GUL SAFA LAHORI BELOVED
MASHOOQ OF PRINCE DARA SHIKOH
A love affair of Lahore
No one ordinarily could get in the Mughal harem. The lady had to be exceptionally pretty, as well as talented in many of the arts of the world. The story of Nur Jahan’s conquest of Prince Saleem is just one example. But to get the attention of the Emperor or the Princes or the heir apparent was not a joke. Nothing ordinary could touch the senses or minds of the Royal Princes. Gul Safa Lahori managed not only to get in the Mughal harem (perhaps on the recommendation of Princess Jahan Ara a firm judge of character), but to get the attention of the heir apparent, and is called in a Royal miniature as being the MASHOOQ OF DARA SHIKOH. Not every body could get into Royal record as being the beloved of the greatest Prince of that age.
Gul Safa’s position can be ascertained from the fact that she was in control of the Ainah Khana of Prince Dara Shikoh in Lahore, and Lutufullah Ahmad Muhandis, the architect of the same Ainah Khanah, has a Qasida in his diwan, honouring the well known Mashooq of Lahore. Gul Safa indeed!
Little is known about her and her position after the death of Dara Shikoh, but it seems that she was still in control of the Ainah Khana in the times of Emperor Aurangzeb himself. She lived there with her daughter, an off spring of Dara Shikoh himself. A painting of Gul Safa with her daughter exists to this day. Can we identify the daughter in any way? Besides the famous Jani Begum, that is Jahanzeb daughterof Dara Shikoh, who became the daughter in law of Emperor Aurangzeb, we know of at least three daughters of Dara Shikoh. One is Pak Nihad Begum, a princess born on 5th September, 1641. We know of another Bano Princess, who was born on 29th June, 1634, but she died as a baby child. We are told of another later daughter whose name was AMAL UN NISA BANO, and in our view she was the daughter of Gul Safa, and in this miniature, we see mother and daughter sitting in the Bagh of Dara Shikoh in Lahore, with the Ainah Khana in the background. This is the area of the Railway Station Lahore of these days.
The famous wife of Dara Shikoh is of course Nadira Begum, who died in his camp, somewhere in Sind, because of food poisoning on the run. She was bought back to Lahore by the eunuch Khawaja Maqbool (builder of Dai Anga Mosque) and buried in the compound of Hazrat Mian Mir in Lahore. Her son who died in young age, namely Mumtaz Shikoh, is buried in the Bagh of Prince Pervaiz, father of Nadira Begum. But where Gul Safa went? No one knows. That is history. It buries flesh and blood in mere dust with time. A couple of Hindu artists saved her image and life for posterity by drawing her pictures. We thank them for their contribution!