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What's there today 14th August, from the past !!!!

The 127th Anniversary of a Family Tragedy ! :,(


The King who came to Dinner - the Host survived.

Venue : Ata bagh, Matiaburj     Year : 1893

       On the death of His Majesty Wajid Ali Shah on 21st Sept 1887, there were three contenders to succeed him. The first was his chief consort Nawab Khas Mahal Saheba, the second was his nephew Prince Jehan Kudr whom the king looked upon and brought up as his own son (because his father General Sahib had gone to England in 1856 on a royal deputation for return of the kingdom of Oudh). The third was the then eldest son Prince Kamar Kadar. None of the three was given the charge of organizing the king's burial lest a claim came forward for recognition to succeed. The British government at that time wanted to put an end to this generation after generation system to succeed by a head of the house so that a new order is established void of any head of the family. Whatever it may be, there were none courageous enough to put forward a claim to step into His Majesty 's shoes. The estate was taken over and auctioned and the family came under a pension system. That one large family survived on british pension was under british thumb and none of the princes raised their head out of fear or were in the good books of their masters. This was 1887-89 and life continued thereafter, as the family comfortably settled in Matiaburj. The family affairs had come under the eye and control of the british District Collector who could be considered as the Head of the family because he had the final say in family matters.

        Six years passed to the king's death, down comes Birjis Qadr, ex-king of Oudh, from Kathmandu in 1893. This was the man who was crowned king in 1857 by the nobility and the general populace and had not only ignored the annexation of Oudh but challenged the very presence of the british in Oudh. He was in the city, this time to reopen the succession chapter long closed by the british in 1887, for assertion of his personal right by virtue of being the eldest surviving son. This guest from Kathmandu, was around 48 years old when he came to Calcutta, with his family comprising of his wife, two young daughters, a son. Since he had come to the land of his parents, and that he had seen violence at a young age and was an indirect participant of a war against the british, it was but natural to bring body guards/followers along for security. He always carried a sword with him, it is not known whether other princes carried a sword apart from the king, they had no reason to as their lives were secure. On his arrival from Kathmandu, there are two family accounts which may be believed about his place of residence. Prince Anjum Quder, his grandson stated that what he had heard from servants who were there for his upbringing in Matiaburj, that his grandfather Birjis was living in Matiaburj with a family relative on his coming from Kathmandu. Dr. Kaukab, another grandson is of the opinion that he stayed in a guest house in Calcutta, probably the Salvation Army, behind the Indian museum on Sudder Street . A visit to The Salvation Army by his third grandson Prince Nayyer Quder in 1989 was not fruitful as the office stated that they did not have any record dating back almost 90 years, if not more.

        The entry of Birjis Qadr, in 1893 in Matiaburj was a family reunion of a different kind. Eye brows must have been raised. Some must have been happy and some sad at his comeback because their own safe, secure niche which they had formed with the british establishment was under threat. Barring those who were born in Lucknow before the annexation, the rest who were born after annexation in 1856 in the family were new faces.

        Time had changed. Before annexation in 1856 at the time of departure by His Majesty from Oudh, there were about 9 sons, 9 daughters and 41 wives. At the time of the king's death there were about 24 sons, 17 daughters and 259 wives who were drawing an allowance under a pension scheme. Now there were step brothers, step cousins, step mothers, all who were already a financial liability on the British administration. It is an assumption that a lot of them must have heard of the "Ghadar" of 1857 and its aftermath. They must have heard in family gossip that Begum Hazrat Mahal and Birjis Qadr had taken part in it and the outcome of their effort for standing up against british authority.

        Birjis Qadr, opened a long closed chapter and put forward his claim to inherit the position held by his father, by virtue of being the eldest of his sons and two-third stipend of Rs12 lacs per annum that was granted to His Majesty. The british masters would have none of this. The only way to stop him from claiming was to get rid of him or silence him. "He was preparing to go to England to further his claim when one of his family invited him to a meal".(1)

        It was customary in those days to invite guests over meals. It's a conjecture that there must have been family gatherings of the nawabi style over food and sports etc with this new family member who had come down from Kathmandu.

        Amidst one of these family reunion dinner at Atabagh, Matiaburj, he returned home and fell sick and died on 13th August, 1893. In the next 24 hours, his eldest daughter Jamal Ara Begum, about 18 years died on 14th August, 1893 and his son Khurshid Qadr, aged about 15 years died on 15th August, 1893. Three of the bodyguards succumbed to the poisoning.

Was it a political assassination, a personal vendetta or an accident. Who knows ?

