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We are/were ‘1’

PHOOLWALON KI SAIR

SAIR-I-GULFAROSHA.N

When Mughal conquered India, they adopted the Indian lifestyle and respected religion of locals. From Akbar offering Chhatar to Hindu temples and donating land for Golden Temple of Sikhs, each Mughal emperor was involved in some or other interfaith activity. The communal unity was at its peak with many Jain, Hindu and Sikh nobles serving in the Mughal court. British realized this strength of Indian people and decided to implement their Divide and Rule policy. They identified Aurangzeb as the pivot, during whose rule, maximum forceful conversions and temple destruction took place. The fact that these incidents happened only in the areas where Hindu/Sikh groups started mutiny against Mughal crown was deliberately removed from History books. It was projected that Mughals, especially Aurangzeb were always bad. Following their Divide and Rule policy, all events that exhibit Hindu Muslim Unity were banned, including the one I am going to talk about today:

It was year 1812. East India Company had penetrated to Mughal court completely and a Resident Officer was living inside the Red Fort, controlling the administration of India. Coins were struck by British Mints and name of Mughal Emperor was removed from currency. Emperor Shah Alam II had died, for whom people started saying

‘Badshah Shah Alam, Az Delhi, Ta Palam’

clip_image002It meant, Emperor Shah Alam’s rule is from Delhi (Red Fort) to Palam (present day Delhi Airport) only. Shah Alam II’s son, Akbar Shah II was the puppet king and Archibald Seton, a Scottish East India Company Administrator was the appointed Officer in Red Fort. Next in line to throne, Crown Prince Mirza Jahangir was against British way of working. One day, this reckless young prince of 19 insulted Seton by calling him Lullu. Seton did not react then. Perhaps he did not understood the meaning of the word. Few days later, when Seton was returning from court, Mirza Jahangir, sitting on the roof of Naubat Khana, fired a shot at him, missing Seton completely. While Seton escaped unhurt, his orderly lost his life. Angry with this, British arrested Mirza Jahangir and sent him to Allahabad fort. Back then, it was famous that a political prisoner, who is sent to Allahabad Fort, never returns alive.

clip_image004The Mughal court tried its best to save him, but the administration was in British hands completely. Having failed at every door, Empress Mumtaz Mahal, mother of Mirza Jahangir came to the shrine of Sufi Saint Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki (ra) in Mehrauli, Delhi. She took a vow that if Mirza Jahangir returns safely, she would offer a sheet (chadar) of flowers at the Dargah.

After few years of praying, Mirza Jahangir one day miraculously returned to the Red Fort. The Empress approached Emperor Akbar Shah II and told him about her vow. Emperor was more than happy to be a part of pledge. They both decided to start from the Red Fort with sheet of flowers for the Shrine. News spread like jungle fire and everyone in and around the Palace got ready to walk with the royal family, to pay homage to Sufi Saint resting in Mehrauli.

It was the month of September. Convoy started with all the praise singing and merry making. When they reached the outskirts of Mehrauli, Mughal Emperor stood by the Temple of Ma Yogmaya and said, Mehrauli is known for this deity and it will be a sin to pay respect to Sufi Shrine and not visit the Hindu Temple.

Yogmaya Temple in Mehrauli is considered to be one of the Temples Pandavas built. It is attributed to Maa Yogmaya, sister of Lord Krishna, who was replaced with Krishna upon birth to save him from his evil uncle Kans. This temple gave this area its name ‘Yoginipura’. She is also known as Maha Maya or Mehraa.N waali maayi (mother of graces) and some say, the name ‘Mehrauli’ is a distorted version of ‘Mehra.N Waali’ (NOTE: Mehra-waali = Mehravali = Mehrauli).

