The Treasures that Khusrau Bagh, Allahabad Hides in its Heart


the entrance to Khusarau Bagh by Daniell (British Library)
“Who thought that this boy of few years
Would behave so badly to his sire?
At the first taste of the cup he brings up the lees.
He melts away my glory and his own modesty.
He sets on fire the throne of Khūrshīd,
He longs for the place of Jamshīd.”

This is Jehangir talking of his son Khusrau Mirza’s rebellion against him in Tuzuk e Jahangiri..
A watercolor by Thomas Daniells from the 18th century in the British Library. Today there are no trees between the three tombs
He further goes on to say

“Futile ideas had entered the mind of Khusrau in consequence of his youth and the pride youths have, and the lack of experience and the lack of foresight of worthless companions, especially at the time of my revered father’s illness. Some of these short-sighted ones, through the multitude of their crimes and offences, had become hopeless of pardon and indulgence, and imagined that by making Khusrau a tool they might conduct the affairs of State through him. They overlooked the truth that acts of sovereignty and world rule are not things to be arranged by the worthless endeavours of defective intellects. The just Creator bestows them on him whom he considers fit for this glorious and exalted duty, and on such a person doth He fit the robe of honour.

“He who is seized of Fortune cannot be deprived of it;
Throne and diadem are not things of purchase;
It is not right to wrest crown and dominion
From the head which God, the Crown-cherisher, has indicated.”

My trouble was this, that my son without any cause or reason should become an opponent and an enemy. If I should make no endeavour to capture him, the fractious or rebellious would have an instrument, or else he would take his own way and go for an asylum to the Ūzbegs or the Persians, and contempt would fall upon my government.”
A grand tomb was made for him, in the Mughal garden in Allahabad by his sister Nisar Begum.
This garden today is named after the Prince but its earlier name according to Finch was Menepur. He observed Shah Begum’s sumptuous tomb there.
Originally a wooden canopy covered his tomb and his personal copy of the Quran was kept beside him.
His tomb is the last in the garden and is normally kept locked. It is in slightly forlorn condition
When it was first made it must have been beautiful as it is painted with cypress and flowers. Cypress has always been associated with death and mourning for some reason
some of the paintings in the niches have been destroyed but one can get a sense of the splendor there must have.
It has beautiful stone jaalis as light or Nur was an important aspect of Islam and light falling on the grave was essential

There are Persian verses inscribed on the doorways reflect the tragedy of Khusrau Mirza’s life.
Another grave in the side chamber of Khusrau’s tomb. Though according to legend it is his mare, I think it might be his ill fated son Dawar Baksh as is denoted by the takhti on the cenotaph.

Perhaps the most tragic story is that of Man Bai or Shah Begum as she was christened by Prince salim on the birth of his first son Khusrau Mirza. She was a Kachchwaha princess, the daughter of Raja Bhagwant Das. She could not reconcile herself to the rift between father and son and died on May16, 1604 by consuming an overdose of opium.
Mausoleum of the Ranee, wife of the Emperor Jehangire, near Allahabad; by Thomas and William Daniell, 1801* (BL)
In Tuzuk e Jahangiri, Jahangir writes:

“His mother, while I was prince, in grief at his ways and behaviour and the misconduct of her brother Mādho Singh,*killed herself by swallowing opium (tiryāq). What shall I write of her excellences and goodness? She had perfect intelligence, and her devotion to me was such that she would have sacrificed a thousand sons and brothers for one hair of mine. She constantly wrote to Khusrau and urged him to be sincere and affectionate to me. When she saw that it was of no use and that it was unknown how far he would be led away, she from the indignation and high spirit which are inherent in the Rajput character determined upon death. Her mind was several times disturbed, for such feelings were hereditary, and her ancestors and her brothers had occasionally showed signs of madness, but after a time had recovered. At a time when I had gone hunting, on Zī-l-ḥijja 26th, 1013* (May 6th, 1605), she in her agitation swallowed a quantity of opium, and quickly passed away. It was as if she had foreseen this behaviour of her unworthy son.”
Her tomb in respect to her Rajput lineage has been made in that style of architecture and to me seemed very similar to Panch Mahal in Fatehpur Sikri. It is also of Chunar sandstone.

Her tomb was designed in 1606 by Aqa Reza, Jahangir’s chief architect and is a three storied terrace plinth without a main mound.

“My first marriage and that at the commencement of my adolescence was with her. After Khusrau’s birth I gave her the title of Shāh Begam. When she could not endure the bad conduct of her son and brother towards me she became disgusted with life and died, thereby escaping the present grief and sorrow. In consequence of her death, from the attachment I had for her, I passed some days without any kind of pleasure in life or existence, and for four days, which amount to 32 watches, I took nothing in the shape of food or drink. When this tale was told to my revered father, a letter of condolence of excessive kindness and affection reached this devoted disciple, and he sent me a robe of honour and the auspicious turban tied just as he had taken it off his head. This favour threw water on the flame of my grief and afforded complete quiet and repose to my unquietude and disturbance. My intention in relating these circumstances is to point out that no evil fortune is greater than when a son, through the impropriety of his conduct and his unapproved methods of behaviour, causes the death of his mother and becomes contumacious and rebellious to his father, without cause or reason, but simply through his own imaginations and futile ideas, and chooses to avoid the blessing of waiting upon him. Inasmuch as the Almighty Avenger lays a proper punishment on each action, of necessity his condition finally came to this, that he was caught under the worst circumstances, and falling from a position of trust became captive to perpetual incarceration.” (Tuzuk)
Today she rests in lonely splendor on the top of her tomb.

The tomb is adorned by arabesque inscriptions designed by Mir Abdullah Mushkin Qalam, Jehangir’s chief calligrapher.

Since these tombs are not open to general public they are in very good condition.
But the most beautiful of these three tombs is that of Jahangir’s daughter Nisar Begum, which is in the middle, flanked by her mother and brother.
At the entrance.
One can see inherited her father’s penchant and eye for paintings.

Details of the grand entrance to Nisar Begum’s tomb
Persian verses on the gate invoking God as the sole refuge

Inside the jewel box. The ceiling of the tomb is simply mind-blowing. “The ceiling is conceived as a series of concentric stars within a net-like vault.” The original colors are beautifully preserved. It is easily one of the best preserved tombs I have seen anywhere in India from this period.
The truly stunning interior of the main cenotaph hall

Having no idea of the kind of beauty that was hidden here I had only my mobile and so my photography is limited by that.

However, she was not buried in it and the crypt chamber above is empty.
Allah 5
Inside the crypt home now to bats.
Today this park is popular with children who play cricket or with walkers.

During the revolt of 1857 Khusrau Bagh was the headquarters of Maulvi Liaqat Ali. He and his group of patriots fighting the British were defeated in 2 weeks and Khusrau Bagh retaken from their control.

There is an intricate system of water ways with water flowing into channels. Water ways were always an important part of gardens and tombs as per the Islamic concept of Jannat
In a corner of the garden opposite the royal tombs, is another tomb said to be that of a servant

Photo Gallery







Leave a Reply