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The Power, Prominence and Mansions of Eunuchs

It is a sad reality that a city that used to give top positions and social acceptance to Eunuchs during the Mughal Empire, today they have to fight for social acceptance and economic equality while facing social stigma, as they fight from the Transgender People Protections Bill which even takes away the basic rights of the Trans Community.

Writer and Historian, Swapna Liddle curated a walk around Darya Ganj, which was once the old city of Shahjahanabad, bringing alive examples of historic gender equality. She takes us through the Sunehri Masjid, where the inscriptions on the Masjid tell us that it was constructed by “the benevolent and courteous Nawab Bahadur Javed Khan of exalted power”. She further tells us that Javed Khan was the Chief Eunuch, in charge of the management of the household of the Mughal Emperor Mohammad Shah. During the reign of Mohammad Shah’s son, Ahmad Shah, Javed Khan reached even greater heights. He was also appointed as the Darogah of the Diwan e Khas and was given a high Mansab rank of 6000, and together with Ahmad Shah’s mother, Qudsia Begum, he was the power behind the throne. Javed Khan was one among the several eunuchs or Khwaja Sara, as they were called with respect, who were given positions and ranks by the Mughal emperors. Several eunuchs resided in grand mansions in and near the Red Fort.

The History walk was started at the Delhi Gate, leading into the walled city of Shahjahanabad, and then going through the Shroff Eye Hospital which is a listed heritage building. Then the walk went to the Zeenat-ul-Masjid built by Aurangzeb’s daughter while passing through many old buildings including Dr. Ansari’s residence, which is a pleasant reminder of the old ways of living. The walk ends at the Sunehri Masjid and the red fort. To put the final full stop on the walk, a nice delightful meal can be consumed at the Jain Bedmi Puri shop or having butter chicken from the iconic Moti Mahal which claims to have brought the recipe of the chicken to Delhi. 



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