Nawab Sikander Begum of bhopal

Nawab Sikander Begum-of Bhopal

Sikandar Begum
Nawab Sikandar Begum
(1818 - 30 Oct 1868)

  • Sikander Begum, the only daughter of Qudsia Begum, became the Nawab of Bhopal in 1844.
  • Her husband's name was Jahangir Mohammed Khan, whom she married on 18th April 1835
  • True to her name, she was brave indeed. (in Arabic, her name means Alexander the Great)
  • Like her mother, she too was forward-looking and never observed purdah.
  • An expert in all the martial arts, she fought many battles.
  • When the Indian war of independence started in 1857, she sided with the British. She was instrumental in crushing a number of rebels.
  • Like her mother, she did a lot of public welfare.
  • Despite her bravery, she was very considerate towards her people.
  • She built roads and reconstructed the fort.
  • She also built her palace - the Moti Mahal, which in English means the Pearl Palace.
  • She built another important landmark of Bhopal - the Moti Masjid
    • The name literally means the Pearl Mosque.
    • It was built in 1860, inspired by the Jama Masjid of Delhi.
    • The Moti Masjid can still be seen in Bhopal.
    • Despite its age, it is still in a good condition
  • The Shaukat Mahal was another important building constructed during her tenure.

  • Shaukat Mahal in the olden days
    Shaukat Mahal in the Olden Days

    • It is a strange mixture of Indo-Islamic and European styles of architecture.
    • It was designed by a Frenchman, a descendant of the Bourbon Kings of France.
    • Post Renaissance and Gothic styles have been combined in an enchanting manner in the building.

Bhopal State

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the pre-1949 Indian princely state. For the state of the Union of India, see Bhopal State (1949–56).
भोपाल / بھوپال
Princely state of India (1818–1949)
Flag Coat of arms
Nasr Minullah[2]
Bhopal State (1949–56), after merger with India
Capital Bhopal
Islamnagar (for a brief period)
Languages Persian (official), Hindustani
Religion Islam and Hinduism
Government Monarchy
Nawab of Bhopal
 -  1723–1728 Dost Mohammad Khan (first)
 -  1926–1949 Hamidullah Khan (last)
 -  Established 1723[1]
 -  Disestablished 1 June 1949
Bhopal State (pronounced [bʱoːpaːl] ( )) was an independent state of 18th century India, a princely salute state in a subsidiary alliance with British India from 1818 to 1947, and an independent state from 1947 to 1949. Islamnagar served as the State's first capital, which was later shifted to the city of Bhopal.
The state was founded by Dost Mohammad Khan, an Afghan soldier in the Mughal army who became a mercenary after the Emperor Aurangzeb's death and annexed several territories to his feudal territory. It came under the suzerainty of the Nizam of Hyderabad shortly after its foundation in 1723. In 1737, Marathas defeated the Mughals in the Battle of Bhopal, and started collecting tribute from the state. After the defeat of the Marathas in the Third Anglo-Maratha War, Bhopal became a British princely state in 1818. Bhopal State was the second largest state in pre-independence India, with a Muslim leadership, first being Hyderabad State. The state was merged into the Union of India in 1949 as Bhopal.


Dost Muhammad Khan Bahadur, Founder of Bhopal State
The State of Bhopal was established by Dost Mohammad Khan (1672–1728), an Afghan soldier in the Mughal army.[3] After the death of the emperor Aurangzeb, Khan started providing mercenary services to several local chieftains in the politically unstable Malwa region. In 1709, he took on the lease of the Berasia estate. Later, he usurped the Rajput principality of Mangalgarh and the Gond kingdom of Rani Kamlapati, after the death of their female rulers to whom he had been providing mercenary services.[4] He also annexed several other territories in Malwa to his state.
During the early 1720s, Khan transformed the village of Bhopal into a fortified city and assumed the title of Nawab.[5] Khan became close to the Sayyid Brothers, who had become highly influential king-makers in the Mughal court. Khan's support to the Sayyids earned him the enmity of the rival Mughal nobleman Nizam-ul-Mulk, who invaded Bhopal in March 1724, forcing Khan to cede much of his territory, give up his son as a hostage, and accept the Nizam's suzerainty.[6]
Dost Mohammad Khan and his Afghan associates brought "Islamic influence" to the culture and architecture of Bhopal, the ruins of which can be found at Islamnagar near Bhopal. After Khan's death in 1728, the Bhopal state remained under the influence of the Nizam.[7] The state also paid tribute to the Marathas, who defeated the Mughals at the Battle of Bhopal in 1737.
Nawab Faiz Muhammed Khan (1742–1777) moved the capital from Islamnagar to Bhopal. The state became a British protectorate in 1818 and was ruled by the descendents of Dost Mohammad Khan until 1949, when it was merged with the Republic of India. For two years after the departure of the British from India in 1947, Bhopal had survived as an independent state.

