Not many know about a place called Malcha Mahal situated just a few feet away from the Delhi Earth Station of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). But this palace made headlines when the New York Times rubbished the claim of the family living there as the descendants of the royal family of Oudh. Which family are we talking about? How are they connected to the place? In fact, how are they connected to the Royal Family of Awadh? What happened to them? Moreover, this place is considered to be spooky and haunted. But why? We have many questions that this article can answer.
So, let’s start with the family we are talking about. There was a woman named Begum Wilayat Mahal who along with her two out of four children occupied space in the New Delhi railway station as a sit-in so that the government listens to her claim of the original ancestral property of the Nawabs of Oudh. Her family used to live and eat at the VIP lounge of the platform for many years. Lastly, the government gave her this property or shikargah in compensation instead of the original demand of a share in the ancestral property.
This Mahal is located in the Chanakyapuri area which is a posh diplomatic colony in shambles as it is a 650-year-old and dilapidated hunting lodge built amid a jungle. Despite its proximity to the Raisina Hills, no maintenance has ever been done on this three-roomed structure.
Wilayat Mahal’s side of story:
There are a few versions of the story but let us first know the Begum’s perspective and story. As we know the main branch of the royal family of Wajid Ali Shah fled to Metriabruz in Calcutta in 1856. This branch included the chief Begum and the members of Harem but Begum Hazrat Mahal was adamant about not leaving the palace in Lucknow. She also took part in the revolt of 1857 when her son Birjis Qadr was not acknowledged as the heir to the throne. However, Hazrat Mahal had to flee to Nepal after fighting and she stayed there till her death in the 1880s. The begum was survived by her many children. Begum Wilayat Mahal claimed to be one of these descendants. However, Begum did not claim compensation until her husband’s death.
What did a member of the original lineage have to say?
Anjum Quder who is the prince of Awadh had written a letter to the then prime minister and several ministries citing that all of the claims of Wilayat Mahal were false and she was no descendant of the Royal family. He said that the title Mahal was given to the wife of the Nawab when she bore his first male child and it cannot be given under any condition to a daughter or a granddaughter. He also presented the details of the complete bloodline of the royal family in the past 150 years and mailed it with his letter.
The New York Times also went to the extent of declaring that the woman was not in the right state of her mind and was delusional.
Whatever be the story, the Begum was betrayed and tricked by the government and shifted to a desolate palace with no amenities whatsoever. The palace did not even have an electricity connection or water supply. How the family stayed there completely cut off from the outside world is still a mystery to the people.
But what is the history of the Malcha Mahal?
This palace was built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in the memory of a gypsy girl and because this Mahal was built in the historic village of Malcha, it came to be known as the Malcha Mahal. It is also popularly known as the Wilayat Mahal. The emperor once lost his way while hunting and a gypsy girl took care of him. So the sultan built this hunting lodge in gratitude to her.
What happened to the family?
The family was given a retinue of servants and 12 hound dogs to guard them. Slowly and gradually there was none but one servant left in the palace in the service of the self-proclaimed royal family. Out of the dogs, only a few remained as the rest were poisoned by the thieves who were eyeing the supposed treasure the begum owned. It is said that these thieves also stole a silver table from the Mahal. No one knew what happened inside the palace and one of the forest guards claimed that they used to hear sounds of music and dances coming from the palace. The guards also said that they once saw a couple of journalists entering the property but never saw them return. The family was given a licensed gun for protection after multiple attacks from the intruders. But one day, the news of Begum’s death shocked everybody. The begum committed suicide by swallowing ground diamond in the year 1993. She was survived by her two children princess Sakina and Prince Raza Mahal (Cyrus). The children lived with her dead body lying on her study table for 10 days and slept with her body. The misery of the family did not just end there and the attackers constantly attacked the palace in search of the hidden treasure belonging to the Begum. Because of this fear, the children had to dig up her grave and cremate her. They put her ashes in a crystal vial after cremation.
However, even her successors met an unfortunate faith. The last of the family Prince Raza died from starvation 4 years after the death of his sister. However, even his death is considered to be mysterious as the police and journalists found a well-maintained tea set and crockery laid well in place on the table as if someone was going to have a meal (apparently, Prince Raza who starved himself to death).
Now that none of the members of the family survives, this eerie and deserted crumbling palace is considered to be spooky and haunted. People who have visited the place claim that they have felt some strange energy hitting them and have also seen flickering lights in the dead of the night. These assumptions or stories or whatever you name it might have originated because they were said to be supernatural beings from some folklore.
Also Read: 5 Most Haunted Places in Pune
But after reading the story, it is hard to tell whether these paranormal experiences were scary or the state the family lived in and died. The family lived in a palace infested with bats, spiders, snakes, and other creatures which made their life hell. The family had no faith in any stranger and hurled gun and let the dogs loose whenever they saw them.
Even if the claims of the woman and the family appear to be false, the way they were lynched by the thieves and intruders who ravaged their lives in search of an imaginary treasure that might or might not have been present with the family. This place is now under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and is supposed to be restored to add to the tourist circuit of Delhi. The tragic fate met by the family itself is a horror story in itself even though people have spared no opportunity of linking various stories with this place. Considering the road to the Malcha Mahal itself is eerie and the association of this place with suicides, deaths, and mysteries, sure does give rise to fear which leads to the formation and circulation of these stories.
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