Khanzadah Mirza Khan Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khana (1556-1626 AD) is one of the most famous poets of the Indian Subcontinent. He was under the service of the Mughal emperors Akbar (ruled AD 1556-1605) & Jahangir (ruled AD 1605-1628). He was Akbar’s step-son & also among his “Navratnas” (“Nine jewels”), a group of powerful courtiers & prominent military Generals, each highly skilled at some past time such as poetry or singing. Rahim’s couplets are still taught as part of Hindi curriculum throughout India, making him one of the most widely read composers in the country. Very few people are actually aware of Rahim’s history, even fewer know that he was buried in Delhi after his death.

His father Bairam Khan was a mighty general in Akbar’s father Humayun’s army. On his maternal side, Rahim is said to trace his ancestry to Krishna, an ancient Hindu king & a supposed incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu. Bairam Khan became Akbar’s regent when the latter ascended the throne at the age of 14 years. After Bairam’s assassination, Akbar took Rahim under his care & married his step-mother, therefore Rahim became Akbar’s step-son. Rahim proved to be a brilliant scholar, soon mastering Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hindi. He also achieved excellence in the techniques of warfare & was accorded the position of a general in Akbar’s army. Akbar also had the titles of “Mirza” (“Gentleman”) & Khan-i-Khana (“Khan amongst Khans”) bestowed on him. Rahim wrote several major literary works, including several “dohas” (“couplets”) written in Hindi & Braj Bhasha (a local dialect of Hindi, most commonly used in parts of Uttar Pradesh), devotional songs dedicated to Krishna & books on astrology, besides translating Baburnama (“Babur’s memoirs”) from the original Chaghtai language to Persian. Despite being a prominent general commanding a fierce army, he was a very charitable & kind-hearted person indulging in several acts of charity with utmost humility.

Later however, Rahim’s relations with Emperor Jahangir turned sour since he was opposed to the latter’s succession to the throne of India. Jahangir had his two sons killed & their mutilated bodies displayed at Delhi’s “Khooni Darwaza”.

His tomb in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area is a short walk away from the majestic Humayun’s Tomb complex; sadly the latter completely overshadows its presence.

Some of Rahim’s more famous couplets

Bada hua to kya hua, jaise ped khajoor/Panchi ko chaya nahi, fal lagat ati dur” (“What’s the point in being big (tall, literally) like a date palm/ It doesn’t give shade to even a bird & the fruit grows so far”)

Bade badai na kare, bade na bole bol/ Rahiman hira kab kahe, lakh taka mera mol” (“Great men/women never reveal their influence. Nor do the praiseworthy praise themselves. Says Rahim that a diamond does not have to say how much it is worth.”)

Sahil Ahuja Rahim Khan-i-Khana's Tomb Delhi (1)

Sahil Ahuja Rahim Khan-i-Khana's Tomb Delhi (2)

Description                 The beautiful square tomb, built of red sandstone & grey Delhi quartzite interspersed by marble, is an epitome of striking symmetry & craftsmanship. The marble & the sandstone slabs that once covered its exteriors were stripped from its surface in AD 1754 to provide building material for the tomb of Abul Mansur Safdarjung – the ruler of Awadh & the last of the powerful Mughal viziers (“Wazir”). Only fragments of quartzite & sandstone remain on Rahim’s tomb now, the rubble masonry underneath the dome too has been exposed.
History Rahim died in Lahore but was buried in the mausoleum he built for his wife in Delhi when she passed away in AD 1598. He had spared no expense in having the tomb ornamented – set in a large garden, except for a few modifications it is architecturally a replica of the tomb of Humayun that exists very close to it.
Construction Standing on a very high square plinth, the tomb looks impressive but dauntingly massive. The plinth has arched cells running along all its sides & the arched openings of the cells are each flanked by medallions of varied & intricate designs. The plinth is marked with several small tanks of different designs.The ornamentation inside the tomb is impressive, there are medallions as well as geometric & floral patterns carved on the entrance. Inside lies a single, large, unadorned cuboidal tombstone under which are buried Rahim & his wife.But with the exception of the tombstone, the dark grave chamber is splendidly decorated with plaster work. The most prominent feature is the domed roof – there is a large circular medallion in the center surrounded by eight radially placed smaller medallions.The Mughals innovated with arches, domes & openings to ensure that the structures they built remained considerably cooler than their surroundings – a feature observable inside this mausoleum.
Protection  The tomb comes under the aegis of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) & is still one of the most striking structures in all of Delhi, preserved in the state it was left in 1754. A major reason for its better-off condition is that the complex lies in Nizamuddin West, a posh colony close to the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb Complex & hence the threat of vandalism & encroachment is negligible.
Ownership    ASI is responsible for the maintenance of the tomb complex. It being a ticketed monument the visitors have to pay Rs 5 (for citizens of India, SAARC Countries, Thailand & Myanamar) or Rs 100 (for the rest)
Location         Travelling on Mathura Road from Sabz Burj to Ashram Crossing, Khan-i-Khana’s Tomb is located a couple of hundred meters away from Sabz Burj & can be accessed via a lane going into the Nizamuddin West area.Nearest Metro Station is Jorbagh which is quite a walk away, so one has to take an auto if coming by metro.
Remark     For a detailed write up on the tomb click more!

You have new information on this heritage resource do let us know ! Write to us at info@cattsindia.org

Disclaimer: The article expresses individual views of the author. The rights to the content of the article rests with the author.


  1. Pingback: Abdul Rahim Khan – i – Khanan’s Tomb, Delhi | Rangan Datta·

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