Recently, UN World Tourism Organization ranked India at 40th place in the world travel and tourism index, thanks to the various heritage sites that have been built once to serve the royals who conquered the country and contributed a vast archaeological legacy in making India incredible. Do you know that half of them are actually creations by Mughals themself, the massive vaulted gateways, large halls, uses of different stones and everything makes it endurable, yet an intense curiosity led me to find what happened to them who built these marvelous creations, the nobles? The descendants of Babur, the first Mughal ruler who won over Ibraham Lodhi (last ruler of Delhi Sultanate) to set up the Mughal empire in India?
Mughals ruled over the Indian subcontinent in a splendid manner and made a remarkable history which is always highlighted in golden words. But by the close of the 18th century, it had sunk to a few km around Delhi, some would say it existed mostly within Red fort. The rebellion, Revolt of 1857, was not successful, Bahadur Shah II (last ruler of Mughal Empire) surrendered himself to Britisher & was exiled to Rangoon( now known as Myanmar ) meanwhile his son Mirza Mughal, Mirza Khizr Sultan and grandson Mirza Abu Bakht were killed near Delhi gate, which is also known as “khooni Drawaza” located in Delhi. Some historians suggest that Bahadur Shah II lived and died in Rangoon, while some onlookers and books written during that era described the remaining Mughals prince begging on the streets of Shahjahanabad living in extreme poverty.
During Bahadur Shah II’s late days, he was indulged into poetry writing, one of it explained his situation very clearly,
“Hai Kitna Badnaseeb Zafar Dafn Ke Liye,
Do gaz zameen bhi na mili koo-e-yaar mein”
The unfortunate situation of the last Mughal rulers was found in a book named “Begamaat Ke Aansu” by Hasan Nazmi which describes of a prince named Nasir-ul- Mulk who escaped from Britishers and had taken up employment with his sister but fell into extreme poverty even after receiving Rs 5/m ( a pension given to nobles by Britishers). Later, he was seen on streets asking for help and food, he was observed to be the grandson of Bahadur Shah II.
Another descendant of Mughals named Sultan Begum, widow of Prince Mirza Bedar Bukht and granddaughter-in-law of Bahadur Shah Zafar II, is living in the outskirts of Calcutta struggling to make her ends meet on a basic pension $60/m, despite a royal heritage. She runs a tea stall and earns a few pennies by selling traditional garments.
After petitioning central and state government for years, she has been able to get a job for her grand-daughter Roshan Ara. Though there was a report in Times of India that these descendants of Mughals claimed Red Fort, it was more of a plot to receive government attention and it was denied because there is no such private wealth of sultan or Nizam but of the masses of the continent.
To read more about the plight of Mughals in the post-Mughal empire, you can grab ‘Dastan-e-Gadar” by Zahir Delvi, ‘Dill ke Akhri Deedar” by Syed Wazir Hassan Delvi and poetries by Urdu poets on the condition of royals at the detail.