This is large, 10 acres enclosure surrounded by a wall. The enclosing wall of 'Karbala' was constructed by captain Mirza Ashraf Beg Khan, an employee of Mahadaji Scindia, a ruler of 'Maratha Empire' during the time of 'Mughal' emperor Shah Alam II. He was stationed at Delhi.
Timur Lang a ‘Mongol’ conqueror had buried the world’s first 'Tazia' in 1399 A.D. (800-01 A.H.), in the vicinity of 'Qadam Shareef'. Originally the word "Tazia" is derived from an Arabic word "taziat" meaning 'condolence. Word ''taziat'' took its roots from ''aza'' which means mourning. Timur Lang used to visit Shrine of Imam Hussain (as), Karbala, Iraq every year, during the holy month of 'Muharram'. In 1398-99 A.D. (800-801 A.H.) he was unable to visit to the Shrine of Imam Hussain due to his invasion in India. He ordered to make a replica of shrine, so that he could perform the rituals. Due to the shortage of time the replica was made by bamboo and papers. He stayed only 18 days in Delhi, the place he stayed in Delhi is currently known as 'Hauz Khas' very close to Dargah Shah-e-Mardan. He had to leave towards his next destination to satisfy his thirst for warfare and conquest. That is why he carried that 'Tazia' from the 'Nizamuddin Dargah' (burial place of Saint Khawaja Syed Nizamuddin Aulia) in the form of a procession and buried it into the soil, in the vicinity of ‘Qadam Shareef’. He called that portion of land as 'Karbala' in honor of the original 'Karbala' (where Imam Hussain (a.s.) was martyred along with his family members and companions) in Iraq. Since then this practice called 'taziadari' came into existence. 'Tazia-making’ then flourished during the Mughal era. Dargah Nizamuddin is situated around 3 kilometers from Dargah Shah-e-Mardan.
It indicates that this 'Karbala' already existed and Ashraf Beg only constructed the boundary wall. After the 'Karbala', Iraq this is the first ever place called as 'Karbala'. The enclosing wall is 7' 6'' high and built of lime and stones. . It has two gateways facing north on Jorbagh road, one in the east, and two towards south. The main gate on northern side on Jorbagh road is 17'1'' high and 14' wide. It had two pavilions on the either side of the main gate, which are completely demolished now.
Just opposite the main gate in the centre of the 'Karbala' is the distinctive mausoleum of 'Mah Khanum' 1139 A.H. (1726 A.D.). Her real identity is a mystery. 'Khanum' is the feminine of 'Khan' and 'Mah Khanum' would mean that she was the most exalted lady of her time. The tomb structure is nothing but a gateway and an underground burial chamber. The burial chamber lies deep underneath. Probably it was her wish to be buried so deep so that her body should not be above or on the same level of 'Tazia. The Persian ‘Farsi’ inscription on her grave describes her in rather flowery language as –
Translation:- ''Mah Khanum, the sun of the zodiac of chastity, by Heaven’s decree hid her face under the cloud of compassion and turned her face towards God. The pen of providence wrote the date of this (event) on the tablet of the grave (when) the Mary of the age joined God''. The chronogram gives the date 1139 Hijri (1726-27AD). From this it can be deduced that Mah Khanum was a very pious lady and a virgin because of her comparison with Mary, the mother of Christ (Hazrat. Esa a.s.) who was held in high esteem for her piety and saintly life.
'Tazias' from old Delhi and surrounding areas are brought here to be buried. The practice was stopped for a few years after Partition in 1947 A.D. but resumed soon after, though on a smaller scale. Now more than lacks of devotees take part in the procession. Other religious programme also takes place here organized by Anjuman-e-Haideri (regd.)
Monuments of Delhi, compiled by Maulvi Zaffar Hassan, Vol.1 (2008 A.D.) Originally Published in 1916 A.D.
Fall of the Mughal Empire by Jadunath Sarkar, Vol. 1 (4th Edition, 1991) Originally Published in 1932.
Aasar-us-Sanadeed by Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan, (2014 A.D.) Originally Published in 1847 A.D.
Waaqiyaat-e-Darul Hukumat by Bashiruudin Ahmad Dehlvi, Vol. 3, Published in 1919 A.D.
Dilli ki Dargah Shah-e-Mardan by Dr. Khaliq Anjum, Published in 1988 A.D.
Archaeological survey of India (ASI) reports.
National Archives of India, New Delhi
British Council Library, New Delhi
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