Emperor Akbar Shah II entered the Hindu Temple and offered a Pankha (fan) to the deity. He then went to the Muslim Shrine to fulfil rituals of offering Chadar. For seven days, entire court was shifted to Mehrauli and with all the merry making and celebrations, people were very happy. Emperor ordered to repeat this event every year. A palace, called Rang Mahal was constructed as every year, entire Mughal court used to get shifted to Mehrauli for 7 days. Every year, Mughal Emperor would come with everyone from Red Fort and around, with a sheet of Flowers and a decorated Fan for Temple. This festival became popular with name ‘Phoolwalo.N ki Sair’ or ‘Sair-i-Gul-Farosha.N’.

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Rang Mahal was later termed as Lal Mahal. Mirza Jahangir could never become king. Instead, his brother, who was a poet and had no interest in ruling the country, Mirza Sirajuddin aka Badshah Bahadur Shah ‘Zafar’ was made emperor. Zafar added portion to this palace and it is today popular with name Zafar Mahal.

Emperor Akbar Shah II and his family got buried in this Zafar Mahal, next to the shrine. Emperor Zafar also designated a place for his grave next to his father, but since he was exiled to Rangoon, he could never return and fulfil his last wish.

In early 1940s, British imposed ban on all activities that exhibited communal harmony. So was the fate of Phoolwalon ki Sair. It was stopped for almost 2 decades, until in 1961, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru asked the mayor of Delhi, Mr. Nooruddin Ahmed and a scion of prominent family Shri Yogeshwar Dayal to revive the festival. On September 6, 1962, Pt. Nehru played the part of the Mughal Emperor and the festival was celebrated like old days. He continued to do so until his death, after which, his daughter Indira Gandhi took special interest in the festival. She invited other states of India to participate, so that the festival of Communal Harmony becomes the festival of National Communal Harmony.

Phoolwalon ki Sair is celebrated till date, for 7 days, every September. It is managed by Anjuman-i-Sair-e-Gulfaroshan, a society governed by notable Hindus and Muslims of Mehrauli. Pankha and Chadar are offered by President, Prime Minister, Chief Minister of Delhi, Lt. Governor of Delhi and different state governments. Pity, that we are too busy in propagating religious biasness, that we pay no attention to such celebrations.

Taj, the foreign connection

Taj-Series

This article is part of my Taj Mahal Series

On 17th June 1631, as Arjumand Banu Begum, aka Mumtaz Mahal, the most favourite wife and Empress Consort of the Mughal Emperor Badshah A’la Azad Abul Muzaffar Shahab ud-Din Mohammad Khurram, aka Shah Jahan died, the Mughal Court started planning for the grand burial of the late queen. She left the mortal world while giving birth to her 14th child in Burhanpur, where her husband, the Emperor was fighting with rebels. She was buried in a pleasure garden called Zainabad, originally constructed by Shah Jahan’s uncle Daniyal on the bank of the Tapti River. The Emperor went into secluded mourning for almost a year and when he came out, he was a changed man with all the sadness reflecting from his face and attire. Meanwhile, in December same year, her body was taken out from her grave and in a golden casket, transported to the then capital of Mughal Empire, Agra. There, the body was buried in a garden on the banks of Yamuna and as Emperor reached Agra after finishing his campaign in Deccan, the garden was taken from the king of Jaipur, Raja Jai Singh for an exchange of a prestigious piece of land within city. In 1632, the construction of the grand mausoleum started, which was later called “The Taj Mahal”

clip_image002While there are numerous things to talk about the great Taj Mahal, this article focusses on the foreign connection of the Taj. In coming editions, I will try to write more about Taj and unveil more secrets of this magnificent wonder of the world.

