If not Taj Mahal, where was Mumtaz Mahal buried?

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Ahukhana

The grandeur of Taj Mahal stands tall is a landmark which proves India the land of love, the white marble mausoleum of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal is unique as it is! But some 500 miles away from the city of love Agra, lies another town in the state of Madhya Pradesh- a remote and relatively small city of Burhanpur that holds a very crucial chapter of Shah Jahan’s beloved’s afterlife. A flood of tourists and the shambling ruins of Ahukhana is where the original Mumtaz grave is resting. Though today, Taj Mahal is remembered as an epitome of love that dwelled between the ancient love birds, Shah Jahan and his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, very few of us know that it’s not where Mumtaz was originally buried. So what’s inside this part of history that we don’t know about? Let’s check that out!

A Chapter From Mumtaz Mahal Afterlife

Though as the witness of such an ancient glorious civilization, people boast about Shah Jahan and of course Taj Mahal, none of us really seems to care about the true history or the accurate history of it. That’s the major reason while we worship the wonder, a very few knows that the queen was originally not buried in Taj Mahal. Queen Mumtaz Mahal’s original tomb lies in Ahukhana which seems to be lost in the pages of modern civilization. The Ahukhana was built in 16th century as a deer park by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. This park was sprawled over an area of six miles including two major structures- a small region beautified with traceries and a pillared pavilion also known as the baradri. This Baradri remained the witness of the remains of Queen Mumtaz Mahal for almost six months after her death. Once this tomb was adorned magnificently, however, today nothing much remains apart from the overgrown grounds, tattered walls and deadly cracks.   

Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram better known as Shah Jahan was the fifth Mughal emperor who ruled between the period of 1628 to 1658. The period of his reign is considered as a golden age of Mughal architecture as he built several mesmerizing tombs that still stand tall including the Taj Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal was his most beloved wife with whom he bore 14 children out of which only 7 survived adulthood. She was a powerful lady who accompanied her husband to courtrooms and advised him on many legal affairs. Though she died young at an age of 38, Shah Jahan remained devoted even after her departure. But as the sayings goes like “God separates the two lovers, least did he thought it would become the talk of the town”, so did their love what came to be known as the Taj Mahal.

Ahukhana

For Shah Jahan these years wasn’t easy, after the death of his wife the emperor for next 24 months didn’t entangled with any of his other wives, also he didn’t visited the court for an entire week which at that time was a big thing. Historians penned down several other stories as well which says that Shah Jahan was so sad that his hairs turned grey faster than ever and he lost his smile forever. He recited Fateha on her grave once a week ever since then.    

As Mumtaz Mahal died long before the Taj Mahal was built, she was originally buried in Burhanpur. Her last words to the king was to never marry again and begged him to build her a mausoleum that resembles exactly to the paradise on earth which according to her she saw in her dream. But as such a paradise couldn’t built over a night, she was buried in Ahukhana which was a beautiful place full of flanking rose beds and flourishing fountains. The park was decorated beautifully with murals and frescoes. After 22 years of resting there, Mumtaz Mahal was finally entombed inside the Taj Mahal.   

Because of the poor maintenance, lack of staff, the Ahukhana today does not hold such a beauty as its historical significance. The ruins of mud led to the roads towards the place, wall are graffited by the visitors whereas the architecture too is disturbed due to contaminated soil of the place.

“It’s a plastered building made of bricks. All that ASI can do is use more plaster, and keep restoring it back to its original form. I agree the garden needs to be maintained, and that they should at least build a decent public urinal at the site. But the property isn’t a priority for ASI, which is critically short-staffed.” said Kurush Dalal an archaeologist from the University of Mumbai.

For the people may be the tomb is nothing more than a morgue but it is actually a very crucial chapter of Mughal history that needs to be restored and appreciated. As for the locals of Burhanpur, the Ahukhana holds a precious significance and they desire it to flaunt again. We hope that one day the world will acknowledge the importance of Ahukhana in Mughal dynasty’s history and the place would brighten again just as before.       

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