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November 24th, 2019

Debunking one of Delhi’s most amazing stories

Where do I start in the fascinating saga of India’s deposed royals living in a Delhi jungle?

Before I share with you the extraordinary updated news, let me step back a moment and refresh your memory.

In late 2017 I had written here in this blog, an account of a run I’d done in Malcha Forest with friends, during which we had visited a derelict and dilapidated medieval hunting lodge which had been the home for many year to members of the erstwhile Oudh royal family.

Here’s the link to my first blog post about Malcha Mahal, which, if you haven’t already read it or if you are unfamiliar with this whole story, I really suggest you read now.

Only then will the rest of what I am about to share make sense.

Trust me.

We went back for another run in the forest in May 2018, when I updated the mystery for you all.

Malcha Mahal, also known as Wilayat Mahal, is a Tughlak era hunting lodge in the Chanakyapuri area of New Delhi, India next to the Delhi Earth Station of the Indian Space Research Organisation. It was built by Firuz Shah Tughlaq, who reigned over the Sultanate of Delhi, in 1325. It came to be known as Wilayat Mahal after Begum Wilayat Mahal of Awadh who was reportedly given the place by the Government of India in May 1985. On 10 September 1993, Begum committed suicide at the age of 62 by consuming crushed diamonds. The building is now mostly in ruins, but continued to be inhabited by the Begum’s daughter Sakina Mahal, and son Prince Ali Raza until the latter’s death in late 2017.

Once again, please read/re-read my 2018 post, to put everything in perspective.

Trust me.


Now that you are up to speed on the sad history of deposed royals living in a ruined medieval hunting lodge in the middle of a Delhi forest, I hand the story over to the Pulitzer prize winning journalist Ellen Barry of the New York Times.

It is an absolutely fascinating story, and one that Ms Barry pursues across continents until she finally gets to the truth.

And since I used the word “debunk” in this post’s title, I guess I’m not really plot-spoiling when I tell you that Ms Barry finds out that the whole royal family story was invented.

A brilliant piece of journalism. Truly.

In this world of WhatsApp forwards and fake news and mindless chat shows, this is what (in my book) counts as true journalism. To pursue a story as doggedly as this, and uncover a mystery almost as bizarre as the original story we all believed.

Here is the link to Ms Barry’s excellent sleuthing.

Take your time and enjoy reading it.

A truly amazing story from start to finish.

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