Early rulers

By the 1730s, the Marathas were expanding into the region, and the successors fought wars with their neighbours to protect the small territory and also fought among themselves for control of the state. The Marathas conquered several nearby states, including Indore to the west and Gwalior to the north, but Bhopal remained a Muslim-ruled state under Dost Mohammed Khan's successors. Subsequently, Nawab Wazir Mohammed Khan, a general, created a truly strong state after fighting several wars.
Nawab Jahangir Mohammed Khan established a cantonment at a distance of one mile from the fort. This was called Jahangirabad after him. He built gardens and barracks for British guests and soldiers in Jahangirabad.
In 1778, during the First Anglo-Maratha War, when the British General Thomas Goddard campaigned across India, Bhopal was one of the few states that remained friendly to the British. In 1809, during the Second Anglo-Maratha War, General Close led a British expedition to Central India. The Nawab of Bhopal petitioned in vain to be received under British protection. In 1817, when the Third Anglo-Maratha War broke out, a treaty of dependence was signed between the British Government of India and the Nawab of Bhopal. Bhopal remained a friend of British Government during the British Raj in India.
In February–March 1818, Bhopal became a princely state in British India as a result of the Anglo-Bhopal treaty between the East India Company and Nawab Nazar Muhammad (Nawab of Bhopal during 1816–1819). Bhopal state included the present-day Bhopal, Raisen, and Sehore districts, and was part of the Central India Agency. It straddled the Vindhya Range, with the northern portion lying on the Malwa plateau, and the southern portion lying in the valley of the Narmada River, which formed the state's southern boundary. Bhopal Agency was formed as an administrative section of Central India, consisting the Bhopal state and some princely states to the northeast, including Khilchipur, Narsingarh, Raigarh, and after 1931 the Dewas states. It was administered by an agent to the British Governor-General of India.

The rule of the Begums

The Bhopal State postal service was introduced during the rule of the Begums.
Between 1819 and 1926, it was ruled by four women – Begums – unique in the royalty of those days. Qudsia Begum was the first woman ruler, who was succeeded by her only daughter Sikandar Begum, who in turn was succeeded by her only daughter, Shahjehan Begum. Sultan Jahan Begum was the last women ruler, who after 25 years of rule, abdicated in favour of her son, Hamidullah Khan. The rule of Begums gave the city its waterworks, railways, a postal system and a municipality constituted in 1907.

Qudsia Begum

In 1819, 18-year old Qudsia Begum (also known as Gohar Begum) took over the reins after the assassination of her husband. She was the first female ruler of Bhopal. Although she was illiterate, she was brave and refused to follow the purdah tradition. She declared that her 2-year old daughter Sikander will follow her as the ruler. None of the male family members dared to challenge her decision. She cared very well for her subjects and took her dinners only after receiving the news every night that all her subjects had taken meals. She built the Jama Masjid (mosque) and her beautiful palace the 'Gohar Mahal'(also called Nazar Bagh) in Bhopal. She ruled till 1837 when she died having adequately prepared her daughter for ruling the state.

Sikander Jahan Begum

Sikandar Begum
In 1844, Sikander Begum succeeded her mother as the ruler of Bhopal. Like her mother, she too never observed purdah. She was trained in the martial arts, and fought many battles during her reign (1844–1868).[citation needed]
During the Indian rebellion of 1857, she sided with the British and crushed all those who revolted against them. She did a lot of public welfare too – she built roads and reconstructed the fort. She also built the Moti Masjid (meaning the Pearl Mosque) and Moti Mahal (the Pearl Palace).

