibn Battuta, the Moorish traveler was one of them, who saw her in her advance age. When he reached Delhi, She was present there with her wazir Khwaja-i- Jahan. She received gifts and presents from the guests and also distributed gifts to others with an open heart. She maintained a large number of hospices for the comfort of the travelers and endowed them to supply free food to all travelers. The foreigners who came to India to seek fortune were first extended hospitality on her behalf as guests. They were entertained with delicious food and then invested with silk robes of honour embroidered in gold. After it they were given fabrics of silk, linen and cotton. A separate department was organized which kept an account of her gifts and grants.

Mohammed Bin Tughlaq allowed her to exercise influence in matters of state throughout her life. It appears that she enjoyed precedence over the queens of the Sultan.

Being a woman of charitable disposition, she maintained a number of hospices which were run by state exchequer. Her acts of charity were a boon for several families which survived merely because of her help.

During the time of transfer of the capital first of all the Sultan shifted his mother Makhduma-i- Jahan with the entire household of the amirs, maliks and courtiers and slaves along with treasure and the royal hidden wealth shifted to Deogiri. Afterwards the Sultan summoned all the Sayyids, Sheikh (mystics), ulama and grandees of Delhi.

The Sultan sought her able advice not only in the management of the royal household but also on various political issues. It was through her timely intervention that the marriage of Bibi Raasti, the daughter of sultan Mohammad Tughluq, was solemnized with Sheikh Fathullah bin Sheikh Auhaduddin Nagoari, the grandson of Baba Farid in 1327 A.D. at Daulatabad.

Mohammad Tughluq had great devotion and love for his mother, Makhduma-i- Jahan. On one occasion she went on a tour with the Sultan but he returned few days before. When she came back, the Sultan received her with great ceremony. He alighted from his horse and kissed her feet when she was in her palanquin.

Unfortunately she had lost her eye sight at the time of Mohammad Tughluq’s coronation. Though based on hearsay, the following account of Makhduma-i- Jahan, as given by Ibn Battuta gives an idea of the éclat and splendour with which the occasion was celebrated: But she had lost her eye sight, which came about in this way; when her son ascended the throne, all the ladies and the daughters of maliks and amirs, dressed in their best clothes, came to pay their respect. She was seated in on a golden throne studded with jewels. All of them bowed to her. Then suddenly she lost her eye sight. She was treated by various means but could not get her eye sight back.

In 1341 A.D., when the governor of Multan declared his independence, Mohammad Tughluq set off from Delhi to deal with him. On the way he heard about the death of his revered mother Makhduma-i- Jahan at Delhi. The Sultan was over 56.

Over powered with grief, but having made arrangements of the distribution of alms for the benefit of the departed soul of his mother, he started for Multan.

The tomb of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughluq which lies near the Tughluqabad fortress was built by Mohammad Tughluq over the grave of his father. Subsequently two other graves namely the grave of Makhduma-i- Jahan and that of Sultan Mohammad Tughluq himself were built in the premise.

Sultan Mohammad Tughluq’s death on 20th March 1351 A.D., plunged Delhi Sultanate into great confusion and chaos.

Khudavandzada – Eldest Sister of Mohammed Bin Tughlaq

Following Mohammed Bin Tughlaqs death the confusion and chaos was further aggravated when the deceased Sultan’s eldest sister Khudavandzada intervened in the matters of succession. Unlike his wife, we find no mention in any contemporary or near contemporary records, his sisters are often mentioned.

The most prominent being Khudavandzada, she had a son named Dawar Malik. Other sisters have been mentioned in the Rehla which bears testimony to the kindness, he uniformly showed to them.

Before Thatta campaign, the Sultan had summoned Khudavandzada and Makhduma-i- Jahan from Delhi, together with many Sheikhs, the ulama, the elders, maliks, horsemen and foot soldiers to join him in the camp.

Soon after the death of Sultan at Thatta, Khudavandzada, being in the royal lineage, she put forward the claims of her son, Dawar Malik to the throne against Firozshah Tughluq as she was present in the imperial camp at Thatta.