Taj Mahal was not built overnight. It took decades to reach the final finial and plant the last tree. Architects, Masons and Material from different countries was sourced to construct this finest piece of Mughal Architecture. The structure was built using rubble masonry, covered with layer of bricks, which were baked locally. The sandstone used in the tomb was sourced from Fatehpur Sikri, which is around 40-45 Kms away from Agra. The famous white marble for Taj Mahal was brought from Makrana in Rajasthan (some 400 Kms away). The marble of Makrana is known to be finest and decorates many other famous buildings including Victoria Memorial of Kolkata, National Assembly of Pakistan, Jain Temple of Mysore & Dilwara, Ambedkar Park of Lucknow, Birla Temple of Jaipur and Makrana Emitra Campus. Jasper for the building was sourced from the region of Punjab. This building is decorated with Jade and Crystal, which were imported from China and turquoise came from Tibet. The Lapis Lazuli was sourced from Afghanistan, Sapphire from Sri Lanka and Carnelian from Arabian region. Onyx and Amethyst came from Persia. It is said that in all, 28 types of semi-precious stones were used on Taj Mahal, which were sourced from all over South Asia. Some say that the cost of the construction of this building was around 50 Lakh Rupees, while some debate that it might have gone up to 6 Crore (Which sounds a little impractical, given the state of royal treasury back then).

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Ustad Isa, an architect from Shiraz, Iran is considered by few to be the chief architect of Taj Mahal. While this claim was challenged by few, who named Ustad Ahmed Lahauri (also from Iran) as the chief architect. The claim of Ustad Ahmad being the chief architect was put forth by his son Lutfullah Muhandis and was verified by many modern research scholars. Abd ul-Karim Ma’mur Khan and Makramat Khan were the Imperial Supervisors for the construction. Ismail Afandi was bought in from Ottoman Empire to design the dome. Qazim Khan from Lahore was asked to cast the solid gold finial. Amanat Khan from Shiraz (Iran) was the chief calligrapher of Tomb. Mir Abdul Karim and Mukkarimat Khan of Shiraz were incharge of finances and management of daily production. Puru from Benarus in Iran was the supervisor of all architects. Chiranjilal, a lapidary from Delhi was the chief sculptor and mosaicist while Muhammad Hanif was the supervisor of masons

clip_image006Another interesting name that appears in picture is of Geronimo Veroneo, an Italian, who lived in Agra and died in Lahore in 1640. The European Scholars celebrate him as the chief architect of Taj Mahal. This claim was made by Father Sebastian Manrique, an Augustinian Friar whose purpose in India was to secure the release of Father Antony, who was being held as a prisoner by the Mughals in Lahore. And it was here in Lahore that he met the executor of Geronimo, named Father Joseph De Castro. It was Castro who told Father Sebastian about a famous Venetian jeweller who came to India in the Portuguese ships but died on his way in Lahore and was later buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery Padres Santos in Agra. However, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a French gem merchant, who was travelling in India during the construction of Taj Mahal has given the most accurate account of its construction and did not mention anything about Geronimo. Peter Munday, another traveller who has left a complete record of his travels, was in Agra around that time. He knew Geronimo well and mentions that he met him several times, but does not state anything more than the fact that he was a goldsmith.

While there is lot that can be said and written about Taj, I reserve more for my future articles. No doubt, this marvel leaves its impression on every spectator and reminds us of the great artistic capabilities of the people back in 17th century.

The Auction of Taj Mahal

Taj-Series
This article is part of my Taj Mahal Series

“Henceforth, let the inhabitants of the world be divided into two classes – Them as has seen the Taj Mahal; and them as hasn’t.”

– Edward Lear

In my series of articles on Taj Mahal, I am going to introduce you to an interesting episode of our history, where one of the British appointed Governor General, Lord William Bentinck, who had absolutely no respect for or interest in Indian Heritage, decided to auction off the Taj Mahal.

When celebrated English author, poet and illustrator Edward Lear wrote the quote mentioned above, he tried to depict the mesmerizing sight of the great Taj Mahal. Countless visitors since ages have praised the beauty of Taj. But one man, sitting on the top position had some other evil plans about this beauty. Lieutenant-General Lord William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck became the Governor General of India for just two years from 1833 to 1835. In these 2 years, he saw the bad state of finances. To improve the financial state of the government, he took a very stupid decision, which was to auction, what we today regard as the ‘Wonder of World’.

