Agra

Tomb of Sultan Parwiz – Agra

Tomb of Sultan Parwiz – Agra

The tomb of Sultan Parwiz is located on the east bank of the Yamuna river in Agra, sandwiched between Itimad-ud-Daulah and Chini Ka Rauza, in an area that was once Mughal riverside gardens.

This tomb, designed along the lines of Timur’s mausoleum in Samarkand, is not protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (A.S.I.) or any other state level archaeological organization, so is rapidly falling into ruin. I think it’s very unlikely many people visit this monument, it seems to have completely dropped into obscurity.

Access is not easy either, but with the help of Google Maps you can reach it via a short walk from Aligarh Road beside one of the many plant nurseries that line the road in this area.

Decayed and ruinous interior of Sultan Parwiz’s tomb – Agra

What is perhaps surprising is this crumbling ruin belongs to Sultan Parwiz, the second son of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, brother of Shah Jahan, and grandson of Akbar.

Parwiz was born on 2nd October 1589, in peaceful times prior to his brother’s rebellion it is said he regularly enjoyed Polo. He was married three times; in 1606 to Jahan Banu Begum, the daughter of Prince Sultan Murad Mirza, in 1612 to the daughter of Mirza Rustam, and in 1624 to Manbhavati Bai, the daughter of Raja Suraj Mal.

Incidentally, I can highly recommend a day excursion from Agra to visit Raja Suraj Mal’s summer palace at Deeg, and his nearby Chhatri at Kusum Sarovar. A daughter from Parwiz’s second marriage, Nadira Banu Begum, would go on to marry Shah Jahan’s son, Dara Shikoh.

The prince held the governorship of many important places such as Khandesh, Asirgarh, Berar and Bihar. When Shah Jahan revolted in 1622, Parwiz was even sent to Burhanpur to replace him.

Prince Parviz (c.1620-1625)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Felton Bequest, 1980

Despite his status as an elder son and being widely regarded as ambitious, he was also totally inept and therefore was never a serious contender for the throne. He failed in his leadership of the Deccan War and lost the faith of court as a result.

Like many in the Mughal court, Parviz had a notorious liking for alcohol. He was ravaged by excessive drinking and an indulgent lifestyle, which culminated in Parwiz falling gravely ill in 1626 at Burhanpur.

He suffered delirium, fell into a coma, and required five head wounds to be cauterized. He briefly awoke from the coma only to lose consciousness again, and shortly afterwards died at the age of just 38 on 28th October 1626. With another heir out of the way, the cause of death was immediately suspected to be poison from the hand of Shah Jahan.

His body was brought back to Agra and buried in his own charbagh garden on the banks of the river. From the evidence of maps we know that this garden still existed into the 18th century, but has since completely disappeared.

Faint traces of painting inside Sultan Parwiz’s tomb – Agra

The land upon which the tomb stands has changed hands about six times since the British first auctioned it off in the 19th century. Since then the foundations of the tomb have decayed dramatically, much of the plaster has disappeared, and the whole structure appears to be quite weak. I do have concerns as to how much longer this building will exist.

It is staggering to contrast the monuments in which the two brothers, Shah Jahan and Sultan Parwiz, are buried.

Tomb where Shah Jahan is buried, the Taj Mahal
The tomb of Sultan Parwiz, Shah Jahan’s brother

The former is interred along with his wife in what is perhaps the most famous and most beautiful building in the world, and yet just a few kilometers away in the same city his brother lies in complete ruin and obscurity.

Sibling tombs in the same city, but worlds apart.


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