The Last Mughal the fall of Delhi, 1857

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9780143102434: The Last Mughal the fall of Delhi, 1857

The fast-paced new novel from the internationally bestselling author of The Best Laid Plans, Morning, Noon & Night and Bloodline. Someone was following her. She had read about stalkers, but they belonged in a different, faraway world. She had no idea who it could be, who would want to harm her. She was trying desperately hard not to panic, but lately her sleep had been filled with nightmares, and she had awakened each morning with a feeling of impending doom. Thus begins Sidney Sheldon s chilling novel, Tell Me Your Dreams. Three beautiful young women are suspected of committing a series of brutal murders. The police make an arrest that leads to one of the most bizarre murder trials of the century. Based on actual events, Sheldon s novel races from London to Rome to Quebec City to San Francisco, with a climax that will leave the reader stunned.

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About the Author:

William Dalrymple is the author of five acclaimed works of history and travel, including City of Djinns, which won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award; the best-selling From the Holy Mountain; and White Mughals, which won Britain’s most prestigious history prize, the Wolfson. He divides his time between New Delhi and London, and is a contributor to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker and The Guardian.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One: A Chessboard King

The marriage procession of Prince Jawan Bakht left the Lahore Gate of the Red Fort at 2 a.m. on the hot summer night of 2 April 1852.

With a salute from the cannon stationed on the ramparts, and an arc of fireworks and rockets fired aloft from the illuminated turrets of the Fort, the two gates opposite the great thoroughfare of Chandni Chowk swung open.

The first to emerge were the chobdars, or mace bearers. The people of Delhi have never much liked being restrained by barriers and were in the habit of breaking through the bamboo railings hung with lamps that illuminated the processional route. It was the job of the chobdars to clear a way through the excitable crowd, before the imperial elephants—always a little unpredictable in the presence of fireworks—appeared lumbering through the gates.

Two ministers of state on horseback began the procession proper. Shell ornaments were plaited into the horses’ manes, and bells strung around their necks and fetlocks, and as they rode out, the ministers were attended by servants with punkahs (fans). Then came a troop of Mughal infantry, with polished black shields and curved swords, long lances and fluttering pennons of green and gold.

The first six of the imperial elephants followed, caparisoned with gold and saffron headcloths embroidered with the Emperor’s coat of arms. From the howdahs, officials held aloft the dynastic insignia that had been used by the Mughals since their arrival in India more than three centuries earlier: from one, the face of a rayed sun; from another, two golden fish suspended at each end of a golden bow; from the third, the head of a lion-like beast; from the fourth, a golden Hand of Fatima; from the fifth, a horse’s head; and from the last, a chatri, or imperial umbrella. All were made of gold and were raised on gilt staffs from which trailed silken streamers.

There then emerged in turn a party of red-tunicked Palace servants carrying covered trays of food and gifts for the bride’s family; a squadron of camels, with drums beating and guns firing in the air; a small regiment of British sepoys led by Captain Douglas, Commandant of the Palace Guards, all in tight-fitting busbees and blue-and-saffron uniforms, and escorting two light cannon; a troop of Skinner’s Horse in their yellow tunics and scarlet sashes, topped by armoured breastplates and medieval-looking helmets; a group of bullock-drawn wagons on which sat several bands of Mughal kettle drummers, shanai players, trumpeters and cymbal clashers; and a European brougham carriage, painted kingfisher blue, containing a party of senior princes, their gilt brocade flashing in the light of the exploding fireworks.

After each group came parties of torchbearers, holding their flames aloft, interspersed with men holding candles in glass bell jars. There were also gangs of water carriers emptying their skins onto the road  in an attempt to settle the billowing summer dust kicked up by the procession.

After the brougham there came a second, smaller group of younger princes, this time riding on horseback; and among them, in the very centre, rode the groom. Mirza Jawan Bakht was only eleven years old, a young bridegroom even in a society that tended to marry its offspring early in adolesence. Immediately behind the Prince swayed the elephant on which rode the Emperor himself, sitting in his golden howdah and decked out, despite the sweltering night heat, in his state robes and jewels, and attended by his personal bearer holding a peacock fan. The rest of the court followed behind on foot, a great snaking queue stretching back through Chatta Chowk, the Fort bazaar, to the Naqqar Khana Darwaza, or the Gate of the Drum House, in the very centre of the Fort.

