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The slumdog Mughal princess: Once owner of Taj Mahal now lives in desperate poverty

At the height of its power, the Mughal empire ruled over a quarter of the world population. The empire was rich beyond measure. The yearly revenue exceeded over 4000 tonnes of silver.During its peak, Emperor Akbar was worth 25% of global GDP.


The European ruling class did not even come close to what the Mughals had in terms of luxury.

But life is tricky and sometimes it plays the part of a great leveller.There is a lesson for current Mughal’s of Pakistan.


One of the direct descendants of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor, Sultana Begum lives in a Kolkata slum on a pension of just 6000 rupees a month.

Sultana Begum

Ever since the death of her husband Prince Mirza Bedar Bukht in 1980, Sultana has descended into a life of poverty.


The Mughal heiress is forced to live in a tiny two-room hut in Howrah, a slum area of Kolkatta. She shares a kitchen with her neighbours and washes in the street using water from public taps.

Sultana Begum washes dishes outside her tiny home while a Man is seen taking a stand-up bath in West Bengal, India

‘My husband, the late Muhammad Bedar Bakht who was the son of Jamshid Bakht and grandson of Jawan Bakht, used to tell me that we come from respectable royal families who never begged for a living.


She lives in a two-room slum house with a shared kitchen and washes utensils and clothes out under the common street tap. She has struggled to make her ends meet with the meagre money she gets from the Government of India.

Sultana tried to make a living by having her own tea stall but it was shut down. Now, her only source of income is her pension.

Bahadur Shah Zafar was the great-great-great-grandson of Aurangzeb. And Sultana Begum is the great-granddaughter-in-law of Bahadur Shah.


While most of his descendants were killed after the rebellion, some survived, including the great grandfather of Sultana’s husband.

Another descendant Ziauddin Tucy, a descendant of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor also lives on a pension.

Ziauddin Tucy


Ziauddin Tucy is the sixth generation descendant of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and today struggles to make ends meet. Living in a rented house, Tucy has two unemployed sons and is currently living on the pension. He still believes that the government will release properties of the erstwhile Mughals to the legal heirs.


Descendants of Tipu Sultan (Fateh Ali Khan):


The Tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan will always be remembered as one of the most powerful rulers India ever had.

Fateh Ali Khan (Tipu Sultan), was the first freedom fighter of India as also known as the world’s first missile man, whom the British feared the most. The descendants of theTiger of Mysore are facing many hard challenges to live through their poor life.


One of his descendants plies a rickshaw and the other has a kerosene dealership while a third looks after a garment shop in Calcutta’s Tollygunge area.


These descendants were scattered across the globe. Some lived in India in anonymity because of fear, and some went abroad. Some descendants live in Detroit, USA, and even Pakistan.
Once lavishingly wealthy families are now in a condition of hopelessness and destitute,