Wednesday 16 January 2013

The open grave of the Mughal Queen

The mediaeval city of Bijapur in north Karnataka is famous for its Islamic monuments. The city was once the capital of the Adil Shahi Emperors who were great patrons of art, architecture, literature and other final arts. Aurangzeb had five wives. One of then was Aurangabadi Mahal.
The Adil Shahi Kingdom was founded in 1489 by Yusuf Adil Shah who traced his ancestry to the Persian Kings. The Emperors who followed Yusuf transformed Bijapur into the foremost city of excellence in the Deccan and very soon it came to be known as the Palmyra of the Deccan.
Palmyra is an ancient city in Syria and it is famed for its ruins. The city is near an Oasis and, hence, it came to be known as Bride of the Desert.
The growing wealth of Bijapur and the secular nature of its Emperors attracted the ire of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The Mughals, right from the time of Shahajan, had been wanting to subjugate Bijpaur.
Aurangzeb (1658-1707) had camped in south India for several decades to subdue the Deccan states of Bijapur, Ahmednagar and Golconda apart from carrying out a relentless campaign against Shivaji, the Marattha Emperor.
As was the wont in those days, Aurangzeb had settled down on the Deccan with his family. The long drawn out wars against Bijapur and the Maratthas had exhausted him mentally and physically. He had five wives- Nawab Raj Rai Begum, Dilras Bano Begum, Hira Bai Zainabadi Begum, Aurangabadi Mahal and Udaipuri Mahal.
Aurangabadi Mahal, who had married Auragnzeb in 1654, had they had a daughter frm the marriage.
She had joined Aurangzeb during the later part of his campaign against Bijapur. She was with him when he finally overcame the stubborn Bijapur resistance in 1686 and the last Bijapur Emperor, Sikander Adil Shah, surrendered.
She entered Bijapur City along with Aurangzeb and stayed there for some time before the couple moved to Golconda where Aurangzeb waged another war against the Emperor. 
Even as Golconda fell, Aurangzeb received news of the growing restlessness of the newly added territory of Bijapur to the Mughal Kingdom. Shivaji and his son Sambhaji were once again raiding Mughals posts and making daring attacks against the Mughals. 
So, Aurangzeb, with Aurangabadi Mahal in tow, hurried back to Bijapur sometime in 1688.  By the time he came to the walled city. The great plague of 1688 had already started its dreadful dance of death. More than 1.5 lakhs people were killed by the bubonic plague that swept Bijapur.
The plague also claimed the life of Aurangabadi Mahal. However, Aurangzeb could not be deterred from his avowed aim of  giving Bijapur a steady ruler. He had his wife buried in an open grave within Bijapur city itself.
Even today, the junior wife of  Aurangabadi Mahal is in the open. Unfortunately, only a handful of locals and none of the tourists visiting the city have an idea of the grave.
A really sad end to the wife of one the last great Mughals. While, the wives of Aurangzeb's predecessors, Aknar, Jahangor and Shahajahan, had magnificent tombs built for them, Aurangabadi had not even a roof over her tomb. 

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