The last of the Mughal tomb gardens.

Abdul Mansur Muhammad Muqueem Khan, later exalted with the title of Safdurjung, was a shrewd Persian noble. In 1739, when an unstoppable Nadir Shah sacked the once mighty Mughal empire, he promptly negotiated a deal with the conqueror and bought his rights to rule the wealthy province of Awadh (Uttar Pradesh) at a price one pays for a modest house in uptown Delhi today – recorded to be equivalent of two crores Indian rupees.

Then with his brilliant administrative skills and military prowess he negotiated his way up the nobility to become a grand vizier and the most powerful man at the Mughal court, till a political coup put an end to his ambitions. Yet even in defeat he triumphed – eclipsing the monarch he served and the ones to come.

The enormous mausoleum complex built to commemorate his rule as grand vizier with its tell tale Indo-Islamic architecture is the last great work to come from the Mughal period. Here after, even the emperors were not to be laid to rest with such grandeur.

Commissioned by his son, the structure is a typical Mughal era garden tomb with size and space generously used to sow in the appearance of greatness. Choosing Delhi and not Awadh as a site, was possibly intentional as well. The imposing monument would serve as a reminder of his rule and an eyesore for his rivals.

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