Qalaam e Zafar

Abu Zafar in 1858

Not many people know that the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar was also an Urdu poet of a very high order and it was during his reign that Urdu Shayri reached its Zenith. As Sanjay Garg outlines in his book, MaqtaZafar on Zafar, “Zafar’s reign was a golden era of Urdu Ghazal into which Ghalib introduced Philosophy, Zauq – life, Momin – romance, and Zafar poured tragedy! Zafar’s poetry succesfully captures the melancholy of his life and documents the contemporary state of affairs, both social and political.”

I bought this book last summer in Delhi, and am presenting some Maqtas out of that book for everyone’s reading pleasure. Abu Zafar, as he was dearly called – his poetry I have been reading for last few years and out of those feelings, I even adopted my Takhallus, although I’m merely a speck of dirt in front of him. Enjoy!

Qalaam e Zafar

Bahadur Shah Zafar is shown in 1858 in the picture above, just after his show trial in Delhi and before his departure for exile in Rangoon. This is possibly the only photograph ever taken of the Mughal emperor. (Picture Copyright: British Library)

Comments So Far..
  • आलोक 15 May, 2008 at 5:50 am

    अभी अभी देखा आपका माल। बढ़िया है। पर आप यूनिको़ड के जरिए देवनागरी क्यों नहीं लिखते, तस्वीरों के बजाय? गूगल से बचना चाहते हैं क्या 😉

    आता रहूँगा,

  • Gautam 15 May, 2008 at 9:32 am

    🙂 thanks Alok. No the reason I don’t use it is because firstly, it is still buggy and many words show up incorrectly esepcially “maatras” are really messed up. Moreover the font i use “Webdunia” looks much more neat and aesthetically better 🙂
    Google se kya bachna, I work for them.

  • Tarun 6 October, 2009 at 9:58 am

    mr. dhar,i visit Bahadur Shah Zafar’s palace,”Zafar Mahal” quite often since it is not very far away from my home in south delhi.You can take my word for it,when i say that the very bricks and stones of that erstwhile palace resonate the thoughts penned by Zafar in these beautiful(albeit poignant) lines of poetry.You can feel his presence there.Alas!the Zafar Mahal is now ruined and is afflicted by the cancer of illegal constructions and encroachments.It still retains its glorious facade,to proclaim its former glory to the beholder.Dubious elements haunt its ruined galleries and courtyards.Bats and pigeons revel in the dark and musty arches and chambers.To imagine that a mughal emperor once inhabited this “palace” is ludicrous.How it must torment Zafar’s noble soul to see his summer palace thus defiled.
    Zafar sighs”do ghaz zameen na mili ku-e-yaar mein”.I chanced upon that “do ghaz zameen”.It is in a corner of the zafar mahal,near the Dargah of Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar kaki(which shares a wall with zafar mahal).Zafar was to be buried there,alongside his forebears.It is called a “sardgah”(an unoccupied grave).It is full of grass and thorny bushes.I was heartened to see a few roses scattered amongst the graves(Zafar’s father and grandfather rest there eternally).Visitors to the adjoining sufi shrine of qutb sahib do point meaningfully to this melancholic site and say”there is the palace of zafar and his sardgah”.I just stand there staring at the walls and arches that have so tenaciously stood the test of time and think about the “mehfil” and “sam’a” that must have livened the palace in Zafar’s time.You can see a lot of mehrauli and other parts of delhi once you climb upto the top of zafar mahal.Zafar must have beheld his beloved Dehli from up there.

  • raju 20 June, 2014 at 9:48 am

    it’s a sad and painful history of a emperor who fought for freedom and those people who are enjoying that freedom may not know of Bahadur Shah Zafar. Even though they took his pen away from him he found another way to continue his pen work.We salute you and your family for your bravery Bahadur Shah Zafar. Your “Zafar” era will go on as long as there are great Urdu poets and Ghazalkar…

  • Bahadur Shah II – 19 January, 2023 at 11:13 pm

    […] Kalaam e Zafar – Select verses (Hindi) […]

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