Hello to all of you from Allahabad !
Allahabad in the north of India happens to be my hometown. It is better known for being a city at the confluence of the holy rivers(yes folks, in India we worship many things including trees, animals and rivers ) Ganga, Jamuna and the mythical Saraswati.And a city where two of our Prime ministers and a national icon,the film actor Amitabh Bachchan, and, ahem, yours truly, were born.
I am spending some wonderful monsoon days with my sister, brother, their families and friends.The days ARE wonderful but the rivers I mentioned above are not. They are flowing over the danger mark-that is, they can cause floods if they continue to rise ! Shall forget about this for now.
A couple of days ago, while at my brother’s- I visited a place that I had not been to for at least 20 years. You know how it is-you take places in your own town for granted-never visit them but quickly lay claim on them, pretend you know all about them when an ‘outsider’ mentions them !
‘Khusru Bagh’ or Khusru’s garden is actually a very large garden that houses four beautiful tombs in pink and yellow sandstone built between the years 1606 and 1625. The tombs of Mughal prince Khusru, the son of Emperor Jehangir and brother of the famous Shah Jahan of Taj Mahal fame, the tomb of his sister Nissar Begum, that of his mother, Shah Begum, and the tomb of Khusru’s favorite Paan Wali or the special lady who sold dressed betel leaves(dressing betel leaves-that are eaten in South Asia as mouth fresheners- was an elaborate art honed to perfection by the Mughals).
The stories of these Mughals are full of intrigue– which princely stories are not ! In this case,after many twists and turns, Jehangir imprisoned his own son Khusru in this very garden. Jehangir’s Hindu wife, Man Bai or Shah Begum, and Khuru’s mother committed suicide, distressed by the relationship between father and son. The story gets more gory. Khusru was later blinded and then killed by his brother, Shah Jahan . So, you see , the very man who built the great monument of love, the Taj Mahal, was capable also of monumental cruelty ! Such is the paradox of human nature-says I !
The largest mausoleum, that of Khusru’s mother, Shah Begum. The most beautiful form, I think-
The tomb in the middle-that of Khusru’s sister, Nissar Begum.It is actually a cenotaph (alright dears-just looked it up-a cenotaph is an empty monument without the real grave ). It is the most elaborate of the three tombs. Its beauty lies in the restraint and dignity of its embellishments –
Close up of the Rajasthani Hindu-style chatri or canopy incorporated into the architecture-
Typical Mughal embellishments of walls-perfection-
Small but exquisitely executed motifs around doorways-
Detail of a drainage pipe(why can’t we make such things beautiful anymore?)-
The doorway to the main chamber, sadly, not open to the public-
A close up- the painting desperately in need of restoration-
The smallest of the three tombs-that of Khusru himself-
A view I loved-
No doubt the surrounding gardens were beautifully laid out in the past. Now they are just about there-quite neglected-but giving the atmosphere an air of mystery. I was happy there were only very few people when we visited. It gave us the chance to enjoy the place in quiet. There was the sound of Azaan (call to prayers for Muslims )from some mosque in the distance–almost as if it was an ode to the beauty created by people long gone.
Hope you have a good rest-of-the week ahead !
Tell me what you think of these Mughal tombs–wonder if you like them as much as I do ?