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. It was built by Firuz Shah Tughlaq, who reigned over the Sultanate of Delhi, in 1325. 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. On 10 September 1993, Begum died by suicide at the age of 62. The descendants of Wazid Ali Shah in Lucknow claims that the family engaged in fraudulent activities, having been cited by an investigative journalist for the New York Times.
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.
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.
Inhabitation by Wilayat Mahal
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.
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.
Possibility of Restoration
- 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.
- "The prince takes his bicycle to buy meat for his dogs". www.sunday-guardian.com. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
- Malcha History (12 October 2014), Malcha Mahal, retrieved 15 November 2016
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- Ellen Barry (22 November 2019). "The Jungle Prince of Delhi". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
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- "Delhi's mysterious Malcha Mahal ruin to be restored". Financial Express. 3 October 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
- 1986 LA Times Report after Begum moved in Malcha Mahal
- 1998 NYT report after Begum died
- BBC 2017 story on the residents of Malcha mahal
- The story of other disadvantaged and displaced Malcha residents: Jats of Malcha after 104 years still await compensation for their Rashtrapati Bhawan land
- The Story of Malcha Mahal
- Kumar, Abhimanyu; Andre, Aletta (7 January 2020). "The Many Lives of Delhi's Jungle Palace". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 18 July 2020.