She lodged a protest and asserted the superiority of the claims of her son. But Firozshah had been in the good books of Mohammad Tughluq and possessed first hand administrative experience. She appealed to Firozshah that he should help in restoring order in the realm by accepting the office of the regent. The nobles and the captains of the army attached no importance to his (Dawar Malik) Dynastic claims and only stated that he was unfit for the kingly office because he was a minor and possessed no administrative experience.

She desired to achieve her ends by being harsh to the nobles. This hostile attitude of Khudavandzada infuriated the nobility who opposed her claims.

The nobles made it clear to her that at such critical hour there was a need of competent person on the throne who could save the Sultanate from disruption. For this purpose Dawar Malik was too immature in comparison to Firozshah Tughluq. But Khudavandzada was firm in her stand and pressed the claims of her son for succession. She cared for her interest more and was least concerned about the welfare of the Sultanate. In order to avoid a civil war, Malik Saifuddin an influential noble of the court made efforts to pacify Khudavandzada’s stubborn attitude and he succeeded in his attempts and she withdrew her agitation.

Thus she could not procure the throne for her son. The nobles assigned him the office of Naib Barbak. Khudavandzada yielded to the wishes of the nobles, in favor of Firozshah Tughluq, yet in heart of hearts she longed to place her son on the throne.

Here we again find that women in any relation were respected and were given due weightage to their words. She was respectfully told that her son was a minor and unfits to manage the state affairs. And even the Sultan did not want to hurt her feeling.

The authority of Firozshah was recognized even at the capital. The boy king was unceremoniously set aside to make room for him and was later killed or died a natural death.

Wolseley Haig calls Firozshah a usurper who overrode the claims of the legitimate heir of the late Sultan. He regards the boy king as truly a son of Mohammad Tughluq. But Ishwari Prasad points out a number of difficulties in doing so. He says that if the Sultan had a son, contemporary historians must have referred to his birth, Khudavandzada could not have pleaded in favour of her own son. Firozshah Tughluq would not have inquired whether the Sultan had a son. The nobles could not have asserted that there was none and Firozshah would have never set his claims aside.

But he does not explain why Khwaja Jahan should have placed an obscure child on the throne and if his motive was to grab power for himself why should he has offered the regency to Firozshah. Hence a suspicion is created that the Sultan did leave behind a son. Ferishta and Badaoni support this view. R.P. Tripathi also regards the boy as a legitimate son of the late Sultan. If this be a fact, Firozshah was surely usurper in the light of current tradition but in point of law his election was not only valid but also in public interest. In this latter sense, the charge of usurpation falls to the ground.

Firozshah left no stones unturned in maintaining cordial relationship with his cousin Khudavandzada. He considered it proper to be coronated by her hand and she is said to have completed the ceremony of his coronation. Perhaps through this act he tried to express feeling of gratitude towards her for his succession.

So on his visit to Khudavandzada, he fell upon his knees, and pleaded her to fulfill his desire. She embraced him and placed the crown on Firozshah’s head on 24 Muharram 752 A.H./ 20th March1351 A.D. In spite of this she cherished malice.

Since then the Sultan made it a custom to pay visit to Khudavandzada after every Friday prayer.98 Thus the Sultan continuously expressed his gratitude and paid his respect to Khudavandzada. During these visits Sultan Firozshah and Khudavandzada sat on the same carpet and discussed the issue of importance.

It was after taking betel leave from her the Sultan came back to the palace. During these meetings Khudavandzada’s husband, Khusrau Malik stood beside them and her son Dawar Malik sat behind his mother. It shows that she enjoyed great respect and privilege and also appears that she asserted herself in presence of her son and husband.

As it is clear that Khudavandzada had never abandoned the idea of placing her son upon the throne. She was just looking for the right moment. Before Firozshah started on his first Bengal campaign, she along with her husband organized a conspiracy against the Sultan to assassinate him at the time when he visited her. For this purpose the armed guards were asked to stay in the nearby chamber and at Khudavandzada’s signal they were to attack the Sultan. Firozshah was completely unaware of this whole plot. As usual he went to visit Khudavandzada, but the timely gesture of Dawar Malik upset the plan and Firozshah escaped unhurt. The armed guards were arrested and they confessed their guilt.

