The gentleman makes a small, deprecating gesture and says gently, “I wanted to tell you to write about Zafar’s court, many mistakes have been made in the accounts, about Ilahi Baksh and others.” We stand in a small knot, flanked by the dargah, Zafar Mahal and nouveau kitsch buildings, discussing the members of Zafar’s court with as much passion as contemporary Dilliwallas bring to a discussion of, say, Sonia Gandhi’s inner circle.Full piece here.
“So modest,” says Dalrymple as we make our polite, courtly farewells. “He identified himself as ‘Pakeezah’s cousin’ — another man would have said outright, I am the descendant of Bahadur Shah Zafar.” He should be used to the unusual encounter, the strange coincidence, but there is something rather wonderful about meeting a descendant of the emperor as we emerge from Zafar Mahal, on the day of one of the best-loved festivals of Mughal and modern times.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
The last Mughal chronicler
Nilanjana has a lovely full-page piece on William Dalrymple and The Last Mughal in today’s edition of the Business Standard Weekend (online link here, though it’s much more satisfying to read in the print version). They walk around Mehrauli’s Zafar Mahal (which used to be Bahadur Shah Zafar’s summer palace), discuss Dalrymple’s book, the forgotten treasures of Delhi and the lack of accessible writing about historical figures in India…and then they run into a direct descendant of the Emperor.