Indian rebellion of 1857

During the Indian rebellion of 1857, the Bhopal state sided with the East India Company, as per the treaty of 1818. The rebellion in Bhopal and neighbouring areas was suppressed by Sikander Begum in its initial stages.
By June 1857, the rebellion had spread to neighbouring areas of Bhopal, such as Indore, Mhow, and Neemuch. In the beginning of July 1857, Sikandar Begum was informed by Bakhshi Murawwat Mohammed Khan Nasrat Jang, that the rebel forces from neighbouring areas were marching towards Bhopal. She asked Khan to repulse the rebel forces from Mhow.[8]
In some of the mosques of Bhopal, the rebellion against the East India Company was declared as jihad by the Maulvis and the Pathans. The rebels maintained contacts with Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi, Tatya Tope, the Nawab of Tonk, Nawab of Banda and others. They also acknowledged Bahadur Shah Zafar as the emperor of India, and sent offerings to Delhi in form of horses and cash.[8]
It was reported that the rebels were mobilising people for revolt by spreading messages through chapatis in villages. Sikander Begum banned the distribution of these chapatis from village to village. She required undertakings from the balahi and patel (chiefs) of every village, to report any violations to the concerned thana (police station). Sikandar Begum also banned the circulation of any seditious notices either found lying on the road or stuck on the walls. Maulvi Abdul Qayyum, the darogha of Fatehgarh fort distributed 500 copies of a pamphlet issued by the rebels of Cawnpore (now Kanpur). The pamphlet claimed that the British were interfering with the religious sentiments of Hindus and Muslims, and urged them to rebel against the British rule in India. Sikandar Begum instituted an inquiry against the Maulvi, who was charged of collusion with the rebels. She also published a pamphlet from Sikandari press, denying the charges of British interference in the religious affairs of Hindus and Muslims.
The Bhopal state had an army under the direct command of British officers, raised under the Anglo-Bhopal treaty of 1818, and consisting of 600 cavalry and 400 infantry. When the signs of a rebellion started appearing in the army, Major William Henry Richards (the Political Agent at Bhopal) and other British officers withdrew to a safer place at Hoshangabad near Bhopal, leaving the matter under the direct charge of the Begum. Mama Qahhar Khan, the jamadar in the Vilayatian Regiment, and the sepoys under him refused to accept their pay, and revolted; they were punished by being discharged from the service.
In the Berasia tehsil of Bhopal, the rebel leaders Shajaat Khan Pindari and Jahangir Muhammad Khan raised a small force consisting of 70 sepoys. They launched an attack on Berasia on 14 July 1857. The rebels looted the township, and killed Babu Subh Rao (the assistant Political Agent), Munshi Mukhdum Bakhsh and other British loyalists. They also plundered the local treasury and seized the assets of the state officers they had killed. They were supported by some sepoys from the Bhopal Contingent stationed at Berasia. Sikandar Begum took measures against the rebels in Berasia and neighbouring areas, forcing them to flee. Shajaat Khan Pindari had plans to flee and join Fazil Muhammad Khan, the jagirdar of Garhi Ambapani, or Prince Bhawani Singh of Narsingarh. However, he was arrested with help of spies, and brought to the Sehore jail along with his followers. He and his son were hanged near idgah of the town, and then buried beneath a mahua tree by some sweepers.[8]
On 6 August 1857, Risaldar Wali Shah and Kotha-Havaldar Mahavir declared a sepoy rebellion at Sehore cantonment near Bhopal. They pronounced the symbols of revolt as the Nishan-i-Muhammadi ("the symbol of Muhammad", for Muslims) and the Nishan-i-Mahaviri ("the symbol of Mahavir", for Hindus). The rebel sepoys decided to collect at least Rs. 200,000 from the Mahajans of Sehore, by foul or fair means. The rebel leader Mahavir looted Rs. 700 from the state treasury of the Sehore tehsil. They also ransacked and burned the bungalows of the British officers, and made attempts to plunder arms and ammunitions from the magazine.
In the Piklon tehsil of Bhopal, the rebellion was led by Muhammad Abu Saeed Khan (popularly known as Nawab of Itarsiwala), Raja Chhatarsal of Agra, Aqil Muhammad Khan, Fazil Muhammad Khan and Adil Muhammad Khan of Garhi Ambapani. The rebel leaders planned to occupy the town. Sikander Begum sought help from the Scindia Maharaja of Gwalior to defeat the rebels, but the rebel army consisting of around 300 men attacked Piklon. The small state force was forced to retreat, and the tehsildar of Piklon fled to Scindia's territory. The rebels plundered the Piklon town, and neighbouring villages such as Chopra, Bisraha and Bisrai. They also established a thana (station) at Piklon. However, they were soon ousted by the state forces.

Shah Jahan Begum

A young Shah Jahan Begum
Sikander Begum's successor Shah Jahan Begum (begum 1844–60, Sikandar Begum being regent; ruled 1868–1901) was quite passionate about architecture, like her Mughal namesake emperor Shah Jahan. She built a vast mini-city, called Shahjahanabad after her. She also built a new palace for herself, the Taj Mahal (not to be confused with the famous Taj Mahal at Agra). She built many other beautiful buildings as well, including Ali Manzil, Amir Ganj, Barah Mahal, Ali Manzil, Be nazir Complex, Khawasoura, Mughalpura, Nematpua and Nawab Manzils. Today, one can see the ruins of Taj Mahal and some of the parts that have stood the test of time; Barah Mahal and Nawab Manzil have also stood the test of time. During her rule, in 1900, the complete failure of the monsoon rains led to a severe famine in Bhopal. Most notable among the achievements of Shah Jahan Begum was that under her rule the economy flourished. During this period Bhopal had the highest[citation needed] GDP contribution towards the Indian economy mainly due to its superior craftsmanship and rich gold works.

