Zinat Mahal

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Zinat Mahal
Empress of the Mughal Empire
Zinat mahal.jpg
Zinat Mahal Begum Sahib
Spouse Bahadur Shah II
Issue Mirza Jawan Bakht
House Timurid
Born 1823 A.D
Died July 17th, 1886 A.D
Rangoon, Burma
Burial near the Mazar of Bahadur Shah, No. 6 Theatre Road, Rangoon, Burma

Zinat Mahal Begum Sahiba (زينت محل بيگم) (1823–1886), also spelled Zeenat Mahal, was the de facto Empress who ruled the Mughal Empire on behalf of the Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. She was his favourite wife.


Zinat Mahal's supposed only known photograph, possibly the only photograph that exists of any Mughal empress

Zinat Mahal married Bahadur Shah II at Delhi on 19 November 1840 and bore him a son, Mirza Jawan Bakht.[1]

Zinat Mahal greatly influenced the Emperor, and after the death of the Crown Prince Mirza Dara Bakht, she began promoting her son Mirza Jawan Bakht as heir to the throne over the Emperor's remaining eldest son Mirza Fath-ul-Mulk Bahadur. But due to the primogeniture policy of the British, this was not accepted.[citation needed] She was suspected of poisoning the British Resident in Delhi, Thomas Metcalfe in 1853 for meddling too much in palace affairs.[2]

1857 rebellion[edit]

During the Indian rebellion of 1857, Zinat Mahal kept her son out of contact with the rebels in an attempt to secure the throne for him. With the British victory, the emperor's two other sons were shot for supporting the rebels; however, her son did not became heir. In 1858, her husband was deposed by the British, bringing the Mughal empire to an end, and she was exiled to Rangoon with her husband. After her husband's death in 1862, the British banned anyone from claiming the title of Emperor, in an attempt to dissolve the monarchy.


Zinat Mahal died on 17 July 1886.[1] She was buried in her husband's tomb in Yangon's Dagon Township near the Shwedagon Pagoda. The site later became known as Bahadur Shah Zafar Dargah.[3][4]

The grandchild of Zinat Mahal and Bahadur Shah II is also buried alongside the couple.[5] After remaining lost for many decades, the tomb was discovered during a restoration exercise in 1991.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "delhi20". royalark.net. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  2. ^ The Hindu : A case of Delhi poisoning?
  3. ^ "PM to pay homage to last Mughal emperor". Daily News. 27 May 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Sattar Kapadia. "Bahadur Shah Zafar Dargah". kapadia.com. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "PM visits Bahadur Shah Zafar's memorial in Myanmar". CNN-IBN. May 29, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Zinat Mahal at Wikimedia Commons