The Rage of an Emperor | Adham Khan’s Tomb, Mehrauli

If you like old paintings, you would love to take a look at this page from court poet Abul Fazal’s Akbarnama, depicting Mughal Emperor Akbar punishing his foster brother Adham Khan by throwing him down the terrace of Agra Fort, not once but twice! Reason? Adham Khan had killed Akbar’s favorite general Atgah Khan out of jealousy.

Akbar throws Adham Khan from terrace of Agra Fort

Adham  was the son of Maham Anga, Akbar’s foster mother and a very influential woman in his life. Her famous response to Akbar breaking this news to her was a steely “You have done well”.  Within a few days of her son’s death, Maham Anga also died of heartache. Probably for political reasons, Akbar had a mausoleum built in Delhi and had both mother and son buried there.

A few years back the Bollywood movie Jodha Akbar had nicely depicted this scene of the Emperor’s rage. 

Have you visited Adham Khan’s tomb near present-day  Mehrauli Bus Terminal? It is also called the Bhool Bhulaiya (maze) because of the labyrinthine passages within. Once it had been a pretty structure set among foliage, but today the mausoleum is much degraded. In the 1830s, a British officer Blake converted this tomb into his residence, and had the graves removed to make way for his dining hall.  (Funny how many British officers wanted to have homes inside tombs!) Blake died rather soon afterwards- probably that’s what happens when you disturb the dead?

In any case, the structure continued to be used as a rest house by the British, and at one point also served as police station and post office. Quite an interesting past. Later, on the orders of Viceroy Lord Curzon, the rest house was abandoned, the tomb restored, and Adham Khan’s grave reinstated under the dome.

Today again, however, the tomb has become a rest house of sorts. Squatters sleep in the corridors and play card games at the historical setting. Buses continuously rev their engines in the bus terminal next door. The marketplace is abuzz with activity. Pretty hard to imagine Adham Khan asleep peacefully in this chaos.

Adham Khan's Tomb-then and now

13 Comments Add yours

  1. mj says:

    Another one of your gems… I do hope some serious publishers are taking note of your excellent work here.
    have a good weekend… 🙂

    1. wanderfool says:

      Oh Goshhh. That was the best compliment I have received so far. Thanks a ton mj 🙂 Hope you had a great weekend!

  2. Naushirvan says:

    Excellent post!
    It is said that the building was modeled after the ‘Dome of the Rock’ located in Jerusalem.
    By the way, have you ever noticed the ‘monument’ near IGI/ Delhi Cantt, that sort of juts out into view as you drive toward Dwarka/ Janakpuri ( NH8). It looks like a chhatri pavilion. On closer inspection, I noticed that it was part of a larger complex – including a wall that I fancifully imagined must have once girdled a baagh and a what looked like a gateway. I have no definite idea who built it or when( ‘late Mughal’ was my guess). My expedition was cut short by a hailstorm ( !). I was hoping to find some Persian/Arabic inscriptions or even dates. There are no information boards or plaques anywhere in the vicinity. The area looks pretty forsaken ( and a bit wild).
    I did manage to scrabble together some background material. The said monument is located near Mahram Nagar, that was populated under the aegis of one Mahram Khan, a khwaja sara ( head-eunuch) in Jahangir’s Court. I went through some records ( ASI and Delhi Govt.) that talked of ‘Bagh,walls and gateway, Mahram Nagar’. Could this be our monument?
    Do you know anything about it?

    1. wanderfool says:

      Awesome! This is the first time I am hearing of this place. Looked up a bit but haven’t found much info…but you are right! Remains of Mehram Khan’s garden still exist between the Dwarka flyover and the airport terminal T1. Now I gotta explore this place. Thank you so much 🙂 🙂

  3. indrani says:

    That clipping was interesting. Thanks!

    1. wanderfool says:

      Glad you found that interesting, thanks Indrani

  4. jahid akhtar says:

    very interestingly written. Loved the post!

  5. Rajesh says:

    Wonderful information.

    1. wanderfool says:

      Thank you Rajesh, glad you liked this 🙂

  6. What an excellent post. It has really kindled an interest in me to visit Mehrauli. Great job!

    Warm regards
    Padmapriya TS

    1. wanderfool says:

      Thank you Padmapriya, hope you get a chance to go there soon….Mehrauli is full of interesting monuments with many stories. I just took a look at your blog, and you seem to be having a similar hobby of exploring old monuments! Good luck in your quest 🙂

  7. I love your historical posts where we learn about the stories behind the monuments! As others are hinting, I hope a book collecting all this together is going to come out! It really ought to 🙂

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