Kaikhusrau Jahan Begum

Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan Begum, GCSI, GCIE, GBE, CI, KIH (9 July 1858 – 12 May 1930) daughter of Shah Jahan Begum, succeeded her in 1901, ruling to her abdication in favour of her son in 1926. She further advanced the emancipation of women and established a modern municipality in 1903.[9] She had her own palace Sadar Manzil (the present headquarters of Bhopal Municipal Corporation); yet preferred the quiet and serene environment at the outskirts of the city. She developed her own walled mini-city, named Ahmedabad after her late husband (not to be confused with Ahmedabad, Gujarat). This city was situated at Tekri Maulvee Zai-ud-din, which was at located a distance of a mile from the fort. She built a palace called Qaser-e-Sultani (now Saifia College). This area became a posh residency as royalty and elite moved here. The Begum installed the first water pump here and developed a garden called 'Zie-up-Abser'. She also constructed a new palace called 'Noor-us-Sabah', which has been converted into a heritage hotel. She was the first president of the All India Conference on Education and first chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University.
The peaceful rule of Begums led to the rise of a unique mixed culture in Bhopal. The Hindus were given important administrative positions in the state. This led to communal peace and a cosmopolitan culture took its roots.
Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan Begum's son, Nawab Hamidullah Khan, ascended the throne in 1926. He was Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes.

After Indian independence

After India achieved independence on 15 August 1947, Bhopal was one of the last states to sign the Instrument of Accession.
The last Nawab expressed his wish to retain Bhopal as a separate unit in March 1948. Agitations against the Nawab broke out in December 1948, leading to the arrest of prominent leaders including Bhai Ratan Kumar Gupta and Shankar Dayal Sharma. On 23 January 1949, Sharma was sentenced to eight months imprisonment for violating restrictions on public meetings; some other satyagrahis were also arrested. Later, the political detainees were released and the Nawab signed the agreement for merger on 30 April 1949.[10]
The Bhopal princely state was taken over by the Union Government of India on 1 June 1949. The new Bhopal State was declared a "Part C" state, governed by a chief commissioner appointed by the President of India. Sindhi refugees from Pakistan were accommodated in Bairagarh, a western suburb of Bhopal.
The eldest daughter of Nawab Hamidullah Khan and presumptive heiress, Abida Sultan, gave up her right to the throne and opted for Pakistan in 1950. She entered Pakistan's foreign service. Therefore, the Government of India excluded her from the succession and her younger sister Begum Sajida succeeded in her stead. Abida Sultan arrived in the newly created Pakistan when she was 37 and a mother of a young son. She was to spend the greater part of her life in Pakistan, and she died in 2001. Her son, Shaharyar Khan, was to become the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan and then the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board. If his mother had not given up her claim to the throne, Shaharyar Khan would have been the Nawab of Bhopal as well as the Nawab of Kurwai, since his father was the Nawab of Kurwai State.
Upon the demise of Begum Sajida in 1995, the title was debatedly left to her oldest daughter Nawabzadi Saleha Sultan Begum Sahiba, Bhopal being a matriarchy.[11] Nawab Begum Saleha Sultan is married to Nawab Muhammad Bashir ud-din Khan Bahadur, Bashir Yar Jung, also belonging to the Paigah family, a family once almost as powerful as the Nizams of Hyderabad.[12] The title was also claimed by her son Mansoor Ali Khan, the titular Nawab of Pataudi, and his descendants.[13][14]

List of rulers of Bhopal

Sajida Sultan became the titular ruler after her elder sister and presumptive heiress Abida migrated to Pakistan
  • Nawab Dost Mohammad Khan (1723–1728)
  • Nawab Yar Mohammad Khan (1728–1742)
  • Nawab Faiz Mohammad Khan (1742–1777)
  • Nawab Hayat Mohammad Khan (1777–1807)
  • Nawab Ghous Mohammad Khan (1807–1826)
  • Nawab Wazir Mohammad Khan (in opposition to Ghous Mohammad Khan) – (1807–1816)
  • Nawab Nazar Mohammad Khan (son of Wazir Mohammad Khan) – (1816–1819)
  • Nawab Sultan Qudsia Begum (daughter of Ghous Mohammad and wife of Nazar Mohammad Khan) – (1819–1837)
  • Nawab Jahangir Mohammad Khan (husband of Sikandar Jahan Begum) – (1837–1844)
  • Nawab Sikander Jahan Begum (1860–1868)
  • Nawab Sultan Shah Jahan Begum (1844–1860 and 1868–1901)
  • Kaikhusrau Jahan, Begum of Bhopal (1901–1926)
  • Nawab Hamidullah Khan (1926–1949)

