Sultan Shah Jahan, Begum of Bhopal

Sultan Shah Jahan, Begum of Bhopal

Sultan Shahjahan Begum, GCSI, CI, Kaiser-i-Hind (July 29 1838 - June 16 1901) was the Begum of Bhopal (the ruler of the princely state of Bhopal in central India) for two times: 1844-60, and secondly during 1868-1901.

Born in Islamnagar near the city of Bhopal, Shahjahan was the only surviving child of Sikandar Begum, sometime Nawab of Bhopal by correct title, and her husband Jahangir Mohammed Khan. She was recognised as ruler of Bhopal in 1844 at the age of six; her mother wielded power as regent during her minority. However, in 1860, her mother Sikandar Begum was recognised by the British as ruler of Bhopal in her own right, and Shahjahan was set aside. Shahjahan succeeded her mother as Begum of Bhopal upon the death of the latter in 1868.

A lady of learning and piety, Shahjahan is credited with the authorship of several books in Urdu. She was instrumental in initiating the construction of one of the largest mosques in India, the Taj-ul-Masajid, at Bhopal. The construction however remained incomplete at her death and was later abandoned; work was resumed only in 1971. Shahjahan Begum made sizable donations towards the building of a mosque at Woking, Surrey in the UK. She also contributed generously towards the founding of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh, which developed into the Aligarh Muslim University.

In 1855, Shahjahan Begum married Baqi Muhammad Khan, a nobleman of Bhopal, as his third wife. He died in 1867. Four years later, Shahjahan married Sadiq Hasan Khan of Bareilly in the then United Provinces. The second marriage was childless.

Shahjahan Begum died in Bhopal, and was succeeded as ruler by her only surviving daughter, of her first marriage, Kaikhusrau Jahan.


*"The Begums of Bhopal: A Dynasty of Women Rulers in Raj India" by Shahraryar M. Khan
* [ Brief biography and genealogy]
* [ The Taj-ul-masjid at Bhopal]
* [ Woking Mosque and the Woking Muslim Mission]

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