Wednesday 13 March 2013

The grave of an Emperor's daughter

The last of the great Mughal Emperors, Aurangzeb, had a love-hate relationship with the south India which in those days was called the Deccan.
He lived most of his life in the Deccan and he died in the Deccan. He is also the only Mughal Emperor to be buried in the Deccan.
He spent the last 25 years of his life in the Deccan, waging wars against the Adil Shahis of Bijapur, Nizam Shahis of Golconda and Shivaji.
When The Adil Shahis failed to honour the terms of the treaty of 1657 of paying tribute, Aurangzeb sent Jai Singh, in 1666 with an Army. When Jai Singh failed to bring Bijapur to book, Aurangzeb personally led the war against Bijapur and in September 1686 he captured the city.
However, he had to pay a heavy price for having taken up the long and exhaustive war. His wife, Aurangabadi Mahal, and several nobles and commanders died of bubonic plague which swept across the city of Bijapur.
Aurangabadi Mahal is buried in an open grave in Bijapur itself.           
After the Bijapur campaign, Aurangzeb turned his attention to Golconda and conquered the Kingdom. He then set about beginning the 25-year war with the Marathas.
He set up his headquarters near Aurangabad and abandoned Agra and Delhi which had earlier been capitals of the Mughals.
While Aurangzeb failed to check Shivaji, he also seriously erred in taking on the Sikhs. His Deccan policy too failed him in his last years and it ultimately led to the demise of the Mughal Empire.
Another wife of his, Rabia Durrani, died in Aurangabad and she is buried in a monument called Bibi ka Maqbara. This structure was built by Aurangzeb’s son, Prince Azam Shah.
Aurangzeb himself died in 1707 near Aurangabad and he is buried in a simple tomb in an area called Khuldabad, near Aurangabad. Even in death, he never came back from the Deccan.
Aurangzeb’s tryst with the Deccan had begun in 1636 when he had been appointed as Viceroy of the Deccan by his father Shahjahan.
Unfortunately, the Deccan proved to be more of a family burial ground for Aurangzeb. Apart from burying two of  his wives in the Deccan, he also had to oversee the burial of his seven year old daughter in Sira near Bangalore.
Yes, Sira near Bangalore has an unmarked grave that belongs to one of the daughters of Aurangzeb.  This daughter is supposed to have died when Aurangzeb was in the thick of his Deccan campaigns against Bijapur and Golconda.
The Mughal Emperor’s daughter lies buried in the ancient dargah of  Malik Rehman or Hazrath Mallik Rehan Rahmatullah Alai.
Rehman Malik was the Mughal Governor of Sira province and Aurangzeb’s daughter is buried here with other followers of  the saint.
Sira is in Tumkur district and almost all the Muslim monuments of the district are found in this place. It was a major headquarters of Adil Shahis first and then the Mughals. After the Mughals, it passed into the hands of the Wodeyar Kings before Hyder Ali and Tipu lorded over it.  
Even today, Sira boasts of some of the finest Islamic structures in south Karnataka. The Jumma Masjid and the Darga of Malik Rihan are superb structures built in the Saracenic style. The masjid was built by Shaik Farid Saheb, His tomb, along with that of his brother Shaik Kabir Saheb and their sister Shehar Banu, is located in the structure. It was built in 1696.
The darga is a square building with a big tomb with four black minarets, about eight feet high, at the corners over the roof. The tomb of Malik Rihan is simple. He was the Mughal Subedar of Sira from 1637 to 1651.
The building was built in 1651. The walls of the darga are peculiar in the sense that stones of all sizes and shapes are fitted together. Just behind the building is an old mosque in which Mailk Rihan is said to have prayed. To the north-east is a building known as Diddi, a rectangular structure with four minarets. The two minarets at the front are taller than the minarets located behind. Malik used this building as his study.
To the south-east of the Diddi is a tomb under a canopy and this is where a seven-year-old daughter of Aurangzeb is buried.
The grave of Aurangzeb’s daughter has an inscription on it which reads as Allah and Muhammad. Unfortunately, the name of Aurangzeb’s daughter cannot be found out.
Coming back to the darga, it  has a verandah running all round with pointed arches. The main tomb of the darga has a broad base and the building is of Bijapur style. It combines dignity with grace.
Another Islamic structure is the Baraki mosque. This is in ruins. Near it is the tomb of Muhammad Khan which has minarets and  battlements.
Another darga in Sira is that of  Chinnada-gori or golden tomb. This is sp called because the tomb has a golden kalasha or finial. It contains the tomb of a fakir, Farid Ulla Shah, who came here from Bijapur. Locals say the fakir performed severe penance here till ant-hills grew round him.
Haidar Ali, who received the title of Nawab of Sira in 1761, was highly impressed with the Mugahal architecture of Sira. The structures built by him and his son at Srirangapattana and Bangalore are replicas of the ones at Sira commissioned  by the Mughal governor, Dilavar Khan.
Bangalore fort too is said to have been modeled on the fort at Sira. The Lalbagh in Bangalore owes its origin to  the Khan Bagh at Sira.
Though the Bangalore fort and Lalbagh is most visited today, Sira is almost a forgotten tourist centre. Even many Bangaloreans are not aware of Sira and its contributions.
One of the oldest structures here is the fort of Kasturi Rangappa Nayaka, who was treacherously killed by the Adil Shahi General Afzal Khan.   
Seebi, which houses the famous Narasimha deity and Maidanahalli, the blackbuck sanctuary are nearby. Tumkur is 50 kms away. Sira is easily accessible from Bangalore by road.

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