Not long before this, the Emperor and Jawan Bakht had both sat for the Austrian artist August Schoefft. The portrait of Zafar depicts a dignified, reserved and rather beautiful old man with a fine aquiline nose and a carefully trimmed beard. Despite his height and surprisingly broad and muscular build, there is a profound gentleness and sensitivity in his large brown watery eyes with their unusually long lashes. As a teenage prince, Zafar had always appeared in his portraits as a slightly awkward and uncertain figure, plump, visibly ill at ease and thinly bearded. But as youth gave way to middle age he had grown into his looks, and in old age—unusually—looked finer than ever. Now in his mid-seventies, his cheeks were sallow, his nose more pronounced and his bearing more regal. Yet as the elderly monarch kneels, wearily fingering his beads, there remains in the expression of his dark eyes something unmistakably melancholic; in the set of his full lips there is still that air of sad, patient resignation visible in the earlier pictures. Schoefft shows Zafar a little swamped under the brocade cloth of gold which adorns him, somewhat weighed down by the huge blood-coloured rubies and the strings of vast pearls, each the size of a partridge egg, which seem to hang so heavily around his neck. It is a portrait of a man imprisoned by the trappings of his office.

By contrast, the young Jawan Bakht, the Emperor’s favourite son, seems to relish all the pearls and gems, the jewelled daggers and inlaid swords with which he is bedecked with a lavishness almost equal to that of his father. His expression is different too: knowingly handsome, and oddly cocky and confident for a boy of eleven. He is as strikingly sure of himself as his father appears wearily uncertain.

One person missing from both the portraits and the wedding procession was the woman who had done more than anything else to bring the marriage about. For months, Zafar’s favourite wife, Zinat Mahal, had been preparing for this day. In Mughal tradition, women did not accompany the barat taking the groom to his marriage—not even mothers and queens; but every detail of the procession had been planned by her. For Mirza Jawan Bakht was Zinat Mahal’s only son, and her one ambition, to which she held consistently throughout her life, was to see Jawan Bakht, Zafar’s fifteenth son, placed on the throne at the death of his father.

The exceptionally lavish wedding she had planned was intended by her to raise the profile of the Prince, and also to consolidate her own place in the dynasty: Jawan Bakht’s bride, the Nawab Shah Zamani Begum, who was probably no more than ten years old at the time of the wedding, was Zinat’s niece, and her father, Walidad Khan of Malagarh, an important ally of the Queen. While so young a couple would not be expected to consummate their marriage for a year or two, or even to live together, political considerations meant that the marriage should go ahead immediately, without having to wait for the couple to reach puberty.

As conceived by Zinat, the wedding of Mirza Jawan Bakht was of a scale unparalleled in Delhi in living memory, eclipsing the weddings of all Jawan Bakht’s elder brothers. Sixty years later, the young courtier Zahir Dehlavi, whose job it was to oversee the care of the Mahi Maraatib, or Fish Standard, still remembered the aroma of the trays of food from the royal kitchens that had been sent out to every Palace official, and the spectacular entertainments that preceded the main celebration: “Such beauty and magnificence had never been seen before,” he wrote many years later, in exile in Hyderabad. “At least not in my lifetime. It was a celebration I shall never forget.”

The festivities had begun three days before the marriage with a procession from the house of Walidad Khan to the Palace, bearing the principal wedding gifts, followed by fireworks: “a brilliant train of elephants, camels, horses and conveyances of every denomination,” according to the Delhi Gazette. This led on to the ceremony of the mehndi, when the hands of the couple and their guests, including all the women of the Palace, were decorated with henna; the celebrations would continue for a further seven days beyond the night of the wedding ceremony.

On the evening of the great procession, at the beginning of the night vigil known as the ratjaga, Zafar had bestowed on Jawan Bakht a wedding veil made of strings of pearls known as a sehra, and simultaneous parties of escalating grandeur had been arranged for the different ranks of the Palace, each with their own musicians and troupes of dancing girls. Selected townspeople were in one courtyard, Palace children and students in another, senior officials in a third, and the princes in a fourth.

Since Zafar’s financial resources rarely matched his spending, let alone that of his wife, much of the initial work for the wedding had involved arranging loans from Delhi moneylenders, who knew from experience what the chances were of seeing their cash again. Since December, the British Resident’s diary of court proceedings had been full of Zinat’s attempts to procure the large amounts needed, something she achieved in the end with the aid of the notoriously ruthless Chief Eunuch of the Palace, Mahbub Ali Khan. The Palace was repaired, spring-cleaned and superbly decorated with lamps and chandeliers. Getting sufficiently magnificent fireworks was another major concern, with pyrotechnicians from across Hindustan summoned to the Palace throughout January and February to demonstrate their skills.

