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Begum Sahiba Zeenat Mahal ( زینت محل ), also spelled Zinat Mahal,(1823 - 17 July 1886) was the de facto Empress who ruled the Mughal Empire on behalf of the Emperor Bahadur Shah II Zafar. She was his favourite wife.

Zeenat Mahal
Zinat mahal.jpg
Zeenat Mahal Begum Sahiba
Empress consort of the Mughal Empire
Tenure 19 November 1840 – 14 September 1857
Born 1823
Died 17 July 1886 (aged 62–63)
Yangoon, Myanmar British Burma
Burial Near the Mazar of Bahadur Shah, No. 6 Theatre Road, Rangoon, Burma
Spouse Bahadur Shah II
Issue Mirza Jawan Bakht
House Timurid



Zinat Mahal married Bahadur Shah II at Delhi on 19 November 1840 and bore him a son, Mirza Jawan Bakht.[1]

She greatly influenced the Emperor, and after the death of the Crown Prince Mirza Dara Bakht, she began promoting her son Mirza Jawan Bakht as heir to the throne over the Emperor's remaining eldest son Mirza Fath-ul-Mulk Bahadur. But due to the primogeniture policy of the British, this was not accepted.[citation needed] She was suspected of poisoning the British Resident in Delhi, Thomas Metcalfe in 1853 for meddling too much in palace affairs.[2]

She resided at her own haveli in Lal Kuan, old Delhi.[3][4]

1857 rebellionEdit

During the Indian rebellion of 1857, she kept her son out of contact with the rebels in an attempt to secure the throne for him. With the British victory, the emperor's two other sons were shot for supporting the rebels; however, her son did not become heir. In 1858, her husband was deposed by the British, bringing the Mughal empire to an end, and she was exiled to Rangoon with her husband. After her husband's death in 1862, the British banned anyone from claiming the title of Emperor, in an attempt to dissolve the monarchy.


She died on 17 July 1886.[1] She was buried in her husband's tomb in Yangon's Dagon Township near the Shwedagon Pagoda. The site later became known as Bahadur Shah Zafar Dargah.[5][6]

The grandchild of her and Bahadur Shah II is also buried alongside the couple.[7] After remaining lost for many decades, the tomb was discovered during a restoration exercise in 1991.[7]


See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

  Media related to Zeenat Mahal at Wikimedia Commons