Roshan Ara Bagh: Where sleeps a princess

Being a heritage site and a monumental garden, Roshanara Park is one of the many gardens Delhi boasts of. With the unmarked tomb of princess Roshan Ara Begum, her elegant palace, and a dense garden, the park narrates a beautiful tale of lost history

Roshan Ara bagh: where sleeps a princess

All photos: Ali Fraz Rezvi

Within a few kilometres from the Pul Bangash Metro Station, and quite near to Delhi University’s north campus, stands Roshan Ara Bagh – a Mughal monument dating back to the 17th century AD.

Named after Emperor Shah Jahan’s daughter Princess Roshan Ara Begum, the heritage site was once a palace and then turned into the princess’ tomb. It now serves as a garden under the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

The heritage site spans over a large area of 8.5 acres. It houses an open gym, a playground, a garden and an ignored mausoleum, which is yet to be revamped as a world-class nursery by October 2022.

The last surviving memoirs, one being an unmarked grave, lies at the centre of the palace’s garden area. The architecture here is beseeching, with dilapidated walls and pillars, wooden doors and windows.

The tomb, where exists the unmarked grave of Roshan Ara Begum, has suffered the most with its marble jaalis crumbling from three sides and broken at the fourth. The marks of repairs by the ASI on the pillars and walls are nothing more than a cemented patch.

Along with the surviving parts of the palace which includes a bara-dari (a structure with twelve gates) and a well, there exists the last remains of a lake which covers around four acres inside the garden. The lake, enclosing the tomb, was initially a part of the palace of Roshan Ara Begum. But it has now dried up and turned into a garbage dump.

The 372-year-old structure with a garden of Mughal grandeur and architecture was commissioned by Padshah Begum – the First lady of the Mughal Empire in 1650 AD. Itis used by the residents and the visitors till date.

Despite being in a distorted condition, the site is still magnificent and stands as a reminder of an ignored past. 

The main entrance to the Roshan Ara Garden.
People chit-chatting after a long morning walk.
The open gym in the park area.
A well from the past.
The bara-dari around the tomb often serves as a resting place for visitors in the daytime.
Remnants of the lake.
Structure that survives.
The last breaths of a breath-taking monument.
A man and a dog, on the two sides of the princess’ grave.

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Ali Fraz Rezvi
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Ali Fraz Rezvi covers heritage, history, literature and current social issues for the Patriot.