The Golden Reign Of Bhopal - Sikandar Begum 1847 – 68

The British thus had put in place a system of dual control over the Bhopal throne of power. However within one year the British could sense the ills of having dual control over the state. Sikandar wrote to the Governor General stating that the public came to her seeking justice, but that she had no power to decide. The British recognized the strength of Sikandar’s argument, and accordingly Fauzdar Mohammad Khan resigned his regency, thus making Sikandar the sole regent and guardian of her daughter, Shahjehan.
In terms of progressive reform and advancement, Sikandar’s 21-year reign was unquestionably the golden period of Bhopal’s history. By force of her personality, by sheer diligent good governance and by her wise statecraft, Sikandar saw Bhopal emerge as one of the best governed, enlightened and stable princely states. In the administrative sector, Sikandar presided over a dynamic, reform-oriented regime. In the field of foreign affairs, Sikandar had the wisdom, against enormous internal pressures, to back the winning horse in the 1857 mutiny and reaped rich rewards afterwards. Probably the most important act performed by Sikandar Begum was to have Delhi’s famous Juma Masjid reopened after the British had closed it during the Mutiny. British closed the Juma Masjid, built by Emperor Shahjehan, during the Mutiny because they felt it provided a sanctuary for Muslim resistance. Not content to simply shut the gates, the British heaped insult on to injury by using the famous mosque as a stable. Sikandar Begum persuaded the British to reopen the Juma Masjid, washed the courtyard with her own hands and was the first person to pray in it since mutiny. Sikandar is described by most historians as possessing Amazonian power, and had a very masculine physique. Her steely gaze is said to have been enough for most of opponents to start trembling in their shoes.

However her daughter Shahjehan, turned out to be a petite, attractive and entirely feminine. Shahjehan was 16 years old and marriageable by 1854, much to the trouble of Sikandar. Sikandar was troubled by the memories of her own troubled marriage with Jahangir. The pledge made by Sikandar to the British was exactly the same as the one Qudsia made after Nazar’s death – that Shahjehan’s husband would become the Nawab of Bhopal. Dramatically, in 1854, the 36-year-old Sikandar, obviously after consulting her mother, summoned the loyal, grizzly 32-year-old Commander-in-chief of the Bhopal Army, Sardar Baqi Mohammad Khan, son of the legendary Bakshi Bahadur Mohammad Khan, and ordered him to marry her 16-year-old daughter Shahjehan! Baqi begged Sikandar not to insist because he was already twice married and had children Shahjehan’s age. Fixing General Baqi with her famous piercing glare, Sikandar told Baqi that the wedding would take place as soon as the British General approved of the same. The British approval came on 4th July 1855, and the marriage between an unenthusiastic 17-year-old Shahjehan and 33-year-old Baqi Mohammad Khan was solemnized on 18th July 1855.

Sardar Baqi Mohammad Khan, the younger son of the legendary Bakshi Bahdur Mohammad Khan was given the title of Umrao Doulah, a gun salute within the state and allotted a vast jagir, a palanquin and an elephant. Umrao Doulah was a man of phenomenal physical strength. He exercised for three hours before breakfast with dumb-bells weighing 20 kilos each. He then consumed an enormous breakfast consisting of six seers (a seer is two kilograms) of condensed milk. He could single handedly turn a water wheel which required two bullocks and was reported to be able to hold his breath under water for an hour. On 9th July 1858, almost three years after her marriage to Baqi, the 20-year-old Shahjehan gave birth to a daughter whom she named Sultan Jahan.

At this point of time, Sikandar Begum proceeded to Hajj. After returning almost after one year of pilgrimage, she found the marriage of her daughter on rocks. Shajehan was not only much younger than her husband but was also headstrong. No amount of pressure could make Shahjehan assume the role of a dutiful eastern wife. Ultimately Umrao Doulah could not take it any longer and proceeded on Hajj. Stopping on his way back in Egypt, he fell gravely ill, and died on June 1867 soon after his return, leaving Shahjehan at the age of 29, a distinctly happy widow. The following year, on 30th November 1868, Sikandar Begum died of a kidney ailment at the age of 50.
More Bhopale ...


Sultan Shah Jahan, Begum of Bhopal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shahjahan Begum
Sultan Shahjahan Begum GCSI CI (29 July 1838 – 16 June 1901) was the Begum of Bhopal (the ruler of the princely state of Bhopal in central India) for two periods: 1844–60 (her mother acting as regent), and secondly during 1868–1901.


