Brace up son,the assassins have arrived!
Delhi, often called as the unfaithful bride of India, has a multitude of secrets tucked away in her bosom.
The colourful and morbid past of the city draws visitors to the city in droves, some come here to soak in the modernity of this ancient town and the rest head to Delhi to explore and relive its ancient and ghostly past.
Delhi as a city never ceases to enchant me.William Dalrymple has called it City of Djinns.
Djinns are ghosts by another name.
As you enter the gates of Red Fort of Delhi, you cannot but fail to appreciate the vastness of the fort and its walls.The Red Fort was built by Shah Jehan, the famous Mughal who also built the worl renowned Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
Most of the travellers are ignorant of another fort, Salimgarh,located just north of the Fort.A narrow bridge connects the Red Fort and Salimgarh.
|Salimgarh- pic courtesy from the web|
300 years back, Salimgarh was the imperial dungeon, meaning the royal prison.
Disobedient princes and princesses were thrown into the prison and at times, executed.
The affair of Dara and Aurangzeb
The year was 1659 and the sons of Shahjehan were embroiled ina deathly contest for the crown of the Mughal empire in India.
The King had 4 sons; Dara, Murad,Aurangzeb and Shuja. Aurangzeb had disposed off Murad and Shuja was on a run from Bengal to the borders of Myanmar (earlier Burma) .The only prince that was left apart from Aurangzeb was Dara and after a long chase, the latter was captured by Aurangzeb and was put in the Salimgarh dungeon.
Dara had for company his minor son, Sipar Shukoh in the prison. The prince was quite popular among the citizens of Delhi and unlike many of the Muslims of that era was quite liberal in his approach toward life and polity.But, he was a stupid and haughty guy.He did not take kindly to the advice offered by his friends whom he treated with contempt.
In the famous Battle of Samugarh near Agra, India, though Dara had an army of around 400,000, against Aurangzeb’s 35-40,000, he could not hold on to the ground and ultimately lost the battle.
Aurangzeb was too clever to be a direct instrument for Dara’s execution.He wanted a handyman and he found one.
Years ago, Dara had offended a small time official called Nazir.That offence was rankling Nazir for sometime and Aurangzeb finally used that grudge.He sent Nazir to assassinate his brother.
One night ,after Dara and his young son had had their dinner, he heard a small commotion at the prison doors.
Sensing his end was near, the unfortunate prince grabbed his son to his bosom not intending to let the child be taken away.But, the brutes were many and they wrung away the wailing child to an adjoining room.
There was a brief struggle. Dara was a strong man and he had commanded armies during his hey days and he could not be so easily subdued.The attackers were determined, blinded with the hate and the lure of lucre.They pinned the unfortunate prince to the ground , Nazir fished out a shimmering blade and the prince was done away to death.
Salimgarh has been witness to several such incidents.Locals say that the fort is haunted by unhappy and dissatisfied souls- one of whose also happens to be that Aurangzeb’s daughter!