The Tomb of Princess Jahanara

Baghair subza na poshad kase mazar mara
Ki qabr posh ghariban hamin gayah bas-ast
(There cannot be any other curtain of my tomb except the humble covering of grass.
Grass alone is sufficient to cover the grave of a poor person, as I am )*

The plaque starts with Allah’s name  Hayyul Al Qayyum _He is the Living, the Sustaining

the next 2 lines are the verse by her and the remaining 4 lines in the plaque read

The mortal simplistic Princess Jahanara,
Disciple of the Khwaja Moin-ud-Din Chishti,
Daughter of Shah Jahan the Conqueror
May Allah illuminate his proof.
1092 [1681 AD]

Princess Jahanara(April 2, 1614 – September 16, 1681) was the eldest daughter of Shah jahan and his favourite. 


( note: no actual likeness of her exists, as was usual for royal Mughal ladies their portraits were always imaginary an based on verbal descriptions)

She was the First lady of the Empire after her mother’s death and was given the titles of Sahibat al-Zamani (Lady of the Age) and Padishah Begum (Lady Emperor), or Begum Sahib (Princess of Princesses). Her power was such that, unlike the other royal princesses, she was allowed to live in her own palace, outside the confines of the Agra Fort.
She aligned with Dara Shikoh’s in the battle of succession and gave up her preeminent position  in the court after Aurangzeb’s  victory and retired to look after her father in Agra Fort where he was imprisoned  by Aurangzeb.

After Shah jahan ‘ s death she was reconciled with Aurangzeb and regained her position in court.
Together with her brother Dara Shikoh, she was a disciple of Mullah Shah Badakhshi, who initiated her into the Qadiriyya Sufi order in 1641. Jahanara Begum made such progress on the Sufi path that Mullah Shah would have named her his successor in the Qadiriyya, but the rules of the order did not allow this.

She is buried in a simple marble enclosure in the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. It was built by her in her lifetime in 1681. She died and was buried in the same year. It is ornamented with embossed traceries and according to Stephen Carr writing in 1876, “is hollow at the top and exposed to the sky – the hollow is filled with earth covered with green grass,” as per her will,  though today it is covered with rose petals and flowers.The grave is an enclosure of four walls, about 16′  by 12′ and over 8′ high. Each of the walls consists of three panels, covered with marble screens of lattice work. The wall with the door has 2 panels with the door taking place of the third screen. The top of the walls had a perforated marble balustrade , but only a small pice exists today. Of the four small marble minarets on the four corners of the enclosure, too only 2 exist. ( source Stephen Carr)

It adjoins the marble enclosure for Emperor Mohammad Shah and its entrance is near the langar khan of the Dargah.

On the right of the grave of Princess Jahanara is the grave of Mirza Nili, the son of Emperor Shah Alam and on its left is the grave of Jamal-un-Nisa, daughter of Akbar II.
Today however her tomb is considered to have magical properties and mentally disturbed women are brought to it and left there. I found it a little disturbing that instead of clinical treatment they were being kept here: some against their will as I saw one girl trying to go out but she was stopped by her male guardian.
She had been given half of Mumtaz Mahal ‘ s wealth and property by her father on Mumtaz Mahal ‘ s death ( the rest divided amongst the remaining siblings). On her death she willed that her property worth Rupees 3 crores be distributed amongst the khadims of the dargah but Aurangzeb distributed only 1/3 of that, saying that according to Law a person can will only 1/3 and the remaining 2/3 goes to the real heirs.
She had a tablet placed in the enclosure which bears the beautiful couplet written by herself given above. *
Grave of Jahanara, daughter of Shah Jahan, at Jam-at Khana Masjid, Nizamuddin. Grave topped with hollow filled with grass
Date: January 9 1903 Gertrude Bell Archives

Unfortunately today it is believed to cure mentally challenged women and one sees various women sitting there in various stages of bewilderment and agitation. Their male guardians put them in here in most cases and wait for a cure outside. 

Aurangzeb emulated his elder sister Jahanara and his epitaph closely echoes hers.
Grave of Mughal Emeperor,Aurangzeb at Khuldabad, Aurangabad, 1850s. “He desired in his will that not more than 8 rupees was to be expended on it”
The epitaph reads his own couplet in Persian:
Az tila o nuqreh gar saazand gumbad aghniyaa!
Bar mazaar e maa ghareebaan gumbad e gardun bas ast!. Translation: “The rich may well construct domes of gold and silver on their graves! For the poor folks like me, the sky is enough (of a dome to shelter my grave)!

From www.razarumi. Com

(*Verse and translation courtesy Prof R Nath from Asarus Sanded of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan)


Comment List

  • Swaleh Mohammed 29 / 03 / 2015 Reply

    A very true account of history which tells the Mughal era with authenticity and accuracy.

    • Rana Safvi 29 / 03 / 2015 Reply

      Thank you

  • AZEEM OSMAN 28 / 05 / 2015 Reply


  • MUJTABA HUSAIN 09 / 12 / 2015 Reply


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