Shah Jahan Begum

Shah Jahan Begum (1838, r.1844-60, 1868-1901)
Begum of Bhopal

Albumen print on carte-de-visite, c. 1875
Size: 4 x 2.5 in. (10.2 x 6.4 cm)

Inscription: HH the Begum of Bhopal

Sikander Begum gave birth to a girl child named Shah Jahan Begum on 29th July 1838. The British government recognised the succession of Shah Jahan Begum and she became the chief of the State on the 11th April 1844 till 1860. Her mother Sikander Begum was appointed as regent. However, in 1860, Sikandar Begum was recognised by the British as ruler of Bhopal in her own right, and Shah Jahan was set aside. On her mothers death in 1868, Shah Jahan once again became Begum of Bhopal.

In May 1871, Shah Jahan Begum married Maulvi Sayad Sidiq Hussain. She started the first day-school in 1860, founded two girl’s schools and 76 primary schools by the end of her reign. She was instrumental in building the Qasr-e-Sultani Palace (which is now Saifia College) and the Taj-ul-Masjid mosque. During her reign, she obtained the sanction to establish an Opium agency in
Bhopal in 1879.

Shah Jahan died on June 16th 1901 and was succeeded by her daughter Sultan Jahan Begum, who was born on 9th July 1858.

This is a photograph of the Begum, plausibly clicked in her formative years when her mother was a regent. She is wearing a floor-length cape, a jewelled headpiece, and a dress over leggings. She stands with one hand resting on a table holding a sculpture of a deer.