Delhi is a city that lures hundreds of tourists for its historical monuments, iconic gardens, and ‘spooky’ places. It is much more than the pages of a dusty history book. Located in Chanakya Puri, Malcha Mahal is one such historical landmark in the capital city. It has a long past of being a royal residence of the self-proclaimed royal family of Oudh.
So, let’s find out why the Mughal era lodge and its royal occupants are still considered to be one of the greatest mysteries in Delhi.
Malcha Mahal – The Story
The winding streets of Delhi surprise you at every corner. One such journey will take you to a 14th-century Tughlaq era hunting lodge Malcha Mahal, also known as Wilayat Mahal. The “Royal Monument” is quite an interesting subject for people who want to dig into Delhi’s ancient history.
A few scholars think that the mighty emperor built the hunting lodge after the death of his son. However, a few others believe that it was built by Feroz Shah Tuglaq. The story goes that he built it to honor a gipsy girl who took care of him after he lost his way during one of his journeys.
The medieval era Malcha Mahal Delhi was called the Wilayat Mahal after the self-proclaimed Begum Wilayat Mahal of Awadh claimed to be a member of the Royal Family of Oudh. A family of three, Begum Wilayat Mahal, Ali “Cyrus” Raza, and Sakina Mahal claimed their lineage to the rulers of the Oudh (princely state) in the 1970s.
However, it was contested that the family had no royal connection. What is even more interesting is that the family surfaced out of nowhere in Delhi.
Malcha Mahal – The History
Begum Wilayat Mahal’s claim to royal status dates way back to 1947. The self-proclaimed queen said that Jawaharlal Nehru gave her family a place to live in Srinagar, Kashmir. The royal family made a cross country journey from Nepal to Kashmir to live in the ancestral house until it was reduced to ashes in 1971.
A Protest to Claim Royal status
After their house burned down, the royal descendants went to Lucknow. Over there, they demanded that the family be bestowed with royal gifts. To ensure that their demands are taken into account, all three of them moved into the city’s railway station. Shortly after moving in, they were relocated to a railway station in Delhi with 12 dogs and seven servants.
The family made an outrageous claim that the Indian government was responsible for burning down their house in Kashmir. They lived in the first-class waiting room and a porch of the Delhi railway station for nearly ten years.
While protesting, Begum Wilayat and her children decorated their chambers with Persian carpets and wall portraits. Food was served to them in utensils made of bone china and tea in sets made of silver.
In 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited the train station and asked the concerned authorities to look for a suitable home after the royal family declined the offer of a modern residence. Following the event that gained international recognition, the Indian government gave Malcha Mahal as a place of residence to the family in 1985.
Malcha Mahal Haunted?
The Malcha Mahal story is quite a fascinating tale. One thing is very clear, the family did not want to have any connection with the outside world. This was evident from the guard dogs and menacing signs that read- Intruders shall be gunned down. For more than 30 years, the Wilayat Mahal remained out of bounds for the uninvited.
It was guarded by 12 dogs belonging to the self-proclaimed royal family. After Prince Ali Raza died in 2017, the centuries-old stone palace became the hotspot for paranormal investigators.
A few people have claimed that they have seen flickering lights in the dead of night. This may have stemmed from the fact that a few considered the family to be supernatural beings of some ancient folklore. Ghostbusters will also find Kashmir Ghost scribbled somewhere in the palace.
Curated by Ruchit Rastogi