KHAIR-UL-MANZIL, OPPOSITE DELHI ZOO, NEW DELHI, INDIA.

The Mosque of Khair-ul-Manzil.

Women seldom held power in the male dominated Mughal society, especially those from humble origins. But Maham Agna, wet nurse of Akbar the great, was an exceptional lady. Who inspite her lowly status in the royal harem rose to the premier rank of Vakil –us-Saltanate (prime minister) and remained an influential member of the Mughal court till a rash decision by her own son had them both branded traitors to the throne.

In his famous historical work, the Akbarnama, Mughal era historian Abul Fazal celebrated her virtues as a capable regent, recording the efficiency with which she handled the matters of state better than men of her position.

Built in 1561 AD, the six hundred year old vestige of early Mughal era architecture within the Khair-ul-Manzil (an educational institution and Urdu for elite dwelling) was commissioned by Maham, perhaps as a subtle expression of her power and devotion to Islam. After Akbar had her son Adham (also a childhood friend) tried and executed as traitor for murdering an appointed court official and entering his sleeping chamber with a sword in hand, she succumbed to her grief not long after.