Wed 17 January 2018

The Mughal princesses

In his book ' Pilgrimage to Makkah - The Indian experience 1500-1800' Michael Pearson observes that
" A surprisingly large number of elite Muslim women made the pilgrimage from India in our period, and in all cases they were copiously supported and helped by their male relatives. One of the first was Bega Begam, wife of one of Humayun's nobles, who later became Humayun's widow, and was known appropriately as Haji Begam.
More famous was Gulbadan Began, a daughter of Babur. Akbar began to make arrangements for his aunt's hajj in 1575. In 1576 he heard that rumor had it that the journey was no longer a safe one because of Portuguese depredation. A top noble was sent off with Gulbadan Begam, ten other ladies, and various royal officials. Akbar gave her lavish expenses and also provided expenses and provisions "to all pious men and faqirs and soldiers that had the intention of making the pilgrimage." Arriving in Makkah after an adventurous voyage the party stayed some years, doing four hajjs and numerous umrahs. So lavishly were they provided with alms that indigents from the Hijaz, Syria and Asia Minor all swarmed to Makkah to get a share of the bounty. Badaoni claims they went to the important Shia shrines of Karbala, Qum, and Mashhad, as well as Makkah. They returned with various curiosities and some Arab servants after an adventurous journey which in total lasted seven years, from 1576 to 1582.


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