Delhi 101: #18 Khan-i-Khanan’s Tomb – General and Poet, Leader of Leaders

This may seem complicated but bear with it. Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar was forced to come to the throne as a young boy when his father emperor Humayun met with an untimely death. Amongst the many confidants who effectively ran the kingdom for the boy king was his tutor Bairam Khan, whose influence was enhanced by marrying Humayun’s sister-in-law. As Akbar came into his own, he found Bairam Khan too much to handle. He asked the latter to go to Mecca for Haj and had him assassinated on the way. He brought his widow into his harem and took it upon himself to bring up his young son, Abdur Rahim Khan.

Delhi 101: Cover image of book by Ajay JainThis post has been taken from Delhi 101, a book written by Ajay Jain. It is about 101 surprising ways to discover Delhi, one of the most amazing cities in the world for travelers. To know more about the book and to order one, click here.

Rahim grew up in an open environment close to Akbar, and did not disappoint his king. He rose to be a great general, the Commander-in-Chief of the army and was bestowed the title of Khan-i-Khanans, meaning Khan of Khans or Leader of Leaders. Rahim’s other claim to fame is as a poet and his Hindi verses on secular themes and human emotions are popular to this day, even amongst children. He served in the courts of both Akbar and his successor Muhammad Salim Jehangir.

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Upon his death in 1626, he was honoured with a magnificent tomb of red sandstone and a marble dome within the present day Nizamuddin East residential area behind Humayun’s Tomb; what we see is very modest version of the original. Many valuable materials were stripped off to be used for the tomb of Safdarjung, which entombs Muqim Abul Mansur Khan, the viceroy of Awadh under Mughal emperor Mohammed Shah, after he died in 1754.

Wonder if Rahim turned in his grave when he realized what was happening?


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