Zafar Mahal

Monument Type: Residential
NameZafar Mahal
Alternate NameLal Mahal
Started ByAkbar Shah II
Completed ByBahadur Shah Zafar
Started In1842
Completed In1847
LocationBehind Hz, Kaki's Dargah
Mehrauli, Delhi
Is TicketedNo
Timings09:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Coordinates28.5191299723826, 77.17970330657954
Zafar Mahal, Mehrauli is the last structure built by Mughals, and was acting as the royal palace for Mughals during the Urs of Hz. Bakhtiyar Kaki, when the Phoolwaalon ki sair festival, started by them was celebrated. It consists of the Mahal (built by Akbar Shah II) & Hathi Gate (built by Zafar).


Almost every Islamic ruler of Delhi has been a disciple of Hazrat Khwaja Quttubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki (r.a.), a renowned sufi saint, and successor of Hazrat Khwaja Mouniuddin Chisti (r.a.). While rulers like Qutubuddin Aibak started established Qutub Minar in Khwaja's honor, the later Mughal emperors decided to build a summer palace next to his Dargah.

The building, then called Lal Mahal and Rang Mahal, was started by Akbar Shah II. Later, the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah II (aka Bahadur Shah Zafar) built the Hathi Gate and eventually, gave it its present name, the Zafar Mahal. The emperor started festival Sair-e-Gul Faroshan (Phoolwaalon ki sair) in Hz. Kaki's honor used to celebrate his urs from this palace. It is said that Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar wanted to be burried here but since he was exciled to Burma, his last wish was never fulfilled.


The building was made in two parts. First part, constructed by Emperor Akbar Shah II was a single floor comprising of few rooms, some open area, Moti Masjid and Naubat Khana. Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar added another floor to it and erected the majestic Hathi Gate. He also constructed Chajja/Chhatri in the center of palace.

Towards east, adjoining the wall of Hz. Kaki's Dargah, is the Moti Masjid. It has two exists. One in south, towards the Naubat Khana of Zafar Mahal, and other in North, that opens in the property of Hz. Kaki's Dargah.

Except Hathi Gate, entire palace is in ruins. 70% of the roof has collapsed. Remaining 30% has been restored by govt. body and is supported with wooden planks.

Hathi Gate

The entrance of Zafar Mahal, known as 'Hathi Gate' was built by Bahadur Shah Zafar as an extension to the existing palace. It got its name because of the fact that an elephant can pass through it with the 'houdah' (seat, where people sit on elephant) mounted over it. This three storied structure has a nice decorated balcony, from where the royal family could see various processions. The upper balcony is divided into chambers decorated with marble and inlays. The arches though give a glimpse of the Rajasthani architecture and Bengali Domes.

Moti Masjid

Moti Masjid (the royal mosque), is situated adjacent to the wall of Dargah of Hz. Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki (r.a.). This is a very small mosque with double entrance. One door opens inside the premise of Dargah, and other opens in the Zafar Mahal. With these two small gates, the Moti Masjid can be separated from both Dargah and the Palace.
The mosque has three arches, and is made purely with marble. The three arches, actually decorate the three compartments of the tiny mosque, each having a Gumbad (Dome) on it. Adjacent to the southern corner of the mosque, are the royal graves.

Graves of Royal Family

Adjoining Moti Masjid, are the graves of the Mughal Royal Family. It can be said with certianity, who all are burried in those graves, but two names, that are prominent are of the two predecessors of Bahadur Shah Zafar, his father Akbar Shah II and grandfather Shah Alam II. Besides, Zafar's son Mirza Fakruddin is also burried here. Irony is, that Bahadur Shah Zafar himself wanted to be burried next to his father's grave in Sardgah, the marble enclosure. But fate took him far away from his last wish.

Sardgah, Bahadur Shah Zafar's Last Wish

It is said that the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar wanted to be buried next to his father in the Sardgah (the marble enclosure) at the Zafar Mahal. However, in 1858, he was arrested by Major William Hudson and exiled to Rangoon, British Burma, where he died on 7th November, 1862.

Upon his death in Rangoon, Zafar was burried the same night under a tree. The location of his grave was initially mistaken, but later it was identified. Both India and Pakistan raised claims over the grave and showered it with presents. Indian government helped burmese people build a prayer hall near the place, which is now treated as a shrine.
Many groups in India have raised voice to bring the remains of last emperor back to the sardgah of Zafar Mahal. Many say that Indian government has already cracked a deal with the Burma Government on this issue, but this information is still un-confirmed.

Sair-e-GulFarosha'n (Phoolwalo'n ki Sair festival)

It is said that the elder king of Emperor Akbar Shah II, Mirza Jahangir had a heated argument with a resident british officer Sir Archbald Seton and opened fire on him. Missing his target, Mirza killed the orderly of Sir Seton and was later sentenced to death by Britishers. Mother of Mirza Jahangir, Begum Mumtaz Mahal vowed at the grave of Hz. Bakhtiyar Kaki that if her son is spared, she will offer a chadar at his dargah. In few years, Mirza Jahangir was released from prison and was allowed to return to his family as a free man. The royal family then fulfilled their promise and went to the Dargah of Hazrat Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki (r.a.) with a chadar of flowers and a fan for Yogmaya Temple from Red Fort along with almost all residents of palace.

The royal seat was shifted to Lal Mahal (or Rang Mahal), as Zafar Mahal was known in those days and for three days, the celebrations happened with all sorts of merrymaking. There were performers and artists every where and entire region was dipped with doze of celebrations.

Since that day in 1812, this festval has become a symbol of communal harmony, where people take flowers from Chandni Chowk and reach Mehrauli. They visit Hx. Kaki's Dargah and Yogmaya Temple to seek blessings of deities.

Ban on Festival by britishers
Following their policy of Divide and Rule, britishers stopped this festival in 1942 during the Quit India Movement of Mahatma Gandhi. In 1962, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru resumed it and since then, the Prime Minister of India has been a patron of this festival. Every year, The President, Prime Minister and the Lt. Gov. of Delhi offer Pankha and other offerings to the dargah and Yogmaya temple. This festival is celebrated in the month of August-September every year, and now it has grown to a week long celebration.

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How to reach Zafar Mahal

Zafar Mahal is situated in the heart of Mehrauli, adjacent to the Western Gate of Dargah of Hz. Bakhtiyar Kaki (r.a.). To reach there by road, go straight from Qutub Minar, passing Adam Khan's Tomb and Mehrauli Bus Stand. You will reach an open area with shops and Mehrauli Police Station. Just before you enter this open area, a road turns to your left, which will take you straight to Zafar Mahal. The area is congested and it is advised to take a two-wheeler or small car only. One can also walk from Mehrauli Bus Stand or take a cycle-rikshaw to the palace

Location of Zafar Mahal