The Mughal era tops the list of one of the lavish eras of Indian history. Free-spending, love for art, wine and luxury, the Mughals enjoyed it all. The Mughal Empire contributed to India with their fine architectures. Their palaces, tombs, and forts are the part of the Indian heritage today.
The lavish empire of Mughals saw its decline during the British Raj, with the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar being a patron of arts and poetry. All the luxury and overflowing wealth ended with Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled to Rangoon on account of the murder of 57 Europeans in his palace. Though, he wasn’t involved in the killing, as Bahadur Shah Zafar’s palace was being used by the rebels of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. And thereon, the glitters of the empire faded away.
But, the Mughal descendants are still alive. The great-grandaughter-in-law of Bahadur Shah Zafar, Sultana Begum, is alive and now lives in a small slum in Kolkata. Sultana Begum’s life today is the contrasting image of the luxurious life that her ancestors lived.
Sultana gets mere six thousand rupees as pension from the government. Life for her and her six children is really difficult. She had also appealed to the government, asking for monetary help. In 2003, the government gave her Rs 50,000 and an apartment, but the poor woman was thrown out of it by local goons.
Sultana runs a tea stall but, that’s not enough to meet the living expense of her family. In a letter to Sonia Gandhi, Sultana Begum had cited her ancestry and asked the government to provide her a decent life. She wrote,
The Union government earns crores of rupees from such places (Mughal buildings) per year in entry fee from visitors. But, descendants of actual owners of these properties are deprived of any compensation and are left to starve.
Here is a video of the great-grandaughter-in-law of Bahadur Shah Zafar, Sultana Begum, that will show you a better picture of the place she lives in today.