        The irony is that there was no casualty to the family who hosted the dinner. If it was an accident then members of both families should have succumbed to food poisoning. Arsenic poisoning was a known sophisticated way to eliminate someone without a trace of the poison, but that was a very slow process.

What raises doubts and gives credence to this assassination theory/argument is that :-

  1.     King Birjis Qadr, was the eldest surviving son (step brothers, four of them older to him in the family hierarchy had predeceased him) and was not accorded the burial chamber on the west side of the hall bang opposite to the king's burial chamber.

        Somebody, in the family at that time in 1893 had reserved that spot for himself. Kamr Kadr, who was held to be the eldest ( "in the absence of the rebel Prince" Birjis Qadr in this case  ) by the British committee and who would according to the committee's finding would have been the successor of the king had the kingdom not been annexed, was buried in this chamber. King Birjis Qadr was buried outside this special chamber that too upon pressure by his followers on the committee that was responsible for the burial. It is said that one step brother of Birjis Qadr, Prince Buland Jah Mirza Muhammad Askari, son of His Majesty Wajid Ali Shah from his wife Aish Mahal, played an important role in Birjis Qadr's burial in the Imambara hall. Later when Birjis Qadr's wife Nawab Mahtab Ara Begum died in 1929, this prince (who later became one of the first trustees of the Sibtainabad Imambara Trust in 1901) at that time helped her son Prince Meher Qadr, for her burial (despite opposition from other family members) beside King Birjis Qadr's grave.

  2.     Princess Jamal Ara Begum (stated to be 18 years old) daughter of King Birjis Qadr, was buried on 14th August, 1893 on the east side of Drain (almost in the drain as reported by Prince Jalall). The Oudh Family Burial Ground had been newly formed in March 1893, on 19 bighas 8 cottahs and there were only two graves in this vast area prior to the burial of these two children. This sacrilege was so disgraceful that even the Collector of 24-Parganas, an Englishman named Ernest H. Cowrie, washed his hands of this gruesome act and wrote in the Oudh Family Burial Ground register as under :

"Prince Jehan Kudr is responsible for this burial not having obtained the orders of this office or the consent of the other members of the Committee.

No members of the Committee attended the burial as far as is known to this office."

                                   Sd/- Ernest H. Cowrie

  3.     Prince Khurshid Qadr ( stated to be 14 or 15 years old ), who died on 15th August, 1893 received no better treatment and he was buried on 15th August, 1893, next to the daughter's grave in the Oudh Family Burial Ground. About him in the register, the same entries have been endorsed by the Collector, Ernest H. Cowrie.

Prince Jehan Kudr was later knighted as Sir Jehan Qadr.

The exact entry and a snapshot of the burial register is reproduced Click here !

As per the account given by both Prince Anjum Quder and Dr. Kaukab Quder, six people lost their lives in that ghastly dinner. Nothing is known as to what happened to three of his bodyguards. Below is the assassinated group photo.



Unnatural Death !

The British Administration was silent !

Not a protest. Not a whisper.
Not a word. Not a sound.
Not a report. Not an inquest.
Not an inquiry on the death of six lives within a span of 3 to 4 days.

An evasive silence in the family.
A tacit extermination.

The motive : ENVY - JEALOUSY - MALICE - GREED - HATRED or Accident.
It will remain a mystery.

Birjis Qadr's wife, the grand daughter of Bahadur Shah Zafar - Emperor of India, Nawab Mahtab Ara Begum, had not gone for that fatal dinner due to her being pregnant. Her young daughter Princess Husn Ara Begum, aged around 9 years was with the mother and had not accompanied the father. The story goes that as soon as Nawab Mahtab Ara Begum, heard of her husband's and children's death she fled from the house where she was staying in Matiaburj for the safety of the child that she was carrying and her daughter. A woman losing her husband and two of her young children within two / three days would have been a life shattering blow to any normal person. However, she still maintained her sanity and brought up Prince Meher Qadr (born 24th Dec, 1893) and his sister Princess Husn Ara Begum with dignity which speaks remarkably of her courage and grit.

The family lost everything and was on the verge of annihilation, thanks to some well wishers and good samaritans amongst the family members (probably Prince Buland Jah Mirza Muhammad Askari), who helped the family survive. Finally, by the then prevailing british law, Nawab Mahtab Ara Begum, Prince Husn Ara Begum and Prince Meher Qadr were granted pension by the British.

