From riches to rags

Amal Chatterjee
7 min readApr 20, 2020

Source : Google photo of Begum Wilayat in her last abode.

Synopsis : The sad story of a royal family of Lucknow and their descent into abject poverty and ending their lives in an abandoned villa in the middle of a forest is truly horrifying in modern India. Such neglect and total abandonment of such an illustrious family of royalty is incomprehensible and unforgivable.

You often come to know of a terrible injustice done to some people in the name of indifference, lack of compassion, negligence of epic proportions and stupidity that resulted in the death and misery. But no one takes the responsibility or is brought to account for theirs acts so the injustice continues. I bring to your their sad stories when they were crying out for help but did not get it.

The following story is of a queen and her two children who were mistreated by the government of India that led to their death in an abandoned hunting lodge in the middle of a dense forest just in the outskirts of Delhi. This story would have never come out in the open if it was a story of common poor people of India who die of poverty everyday but it came out because the victims were no less than the royalty of Lucknow who had fallen on hard times after they lost their kingdom and all their properties so they became destitute all of a sudden.

Please watch these four videos below to learn what really happened to them.

1.Source : U tube video of Begum Wilayat Mahal

2.Source : U tube video of the royals in Malcha Mahal

3.Source : U tube video of Malcha Mahal that is haunted

4.Source : U tube video of the last prince of Awadh .

This is a heart rending story of a royal family of Lucknow that went down on its knees and died in despair in an abandoned villa in the middle of a forest in the heart of Delhi where no one visited them and no one was allowed in.

The sad story of a royal family starts in Lucknow that was the seat of power and the capital of the Nawabs of Awadh for centuries who lived in opulent palaces and had vaste estates and resources that they used to maintain a huge army to protect themselves and their kingdom. The Nawab of Awadh ( later it became a part of Uttar Pradesh in independent India ) joined the forces of Indian freedom fighters to oust the British from India in the battle of 1857 but this first attempt in the struggle for freedom failed because the British and their well equipped army over powered them and crushed the attempt.

The Nawabs of Awadh were semi-autonomous rulers within the fragmented polities of Mughal India after the death of Aurangzeb. They fought wars with the Peshwa, the Battle of Bhopal against the Maratha Confederacy which was opposed to the Mughal Empire, and the Battle of Karnal as courtiers of the “Great Moghul”.

The Nawab of Awadh, along with many other Nawab were regarded as members of the nobility of the greater Mughal Empire. They joined Ahmad Shah Durrani during the Third Battle of Panipat and restored the imperial throne Shah Alam II. The Nawab of Awadh also fought the Battle of Buxar in the aftermath of the Battle of Plassey, preserving the interests of the Moghul. Oudh State eventually declared itself independent from the rule of the “Great Moghul” in 1818.

The Nawab of Awadh or the Nawab of Oudh /ˈaʊd/ was the title of the rulers who governed the state of Awadh (anglicised as Oudh) in north India during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Nawabs of Awadh belonged to a dynasty of Persian origin from Nishapur, Iran.[1][2][3] In 1724, Nawab Sa’adat Khan established the Oudh State with their capital in Faizabad and Lucknow. ( source : Wikipedia)

Source : Google photo of some royal china the queen brought with her that the vandals later smashed to bits in anger because they did not find anything worth stealing.

The descendant of this royal line of rulers in Awadh was Begum Wilayat Mahal and her two children Princess Saquina and Prince Reza Ali who after the independence of India in 1947 asked the government to provide them with a place to stay and a pension to sustain themselves. They had lost all their properties and titles in the new Republic where all the kings and queens of yesteryears had lost all their kingdoms but were given pensions to live on modestly. Begum Wilayat and her two children were given a villa in Kashmir but a fire gutted their villa there so she came to Delhi to demand the government to provide her with a place suitable for her and means of support.

The government neglected her so she began a sit in protest at the railway station of Delhi where she stayed in the waiting room for 9 long years until one day Mrs. Indira Gandhi came to visit her and offered her a flat with electricity and water and a very modest pension of Rupees 500 a month but the queen said that she was of royal and very illustrious lineage and her forefathers had fought valiantly to free India in the battle of 1857 . She will not accept anything less than a decent palace so Indira Gandhi offered her an abandoned villa in the middle of a forest that was 700 years old and in total ruins.

This palace was called Malcha Mahal that was built by a Sultan of Delhi 700 years ago as a hunting lodge where the Sultan rested during his hunting trips. It was massive but not designed as a palace for the royals with amenities. It was in total ruin and had no electricity, water and no caretaker because it was considered as an abandoned place.

Begum Wilayat Mahal then moved into her new abode with her children, a retinue of her servants and more than 10 vicious dogs that kept outsiders away. No one was allowed by the Begum to visit them. But their nightmare continued and their living conditions deteriorated rapidly so all their servants left them, their dogs died one by one so there was no one to help them clean or prepare their food if they had any. The prince collected firewood in the forest and prepared their food somehow but they were queens and princes who were not used to this degree of hardship that is beyond anyone’s imagination or comprehension.

The Begum and her two children lived there in absolute poverty and despair because they had little money so they lived like paupers or worse than paupers. Whatever silverware and fine china they had brought with them was looted by thieves. No one came to visit them and no one brought them anything they needed so people forgot about them.

Then one day the queen committed suicide because she could not take it any longer but her daughter who was very fond of her mother would not let her be buried so she cried for 10 days over her decomposing body until her brother took the corpse away and buried her in the forest. But the thieves dug out her body to see if she had any jewelry on her and desecrated her shallow grave so the prince cremated her and put her ashes in a crystal jar.

The princess was soon to follow her mother the same way leaving only her brother behind. The prince lived alone in the villa for a few more years until he too died in 2017 thus ending their misery and pitiful life.

Now the villa or the ruins of an abandoned hunting lodge is full of bats and totally decrepit where the floors are littered with garbage and broken furniture. The thieves looted the place in search of royal treasures they believed hidden there but found nothing so they smashed everything in site and totally trashed the place. It is now considered a haunted place where the tormented souls of the royals still linger so people are terribly afraid of the place. The spiteful reporters and journalists who failed to get access to the family called them fake royals and spread disinformation about them.

It is hard to imagine that a royal family of illustrious descent was so reduced to poverty and neglect that the queen in total despair committed suicide , the princess died of grief and utter neglect and the prince followed a few years later ending their pitiful existence. Why the government paid them no attention and failed to give them a decent place and means of sustenance when the ministers spend millions of tax payer’s money on them so lavishly? What was behind this utter neglect of a family that deserved better? What was in the mind of Indira Gandhi who gave them a decrepit hunting lodge in the middle of a forest and then forgot about them? We will never know the answer.

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