THE BONES OF EMPRESS NUR JAHAN
AND A SICK MIND OF A SIKH RULER
Tragedies of Lahore
The lure of Nur Jahan is phenomenal. Stuart Cary Welch and his wife Edith were our guests in Lahore in 1981, and he wanted to visit a number of places. The mausoleum of Nur Jahan was one of them. Through the courtesy of Malik Shams (whose son held the contract to entrance), we slipped down a basement into a tunnel, which deep down led to a room, with two iron rings hanging from the ceiling. That was all that remained of Nur Jahan. Yes the mausoleum itself was in ruins from the times o the Sikhs, who had stripped it of its affluence, and although Hakeem Ajmal Khan of Delhi had provided a tombstone way back, things were still something to be in deep mourning.
The disregard of those in power for the legacy of Pakistan was understood, but not the mind of a sick Sikh ruler, who was so obsessed with the legend of Nur Jahan, that he had the coffins removed, to inspect the so called bodies of the departed Queen. The skeletons were not up to his standards (Contrary to popular thought the second coffin is not of Ladli Begum her daughter, who is buried elsewhere in the Indian region), and perhaps the cloth of the coffin was of interest to him, and he may have put the same in the Toshak-khana of the Lahore Fort (a number of things were found there after his death), but disappointed with the bones, he ordered them to be thrown to the dogs and the wolves in the area. He did not even have the decency to put the skeletons back in the grave and back to the original hanging position. In fact he had no scruples, and it was rumoured that his own mother did not listen to him, and he had her murdered for licentious living.
Nur Jahan was perhaps the most famous Mughal lady of all times. Her luck was such that from being in a position of eventful death as a baby, she survived all odds, and created a renaissance in Mughal culture. Maker of perfumes, fashion designer, power wielder, she was a legend in her own lifetime. After her political demise, she retired to Lahore and lived a peaceful life here. Even today we come across coins struck in her name in the vast kingdom of the Mughals by her loving husband Emperor Jahangeer. The city she called Paradise treated her like dirt under the dark and dreary span of Sikh rule in Lahore.