Birjis Qadr's grandson Dr. Kaukab who had made rounds of the Alipore Collectry in the 1950's stated that one clerk in charge of distribution of political pensions in the Superintendant of Political Pensions Office at Alipore Collectorate was kind enough to show the cover of a file containing the petition of Birjis Qadr's memorandum of 1893 and the same was marked "Secret and Confidential" and was not accessible to anyone without the governments special permission even though India had achieved freedom. No, Right to Information Act was unheard of in those times. This disclosure was made by Dr. Kaukab in the 1980's when he went to collect his pension and found that the record from the old historical pension office (since the time of His Majesty Wajid Ali Shah) ground floor building was shifted to a new building 4th Floor called the Treasury building at Alipore. He was of the opinion that by then, whatever remained of the pension office record (correspondence record of family affairs etc) barring the Oudh Family Pension Register would have been terminated by termites or lost in transit by careless clerks and employees or would be lying in some corner of a government building, untraceable.

The three great grandsons of the last king hold that the attempt to obliterate the family of Birjis Qadr was political in nature and a nexus between the british administration and some family members.

(1)Lucknow: The Last Phase of an Oriental Culture - Abdul Halim Sharar. Translation - 1994
(2)The REGISTER of BURIALS in Oudh Family Burial Ground, Garden Reach - 1893
(3)Oudh Pension Papers
(4)Birjis Qadr 150th Birth Anniversary - Souvenir 1995
(5)Direct conversation with the grandson of Birjis Qadr - Prince Anjum Quder,
    Dr. Meerza Kaukab, Prince Nayyer Quder.


   Translated from an Urdu article written by

Syed Ibne Hasan Naqvi
The writer is the great great grandson of
Sultan-ul Ulema,
High Priest of the Court of the Kings of Avadh
who coronated Birjis Qadr on 6th Aug, 1857 at Lucknow.

Served the Sibtainabad Imambara Trust
as Manager between 2008-2010
and is now it's Secretary.


Today, that year in the history of Oudh - 6th Aug 1857
What's there today 06th August, from the past !!!!

A second booming of 21 guns marked the regal recognition from
Emperor of India, Bahadur Shah Zafar.

The second coronation of Birjis Qadr, by the supreme religious head of Oudh,
SEALED whatever doubt remained of the legitimacy of his rule.

Avadh at last was free, and NOW had an independant and a recognised ruler who was not at the mercy and protection of the British or bound by any of their Treaty.

British presence disappeared from the face of the earth in Oudh except the residency. The treaty of 1801 between the ancestors of Wajid Ali Shah and the british was rendered redundant by the annexation of Oudh; The annexation for the time being was hanging in thin air and the new government proclaimed under the banner of Birjis Qadr and Begum Hazrat Mahal was in charge of administration and state affairs. Lucknow and Oudh slipped out of british control. Freedom at last from the
Company Bahadoor.

The abdication by Wajid Ali Shah and the annexation of the kingdom of Oudh was not the political end for Avadh, the polity continued till its circumstantial end. The recognition of kingship from Delhi was enough for jubiliation and further boosted the morale of the
revolutionaries nee Sepoys and
the subjects comprising of Taluqudars, nobility and the commoners alike.

Upon receiving the information of Birjis Qadr's coronation on 5th July, the Emperor of India, Bahadur Shah Zafar, sent back the Ambassador from Oudh, Abbas Mirza with the seal and a reply to Birjis Qadr. This seal sent from the Mughal Emperor, along with a seal of Begum Hazrat Mahal adorns the masthead of this website from today. The original seal is with his descendants in Kolkata.

The following three research papers throw light and should enhance the knowledge of any person interested in the closing chapter of the Nawabi cum kingship rule in the history of Oudh and the end of the dynastic rule.

The Last King
Birjis Qudr - An Appraisal

Today, that year in the history of Oudh - 30th July 1822
What's New today 30th July, from the past !!!!

The 198th birth anniversary of His Majesty Wajid Ali Shah, VIth King of Avadh
What do we have here. !!!

REMINISCING - Mementos from a film on Wajid Ali Shah !

New link !!!
Shatranj ke Khiladi   (The Chess Players)

When the legendary director Satyajit Ray was making a film on Wajid Ali Shah, in Calcutta in 1970's, he turned to the scions of the Avadh family, the three great grandsons of Wajid Ali Shah from his wife Begum Hazrat Mahal.

Prince Anjum Quder, the Chairman of Sibtainabad Imambara Trust, who went out of the way to help the Director by letting him use for the shoot, the big chandelier and other items of the Imambara in order to provide authenticity to the film.

