Roshanāra Begum was the third daughter of Shajahan and Mumtaz Mahal.  She was born on 2 Ramadan 1026 A.H. or 1617 A.D at Burhanpur. She was the first lady during the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. it was a Mughal tradition that the dearest and closest woman to the emperor was named Padshah Begum in the Mughal hierarchy. Be it Consort, Sister, Mother or Daughter. like in the case of Daughters, it was bestowed to Jahanaara Begum by Shahjahan and to Zeenatunnisa Begum by Aurangzeb Alamgir while in the case of Sisters, it was bestowed to his sister Roshanara Begum by Aurangzeb Alamgir. Roshanāra was a partisan of her younger brother Aurangzeb and supported him during the war of succession which took place after Shah Jahan’s illness in 1657. After Aurangzeb acceded to the throne in 1658, Roshanara was given the title of Padshah Begum by her brother and became the First Lady of the Mughal Empire. Aurangzeb was well-wished by Princess Roshan Ara She loved Aurangzeb Alamgir more than all the brothers. When a war of succession arose between her brothers (Darashikoh, Murad, Shuja and Aurangzeb) for the throne, she sided with Aurangzeb at every opportunity. She used to inform Aurangzeb about the conspiracies that were taking place against Aurangzeb in the court of Shah Jahan. After the battle of Samu Garh, Aurangzeb deposed Shah Jahan and imprisoned him in Agra Fort. During the detention, Shahjahan expressed his desire to meet his son Aurangzeb. On this occasion, Dara Shikoh’s supporters inside the fort made a plan that when Aurangzeb entered the fort, a few armed women would attack him and capture or kill him. Princess Roshan Ara Begum informed Aurangzeb about this plan and he was saved from falling into this trap. Many historians have written that Roshan Ara Begum’s sincere benevolence and alertness greatly benefited Aurangzeb and he succeeded in winning the throne by thwarting the ambitions of his opponents. Princess Roshan Ara Begum also used to participate in public welfare. She did a lot of work in this regard, but now obliterated there is no trace of it, but there is a garden in Delhi which was planted on the orders of Roshan Ara Begum.

Later centuries Imagined depiction of Roshanara Begum, Source: Wiki Images


Her Character and Character Assassination by Past and Contemporary Writers:
Roshanara was a pious lady like her brothers and sister,
Sir Edward Sullivan wrote, “she was Jolley, marvellous and courageous and not any less than her elder sister Jahan Aara while Tavernier wrote this sister of Aurangzeb is less than Jahan Aara in terms of character, beauty knowledge and wisdom. Like her sister Jahanara, Roshanara too was ridiculed and scandalized by the Past and Contemporary Writers. She is only mentioned twice in Shahjahan nama once at the time of her birth, and second when some allowance is made to her, along with her siblings, out of a total sum of two lakh rupees. Of course, there may be estrangement political discontentment and unusual relationship among siblings due to the favoritism of Shahjahan to his elder son and daughter. Still, Bernier, Mannuci and Tavernier wrote the most ridiculous and scandalous things about her. Without any proof they weaved a falsehood around voyeurism and gossip, instead of any verbal truths, they lie as an affront to history.Their calumny about Roshanaara’s indulgence in venality, or that she had nine young men in her harem to satisfy her sexual instincts. Beheading and flogging were required for them are some example of them”.

Aurangzeb’s other sister, Raushan-ara Begam– the one who energetically sided with him, c 18th Century, Source: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00routesdata/1600_1699/aurangzeb/prevost/prevost.html
Roshan Ara Garden tomb, Pic Source: Author
Roshan Ara Garden tomb, Pic Source: Author


Roshanāra Bagh- The Resting abode of the Princess: A few pages of a recently found poetic collection of Khairullah Muhandis mentioned the details of the Garden, which included a pool, an unique Aaina Khana (Mirror House) with it’s astonishing features, and Khairullah has written about them in detail. Roshanara’s burial itself was one of a kind.
Roshanara founded the Garden around 1650 AD at the same time when her father was founding the city of Shahjahanabad. Though some scholars consider the date of construction in 1664 AD because at that time she was not solvent enough to build a garden like that.
She built several buildings and canals in the garden obliterated by the Britishers. The entombment of Begum Roshanara lies in the middle of the Roshanāra’s garden with marble lattice screens (intricately carved jails) and a hall, which has apartments with arched openings known as Baradari meaning open pavilion. The British were fascinated with this garden tomb as it was an appropriate and beautiful retreat for them during the Delhi summers. In 1875, Cracroft, the Commissioner of Delhi significantly altered the garden by demolishing all the buildings except the Baradari and the northern gateway, which still exists along with the dilapidated eastern tank.

Carved Jalis, and Marble pillars of Roshan Ara tomb, Roshan Ara Bagh, Pic Source: Author
Roshan Ara Garden, Pic Source: Author


Roshanāra Club: The British, bureaucrats and the emerging Indian elite settling down in Civil Lines, joined hands in 1922 to form the Roshanara Club on the western side of the garden. In 1922, Rai Bahadur Amba Prasad, Sir Sobha Singh, R.E. Grant Govan a Delhi-based British industrialist. Lala Nanakchand Jhalani, P. Mukherjee, Nawab Mohd. Jamshed Ali Khan, G.A.Ball, Lala Ram Kishore, Capt.A.G.Puech, Imre Schwaicer, R.R. Skinner, Sardar Jaidev Singh, H.M.Mehta, Sh Mohd.Faridudsin Rais, Nawab Mohd. Mukarram Ali Khan and Vijya Aanand of Vizianagram founded a European club called Roshanara Club. Roshanara Club Ltd. was established on 15 August 1922. The hall’s interior at the club is still beautifully decorated with paintings on the hall’s ceilings. Surrounded by dry fountains on all sides, the roof of the Baradari has small chambers on the corners, which are artistically domed, giving an elegant sight to the club members and visitors.

Pic Source: Author


Birthplace of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
In 1918 a Cricket ground was constructed by Delhi Municipality on the eastern side of the garden named after Colonel H.C. Baden Deputy Commissioner of Delhi known as Baden Pavilion consists of two rooms, two bathrooms and a pavilion before the cricket ground.
Since 1927 first-class cricket has been played at the Roshanara Club Ground. The club is considered the birthplace of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)the wealthiest cricket governing body in the world. Post Independence cricket administrators gathered in front of an old fireplace and agreed to create a board for control of cricket in India. notably, one of the founding members of the Roshanara Club Raymond Eustace Grant Govan better known as R.E. Grant Govan was also the first President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Muhib Khan
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Muhib Khan is a post graduate student of History at CDEAMU. He is also a founder of  social media handle, dehlidarvesh that aims to document lesser known Heritage of India.

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