Bahu Begum’s Tomb in Faizabad A Grand Edifice Defiled By Greed

The laws made for the protection of historical buildings built in Mughal times and the assets of the Wakf Board are confined just to paper and the Board. Compliance with these laws is practiced neither by the state Government nor are the concerned Departments doing anything substantial to find a solution. On the contrary, illegal possession/occupation of these buildings is on the increase. The illegal occupants are not leaving any stone unturned to destroy the structures and with them, the historical importance of the buildings. To find an example of such illegality, you can visit the Mughal era’s historical tomb of Bahu Begum situated in the Janpad at Faizabad. The breakage of the outer infrastructure of this building has been at an advanced stage for some time, and now the illegal occupants who have made it their home have shattered the front gate of the building and have made windows out of it. Officials of the Archaeological Department and the Tourism Department who were given the responsibility of supervision for the building are turning a blind eye to the issue. Notice Boards were placed at the gate stating that the building is a protected building, but these Notice Boards disappeared when the building was occupied illegally. The illegal occupants were served Notices by the concerned Department but the law has never been successful in punishing the illegal occupants or evicting them permanently.
It is worth mentioning that the old historical building named after the Nawab of Awadh, Shuja-ud-Daulah’s wife Umat-uz-Zohra who was also known as Bahu Begum is situated on the east of the southern Allahabad road of the city of Faizabad. This old historical tomb in the Awadh area was a beautiful, attractive, grand and elevated building, but because of the negligence and apathy of the administration, the main gate and the boundary walls are completely under the clutches of intruders. According to information, the Begum had herself left Rs. 3 lakhs for the construction of this tomb. The construction work of this tomb was done from this fund firstly by Darab Ali Khan, then by his lawyer Panah Ali and later on by Mirza Haider. After this the responsibility of the construction of this tomb was taken over by the British government themselves, and this arrangement continued till 1901. As a result, though the demise of Bahu Begum took place in 1815, her memorial was completed many years later. The treasure of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daulah’s mother Khurshid Mahal was also kept in this tomb. Colonel Hunt, by attacking the tomb, took away Rs. 80 lakh worth of jewellery.
At present, the beautification and very existence of this tomb is under threat from unauthorised occupants. A few years ago, the illegal occupants created a number of problems when boundary walls were being constructed specifically the security of the tomb. But somehow, despite the problems created, the boundary walls construction was completed. However, hardly a year after the construction of the boundary walls, illegal occupants broke through the boundary walls and established a virtual empire of small and big shops inside the tomb. Because of this illegal activity, a traffic jam is normally found in between the areas of Naka and the tomb, but the ruling party and the administration are still turning a blind eye to this issue. Local businessmen and major political parties are included in the list of the illegal occupants. The room at the main door of the tomb is the office of the Bahujan Samaj Party outside which two wheelers and four wheelers always create congestion. The rooms at the front gate of the tomb are also in the clutches of illegal
occupants. The violators
have become so bold that they do not even care about the administration. They think that money power can easily save them from any trouble.
Slowly, they are increasing the area under illegal occupation. Even after announcements of an auction of the gardens situated in the tomb, nobody is taking any care of the gardens. As a result of illegal occupancy, whether at the main door of the tomb or whether at the doors of the tomb which were objects of admiration at one point of time, few sightseers visit the tomb. The Bhawans which used to be the stable for horses during the times of the royal Nawabs are now being used by human beings instead of horses. Some of the rooms are in ruins and are used by gamblers. This is the reason that tourists have no desire to visit the tomb or even to pass along the road on which the tomb is situated. Neither are most locals who otherwise appreciate historical buildings keen to visit the place. The birth place of legendary ghazal singer Begum Akhtar and the tomb of Bahu Begum are losing their identity because of illegal occupation by businessmen and politicians. It is worth mentioning that the shooting of the famous Hindi film “Umrao Jaan” was done in this tomb and a song was also shot at this spot. This song with its brilliant lyrics mirrors the current, sad situation of the tomb.

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