Dr. M. Kaukab, the authority on Wajid Ali Shah, was the consultant on Avadhi culture and history. The Director went all the way to Aligarh and through a common contact Shama Zaidi met Dr. Kaukab, who was working on his thesis on Wajid Ali Shah, when he was a lecturer in Urdu in the A.M.U. in 1970s. He was in regular correspondence with Dr. Kaukab to check whether his portrait of the king was in consonance with the historical character of Wajid Ali Shah. The said correspondenc will be posted later.

Prince Nayyer Quder, who was in U.K. at that time, surprisingly appeared at the London premiere of the film; was introduced to the audience and given a box office seat ;-). An anecdote connected with him will be posted later.

This link has some titbit mementos from the making of the film in Calcutta in 1970's. An invitation letter addressed to Prince Anjum to attend a party with the unit of SkK at Hotel Hindustan International. A note of Saeed Jaffrey to the Prince. A letter of appreciation from Prince Anjum Quder addressed to Satyajit Ray. Click here !


REMINISCING - A bengali drama in Calcutta on

New link !!!

Wajid Ali Shah

Vintage ;-) Scanned photos of the souvenir on a bengali drama 'Wazid Ali Shah' by CHORUS - a Calcutta based drama troupe in 1986. The city based drama talent of those days.  ;-)  Click here !!!

REMINISCING - An Urdu poets eulogy through poetry on

New link !!!

Wajid Ali Shah

An Urdu poet Josh Malihabadi's salute to another legendary poet the King. It was a part of the below excerpt collection of Prince Anjum Quder but it was so emotionally moving that it has been given on a separate link. Translation. Click here !!!

REMINISCING - A great-grandson's collection of excerpts on

New link !!!

Wajid Ali Shah

Prince Anjum Quder's collection of excerpts on the wrong done to Wajid Ali Shah. Removing the blemish through excerpts. No Time for love - very brief excerpts from the king's reply to two love letters from his wife, Ghizala Begum.  Click here !!!


What's New today 23rd July, from the past !!!!

In memory of Late Prince Anjum Quder, whose 23rd death anniversary is today 23/07/1997.

What do we have here. !!!

"The Prince's credential"
which was just a single line label in the webpage on late Prince Anjum Quder, has been partly updated after 20 years !!, showing his social status. There are still at least 1200 photographs to be posted, 90% of which are in   B & W, segregated in 80 albums of all the programmes, functions, symposium and seminars which he attended in a span of his public life starting from 1975 till his death in 1997. In that period, he toured the length and breadth of Avadh, the then Uttar Pradesh.  ;-)

To the people of Avadh it appeared that their king had come back.

The common man (aam aadmi)   ;-) , be him a hindu or a muslim met him as if they were meeting their king. He rubbed shoulders both with the elite and the common man with remarkable equanimity, be it a banquet in the Governor house at Lucknow or the inauguration of an Eid-gah in a remote town in U.P. This showed the difference between a real prince and an imposter of 1947.

This website is an inhouse work, those 80 photo albums (most of them have already been scanned) will take at least 80 pages to showcase.

We have also run out of free webspace on http://oudh.tripod.com. No more free trips for a website on a royal family. We now have to buy a ticket.
We start with two very interesting links which have been added, one of them being a royal noble mission aborted in 1981.
Please visit and glance the full page dedicated to
Late Prince Anjum Quder

What's New !!!

From today 23/07/2020 being the 23rd death anniversary of Late Prince Anjum Quder the below link is added. This link will show important dates concerning the family
List of Important Dates in the House of Birjis Qadr.

CORONATION OF 1837 vis-a-vis CORONATION 0F 1857 07 July 2020
Today, that year in the history of Oudh - 7th July 1837
Two days forward to the day of the coronation of Birjis Qadr and twenty years back to it, on that fateful Diwali night, coronation of another king took place in the history of Oudh. It will be unjust, if that coronation goes 'unannounced' in this website


The date above is a new link starting from today the 7th of July, 2020. The link will highlight the important dates and the same appended as a link in another page titled
List of Important Dates in the History of Oudh.

Who was Birjis Kader ????

This website is updated with the above question link from today, the 5th of July, 2020 in the 163rd Anniversary of Birjis Qadr's crown Coronation crown as King of Oudh on 5th July, 1857 by the freedom fighters of Oudh, amidst 21 gun salute or as they say in urdu "ikkees topon ki salaami".

Keep a watch as we are Back with that Bang on this Website from today 05/07/2020, after 16 long years of its last updation. You will hear of "Nawab's", King's, Prince's and What not What ;-). The dummy info links indicating "Coming Up !" etc. will come alive in the coming days.

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