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May 6th, 2018

The ransacking of Delhi’s “haunted” palace

Late last year, I shared with you the story of Malcha Mahal, a decrepit 14th century hunting lodge, deep in the Malcha forest in Delhi.  Malcha Mahal was (in)famous for being the home of a reclusive, armed middle-aged brother and sister, claiming to be the descendants of the deposed King of Oudh.  Surrounded by a thick forest, and with ferocious dogs, Malcha Mahal became the stuff of legend, and was even rumoured to be haunted.

If you didn’t read my original story & the sad follow up 2 weeks later, then won’t you please take the time to read them now?  It will definitely put this account into perspective.

So, here is the story of our first glimpse of the ruined palace, deep in a forest of thorny bushes.  This was late October 2017.

Just 2 weeks later, on November 5th, we learned that the Prince had been found dead, alone in his ruined palace, and was quietly buried by the government.

So today, when my running group decided that we should do our long Sunday run in the forest, we agreed that since the Prince is dead, we could in all conscience, go visit the 14th century building where he had lived and died.

It was heart-breaking.

It has clearly been ransacked, because I had seen photos online taken immediately after his death, so had a point of comparison.

Whatever was there has been stolen, smashed, or ransacked with a vengeance.

Look at this photo from just after the death of the prince, when a reporter went to the palace:

And this was the state this morning.  You can see the smashed Delhi Blue crockery…

No crystal was to be found, like in the Quint photo below:

And the place has clearly been turned upside down:

We looked a little closer at the mess on the floor, and realised they were paints and paint brushes.  But if the late Prince had painted anything, that too has long gone – stolen, vandalised, who knows? We all of us wandered around, feeling very sad at the ignominious end to a very unhappy, lonely life.

We found a few old telephone bills, and bank deposit slips, and an empty envelope addressed to the Royal House of Oudh.  But none of the letters the Quint reporter found:

We clambered up onto the roof of the 14th century structure, overgrown but with a stunning view of Delhi as you never see it:

Coach bush-whacked his way across the roof, checking that it was safe for us to proceed:

In one direction, above, there was nothing but thorn trees and the distant outline of Rashtrapati Bhavan on the horizon in the murky grey sky.

In the other direction, below, the modernistic Delhi Earth Station.

Rhesus macaques were leaping around in the trees below us, and kites were wheeling overhead.

All very melancholic, to be honest.

Fascinating, but so very sad.

Now, of course, it remains to be seen what will happen to what is, let’s not forget, an early 14th century structure.

It should, of course, be protected and cleaned and restored, but I have a feeling that it will just slowly and sadly moulder away, strewn with litter, and whatever memories it once contained will be lost for ever…

2 comments to The ransacking of Delhi’s “haunted” palace

  • Sunil Punshi

    Brilliantly written with impressive pictures of old stuff left there. Massi your emotions can be feel in it.????

  • O P Pandey

    Ironically sad end of Prince’s story. Generally stories about Prince and Princess ends with happy note. Christine, you looked at the story with a writer’s perspective. Excellent description.

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