During British Raj, it was a practice of Rich British families to visit decorated Mughal buildings and dig precious stones to be taken back as souvenirs. Taking a hint form this malpractice, Lord Bentinck decided to dismantle the Taj Mahal and auction off the precious marble. Part of the marble was to be sold to Indian nobles and rest was to be sent to Britain, for further sale. Idea of trying to sell majority of marble in India rather than in Britain came because an earlier attempt to sell marble from Red Fort of Delhi was not a successful. The cost of transporting marble to England came out to be more than the bid.

The British had earlier sold the Taj Mahal to Seth Laxmichand of Mathura for Rs. 1.5 Lakh, who, when reached the Tomb for possession, faced a major opposition from the Hindu and Muslim residents of Taj Ganj, the colony established by Emperor Shahjahan, which is said to have the descendants of workers, who made Taj Mahal. Seth Laxmichand had to retreat and the sale was called off.

Bentinck_williamThen Lord Bentinck came with better arrangements and ensured that such problems do not hamper the auction. On July 26, 1831, an advertisement to sell Taj Mahal was published in an English daily of Kolkata. Auction started with seths of Mathura and Rajasthan. The next day, auction continued with English Bidders. Once again, the Taj mahal was sold to Seth Laxmichand for Rs. 7 lakh. But the cost of dismantling and taking off the marble was so high, that it was practically impossible to make profit out of it. Once again, the auction had to be called off.

Lord Bentinck went back to his thinking table and finally managed to sort out the cost issue. Historian, Prof. Ramnath in his book ‘The Taj Mahal’, mentions about this incident. British author HG Cannes also mentioned about this incident in his book ‘Agra and Naibr Hoods’. They wrote Lord Bentinck finally managed to arrange an auction, which cannot be called off as all the hurdles have already been taken care off and this one was well planned.

As the second auction was arranged, the seths and the British once again were invited. Then came into picture, an unknown soldier from the British Army, who secretly reported the matter to the Member Parliament of his constituency back in England. The matter was taken to the British Parliament and London office immediately ordered the Indian Governor General to give up this stupid idea. We will never know who this unsung soldier was, who saved the precious Taj and gave India its share in the list of Wonders of World.

Much later, Lord Curzon, called for an auction on 7th February 1900. Many old paintings and precious carved stones, which included some material from Taj Mahal was auctioned. Even Lord Hastings had many precious stones from Taj Mahal sent to London.

However, there have been incidents where looters didn’t bother to do the formality of auctioning. Historian E.B. Havell records that the Jats of Bharatpur, under Suraj Mal, carried away the fountains and the fish tanks of Machhli Bhawan of Fort. Later, other parts were taken by Lord Bentick for auction. Similar looting was done at Taj as well. In 1784, the Jats carried away the silver doors of Taj, which were estimated at Rs 127,000, when installed by Shahjahan. They were studded with nails, the heads of which were silver rupees.

Manucci writes, the first plunder of Taj took place in 1691, when Jats, under the command of Rajaram and Ramchhera took away great gates of bronze, studded with precious stones and plates of gold and silver.

No matter what Taj has seen and suffered, it is still counted as one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in Indian Subcontinent.

Samosa…

As I finished my lecture at India Habitat Centre, a person approached me and congratulated me for the way I presented the history of Delhi. He gave me many points and asked if I would like to dive deeper into the history and try to find out the history of every single locality of Delhi. While we were talking, he gave many pointers to work on, one of which caught my immediate attention. This person, named Nataranjan Bohidar (Roni) wrote me this:

Pythagoras_in_Thomas_Stanley_History_of_PhilosophyThe Greek influence in India is to be sought in the fact that the greatest mathematician of 3-d triangles, the father and inventor of TRIGONOMETRY, was Pythagoras…and he comes form the Greek town of Samos, which is the name that we still call the Samosa by …and the
samosa by shape must be  a  tribute to this 3-dimensional genius, PYTHAGORAS ! What are the chances it came to India from Greece …what
are the chances Pythagoras born 150 years in Samos before Alexander, was well known to the military commander and his Generals introduced samosa to Alexandrias all over the world  and so too to Sikanderpur?

