Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mausoleum for husband: The Monument built by a woman in memory of her beloved husband in Najibabad


This is not a very well known story--that of a wife building a monument in memory of her husband.

The mausoleum stands amid ruins in the historic Najibabad town in Bijnore district in Uttar Pradesh (UP), India.

Unlike the story of Taj Mahal, which is famous across the world, and which was built by Shah Jehan in memory of his wife, the presence of 'Chahaar Minar' or 'Char Minar' in Najibabad, is testimony to a woman's love for her late husband.

The wife of a Nawab, she got the monument constructed to immortalize her husband's memory after he died young. The tomb was built in memory of Nawab Jahangir Khan, a kin of Najibuddaula--the founder of Rohilla dynasty at Najibabad.

Historians say Nawab Jahangir Khan was married in Kotra, Kiratpur. Two years after the marriage, once when he had gone to bring back his wife, he died in a mishap. During the celebratory fireworks on his visit, a 'gola' [big cracker] hit him.

Is is mentioned in texts that Jahangir Khan got injured as he got burnt in the chest. The Nawab had later succumbed to the burn injuries. The death of her husband shattered his wife. The Begum, then built the 'maqbara' (tomb) in memory of her late husband, at Moazzampur Teligarhi on the outskirts of Najibabad.

The grave [Qabr] was in the middle under the big dome, with the four minarets around it, on four corners. The dome fell long back. The minarets stand even now. Each of these minarets is quite thick, three-storey tower, with staircase leading to the top.

The building made of 'lakhauri' [old style bricks that were smaller but more baked and gave a different texture to structure] has minarets separated from each other at a distance of 50 feet.  The unique structure is crumbling now.

Even the foundation of the minarets is in a dilapidated state. The mausoleum was constructed long ago and though it survived centuries, the apathy of local officials and the indifference of Archaeology department, is killing the monument.

Some vernacular newspapers have taken up the issue earlier. In a few Hindi newspapers, the news about the  ancient building has been published. Recently, Aftab Nomani, wrote an article in Roznama Sahara [Urdu] highlighting the sorry state of affairs in the Archaeology department and the plight of this monument.

Nomani wrote that Sardari Begam had built the monument for her husband Jahangir Khan. Shouldn't such monuments be conserved? Except Agra, the condition of numerous such monuments in districts of UP, remains pathetic.

Low budget and lack of interest on part of tourism-archaeology officials is leading to the destruction of such amazing heritage. With builders and encroachers eyeing every inch of land on the Indo-Gangetic belt, the future is bleak for monuments.

The 'Chahar Minar' maqbara is located on the lofty mound known as Mordhaj. For years it has been awaiting restoration. Will it ever happen? Unlike the famous Taj Mahal, [also a mausoleum] this monument is expression of a woman's love for her husband.

See other links:
1. Hidden Heritage: Coming across a Shia shrine, The Karbala at Mohan
2. Mysteries, Secrets and Little-Known Facts about Taj Mahal