A signboard atop the Chaman Mahal, the palace of erstwhile Bhopal rulers at Islamnagar, about 20 km from Bhopal, draws the attention of visitors to the tombs of Nawabs Yar and Hayat Mohammad Khan.
But all that is visible from the palace top is overgrown shrubbery and part of a dilapidated ancient structure. If one is adventurous enough, one can reach the tombs by taking a road behind the palace and then walking through fields.
The tombs of the two nawabs flanked by two smaller ones stand neglected. Shrubs have grown all around and even over the structures, cutting off access to the tomb of Hayat Mohammad Khan completely. A small opening on the side of the mausoleum is the only way to enter the tomb.
Inside, the two tombs are covered with layers of grime, making it difficult to remain there even for few minutes. The headstone and plaque inside Yar Mohammad Khan’s tomb are missing.
“It is regretful to see the pathetic condition of the royal tombs, especially when the palace complex nearby it is being conserved and beautified. This is the unfortunate fate of our heritage,” Chand Khan, whose fields are near the tombs, says. Khan is referring to the Chaman Mahal-Rani Mahal Complex at Islamnagar. Many visitors arrive there.
Syed Akhtar Husain, author of The Royal Journey of Bhopal says he located the tombs with much difficulty while researching for his book about 10 years ago.
Yar Mohammad Khan (1728-1742) was the son of founder of Afghan dynasty in Bhopal, Sardar Dost Mohammad Khan. During his reign, Yar Mohammad Khan conquered areas, including Begumganj.
Hayat Mohammad Khan (1778-1807) was the second son of Yar Mohammad Khan. He became the Nawab when his elder brother Faiz Mohammad Khan died without an heir to the throne. The Afghan dynasty gave nine nawabs and four begums.
Hussain says the neglected structures may crumble down due to utter neglect. “The Auqaf-e-Shahi, the trust that takes care of the properties and holdings of the erstwhile rulers, should do something about conserving the tombs,” he says.
When reached for his comments, Auqaf-e-Shahi advisor Ghufran Azam claims he will immediately get someone to take stock of situation to take suitable action.
Similarly, deputy director of archaeology (in-charge), Deepti Gargav says the structures are cleaned up and maintained partially even though they are not under the state’s care. “I will again direct officials to clean them up,” she says.