Jahandar Shah


The death of Bahadur Shah I in 1712 led to a war of succession among his four sons. It was Jahandar Shah who was ultimately successful with the help of Zulfiqar Khan. Jahandar Shah ascended the throne on March 29, 1712, with Zulfiqar Khan as the all-powerful minister.

Jahandar Shah was frivolous, reckless, and pleasure loving. He was devoted to lady Lal Kanwar who came from the family of musicians. When Jahandar Shah ascended the throne after defeating his brothers, he raised Lal Kanwar to the status of a queen. She was made empress and given the title of Imtiyaz Mughal. The emperor, fond of luxury and pleasure, spent much of his time in the company of Lal Kanwar who exercised considerable influence over him. She even accompanied him in the battlefield. Her family was appointed to mansabs and given jagirs. As a result of Jahandar Shah’s neglect, the entire administration fell in hands of the relations of Lal Kanwar who robbed and mismanaged the state. The practice of royal favorites interfering in the affairs of the state became common under the rule of Jahandar Shah.

Jahandar Shah faced trouble from Muhammad Farrukhsiyar, grandson of Bahadur Shah, and the second son of Azim-ush-Shan. Farrukhsiyar, after the death of his father, proclaimed himself as the emperor. With the help of the Saiyid brothers, he was able to defeat Jahandar Shah in the battlefield of Samugarh, on January 6, 1713. Jahandar Shah and Lal Kanwar escaped and went back to Delhi and sought help of Zulfiqar Khan. Instead of helping Jahandar Shah, Zulfiqar Khan imprisoned him in order to gain favor of the new emperor. Jahandar Shah was murdered in prison on February 11, 1713, and was buried in the vault of Humayun’s tomb at the side of other members of the family.

This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003