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Bahadur Shah II - A Gentle Man, Poet and Calligrapher

July 5, 2023
National Geography
Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857

IMG - 06072023-103


Bahadur Shah II. A gentle man, poet and calligrapher , he had the misfortune to sit on the throne of Delhi in 1857, year of fire and storm. On a May morning mutinying troops of the east India Company galloped to the Red Fort and cried "Help us , oh King " This was a rare display of confidence in the aging monarch. Though respected by many in India , his kingship was a fiction.


    His family, of the lineage called Mogul, had been under the British thumb for half a century. By the evidence, he wanted no leading hand in the Sepoy Mutiny (Which Indians now call a war for independence) but he could not avoid being swept along on the bloody tide. And when the fighting was done, vengeance began. Bahadur Shah was incarcerated, accused of abetting the mutiny and of being at least an accessory to the massacre of 49 European - descended citizens.


     Three and a quarter centuries of sovereignty would crash in the Moghul high temple,the diwan-i-khas, the private audience hall within the Red Fort. Here diplomats and courtiers had once been dazzled by the gold and jewels of the Peacock Throne.


         To this sanctum Bahadur Shah was brought for trial on s sultry morning I walked in the fort,tracing  channels that had made fountains sparkle. The elegant Moghul creations scattered about the subcontinent - places , gardens , mosques ,toms, even two cities - have suffered from time and greed. Gilt has been scraped from panels where frescoed flowers bloomed: precious stones have been pried from inlays. But in this perfect proportions and Indutrous marble, the diwan-i-khas still achoes the grandeur that was.


        And the hummiliation of the end.I can see the military judges taking their seats and Bahadur Shah arriving under guard.Withness are called,documents presented. Sentence is pronounced exile to Burma. In my mind's eye the old man , as he is led away, glances up at the Persian script flowing above the pavallion's arches. The majesty of his ancestors is proclaimed thus in the chiseled characters. "If there is paradise on earth, it is this, ity is this, it is this."


       Probably Bahadur Shah finds the legend mocking. But I like to think he manages a little smile  within his beard, knowing that Mogul glory will endure long beyond this day. 



This is stated on 'National Geographic The 1980s' .May 1983-August 1986 of this CD-ROM.



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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.


The Mughal Images immediately took a much greater interest in realistic portraiture than was typical of Persian miniatures. Animals and plants were the main subject of many miniatures for albums and were more realistically depicted. To upload your images click here.

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