Born in Islamnagar near the city of Bhopal, Shahjahan was the only surviving child of Sikandar Begum, sometime Nawab of Bhopal by correct title, and her husband Jahangir Mohammed Khan. She was recognised as ruler of Bhopal in 1844 at the age of six; her mother wielded power as regent during her minority. However, in 1860, her mother Sikandar Begum was recognised by the British as ruler of Bhopal in her own right, and Shahjahan was set aside. Shahjahan succeeded her mother as Begum of Bhopal upon the death of the latter in 1868. Having been groomed for leadership of the state, Shahjahan improved the tax revenue system and increased state intake, raised the salaries of her soldiers, modernised the military's arms, built a dam and an artificial lake, improved the efficiency of the police force and undertook the first census after the state suffered two plagues (the population had dropped to 744,000). To balance her budget deficit, she commissioned the farming of opium.[1] She was regarded as an effective and popular ruler.
A lady of learning and piety, Shahjahan is credited with the authorship of several books in Urdu. She was instrumental in initiating the construction of one of the largest mosques in India, the Taj-ul-Masajid, at Bhopal. The construction however remained incomplete at her death and was later abandoned; work was resumed only in 1971. She also built the Taj Mahal palace at Bhopal. While Shahjahan had desired to perform the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, frail health and her phobia of shipwrecks prevented her from ever doing so.[2]
Shahjahan Begum made sizeable donations towards the building of a mosque at Woking, Surrey in the UK. She also contributed generously towards the founding of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh, which developed into the Aligarh Muslim University. She also subsidised the cost of a railway to be constructed between Hoshangabad and Bhopal.[3]
In 1855, Shahjahan Begum married Baqi Muhammad Khan, a nobleman of middle rank of Bhopal, as his third wife. He died in 1867. Four years later, Shahjahan married Siddiq Hasan Khan of Kannauj in the then United Provinces. The second marriage was childless. In addition to the deaths of two husbands, Shahjahan also experienced the deaths of two granddaughters.
Shahjahan Begum's final years were spent in leadership of a reasonably well-run state.[2] In 1901 she was afflicted with cancer of the mouth; shortly thereafter, a message was published for the people of Bhopal asking forgiveness if Shahjahan had wronged any of her subjects, causing public grief over the illness of a popular ruler. Shahjahan was visited for one last time by her daughter Sultan Jehan, with whom Shahjahan had not spoken for thirteen years as Shahjahan had blamed her daughter for the death of her first granddaughter; even at this final meeting, Shahjahan refused to forgive her daughter. Shahjahan died shortly thereafter on 6 June 1901, and Sultan Jehan assumed the throne.[4]

Postal services

1876 stamp issued during the Begum's reign

1908 one anna stamp of Bhopal State
During her reign the first postage stamps of the Bhopal state were issued. In 1876 and 1878 there were issues of half and quarter anna stamps. Those of 1876 have text "HH Nawab Shahjahan Begam" in an octagonal frame; the 1878 stamps the same text in a round frame and the Urdu form of the Begum's title. The last stamps bearing her name were issued in 1902 with inscription: "H.H. Nawab Sultan Jahan Begam".[5] (The state postal service of Bhopal issued its own postage stamps until 1949; from the second issue of stamps in 1908 official stamps were issued until 1945 and these had the inscriptions "Bhopal State" or "Bhopal Govt." In 1949 two surcharged stamps were issued, the last of Bhopal's own stamps.)[6]


  • 1838–1844: Nawabzadi Sultan Shah Jahan Begum Sahiba
  • 1844–1860: Her Highness Nawab Sultan Shah Jahan Begum Sahiba, Nawab Begum of Dar-ul-Iqbal-i-Bhopal
  • 1860–1868: Wali Ahad Bahadur Nawabzadi Sultan Shah Jahan Begum Sahiba
  • 1868–1872: Her Highness Nawab Sultan Shah Jahan Begum Sahiba, Nawab Begum of Dar-ul-Iqbal-i-Bhopal
  • 1872–1877: Her Highness Nawab (title Sultan Shah Jahan Begum Sahiba, Nawab Begum of Dar-ul-Iqbal-i-Bhopal, GCSI
  • 1877–1878: Her Highness Nawab Sultan Shah Jahan Begum Sahiba, Nawab Begum of Dar-ul-Iqbal-i-Bhopal, GCSI
  • 1878–1901: Her Highness Nawab Sultan Shah Jahan Begum Sahiba, Nawab Begum of Dar-ul-Iqbal-i-Bhopal, GCSI, KIH, CI


An 1878 picture of Sultan Shah Jahan Begum (or possibly, her daughter). The photo was misidentified as that of Rani Laxmibai in the 1909 book The Indian War of Independence.[7][8]

Publications (selected)

  • The Taj-ul Ikbal Tarikh Bhopal, Or, The History of Bhopal, by Shah Jahan Begum, translated from the Urdu by H. C. Barstow. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink, 1876.
  • ==============================================

    Kaikhusrau Jahan, Begum of Bhopal

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan, Begum of Bhopal
    Hajjah Nawab Begum Dame Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan GCSI GCIE GBE GCStJ CI (9 July 1858 – 12 May 1930) was a notable and progressive Begum of Bhopal who ruled from 1901 to 1926.


    Early life

    Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan (here Sultan is a name, not a title) was born at Bhopal as the elder and only surviving child of Nawab Begum Sultan Shah Jahan and her husband General HH Nasir ud-Daula, Nawab Baqi Muhammad Khan Bahadur (1823–1867). In 1868, she was proclaimed heir apparent to the Bhopal musnaid following the death of her grandmother, Sikander Begum and her mother's succession to the throne. In 1901, Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan succeeded her mother at her death, becoming Nawab Begum of Dar-ul-Iqbal-i-Bhopal.

