Malcha Mahal

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Construction occurring in Raisina Hill (c. 1920s-1930s).

Malcha Mahal, also known as Wilayat Mahal, is a Tughlak era hunting lodge in the Chanakyapuri area of New Delhi, India next to the Delhi Earth Station of the Indian Space Research Organisation.[1][2] It was built by Firuz Shah Tughlaq, who reigned over the Sultanate of Delhi, in 1325.[3] It came to be known as Wilayat Mahal after the self-proclaimed "Begum Wilayat Mahal" of Awadh, who claimed to be a member of the Royal family of Oudh who was reportedly given the place by the Government of India in May 1985.[1][4][5] On 10 September 1993, Begum died by suicide at the age of 62.[6] The descendants of Wazid Ali Shah in Lucknow claims that the family engaged in fraudulent activities,[7] having been cited by an investigative journalist for the New York Times.[8]

The building is now mostly in ruins. After Wilayat's death, it continued to be inhabited by the Begum's daughter Sakina Mahal, and son Prince Ali Raza (aka Cyrus). Cyrus died in late 2017; his sister died some years before him, though the exact date is unknown.[9][10][11][1][4][3][6][12][13]


Malcha Mahal is located in Malcha, one of the historical villages around Raisina Hill. Malcha, along with Raisina, Todapur, Aliganj, Pillanji, Jaisinghpura, and Kushak villages were moved by the British during the construction of capital New Delhi in the 1920s, especially the Viceroy's House, which is now known as the Rashtrapati Bhavan.[14]

Inhabitation by Wilayat Mahal[edit]

Begum Wilayat Mahal, self-proclaimed great-granddaughter of the last Nawab of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah, was reportedly allotted the Mahal in May 1985, following the intervention of the Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi in 1984. Begum Wilayat Mahal had been protesting for nine years by living in a waiting room at the New Delhi railway station, demanding compensation for the loss of her ancestral property in Awadh which was seized when Wajid Ali Shah's kingdom was annexed by the British.[1][3][13]

On 22 November 2019, the New England Bureau Chief of The New York Times, Ellen Barry, published a lengthy piece of investigative journalism in which she said she had discovered that Wilayat Khan, in fact, had no connection to the Awadh royal family. Rather, she was the widow of the former Registrar of Lucknow University, Inayatullah Butt. Barry found her oldest son, Shahid Butt, living in the UK and he had told her the true story.[8]

Possibility of Restoration[edit]

In October 2019, it was reported that INTACH has proposed to undertake restoration of Malcha Mahal.[15]

See also[edit]

  • Kushak Mahal, another hunting lodge of Feroz Shah Tughlaq in Delhi
  • Hastsal, the hunting lodge of Shahjahan in Delhi


  • Abha Rani. (1991). Tughluq Architecture of Delhi. Bharati Prakashan.


  1. ^ a b c d "The prince takes his bicycle to buy meat for his dogs". Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  2. ^ Malcha History (12 October 2014), Malcha Mahal, retrieved 15 November 2016
  3. ^ a b c Elizabeth Bumiller (The Washington Post) (12 December 1986). "This Royal Family's Palace Is No Taj Mahal: Lizards and Bats Overrun Decrepit 600-Year-Old Monument in New Delhi". LA Times. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Heritage : In isolation at Malcha Mahal". The Hindu. 20 June 2005. Archived from the original on 28 June 2005. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  5. ^ MILES, JAMES (30 June 1985). "India's Depot Princess Finally Gets Her Palace". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  6. ^ a b Barry Bearak (20 November 1998). "New Delhi Journal; Bats in a Dreary Lodge Where Life Imitates Poe". New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Descendant of Wajid Ali Shah challenges lineage claim". The Times of India. 13 November 2017.
  8. ^ a b Ellen Barry (22 November 2019). "The Jungle Prince of Delhi". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  9. ^ Rowlatt, Justin (5 November 2017). "The lonely death of Delhi's jungle prince". BBC News. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Reclusive Awadh prince dies a pauper in decrepit 14-century Delhi lodge". Hindustan Times. 7 November 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  11. ^ "Prince Ali Raza, last descendent of Oudh's royal family, dies a lonely death". India Today. 7 November 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  12. ^ "Royal siblings reflect struggle of India's modern aristocrats". USA Today. Associated Press. 5 June 2004. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Cut off and forlorn in Malcha Mahal". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  14. ^ Avishek G Dastidar, Nivedita Khandekar (5 January 2011). "From rocks & ridge rose a New Delhi". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 12 March 2014.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Delhi's mysterious Malcha Mahal ruin to be restored". Financial Express. 3 October 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 28°36′35″N 77°10′52″E / 28.609595°N 77.181104°E / 28.609595; 77.181104