City Monument – The Unknown Other, Razia Sultan’s Tomb
The mystery of the second grave.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Our city has seen invasions, civil wars, slaughter, riots and murders of kings, princes and ministers. Delhi neighbourhoods are littered with souvenirs of that past. Frustratingly, many of these monuments have lost the stories of their origins.
Take Razia Sultan’s desolate grave in old Delhi’s cramped Bulbuli Khana. The first and the last woman emperor of the Delhi Sultanate is only “said to be” buried here — declares the authoritative Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on a slab put outside the memorial. As if this uncertainty isn’t enough, we have two graves here and ASI is conveniently silent on which one is “said to be” Razia’s.
Whose is the other grave?
The Delhi Walla asks a few people in the neighbourhood, many of them sweatshop artisans. One handicraft worker says the other grave was of the woman friend of the empress. Another says it was of her beloved horse.
The mausoleum also doubles up as a mosque. Its imam tells me confidently that the other grave is of Yaqut, whom he describes as “her secretary”. (Yaqut was depicted as Razia’s lover in a 1983 Hindi film.)
Let’s face it, we will never know the identity of the second grave, nor will be ever be certain if Razia Sultan is actually buried here.
However, the aforementioned ASI slab — inscribed with the story of how the 13-century empress died fighting in a rebellion — does make us feel connected to the queen. What are we supposed to feel for the other grave — its secret buried forever? Even so, standing close to an unsolvable historical puzzle is thrilling.
I’m surprised the locals didn’t know that the little complex was called ‘rajji sajji ki dargah’ in the past. The other grave was said to belong to Razia’s sister Shajia Begum.
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