Mahabat Khan’s garden | Pakistan Today

Mahabat Khan’s garden

Another controversial tomb!

This is Mahabat Khan’s Garden which was once among many of the Chahar Bagh Gardens

built along the road to Shalimar Gardens by the Mughal aristocracy

 

Mahabat Khan known as Khan-e-Khana Sipah-Salar Zamana Beg Kabuli was a prominent Mughal general and statesman, perhaps best known for his coup against the Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1626. He also served as Subedar of Malwa Subah from 1611 to 1623. His surname, Beg, indicates that his family might have been originally from Persia. Upon entering the Mughal service, Zamana Beg enjoyed a rapid ascent through the ranks of the Mughal army. He began his military career in the personal forces of Crown Prince Salim — who later became Emperor Jahangir. Upon Jahangir’s rise to the throne in 1605, he was granted the honourific title ‘Mahabat Khan,’ and was promoted to the rank of commander of 1,500 men, and bakhshi (treasurer) of the emperor’s private Privy Purse. Mahabat Khan rose to prominence in 1623, when he was made commander of the Mughal forces sent to defeat the unsuccessful rebellion of Prince Khurram (who later went on to become Emperor Shah Jahan) in the Deccan. For his loyal service, he was recognised as a pillar of the state and was ultimately promoted to chief commander of the Mughal army, with a personal force of 7,000 men. No doubt he remained a prominent figure of the Mughal court. Now here is something for you to read carefully because the story ahead is linked with these lines. Mahabat Khan died in 1634. His body was carried back to Delhi, where he was buried on the ground of the shrine of Qadam Sharif. Upon his death, his eldest son, Mirza Amanullah, was awarded the title ‘Khan Zaman’, while his second son, Luhrasp, was granted his late father’s title, Mahabat Khan.

I gave a brief account of this personality so that my readers can have an idea of the status of this person in the Mughal Court. Now let me take you to a place associated with Mahabat Khan in Lahore. This is Mahabat Khan’s Garden which was once among many of the Chahar Bagh Gardens built along the road to Shalimar Gardens by the Mughal aristocracy. Now the garden is dilapidated and no one to look after it. There are waste heaps, high shrubs and wild growth everywhere. It is said by the historians that this garden of Mahabat Khan was originally surrounded by a high wall of masonry and is situated to the west of the Shalimar Gardens and south of Baghbanpura in Lahore. At present only few portions of the surrounding wall remain as much of the garden has been encroached upon by the local population. So let me say that this garden also met the same fate like many other monuments of the Mughal and Sikh eras. It is a painful sight when you reach this garden. This garden was built by Mahabat Khan.

Historic accounts say that this garden was known as “Saithan di Bagheechi”. The old gateway is on the west, and additions were made to the upper storey by Parsi merchants of Bombay who owned it in the late 1800s. A newer gateway was located to the north, however, only traces of it remain now as most of it has been replaced by houses surrounding the garden. To the east and south were rooms and chambers, built of substantial brick-working order but are no longer extant. To the south was a small mosque, now much renovated. During the Sikh rule, Maharaja Ranjit Singh gave the garden to Faqir Aziz-ud-Din, who looked well after it. On his death, Faqir Charagh-ud-Din, his heir sold it to Jahangirji & Co, Parsi merchants.

Historic accounts say that this garden was known as “Saithan di Bagheechi”.

The old gateway is on the west, and additions were made to the upper storey by Parsi merchants of Bombay who owned it in the late 1800s

Here comes an interesting story related to this monument in shambles. As you step in the monuments in the middle you will find a dilapidated grave of solid masonry which both the historians Chishti and Sarwar ascribe to Mahabat Khan. Another historian Latif makes no mention of this grave in his history of Lahore. As per historic accounts it is seen that Mahabat Khan died in Decca in 1634. His body was carried back to Delhi, where he was buried on the ground of the shrine of Qadam Sharif. So who is the person buried in the grave instead of Mahabat Khan? This question still remains unanswered. It is certainly possible that the Mahabat Khan of this garden was a completely different Mahabat Khan than whom the garden is ascribed to as there have been numerous other Mahabat Khan’s in Mughal history, for example, one of Zamana Beg’s own sons was also titled Mahabat Khan after the death of his father. So this is a similar controversy as to the tomb of Zeb Un Nisa. It is possible that the Mahabat Khan’s son who was named after him might be buried in this garden and so the garden became to be known as Mahabat Khan’s Tomb.

Now comes my concern, it doesn’t matter who is lying in the grave but I think that taking it up as a Mughal era garden and construction this monument should be restored. A nice park, sitting space around it, conservation or restoration of the building remains, history boards and signages and a small café can do a lot for generating tourism on this site. Trust me people in Pakistan are thirsty for recreation and tourism, but somehow our authorities are unable to accept this fact. Tourism can bring in income for the locals and improve their living standards. I have seen an example of Royal Trail inside Walled City, once it was also an abandoned place but after restoration and little marketing it is a busy tourist hub now. Why this model can’t be replicated to other dead and dilapidating monuments of the country? We are at a stage where we need to think and work on the promotion of tourism for a soft image of the country and boost in economy like many other developing countries are doing. We all need to play our part for sustainable tourism in Pakistan.



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