Dai Anga's Tomb

Zeb-un-Nisa (d. 1672), or Dai Anga ('wet-nurse' in Urdu), was the wet-nurse of Shah Jahan, and the wife of a courtier under Jahangir. A few paces distant from the Gulabi Bagh gateway, on the north, lies her splendid mausoleum.

This rather ponderous, square brick structure sporting few apertures and presenting a solid face to the garden, was built to house the mortal remains of Dai Anga, Shah Jahan's wet nurse and of her daughter Shahzadi Sultan Begam, whose husband built the Gulabi Bagh Gateway. It is the same Dai Anga (wife of Mughal magistrate of Bikaneer), who built the spectacular mosque named after her, situated in Naulakha area of Central Lahore, in which also tile mosaic decoration is employed with wondrous effect.

Traversing the intervening stretch of corridor-like space since the surrounding garden area has been occupied by various railway structures—you arrive at the rather squat-looking tomb placed on a raised plinth. The mausoleum is dominated by a low-pitched dome placed on a high neck or drum, while its corners are accented through the employment of four square pavilion-like kiosks, carrying projecting chajjas (eaves) and cupolas.

Although shorn of most of its ornamentation, the original kashi kari (tile mosaic) can be noticed on the parapet, which points towards the quality and kind of tile mosaic that in all likelihood once covered the entire facade.

The mausoleum comprises a central tomb chamber with eight rooms around it. Internally, the surface was embellished with fine fresco, portions of which are extant in the squinches above the projecting, beehive-like decorative muqarnas, along with a starlet dome treatment. The base of the squinches is encircled with inscriptional panels from the Holy Quran, rendered in elegant calligraphy by Muhammad Saleh. Inscriptions at the site, reveal that the mausoleum was constructed in 1671.

The central sepulchral chamber and surrounding rooms are built upon a raised plinth consisting of subterranean chambers, in which the burials took place. There are two graves, one of Dai Anga and the other of her daughter Sultana Begum. Today, the original cenotaphs made of marble are no longer in existence, and the underground chambers are also inaccessible.

back to sites