    Nawab Begum

    Kaikhusrau Jahan with her son at the Delhi Durbar of 1911
    A great reformer in the tradition of her mother and grandmother, Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan founded several important educational institutions in Bhopal, establishing free and compulsory primary education in 1918. During her reign, she had a particular focus on public instruction, especially female education. She built many technical institutes and schools and increased the number of qualified teachers. From 1920 until her death, she was the founding Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. Even till today, she is the only lady Chancellor ever served for Aligarh Muslim University.
    Not just a reformer in the field of education, the Nawab Begum reformed taxation, the army, police, the judiciary and the jails, expanded agriculture, and constructed extensive irrigation and public works in the state. Also, she established an Executive and Legislative State Council in 1922 and began open elections for the municipalities.
    In 1914, she was the President of the All-India Muslim Ladies' Association. Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan's primary legacy, though, was in the field of public health, as she pioneered widespread inoculation and vaccination programs and improved the water supply and standards of hygiene and sanitation. A prolific author, she wrote several books on education, health and other topics, including Hidayat uz-Zaujan, Sabil ul-Jinan, Tandurusti (Health), Bachchon-ki-Parwarish, Hidayat Timardari, Maishat-o-Moashirat. Owing to her numerous activities, she was the recipient of numerous honours and awards.
    In 1926, after a reign of 25 years, Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan abdicated the throne in favour of her youngest child and only surviving son, Hamidullah Khan. She died four years later, aged 71.[1]


    On 1 February 1874, Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan married HH Ali Jah, Ihtisham ul-Mulk, Nasir ud-Daula, Nawab Ahmad Ali Khan Bahadur, Sultan Dulha Sahib, Nawab Consort of Bhopal, (1854–1902), a distant cousin, many times removed, and a member of the senior male-line branch of the dynasty. The couple had three sons and two daughters:
  • 1. Sahibzadi Bilqis Jahan Muzaffar Begum Sahiba (25 October 1875 - 23 December 1887)
  • 2. Colonel Ali Jah, Nawab Hafiz Sir Muhammad Nasru'llah Khan Sahib Bahadur, Wali Ahad Bahadur, Heir Apparent of Bhopal, KCSI (3 December 1876 - 3 September 1924). Granted a personal salute of 9-guns in 1901; commissioned a Major in 1912, promoted to Colonel in 1918. Named Chief Conservator of Forests in 1924, he was married twice and had two sons and a daughter
  • 3. Major-General Al-Haj Mohsin ul-Mulk, Nawab Hafiz Muhammad Ubaidu'llah Khan Sahib Bahadur, CSI (30 November 1878 - 24 March 1924). Brigadier and C-in-C of the Bhopal State Forces and Imperial Service Troops, 1905; promoted to Major-General in 1918. Commissioned a Captain in the Indian Army in 1909; promoted to Major in 1911 and to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1921; married and had four sons and a daughter
  • 4. Sahibzadi Asif Jahan Begum Sahiba (5 August 1880 - 22 July 1894)
  • 5. HH Sikander Saulat, Iftikhar ul-Mulk, Al-Haj Nawab Hafiz Muhammad Hamidullah Khan Bahadur, Nawab of Dar ul-Iqbal-i-Bhopal


  • 1858-1868: Nawabzadi Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan Begum Sahiba
  • 1868-1877: Nawabzadi Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan Begum Sahiba, Wali Ahad Bahadur
  • 1877-1901: Nawabzadi Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan Begum Sahiba, Wali Ahad Bahadur
  • 1901-1904: Her Highness Sikander Saulat, Iftikhar ul-Mulk, Nawab Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan Begum Sahiba, Nawab Begum of Dar ul-Iqbal-i-Bhopal
  • 1904-1910: Her Highness Sikander Saulat, Iftikhar ul-Mulk, Nawab Dame Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan Begum Sahiba, Nawab Begum of Dar ul-Iqbal-i-Bhopal, GCIE
  • 1910-1911: Her Highness Sikander Saulat, Iftikhar ul-Mulk, Nawab Dame Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan Begum Sahiba, Nawab Begum of Dar ul-Iqbal-i-Bhopal, GCSI, GCIE
  • 1911-1917: Her Highness Sikander Saulat, Iftikhar ul-Mulk, Nawab Dame Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan Begum Sahiba, Nawab Begum of Dar ul-Iqbal-i-Bhopal, GCSI, GCIE, CI
  • 1917-1930: Her Highness Sikander Saulat, Iftikhar ul-Mulk, Nawab Dame Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan Begum Sahiba, Nawab Begum of Dar ul-Iqbal-i-Bhopal, GCSI, GCIE, CI, GBE




