Imagine an entire day in our day to day lives without electricity. Sounds terrible? I agree. Now imagine an entire week. Sounds even more terrifying? What If I asked you to imagine what would it be like to live without any electricity at all in today’s world? If you said that it is not possible, I am in 100% agreement, but located in one of the busiest areas of Delhi yet standing wrapped in a painful silence is a house that would prove both of us wrong. This house is known by the name of Malcha Mahal.
There is a lot of argument around how Malcha Mahal came into existence. One theory is that it was one of the three and the biggest hunting lodge built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 14th Century, “PirGhaib” and “BhuliB hutiyari ka Mahal” being the other two. These lodges were fondly knows as “Shikaargaah” and most served as a place to rest for the King and his hunting party. This theory is however highly disputed because of the architectural style of Malcha Mahal which does not fit with the other monuments from that period. Second and more agreeable theory suggests that it was built by people of Malcha as a community house in 1600 AD.Malcha was one of the historical villages around Raisina Hill in Delhi which along with several other small villages of that time was moved by the British during the construction of Capital New Delhi in 1920s. Malcha Mahal was built by the villagers of Malcha in 11 acres of Land and for a long time it served as a community house. When the capital of India was shifted from Calcutta to New Delhi it was acquired by the government under the Land and acquisition act, 1894.
This house is now located on a ridge in an area from where the enormous city of Delhi is almost invisible, inaudible. For the residents of this house, the millions of people living in the city do not exist and vice versa. Barely 20 meters away from Malcha Mahal is a satellite ground station that is bristling with modernity, large dishes, CCTV and high-security defenses however the residents of Malcha Mahal prefer to live their lives without any electricity or regular water supply. Their security is limited to a few dogs, a few guns and a metal signboard that declares:
CAUTIOUS OF HOUND DOGS
INTRUDERS SHALL BE GUNNED DOWN.
This house is now included among India’s top most haunted sites. Why, even I am not sure. The only ghost that haunts this house and its residents is of misfortune and misery. There are only two people living in here now, a brother and a sister who are direct descendants of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Oudh. Nawab Wajid Ali was deposed by the British more than a century ago and all his property was seized. After Independence, Nawab’s great grand daughter Princess Wilayat Mahal remained in dispute with the Indian government for a long time in order to win back the property that was seized by the British. She, in an attempt to humiliate the government, lived in the waiting room of New Delhi railway station for a long time until the government agreed to compensate in the form of Malcha Mahal in 1985. But by then, Malcha Mahal, a centuries old building was in ruins and out of pain and Mental stress Begum Wilayat Mahal committed suicide by drinking crushed diamonds.She left behind her two kids, Princess Sakina and Prince Riaz, few Dobermans & German Shepherds and some royal treasure. These two kids are the now the sad residents of Malcha Mahal.
No one knows how true the stories are but it is said that after Begum Wilayat Mahal died, her dead body remained lying on a table for 10 days while her kids mourned in grief. A few days after she was buried, some grave robbers entered the premises and tried to dig up the grave in hope of finding a part of the royal treasure. They of course did not find anything but the decaying body of the princess post which Prince Riaz did not bury her again but rather decided to burn the body. It is also said that the night before Prince Riaz buried her, both the kids slept with their mother’s dead body and ever since then, Prince Sakina has only wore black.
Today her ashes rest in a crystal vial. The prince and princess were given a revolver and permission to shoot in self-protection by the Lt. Governor of Delhi. Today, the dungeon is guarded by over a dozen dogs and high shrubs and grills around the premise. They once had 27 dogs but today, only 9 are left. Others have been poisoned by local thieves, who have also stolen a huge silver table some gold and silver tableware from the palace.
This entire story is no less than a drama in itself. A princess living at a railway station for almost a decade with her kids and then asked to move into a palace that was filled with Bats, snakes and foul smell, a mother committing suicide and her kids sleeping with her body, some thieves vandalizing a grave, a freaked out prince pointing gun and leashing out dogs at intruders, all this sounds like a scene straight out a Bollywood movie and this is what in my opinion earned the notoriety that Malcha Mahal holds. The air of curiosity compels people to sneak in and find out that how can a prince and princess manage to live without electricity. Even the CISF guards at the nearby satellite station have no idea about the residents of Malcha Mahal. When asked, they just shrug their shoulders saying they do not know what happens in there.
I have never been to Malcha Mahal and I do not even intend to go. For me, there is nothing in Malcha Mahal that deserves a visit. It is just a ruined building, residents of which wants to be left alone so why can we not honor that request. If they chose to live with no electricity or modern day amenities, it is their own choice. Why should this be the reason for anyone to go take a peek into their lives? They are not the only people in our country that are living in misery, there are millions others. They are of course not the only descendants of ancient royal families who are now facing the ghost of being a commoner. Yes, Malcha Mahal is haunted but the ghost is the same that haunts millions other houses all over the world. Ghosts of poverty, mental stress, seclusion and falling apart in time.The residents of this ancient building in my opinion are only haunted by the ghost of being just another face in the crowd, being a commoner and not the royal family anymore.