Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Najaf Khans Tomb. The Last Mughal General

Just 1km south of Safdarjungs magnificent mausoleum, hidden away sits the simple tomb of the last Mughal General. Its so hidden that when we first tried to find it my driver stopped in the middle of 4 lanes of traffic to ask directions! - cue, hands over eyes in embarrassment!

Mirza Najaf Khan lived 1723 - 26 April 1782, known as the Last Mughal General he was also known as..... His Excellency Bakshi ul-Mamilkat, Vakil-i-Mutlaq, Amir ul-Umara, Rustam-i-Hind, Zulfiqar ud-Daula, Nawab Mirza Najaf Khan Bahadur and Ghalib Jang!!!! Phew.....He was born in Persia of royal lineage, tracing his family back to Prince Safavi, a royal line that would be overthrown by Nader Shah in 1735, during the Caucasus Campaign of the Ottoman - Persian war. 

During his time as general he made sweeping changes to the military, bringing in wages, new ways of fighting, modern weapons and revolutionised the army and ways of warfare. Much is written about this but, to be honest, I have very little interest in military strategies etc, but feel free to delve deeper if interested. Although the Mughal empire was in its decline, whilst the army was under his control the city of Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi in essence) was secure, but following his death the empire soon fell and came under Sikh rule.

The tomb of Najaf Khan was meant to be the last garden tomb or 'Charbagh' but it was never completed, although it is up for discussion as to whether it was indeed never completed or whether it was intentionally left as just a single simple platform with the graves below.  The platform sits within the centre of the geometric garden (recently replanted and designed) surrounded by solid walls. The area shows signs of ruination but the ASI (Archaeological Society of India) have worked on the site and have halted the decay and now it lends itself to a quiet place to visit, or indeed play cricket if you notice the chalk graffiti stumps etched onto the walls of the tomb! There is no grand mausoleum or highly decorated dome that we have become used to seeing throughout the environs of Delhi. It is just simple and plain with arches and niches and a few flower motifs. Built from red sandstone and a small amount of marble. Although the cenotaphs sit above ground level the tombs of Najaf khan lies beneath and that of his daughter Fatima who died in 1820. Khan did have an adopted son Najaf Quli Khan who later converted to Hinduism. 

The entrance gateway to the garden and tomb has long since collapsed and just ruins remain, although steps up to the next level are still visible and have been restored.

I think it is well worth visiting here just for the simple reason that it is different, unique. Nothing ostentatious, grand, highly decorated, just a simple single storey platform, home to The Last Mughal General. 

Map of Najaf Khan's Tomb, Lodi Estate, Block G, Police Colony, Lodi Colony, New Delhi, Delhi (state) 110003

Najaf Khan's Tomb, Lodi Estate, Block G, Police Colony, Lodi Colony, New Delhi, Delhi (state) 110003

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