The mosque of Roshan al-Daula in Chandni Chowk
Author: Metcalfe, Sir Thomas Theophilus (1795-1853)
Medium: Ink and colours on paper
[From 'Reminiscences of Imperial Delhi’, an album consisting of 89 folios containing approximately 130 paintings of views of the Mughal and pre-Mughal monuments of Delhi, as well as other contemporary material, with an accompanying manuscript text written by Sir Thomas Theophilus Metcalfe (1795-1853), the Governor-General’s Agent at the imperial court. Acquired with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund and of the National Art-Collections Fund.]
The Roshun oo dowluh Musjeed is situated within the ward of the Chandnee Chowk or Principal Street, and contiguous to the Kotwal’s Chabootra. It was here that Nadir Shah in 1738/9 gave order for and witnessed the massacre of the inhabitants of Dehlie. Tradition says that on Saturday the 10th of the Moon and the Anniversary of the Eed ool Zoha (‘one of the Chief Mahomedan Festivals’), and about noon, some Horsemen were detached to Puhar Gunj (‘name of a place, literally the Hill Market Place’) in the Environs of the City to open the Granaries and free the price of Corn. Wheat was sold at 10 Seers (‘a Corn measure – a Seer is equal to 2lb.’) the Rupee (‘the current coin nominale 2s/6d of our Money’), but this not being to the satisfaction of the proprietors, they assembled a Mob in which the above Horsemen and several Kuzulbash (‘a description of Persian soldiers, literally Red Caps’) were killed. The tumult increased, many of Nadir’s Troops were cut up on the Ret or sand between the Palace and river. On Sunday 11th March about 8 in the morning when the tumult was at its height, Nadir came from the Palace, proceeded towards the Chandnee Chowk, and went into the Roshan oo dowluh (‘Light of the State, a nobleman in the Reign of the Emperor Mohumud Shah’) Mosque; when there one of his officers was killed by his side by a shot fired from a house in the neighbourhood and designed for Nadir. A general slaughter was ordered, which lasted till 3 o’clock in the Evening, and extended in one direction from the Oordoo Bazaar (‘a market’) in front of the Palace to the old Eed Gah (‘a Building appropriated to religious sacrifices’), 3 Coss (‘1 Coss is equal to 1½ Miles Eng. Measure’) distant, in another to the Chitlee Qubr (‘a street so named, Qubr means a tomb’) and in a third as far as the Tobacco Mundavee (‘Tobacco Mart’) and Pool Metaiee ke (‘Bridge where sweetmeats were sold’). About 400 Kuzzulbash were killed and 120 to 150,000 of the Citizens slaughtered. The Massacre was stayed by the orders of Nadir, at the intercession of the King Mohummud Shah and the Minster Nizam ool moolk (‘Regulator of the State’)..
The unfortunate Emperor Mohummud Shah in whose Reign this dreadful Tragedy occurred succeeded to the Throne in AD1719 on the deposition and murder of his cousin Furrookseir. Each successive day brought some fresh proof of the decline of the Royal House of Tymoor, while the indolence and dissipation of the Emperor disquieted his minister both able and willing to conduct a vigorous administration. Mutual aversion ensued and the latter resigned his office and returned to his own Possession in the South of India where he established himself as an independent Chief.
[The mosque of Roshan al-Daula, in Chandni Chowk, was built by Nawab Roshan-ud-Daula Zafar Khan in 1721, during the reign of Emperor Muhammad Shah (r.1719-48). It was topped by three copper-gilded domes, and so was also also known as the Sunheri (Golden) Mosque. It was from here, that Nadir Shah watched the massacre in Delhi, in March 1739.]
Inscribed: naqsha-i masjid-i Nawab Raushan al-Daula bahadur. ‘amal-i Mazhar ‘Ali Khan.
In 1737 Dehly was attacked by a Mahratta army under Bajee Rao the Peishwa literally Leader, and a Sally by the besieged was driven back with heavy loss. Reinforcements however arriving the Mahratta was induced to retreat, and the former Minister Asoph Jah having returned was invested by the Emperor with full Power. Nadir Shah, having usurped the Sovereignty of Persia, advanced upon Candahar which he conquered as well as Ghuznee and Cabul and in November of that year advanced within 100 Miles of Dehly. The Emperor Mohummud Shah at last rousing himself from his supineness exerted himself to collect a force and having been joined by his Minister hurried to Kurnaul and occupied a fortified Camp.