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Malika Kishwar, the Awadh Nawabzadi Who Rests in France’s Most Famous Cemetery

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November 20, 2021
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Mirza Firuz Shah
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People
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Ulugh Beg III 1877-1881

Malika Kishwar, the Awadh Nawabzadi Who Rests in France’s Most Famous Cemetery

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Few hindustani know the story of Jenab Aliya Begum a.k.a Malika Kishwar, the remarkable queen of Awadh who lies in an unmarked grave at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. She lies buried amidst sepulchres that house the remains of many who are still famous. There is Jim Morrison on the premises, the American rock legend whom trains of tourists come to pay homage, like pilgrims bearing flowers. Edith Piaf, the waif who sang her way to greatness, finds her peace nearby, as does Frederic Chopin, the composer whose pickled heart is in Warsaw but whose body dissolves in the French capital. Benjamin Franklin’s grandson rests here, and in the vicinity there is a man believed to have been sired by Napoleon.


 Oscar Wilde’s sculpted grave competes with Marcel Proust’s neat bed of stone, and many more still are the artists, writers, and persons of esteem who crowd the hillside cemetery that is Père Lachaise in Paris. And yet, between them all, under a platform of rugged rock, lies this tragic Indian woman. Her name and cause have been largely forgotten, but since 1858, she has been here, longer than many of her revered neighbours. Tourists walk by with cameras, oblivious to her unmarked square existence. But every now and then there is a stray visitor who arrives on a quest: to locate the final resting place of that remarkable woman, the last queen of Awadh. 


Rejecting the life of comfort and privilege offered by the British, she took political asylum in Nepal and it was here that she died on April 7, 1879. As for Kishwar's grave in Père Lachaise, it lies in ruins — the marble cenotaph having fallen to pieces long ago. However, few people have heard of the forgotten Hindustan queen who has lain at Père Lachaise in an unmarked grave for far longer than many of her venerated neighbours. Perhaps the most visited cemetery in the world, Père Lachaise in Paris receives over 3.5 million visitors each year; nearly the same number of people who hit up the Empire State Building in the same amount of time! Unsurprising, since the hillside graveyard is the resting place of some of the planet’s most famous artists, writers, and musicians. Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust and Frederic Chopin — they all have their final homes on the premises of Père Lachaise, with trains of ‘tombstone tourists’ coming to pay homage to these legends.

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.

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