Exploring the Bagan Archeological Zone

27

Nov
2021

Bahadur Shah Zafar’s Dargah

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Tucked away down a residential side street is the final resting place of Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal emperor of India, whom the British deposed  and exiled to Rangoon follow- ing the great Indian uprising of  1857. Held under house arrest with his wife, Begum Zeenat  Mahal, and other family mem- bers, the former ruler survived  only four years of imprisonment.

Upon his death in 1862, his body was hastily interred in an unmarked grave in the garden, a move which the British officials at the time vainly hoped would discourage pilgrims. A dargah (mausoleum) was eventually constructed on the site of the old house, but the location of the grave remained unknown. It was only in 1991, when workers were digging trenches for a new building on the site, that a brick structure was found 3.5 ft (1 m) below the surface containing the graves of Bahadur Shah and his wife and grandson. The spot has since been enshrined in a style more befitting a monarch renowned to this day as a polymath, fine calligrapher, inspired poet, and Sufi mystic: with a covering of gilt­edged silk and a scattering of fragrant rose petals.

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