Note: India-Pakistan has multiple towns with name Sikanderpur. These are the territories given to nobles of Alexander (locally known as Sikander) after Alexander’s alleged victory over India, who established townships and named after him.

This made me thinking, is really my favourite snack an instrument to learn the 3-Dimensional triangle.

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A quick search on Wikipedia revealed that the word Samosa can be traced to Persian word sanbosag. In Arab countries, the name changed to Sanbusak or Sanbusaj. Afghanis call it Sambosa and Tajakistan knows it by name Samboosa. Turkic speaking nations call it Samsa and Portuguese speakers call it chamuça.

Samosa is a triangular fried pastry with savory filling within a finely milled wheat flour. In its initial days, Samosa was filled with ground lamb, beef or chicken. However in India, Potatoes cooked with onion, peas and spices is filled. It got associated with Indian subcontinent during the Mughal Period (16th century). It has been an important snack prepared in the royal kitchen. Interestingly, there is also a building in Akbar’s capital Fatehpur Sikir, which goes by the name “Samosa Mahal”. It got its name due to its 3 sides. This triangular palace with multiple rooms and a small gusal-khana was built for one of the nobles of Akbar’s court. Name of this noble is no longer known. The landscape of this building has changed slightly with time.

Pythagoras-MünzOldest written reference of Samosa is by Abolfazl Beyhaqi (995 AD – 1077 AD), an Iranian historian, who mentioned about it in his work Tarikh-e-Beyhaghi. This work is the most authentic account of Ghaznavid empire, which was spread from Iran to Afghanistan (including parts of Pakistan and India). Based on this account, researchers deduced that the Samosa originated somewhere in Middle East before 10th century. It should be noted that this land was part of Ancient Greece till 7th-8th Century. The island of Samos, from where Pythagoras came is situated to the immediate west of this mainland Abolfazi talked about. We know that Pythagoras was very famous in this region because we get his image and work depicted on coins from 3rd century.

Some claim that Samosa was introduced in India by traders from Middle East in 13th or 14th century. Hazrat Amir Khusrow, the famous sufi mystic, poet and disciple of Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya (ra), who also worked as the royal poet in the court of Slave emperors wrote in 14th century about Samosa, prepared with meat, ghee and onion. Ibn-i-Battuta, the famous Moroccan traveller, who visited India during the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq wrote about a small triangular patty, which he calls Sambusak (the name Samosa is known by in Arabia, from where Battuta came). He says that Sambusak is stuffed with minced meat, almonds, pistachio, walnuts and spices, was served before the third course, of pulao.

In 16th century, Akbar’s minister Abu’l Fazl ibn Mubarak wrote a complete account of Akbar’s administration, known as Ain-i-Akbari (Constitution of Akbar). He mentions the recipe for Qutab, which he says, the people of Hindustan call Sanbusah.

While samosa originally started with a filling of minced meat and became popular as a potato filled pastry, there have always been experiments with it. These days shops across the globe serve samosas filled with various items like macroni, pasta, noodles, cottage cheese, cauliflower, meat, mushroom, peas, and almost everything else that can be eaten. Interestingly, the most popular filling of Samosa, Potato is also not from India. It originated in Peru somewhere between 8000 and 5000 BC. Like potato, many other common food items that we consume in India were traded into the subcontinent.

I will now stop writing and head to my nearest Samosa shop. Time to pay tribute to Pythagoras.

Bon Appetite!!!