The rockets, squibs and Roman candles were still exploding around the great red sandstone curtain walls of the Fort as the wedding procession slowly proceeded westwards down the top of Chandni Chowk, with its trees and central canal glittering in the light of the torches. It snaked onwards, past the gardens of Begum Sumru’s haveli, recently taken over by the new Delhi Bank, and through the Dariba—now in the light of ten thousand candles and lanterns haloed in dust—before veering left and head...

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William Dalrymple
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ISBN 10: 0143102435 ISBN 13: 9780143102434
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Descripción Penguin, New Delhi, India, 2007. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. First Indian Edition. Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, a talented poet, and a skilled calligrapher, who, though deprived of real political power by the East India Company, succeeded in creating a court of great brilliance, and presided over one of the great cultural renaissances of Indian history. In 1857 it was Zafar’s blessing to a rebellion among the Company’s own Indian troops that transformed an army mutiny into the largest uprising the British Empire ever had to face. The Last Mughal is a portrait of the dazzling Delhi Zafar personified, and the story of the last days of the great Mughal capital and its final destruction in the catastrophe of 1857. Shaped from groundbreaking material, William Dalrymple’s powerful retelling of this fateful course of events is an extraordinary revisionist work with clear contemporary echoes. It is the first account to present the Indian perspective on the siege, and has at its heart the stories of the forgotten individuals tragically caught up in one of the bloodiest upheavals in history. Printed Pages: 608 with 16 colour and 8 b/w illustrations. Size: 14 Cms x 22 Cms. Nº de ref. de la librería 017730

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Descripción Penguin, New Delhi, India, 2007. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. First Indian Edition. Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, a talented poet, and a skilled calligrapher, who, though deprived of real political power by the East India Company, succeeded in creating a court of great brilliance, and presided over one of the great cultural renaissances of Indian history. In 1857 it was Zafar’s blessing to a rebellion among the Company’s own Indian troops that transformed an army mutiny into the largest uprising the British Empire ever had to face. The Last Mughal is a portrait of the dazzling Delhi Zafar personified, and the story of the last days of the great Mughal capital and its final destruction in the catastrophe of 1857. Shaped from groundbreaking material, William Dalrymple’s powerful retelling of this fateful course of events is an extraordinary revisionist work with clear contemporary echoes. It is the first account to present the Indian perspective on the siege, and has at its heart the stories of the forgotten individuals tragically caught up in one of the bloodiest upheavals in history. Printed Pages: 608 with 16 colour and 8 b/w illustrations. Size: 14 Cms x 22 Cms. Nº de ref. de la librería 017730

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Descripción Penguin Books India, 2007. Softcover. Estado de conservación: New. Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, a talented poet, and a skilled calligrapher, who, though deprived of real political power by the East India Company, succeeded in creating a court of great brilliance, and presided over one of the great cultural renaissances of Indian history. In 1857 it was Zafar?s blessing to a rebellion among the Company?s own Indian troops that transformed an army mutiny into the largest uprising the British Empire ever had to face. The Last Mughal is a portrait of the dazzling Delhi Zafar personified, and the story of the last days of the great Mughal capital and its final destruction in the catastrophe of 1857. Shaped from groundbreaking material, William Dalrymple?s powerful retelling of this fateful course of events is an extraordinary revisionist work with clear contemporary echoes. It is the first account to present the Indian perspective on the siege, and has at its heart the stories of the forgotten individuals tragically caught up in one of the bloodiest upheavals in history. Printed Pages: 604. Nº de ref. de la librería 21880

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William Dalrymple
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Descripción Penguin Books India, 2007. Softcover. Estado de conservación: New. Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, a talented poet, and a skilled calligrapher, who, though deprived of real political power by the East India Company, succeeded in creating a court of great brilliance, and presided over one of the great cultural renaissances of Indian history. In 1857 it was Zafar’s blessing to a rebellion among the Company’s own Indian troops that transformed an army mutiny into the largest uprising the British Empire ever had to face. The Last Mughal is a portrait of the dazzling Delhi Zafar personified, and the story of the last days of the great Mughal capital and its final destruction in the catastrophe of 1857. Shaped from groundbreaking material, William Dalrymple’s powerful retelling of this fateful course of events is an extraordinary revisionist work with clear contemporary echoes. It is the first account to present the Indian perspective on the siege, and has at its heart the stories of the forgotten individuals tragically caught up in one of the bloodiest upheavals in history. Printed Pages: 604. Nº de ref. de la librería 21880

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