Where a mother and son rest

Where a mother and son rest

Where a mother and son rest

Delhi’s landscape is dotted by countless monuments, tombs and mosques which tell the stories of powerful historical personalities. Often, we pass by them unaware of their past and import; but their chronicles, can turn out to be surprising.

The Qutub complex is one of the most important historical sites in Delhi and rightfully so, but travel a few meters North of it and you will discover Adham Khan’s tomb. Adham Khan was the son of Maham Anga, a wet-nurse of Mughal emperor Akbar, and an important general in Akbar’s army till the time of his death.

Maham Anga is a well-known figure in Mughal history. Maham Anga raised Akbar as her own son as the latter’s mother, Hamida Banu Begum, was mostly away with his exiled father Humayun, during his growing years. Maham Anga is said to have been an astute politician and exercised great influence over Akbar since childhood.

After the emperor dismissed his regent Bairam Khan in 1560, this influence further increased. In fact, historians call this period, from 1560 to her death in ‘62, the ‘Petticoat government’ for Maham Anga’s de facto rule of India during that time. Being her son, Adham Khan was granted the position of a general in Akbar’s army.

The emperor’s official chronicle Ain-i-Akbari says, in 1561, Adham was sent to capture Malwa, present MP, ruled by an Afghan Baz Bahadur. Adham not just defeated Baz but killed the ministers, their families and captured Baz’s harem. One of Baz’s queen, famed for her beauty, Rani Roopmati consumed poison to save herself.
Adham, undeterred and carefree, cornered all the war spoils and sent a mere three elephants to Akbar; but with these elephants, word of Adham’s atrocities also reached him. Displeased, Akbar set out for Malwa himself, outraced a contingent of ministers sent by Maham to warn her son, and brought back a dethroned Adham to Agra.

Once back in Agra, Adham decided that Akbar’s Prime Minister Ataga Khan was responsible for his downfall and one day, stabbed Ataga at his royal court. Akbar, present in the palace at that time, caught hold of Adham and ordered him to be thrown off the ramparts of the fort, not once but twice, to ensure death.

When Akbar broke the news to Maham, she famously said: “You have done well.” On the 40th day of Adham’s death, Maham Anga died of heartbreak. Akbar had the tomb built and the bodies of both mother and son rested here.

Spooky tales

In 1830, a British officer Blake converted the tomb into his residence and removed the graves to create his dining hall. He died soon. It continued to be used as a British rest house, police station and even a post office later. Early 20th c, Lord Curzon ordered it vacated. Adham Khan’s tomb was restored but Maham Anga’s never found.

Some years back, a marriage party came to rest at the tomb at night. In the morning, all had vanished. Since then, it has been come to be called Bhool Bhulaiyya and locals refrain from visiting the complex. The story of this mother-son duo, though, is inviting.