Prison Palace of the Last Mughal

zafarOn Friday the 7th November, and the 14th Jamadu ul Awwal, Abu Zafar Siraj ud Din Bahadur Shah was freed from the bonds of the foreigner and the bonds of the flesh. “Verily we are for Good, and verily to him we shall return”

– Ghalib
Ref: The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple: p 475

 

In 2005, I was sitting in my room when my dad called me and said, “Vikram, i have made the 3D model of Zafar’s last house”. I jumped with joy and rushed to his office, which is not too far from house. While I was walking towards his office, the entire scene of how my dad was working towards this from several months ran through my mind. And finally he succeeded in recreating the bungalow, where the last Mughal emperor was kept and where he died.

Rangoon-Bungalow

Computer generated 3D model of the last residence of
Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar made by S. Gurdev Singh

 

Why is it Important?

This building mean a lot to historians, writers, archaeologists and people with several other interests that help them relate themselves to this place. But for our family, it was important because one British officer wrote to the Queen that ‘Ram Singh’, the state prisoner from Punjab, who is arrested after his non-cooperation Kuka Movement is taken to exile and will be kept in the same building in Rangoon, where Bahadur Shah Zafar was kept in his last days. My father was working on a project related to Kuka Movement and this bungalow was very important for the completion of his work. Being a Namdhari (Kuka) family, this place is a shrine for us. Hence, the exploration began.

 

The Development?

After my father learned the details of our religious master, Satguru Ram Singh Ji’s exile, he started reading document and books about Bahadur Shah Zafar. He spent 3-4 months in National Archives and read almost every letter that he thought could give a hint about Zafar and his stay at Rangoon. He found letters written by Captain H. Nelson Davies describing about Zafar, his family and health. Capt. Davies was supposed to give regular updates to the Queen regarding the deposed Emperor of Hindoostan. In one letter, he described the place where the former emperor under trial was kept.

On 3rd August 1859, Capt. Nelson Davies wrote:

The house is situated within a few yards of the Main Guard and like wooden houses of the country is considerably raised off the ground. It is in an enclosure 100 ft. square and is surrounded by palisading 10 ft. high. The accommodation consists of 4 rooms each, each 16 ft. square, one of which is allowed for the ex-king, another is occupied by Jawan Bakht and his young Begum, a third is appropriated by Zinat Mahal Begum; to each of these rooms a bathing is attached, Shah Abbas and his mother occupying the remaining rooms .

The attendants either lounge about the verandahs or put up underneath the house, which is covered by pounded brick to keep the place dry. A drain all around the house also contributes to his object. There are two bathrooms and a double necessary for the use of the servants, also a place to cook in.

The venradahs in the upper storeys of the house are surrounded with chicks battened down. Here the old and enfeebled ex-K ing and his sons generally sit, and as the floor of the upper storey is raised nearly to the level of the pallisading, they enjoy the benefit of the prevailing sea breeze, and also an extended and cheerful view.

But this was not enough. What really did the trick was a hand drawn map by the resident engineer, which gave the exact location of road and other buildings nearby. My father was then able to trace that map in Autocad:

plan

Once my father had this layout, he went on to research the architecture used in Burma/Rangoon those days. He was aware that the first floor of the building was of bricks and the upper part was traditional wooden structure in native architecture. Being an architect, my dad had no trouble getting the designs. The result was this 3D model.

Rangoon-Bungalow-2 Rangoon-Bungalow-3 Rangoon-Bungalow-4 Rangoon-Bungalow-5

The next step

Our family was happy with this creation and my father soon packed his bags and drove to Gurudwara Sri Bhaini Sahib near Ludhiana (Punjab), from where the Kuka Movement started. He was greeted by the authorities of Gurudwara and his discovery was sanctioned for the next level. He was ordered to make a miniature model of the same place and keep it at the Gurudwara. He came back and spent next several weeks creating a miniature model of the place. Following are the pictures of wooden model that he made:

(Please note that minor modifications were done to the bungalow before moving H.H. Satguru Ram Singh Ji here. The final model was made accordingly)

RB-1 RB-2 RB-3 RB-4 RB-5 RB-6 RB-7 RB-8 RB-9 RB-10

The above model was first kept at the reception of (Village) Gurudwara Sri Bhaini Sahib in district Ludhiana of Punjab, India. Later it was moved to the museum in ‘Ram Mandir’ in the same Village-Gurudwara. After this model, my father built the model of the original house that H.H.Sri Satguru Ram Singh ji built from where the Kuka Movement started. During this, he was also redesigning entire village, which is now converted to a huge Gurudwara and is the headquarters of the Kuka/Namdhari community. People loved this model so much that my father was asked to create a miniature park depicting the entire history of Kukas. This park was built in 2 years with several models of forts and palaces involved in the Kuka Movement built in 1:100 ration. I will write a post about them in coming days. That park includes a much bigger model of this Bungalow.

 

The Rangoon Bungalow at Present

The bungalow was later converted to a Warrant Office (Military Post Office) and now a portion of its land is part of the local School. Locals created a small shrine on the remaining part of the property but on 16th February 1991 they found a grave some 25 feet away from that shrine while digging. “Three feet deep, the skeleton of the king was found intact”, reports William Dalrymple. That is when they realize that actual grave is in the garden behind. The new complex, now called the ‘Dargah of Bahadur Shah Zafar, Emperor of India’ opens to Zi Wa Ka Street connecting U Wisara Road (originally called Voyel Road) and Shwedagon Pagoda Road.

Following pictures are by Zafar Khan Kasi of Quetta:

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Sardgah: Where he wanted to be buried

Bahadur Shah II (Zafar) wanted to be buried next to his father Akbar Shah II in Zafar Mahal (which was originally known as Lal Mahal or Rang Mahal) in Mehrauli. This building was constructed next to the Dargah shareef of Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki (r.a.) when Akbar Shah II started the famous Sair-e-Anjuman-e-Gul-Faroshan (Phoolwalon ki sair). This place was used as the palace for the royal family, where they used to stay during the Urs of Khwaja, when the said festival was celebrated.

When Akbar Shah II was buried next to the Moti Masjid behind the Dargah, Zafar had the tomb enclosed in marble and reserved some space for him next to his father within the enclosure. But his fate took him away from the place and he could never return. He even wrote a poem while I was in exile (though he was not allowed pen or paper, some historians believe that he wrote on walls, which were later penned down by someone)

lagtā nahīń hé jī mérā ūjař’é dayār méń
kiskī banī hé ālam-e-nā-pāyedār méń
būlbūl ko pāsbāń se na saiyyād se gilā
qismet méń qaid likhī tthī fasl-e-bahār méń
kaeh do in hassretoń se kahīń aur jā bas’éń
itnī jageh kahāń hé dil-e-dāGhdār méń
ik shāKh-e-gūl pe baiTh ke būlbūl hé shādmāń
kānTe bichā diye héń dil-e-lālāzār méń
umr-e-darāz māńg ke lāye tthe chār din
do ārzū méń kaT gayé do intezār méń
din zindagī ke Khatm hué shām ho gayī
p’hailā ke pāoń soyeń-ge kūńj-e-mazaar méń
kitnā hé bad-naseeb zafar dafn ke liye
do gaz zamīn bhī na milī kū-e-yār méń

 

– Vikramjit Singh Rooprai
www.monumentsofdelhi.com

 

The Last Hindu Emperor

PrithviRajChauhan Search this title on Google and all you will find is “Prithvi Raj Chauhan”. He was a brave fighter and a noble emperor of Ajmer and Delhi who ruled from 1169 CE to 1192 CE. Tales of his bravery are common folklores amongst Indian families. But very few learned writers talk about the Hindu Emperors, that came to power after him. In this article, we will talk about the Emperor, who ruled entire Northern India and virtually the entire India from the throne of Delhi.

