Lal Kunwar – Jahandar Shah : Love makes world go round

Jahandar Shah was the grandson of Aurangzeb and came to power after liquidating his three brothers in 1712 at age 52. Jahandar Shah was a Casanova and spent all his time with wine, women and music for company. Jahandar Shah was no great warrior and administrator and spent his time enjoying company of women.

jahandar Shah

Jahandar Shah


Lal Kunwar

One such woman he fell in love with was a dancer and singer called Lal Kunwari whose ancestry could be traced back to the great singer Tansen. The Casanova Jahandar Shah was a womanizer and was on the look out for young beautiful woman almost every other day. One day a dancing woman Lal Kunwari was presented to him and he fell in love with her. As soon as he became an emperor he married Lal Kunwari and rechristened her as Imtiaz Mahal and was his chief consort.

Jahandar Shah consulted her on all political matters and she even accompanied him to war fields. Jahandar Shah was totally infatuated with her and gave high position to her brothers and friends. She had such control on Jahandar Shah that she forced him to send his two younger sons to prison. She would act like the de facto emperor aka Nur Jahan. Her annual allowance was 2 crore Rupees.

In defiance of any royal etiquette Jahandar Shah and Lal Kunwar would travel the Delhi and Agra markets in evening on bullock carts. Their behaviour caused a great rift between Jahandar Shah and his aunt and Aurangzebs only surviving daughter Zinat un Nissa.

But their love story was short lived as Jahandar Shah was defeated the next year in 1713 by his nephew Farukhsiyar and they both were imprisoned in Delhi citadel. On 11th Feb 1713 the emperors orders arrived to kill Jahandar Shah and Mohammad Yar Khans men strangled him to death and cut his head off. His body was buried in Humayuns tomb and Lal Kunwar was sent to a settlement in Suhagpura where royal widows lived. Thus ended the love story of Lal Kunwar and Jahandar Shah

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