    Nawab Sikandar Begum’s Hajj Memoir

    Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and for over fourteen hundred years a journey of a lifetime for millions of Muslims living in different corners of the world. These hajis returned to their homelands to tell a tale of physical and spiritual journey of extraordinary proportions. Hajj is obligatory for every Muslim man and woman who are able to undertake this journey. A large number of Muslim women from India made this pious trip but one of the first to write an account of her hajj journey was Nawab Sikandar Begum of Bhopal.
    Nawab Sikandar Begum (1816-1868) ruled Bhopal from 1844 to 1868. She went on Hajj in 1284 Hijri (1863-4 CE). The account of her travel was first published in 1870. It was a translation by the wife of a British officer. The original Urdu manuscript is perhaps lost so we will never know what kind of language the Begum used in her writing but her confidence and views of the Hijaz and its inhabitants come across just fine.
    Sikandar Begum has the unique distinction of being the first Indian ruler to make the hajj journey. Even with their proclamation of love for Islam none of the Muslim rulers of India went for hajj because it was a long and dangerous travel. Nawab Sikandar Begum went for hajj with a party of about 1000 people of which were mostly women.
    Book cover
    Her memoir, written after her return from Hajj was translated, edited, and published after her death. First thing one notices about this memoir is how little is mentioned about the Hajj itself. Nawab Begum gives a detailed account of her problem with Turkish customs who insisted on charging duties on every item that she brought with her. She also talks at length about her dealings with the Pasha and the Shariff of Hijaz. When she mentions hajj it is when she talks about her writing letters to Pasha and Shariff for making arrangements for her rented houses and camps that she was going to set up in Arafat and Mina.
    As an able administrator who impressed the British with her skills, she had a keen eye on the cities that she stayed in during her visit to the holy land. She finds Jeddah and Makkah dirty and Arabs and Turkish there uncivilized in their behaviour. She is also not impressed by their religious knowledge. Lack of knowledge about Islam among the Turks and Arabs prompted her to commission a Turkish translation of the Quran.
    Though this piece of travel writing provides no insight in the spiritual status of the Begum but this provides a rare glimpse into the confidence of this woman ruler from India. She talks on an equal terms to both Turkish administrator (Pasha) and local Arab Emir (Shariff). In fact, she does not hesitate in giving them advise on how best they can administer the city. She is also aware and fond of new technology and thinks it is essential for better government.
    Overall, the Begum was frustrated by the apalling condition of the cities, strange customs, and her inability to communicate properly. At one time she instructed the guards to let in only those women who can speak “Hindustani.” She felt alienated from the customs of this land and though she was Muslim just like these Arabs and Turks yet she could find no way to connect.
    Soon after her arrival in Makkah, she managed to anger the Sharif because she failed to let him properly honor her. She wrote a letter explaining and excusing herself and she give reference to an Indian custom to explain why her mother is living in a different house but later in the same letter she does not hesitate to say that as an Afghan she pays great respect to Syeds and therefore she has utmost respect for the Sharif.
    Sikandar Begum flanked by her Minister, Maulvi Jamaluddin (left) and Army Chief, Mattu Khan. [Photo from the book "The Begums of Bhopal" by Shaharyar M. Khan]
    Begum during her stay in Hijaz sensed that some people were not happy with her there because she had sided with the British during the war of 1857. The State of Bhopal remained a loyal friend to the British since entering into a treaty with the British East India in 1818. Begum was rewarded handsomely for her loyalty. She was honored with the title of Knight Grand Commander making her only the second female to be made a knight after Queen Victoria herself. Begum was also to successfully argue her case to be declared the ruler of Bhopal and won that case. Her power of persuasion also ensured that Bhopal continued to be ruled by her daughter and after that by her grand daughter.
    Sikandar Begum was a religious lady. She offered her five-time daily prayers and performig hajj was yet another symbol of her piety. She is also credited with getting Delhi’s Jama Masjid which was closed since the fall of Delhi in 1857. During her visit to Delhi in 1862, she got the British to get it opened and she is reported to have cleaned it by her own hands and the first person to pray there.
    Nawab Sikandar Begum was the first ruler but not the first prominent Muslim women from India to go for Hajj. Before her, we have examples of Bega Begum, a wife of Humayun’s officer who later married Humayun and was famously known as Haji Begum.
    Gulbadan Begum was the most prominent Mughal princess to go for Hajj. She was a daughter of Babur and she along with a number of ladies were sent by Hajj by Emperor Akbar. Similarly, ladies of Golconda and Bijapur also have been recorded as making this trip.
    A Princess’s Pilgrimage: Nawab Sikandar Begum’s A Pilgrimage to Mecca
    Edited by Siobhan Lambert-Hurley
    Indiana University Press 2008.
    Nawab Sikandar, the Begum of Bhopal

    Painting of Nawab Shah Jahan Begum in the Taj Mahal Palace. Madhya

    Viceroy and the Begum of Bhopal

    Architecturally akin to Delhi's Jama Masjid, this imposing mosque was built in 1860 by Sikander Jehan, daughter of Kudsia Begum.

    In this photo: Manjli Bia, Choti Bia, Judicial Magistrate, Nawab Sultan Jehan Begum