On This Day

The Day India’s Last Mughal Emperor Died in Myanmar

By Wei Yan Aung 7 November 2020

Yangon — Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor of India, died on this day in 1862, aged 87, as a prisoner of British colonialists in Yangon (then Rangoon) in British-controlled Myanmar (then Burma).

Following the emperor’s involvement in the Indian mutiny or sepoy uprising, an 1857-58 revolt against British rule, the 82-year-old monarch and his family were exiled to Lower Burma.

Leaving behind his tattered sandstone palace in Delhi’s Red Fort, the prolific Urdu poet and pious king led a low-profile life in a small wooden house near Shwedagon Pagoda for four years until his death.

When he died, Upper Burma was not yet occupied by the British and King Mindon reigned. But the monarch ended up in the hands of the British and King Thibaw was dethroned and exiled to India. The last Burmese monarch had a hard life in India and died in despair, sharing a similar fate to Bahadur.

The British entombed the Mughal emperor apparently hoping the tomb would be forgotten and it was only discovered in 1991, 129 years after his death. A two-story mausoleum was constructed in 1994 on Zi Wa Ka Road in Dagon Township. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have visited the mausoleum.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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