After Samrat Prithvi Raj Chauhan was captured by Muhammad bin Sam (Muhammed Ghori) in the second battle of Tarain (1192 AD), the Sultanate Period started in India. Rulers like Qutb-ud-Din Aibak, Iltutmish, Ghiasuddin Balban and Razia Sultana were prominent during the Slave Dynasty, the first Islamic Dynasty to rule the region. The last emperor of Slave Dynasty ‘Kayumars’ was dethroned by his own guardian Jalaluddin Firuz Khilji, who founded the Khilji Dynasty.

Khusro Khan, the Hindu, who converted

Alaudin Khilji attacked Gujarat in 1297 AD under the command of Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan and defeated the last Hindu Ruler of Gujarat Karan Vaghela. Before Khilji forces killed leaders Hamirji Gohil and Vegado Bhil near Somnath, Vagedo took a promise from one of his loyal to escape and take revenge from Khilji. This guy came to Delhi as a war prisoner and converted to Islam.  He was given the name ‘Hasan’ and later Qutubuddin Mubarak Shah of Khilji dynasty gave him the name ‘Khusro Khan’.

It is said that Khusro Khan got Alauddin Khilji killed through his friend Jahiriya and later managed to kill his master Mubarak Shah and declared himself the king of Delhi. But in just 4 months, he was captured and killed by Khilji’s loyal general Ghyasuddin Tughlaq, who after that formed his own dynasty by the name ‘Tughlaq Dynasty’.

Khusro Khan was against laws which favoured tax system based on religion. It is said that he was against women being treated as war booty. He took strong steps to prevent harems and sex slaves. Perhaps his own sufferings made him think this way but this caused nobles to go against him.

 

Samrat Hemchandra Vikramaditya (Hemu)

Hemchandra Bhargawa or Hemu (1501-1556), son of Rai Puran Das, born in Alwar Rajasthan was the Chief of Army & Prime Minister during the regime of Adil Shah Suri of the Suri Dynasty. He fought 22 battles in a row without even a single setback before his emperor was captured and killed in Fathpur. In his 22nd victory on 7th October 1556 against Tardi Beg Khan of Humayun’s Army, he crowned himself as the Emperor of Delhi instead of establishing the Islamic Flag of Suri Dynasty. He took the name ‘Samrat Hemchandra Vikramaditya’. Some say that he was very much influenced by the famous Vijaynagar Empire of South and based his kingdom on those lines.  Although Hemu’s rule was very short, he was able to struck coins bearing his name.

Hemu was a powerful general who captured the Fort of Gwalior, Agra and Delhi, which were considered to be the most powerful forts of India. He captured areas which today comprises of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana.

His rule lasted only 1 month when on 5th November 1556, Mughal armies fought with him in the battle of Panipat and captured him in unconscious state. It is said that Bairam Khan asked Akbar to behead Hemu to earn the title of Ghazi. Akbar, despite of being a kid, replied that he is already dead and if he had any movement or breathing, he would have killed him. So upon Bairam Khan’s request, Akbar struck Hemu and later Bairam Khan beheaded him. His head was sent to Afghanistan to be hung outside the Delhi Darwaza in Kabul and his body was placed in a gibbet outside the Old Fort (then called the Shergarh).

After Hemu’s death, a massacre of Hemu’s community and followers was ordered by Bairam Khan. Thousands were beheaded and towers of skulls built with their heads, to instil terror among the Hindus. At least one painting of such minarets is displayed in the "Panipat Wars Museum" at Panipat in Haryana. These towers were still in existence about 60 years later as described by Peter Mundy, a British traveler who visited India during the time of Jahangir.

Today, no one knows about this brave emperor, who saw Hindus and Muslims with same respect and had no religious differences. He had a dream of making India a better place, if only he could have done it.

– Vikramjit S

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