Even though her attempt to kill Firozshah ended in failure, the Sultan continued to treat Khudavandzada with consideration and granted her a fixed allowance. Her enormous properties, owing to which she had hoped to put her son on the throne, were confiscated and she was directed to lead a secluded life.

Her scheming husband, Khusrau Malik was deported while Dawar Malik was ordered to visit the Sultan every month attired in a robe and slippers. His property and wealth was confiscated to the state treasury and he got only a fixed allowance.

The ambitious and conspiring Khudavandzada though met an unhappy end but in a way she was always given due regard by the Sultan Firozshah Tughluq.

Perhaps if she had not schemed against the Sultan, she would have a smooth and luxurious life. But her unwise act undid her better prospects.


Harem Dancers-Portrait by Η Marthe Soucaret


Tabaqat-i- Nasiri of Minhaj-us Siraj

Tarikh-i- Firozshahi of Ziauddin Barani

Rehla of Ibn Battuta

Tarikh-i- Ferishta of Abdul Qasim Ferishta

Tarikh-i- Firozshahi of Shams Siraj Afif

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Razia Sultan – A Royal Prisoner of Qila –i – Mubaraq aka Bathinda Fort

The Royal Prisoner


Razia Sultan, the first and only lady ruler of the Delhi Sultanates, was kept imprisoned in this fort after she was defeated and dethroned.

They say she was allowed out to pray only on Fridays, that too in a Palanquin by the Governor of Bhatinda-Altunia.

During the Razia’s reign, Malik lkhtiyaruddin Altunia the governor of Bathinda, rebelled against her authority. She marched on him to quell the rebellion, but her Turkish nobles mutinied against her and killed her so called paramour? Yaqut the Abyssinian. (It is being debated upon whether he was her paramour).

She was consigned to Altunia as a prisoner and was kept in the fort of Bathinda.

According to a local source Razia committed suicide by jumping from the wall of the fort. But some historical records of the period tell that after her marriage with Altunia, they were assassinated by a gang of plundering Jats, near Kaithal.

Altunia the Governor of Bathinda rebelled against Razia Sultan – the first woman to sit on the throne of Delhi. Later she was arrested and kept in this fort.

According to a legend a dejected Razia jumped from the parapets.

Of all these strongholds, the only one at Bathinda could endure the ravages of time. Set 300 kilometers northwest of Delhi, this fort has a long and important history unfolded.

Nasiruddin Qabbacha, the ruler of Sind is known to have captured the fort in 1210, after the death of Qutbuddin Aibak, the first Slave Sultan of India.

ln 1253, the fort was occupied by Razia’s brother, Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud. Malik Sher Khan was appointed the commander of the fort who also renovated and repaired its structure at various places and points.

About the fort


Bathinda Fort

(Source: Internet)

Bathinda was situated along the ancient route which connected Delhi with Multan-the gateway of Hindustan from the northwest. To check the foreign invasions, a line of strongholds to the north of the Ghaggar River was erected during the early centuries of the Christian era.

The fort is situated in Bhatinda city.It is is a monument of great historical importance. The presence of the fort can be traced back to the 90-110 AD.

The bricks of the fort dates back to Kushana period when emperor Kanishka ruled over India. The fort was captured by Maharaj Ala Singh of Patiala in 1754. The fort houses a Gurdwara, built in memory of Guru Gobind Singh. Bathinda Fort which had withstood the period of Raja Deb (3rd century), one of the ancestors of Vinaipal,

Bathinda was known as Tabarhindh (Labb-ut-Twarikh). The earliest mention of Tabarhindh occurs in the Jami-Ul-Hakayatwritten about 607 Hijri or 1211 AD. The fort, also known as Vikram Garh and Qila I Mubaraq.   In 1754, the fort was rechristened Govindgarh.

