The final resting place of Mughal prince Dara Shikoh remains a mystery, with the Archaeological Survey of India saying it has not located the grave within the Humayun’s Tomb complex over a year after a committee was formed for the job.
In response to a Right to Information query by The Hindu , the ASI on July 28 replied “no” when asked if it had located the grave of Dara Shikoh at the Humayun’s Tomb complex. The government’s quest for locating the grave, which some believe is among the many unmarked graves inside the Humayun’s Tomb complex, started in February 2020. Then Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel had announced the setting up of a committee to locate the grave.
Dara Shikoh, who was Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s son and expected heir, was killed on the orders of his brother Aurangzeb in 1659 after losing the war of succession. While there are some mentions of his grave in texts, there hasn’t been a consensus among historians as to where exactly he was laid to rest.
Also read: Who is Dara Shukoh?
On December 17, 2020, speaking during a ceremony at Rahim’s Tomb, Mr. Patel said the committee had submitted its interim report and that after one more meeting, it would be publicly released. Mr. Patel said it was Dara Shikoh who was responsible for making the Upanishads available to the West as he had them translated. Then, on March 9 this year Mr. Patel replied to a question in the Rajya Sabha that a committee had been formed to study the tangible and cultural heritage of Dara Shikoh and Rahim Khan-e-Khana. “Tangible remains of Dara Shikoh are expected outcome. Report of the Committee is awaited,” his reply stated.
And the wait for the committee’s report has continued, while members of the panel have failed to reach a consensus. One of the members of the committee, retired ASI Additional Director General B.R. Mani was of the opinion that there was enough evidence to say that one of the three unmarked cenotaphs in a row marked Dara Shikoh’s resting place. Mr. Mani told The Hindu on Saturday that he had submitted his own opinion to the ASI a few months ago. Interestingly, a South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) engineer Sanjeev Kumar Singh had claimed that Alamgirnama , the history of Aurangzeb’s reign, said that Dara Shikoh was buried with emperor Akbar’s sons, Daniyal and Murad. Mr. Mani said he agreed.
Other committee members, however, were sceptical. Former Joint Director General of ASI R.S. Bisht said “there was no irrefutable evidence” about the location of the grave. He added that Alamgirnama was written by the court historian of Aurangzeb who would have wanted to paint him in better light. “If he [Aurangzeb] really cared, he wouldn’t have had his brother killed and his body paraded through Delhi,” Mr. Bisht said. He added that there were other ways to honour Dara Shikoh, “a man of letters” who was known for his “tolerance and academic aspects”, like restoring his library and the dargah s of Sufi saints he followed.
A committee member and former ASI Director (Archaeology), Syed Jamal Hassan, said it was difficult to identify the grave as there were no inscriptions, and references did not confirm the site as well. He added that he had submitted his opinion to ASI, that he disagreed with the SDMC engineer’s claim. He said the three cenotaphs in question were on one platform and looked to be made at the same time.
ASI Director General V. Vidyavathi could not be reached for comment.