Roshanara Begum-the daughter of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Begum had commissioned the famous Roshan Ara Garden. Today, however, Roshanara is best known for the Roshanara Bagh, a pleasure garden located in north Delhi, next to Kamala Nagar Road and Grand Trunk Road. The present-day Roshanara Club which was constructed in the late 19th century by the British is a famous country club that was actually originally a part of the Roshanara Bagh.
In a corner of the green expanse lies a neglected tomb. It is the tomb of Princess Roshanara.
Tomb of Roshanara
The garden, however, was not meant to house the tomb of its creator when it was first made. It is the irony of fate that it should be remembered as such. Or some might call it divine retribution.
Roshanara had laid out the Roshanara Garden in 1650.
Death of Michael Clance due to a Sadhu’s curse, the Pir haunting the lake and old Peepal Tree – Such as these happenings in the 19th Century. Does the pir still haunt the place?
Roshanara’s love of gold, land, and Power and her downfall
Eventually, however, Roshanara and Aurangzeb fell out with each other. Roshanara, who was obliged to remain single. In addition, she ruled Aurangzeb’s harem with an iron hand and earned the hatred of her brother’s many wives. She also had a love of gold and land, and accumulated wealth on a large scale, often by corrupt methods. This resulted in numerous complaints against her, none of which were brought to justice due to her position at Court. In addition, she blatantly misused the sweeping powers Aurangazeb had granted her just before leaving for his long military campaign in the Deccan, to further her own financial ends.
Her enemies soon brought these acts of financial and moral turpitude to Aurangazeb’s notice. Himself a very strict Muslim, Aurangzeb frowned on Roshanara’s libertine lifestyle and her greedy nature. On his return to Delhi, he stripped Roshanara of her powers, banished her from his court, and ordered her to remain in seclusion and live a pious life in her garden palace outside of Delhi.
Tomb of Roshanara in her baradhari in Phulbangash, north Delhi
(Pavillion by Prayash Giria)
Late 1671, when Roshanara was discovered with yet another secret lover in her garden. The incident enraged Aurangzeb and sealed Roshanara end and she was poisoned with her lover. It remains unclear as to who poisoned her; whether it was her own or the desire her lover to take poison. Others suspect Aurangzeb to have ordered her poisoning. However, the latter view is deemed unlikely by historians due to Aurangzeb’s apparent partiality towards her in a number of cases. She died at the age of 54. Aurangzeb had her interred in the Roshanara Bagh, a garden that she had designed and commissioned herself.
Roshanara was a brilliant woman, a talented poetess, the mastermind behind Aurangazeb’s accession to the Mughal throne, and by the time of her death in 1671, one of the most notorious women in the Mughal kingdom.
She was the favourite sister of Aurangzeb, who grabbed the throne some years later and imprisoned his father. To help Aurangzeb, she even spied on Dara Shikoh her other brother, on a regular basis.
Rise to Power
Aurangzeb’s sister, Roshanara Begum-the one who energetically sided with him
Roshanara’s rise to power began when she successfully foiled a plot by her father and Dara Shikoh to kill Aurangzeb. According to history, Shah Jahan sent a letter of invitation to Aurangzeb to visit Delhi, in order to peacefully resolve the family crisis. In truth, however, Shah Jahan planned to capture, imprison and kill Aurangazeb in prison as he viewed his third son as a serious threat to the throne. When Roshanara got wind of her father’s plots, she sent a messenger to Aurangzeb, outlining their father’s true intentions, and warning Aurangazeb to stay away from Delhi.
Aurangazeb was extremely grateful to Roshanara for her timely warning. When the war of succession was resolved in favour of Aurangzeb, she quickly became a powerful figure at court. Fearing that Dara Shikoh would kill her for her role in the war of succession if he ever returned to power, Roshanara insisted that Aurangazeb order Dara’s execution. Legend has it that Dara was bound in chains, paraded around Chandni Chowk and beheaded. Roshanara then had his bloody head wrapped in a golden turban, packaged neatly and sent to her father as a gift from Aurangzeb and her. Shah Jahan, who opened the package just as he was sitting down to dinner, was so distressed by the sight of his favorite son’s head that he fell unconscious to the floor. He remained in a stupor for many days after the incident.
Roshanara relationship with her older sister, Jahan Ara, was troubled and tinged by jealousy as the latter was undisputedly their father’s favorite daughter. Roshanara scored a major victory against her sister when Aurangazeb, who had been displeased with Jahan Ara for supporting their father and brother during the war of succession, removed her (Jahanara) from her position as head of the Imperial harem, installing Roshanara in her stead.
Roshanara’s Tomb in Roshanara’s Bagh
RoshanAra’s Tomb in Roshan Ara’s Bagh
Roshanara is best known for the Roshanara Bagh, a pleasure garden located north-west of the walled city. The original bagh was made much smaller by carving a part of it into the Roshanara Club in the late nineteenth century by the British. The bagh was designed and commissioned by Roshanara for her residence in the 1650s, the same time when Shahjahan was building Shahjahanabad, and after her death in 1671, this also became the location of her burial. Only two buildings now survive – a central pavilion or baradari and an entrance gate.
Roshanara’s grave lies in the centre of this pavillion.
The original char bagh layout of the garden, in the middle of which the current pavilion must have stood, was obliterated when it was converted into an English garden.
The bagh is entered from what remains of the original gateway. The gateway is finished in lime plaster, but one can see tantalizing remains of some beautiful glazed tile decorations in parts, especially in the upper portions. A channel runs from the gate to the pavilion some distance away; which must have originally contained fountains within. At the end of this water channel stands the main pavilion in the middle of a square pool from which the building can be accessed from two sides.
Roshanara younger sister of Jahanara, and elder to Dara Shikoh, Murad and Aurabgzeb, died at the age of 54 and Aurangzeb had her interred in the Roshanara Bagh. The grave is housed in the centre of an enclosure created by four marble screens with jali (screen with ornamental patterns) work, but is an open grave now, only covered with earth, the marble cenotaph probably having been stolen sometime in history.
Article compiled from various sources: RA Smith, http://ztopics.com/Roshanara%20Begum/. Photo Source: Prayash Giria