Later Bhatinda was changed to Bathinda to conform to the phonetical expression as locally pronounced according to Henry George Raverty,

In 1004, Mahmud of Ghazni besieged the local fort, which was located on the route from the northwest into the rich Ganges valley. Mahmud of Ghazni also visited it and a mention of it is there in Al Biruni’s Kital-ul- Hind.

At the time of Mahummad Ghori’s invasion, it was held by Mangal Rao, a descendent of Rao Hem Hel Bhatti. Mangal Rao, leaving the fort in the command of his son Anand Rao, led a large force to Jaisalmer against Muhammad Ghori.

The father was slain in the battle and the son died during the siege of the fort. Muhammad Ghori left Malik Ziyauddin Taluki as commander of the fort. But soon after his return, Rai Pithaura, popularly known as Prithvi Raj Chauhan, laid a siege to the fort, which continued for more than one year.  Ultimately Malik was left with no option but to concede.

In 1189, Muhammad Ghori attacked and occupied the fort of Bathinda. Prithvi Raj Chauhan, the ruler of this region, managed to recover possession of the fort thirteen months later in 1191 after the first battle of Tarain.

In circa 1754, the town was conquered by Maharaja Ala Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala and since then it followed the history of erstwhile princely state of Patiala. With the dawn of independence and merger of Patiala and East Punjab States into a division called PEPSU, Bathinda become a full-fledged district with headquarters at Bathinda city.

The local legend credits the erection of this fort, to one Raja Dab, an ancestor of Raja Venpal. According to Ain-i Brar Bans (A History of the Faridkot State) the fort, also known as Vikram Garh was built by Bhatti Rao, son of Bala Nand, who became the ruler of Punjab in 279 A.D,

As is well-known, Akbar’s regent Bairam Khan when dismissed from wazarat in 1558, took recourse to rebellion against the Mughal Empire. lt was in the Bathinda fort that he lodged his family before marching towards  Jalandhar.  However, he was defeated by the royal army at Gunachaur, near Rahon.

From the eleventh to the fourteenth century, this fort occasionally attracted the attention of medieval historians who referred to it as Tabar-e-Hind, the strength and glory of India. But the story that emerges out of numerous scraps of information lacks continuity. Only certain episodes are known.

But the fort eventually shot into prominence for the first time when it was captured by Mahmud Ghazni in 1045. Bidjay Roy, the Raja of Bathinda, unable to resist the besiegers fled from the fort and committed suicide.

At the time of Mahummad Ghori’s invasion, it was held by Mangal Rao, a descendent of Rao Hem Hel Bhatti. Mangal Rao, leaving the fort in the command of his son Anand Rao, led a large force to Jaisalmer against Muhammad Ghori. The father was slain in the battle and the son died during ‘ the siege of the fort. Muhammad Ghori left Malik Ziyauddin Taluki as commander of the fort. But soon after his return, Rai Pithaura, popularly known as Prithvi Raj Chauhan, laid a siege to the fort, which continued for more than one year.  Ultimately Malik was left with no option but to concede.

After the middle of the fourteenth century, the fort gradually fades into oblivion. The reason being that the encroaching Thar Desert began to render the route to Multan on which Bathinda was situated, difficult to traverse. Timur completed the process of decline of this route by destroying the cities along this highway during his invasion. The future line to the northwest was to be via Sirhind and Lahore. Hereafter, only a few   references to the fort are known.

Hereafter, once again the fort fades out from the gaze of history until it is known to have been conquered by’ Ala Singh, the Patiala chieftain, in 1754. The fort was rechristened Govindgarh. And most of the structure of the fort as it survives now, date back from its occupation by the Patiala rulers. They held it till the merger of their territory with the Indian Union in 1956.

Thus, this ancient fort which is now among the great archeological attractions of Punjab would be protected and preserved for us and for the posterity to look and to admire at and to have glimpses of the great values of safety and security it stood for.

The Fort is now in a dilapidated state.



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