I had harboured a mental block about Razia Sultan’s grave for years. For some reason I had got it into my head that I won’t be able to find it. I won’t have the stamina to walk so much. I won’t be able to get to it. I never mustered the courage to go looking for it. I would read about it, feel extremely tempted, and then lose my nerve again.
On February 3, 2019, Razia came looking for me. I was in Matia Mahal. Just hanging around. I had no fixed agenda other than to shoot some photos. I ran into some friends who took me to the Shah Waliullah Library. And from there pointed me to a sharp uphill trail which connected eventually to Turkman Gate. But looking at my doddering knees they said it would be very difficult as the trail meant going up many steep steps to the top of Pahari Bhojla (or was it Pahari Imli?) and then downhill and onwards. This trail looked very enchanting but doubting my ability to make it I left.
I tried to do something else. But I could not. Finally, I told Mohammed we have to go back on the trail. You won’t be able to do it Didi said Mohammad most disapprovingly. I too was sure that I won’t be able to. So I said we will just go a little way up, I will take a few pictures and then turn back.
So we went back. A few steps up. Then a pause. Then a few more. Another pause to catch my breath. Then a few more. All the while Mohammad kept hissing lets go back. We will get lost. Mohammad, how can we get lost on this steep narrow trail? C’mon. Just a few more steps up and then I will be too tired to go further. Just as I was saying a few more steps, I noticed that the steps were now going downhill.
Hallelujah!!!!! I had reached the top of the hill. Now all we had to do was roll down like Humpty. And so we did. Every now and then we paused to ask the way to Turkman Gate. As we were walking I noticed the signposts had started to say Bulbulikhana. I knew from memory that Razia’s grave was in Bulbulikhana. So I told Mohammad we had to take a detour now to find Razia. He rolled his eyes and wanted to know why. I told him that she, in a manner of speaking, was the only woman to rule directly over Delhi before Indira Gandhi. That made him a tad less petulant.
We started asking around and were pointed accurately enough in the right direction. It was almost as if Razia had led me by the hand and led me towards her. Visiting her was the fulfilment of a long cherished wish. And a great sense of personal achievement. We lingered for as long as we could at her grave and then walked to Turkman Gate. I was so elated to have walked all the way from Matia Mahal to Turkman Gate via a visit to Razia’s grave with my doddering knees and ankles. We then took an auto back to Jama Masjid. What an incredibly amazing afternoon it turned out to be – From Shah Waliullah’s Library, to up the charming trail that led me to Bulbulikhana and from thence to Turkman Gate!