The Mughal dynasty of Turk-Mongol origin that ruled most of Northern India from the early 16th to mid-18th century was a notable and progressive era of India. Mughals ruled over much of India through seven generations and maintained a record of unusual talent throughout their administration to integrate Hindus and Muslims into a united Indian state. The Indian economy was focused upon intensely during the Mughal rule. Improvement of agriculture was also attended to, which helped the empire to top the world’s economy at the time. Farmers started exporting precious agricultural commodities like cotton, silk, and pepper. As a result, India had a 24.4% world GDP share, higher than Europe’s 23.3% during 1700 A.D.
A new architectural style ‘Indo-Islamic Architecture’ developed during the Mughal dynasty. It is developed from the earlier Indian style of Persian and Central Asian Islamic Architectural traditions. The Mughals built magnificent historical monuments from the early 16th to mid-18th century including The Taj Mahal, Jama Masjid Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi), and the fortified city of Fatehpur Sikri. Zafar Mahal, completed in 1842 AD, was the last Architectural structure of the Mughals in India, by Bahadur Shah Zafar in Delhi. 

Zafar Mahal, Mehrauli : The last architetural structure built by Mughals - Sheet1
Zafar Mahal, Mehrauli_©

Identifying The Zafar Mahal of Mehrauli

Jama Masjid, Hauz Khas Fort, Qutub Minar, and many iconic and magnificent monuments of Delhi are treasure troves. Zafar Mahal is one of the lesser-known monuments of Delhi. It is the last Mughal structure and acted as the royal palace for Mughals during the Urs of Hazrat Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (R.A) when the festival of Phoolwaalon ki sair was celebrated. It is situated in Mehrauli village in the city’s southern region. Its two main parts are the palace, built in the 18th century by Akbar Shah II, and the entrance gate, rebuilt in the 19th century by Bahadur Shah Zafar. The tragic aspect of the narrative is that Bahadur Shah Zafar wanted to be buried in Mehrauli at the Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki Dargah, but the British ultimately transported him to Rangoon in 1857 after World War I, where he eventually passed away.

Zafar Mahal, Mehrauli : The last architetural structure built by Mughals - Sheet2
Hathi Gate of Zafar Mahal_©

Present Scenario of Zafar Mahal

Zafar is Arabic for ‘victory’ but there is nothing victorious left in the Zafar Mahal, at Delhi’s congested Mehrauli area, it is almost impossible to give directions to the Zafar Mahal. The 1920 declaration of national importance for the monument is falling apart. The royal rooms on the higher floors are gone, along with some of the stairs, roofs, and gates. One of the significant and iconic structures is losing its identity socially and politically. Except for the Hathi Gate, the entire palace is in ruins and 70% of the roof has collapsed. The remaining 30% has been restored by the government body and is supported with wooden planks. The monument is hidden in its huge residential context. Its window ledges lie broken, stones from arches, and the roof is crumbling. The red sandstone structure is fading very fast and losing its shine.

Zafar Mahal, Mehrauli : The last architetural structure built by Mughals - Sheet3
Drowning Glory of Zafar Mahal_©

Exploring the Zafar Mahal

The structure was created in two sections. The first section was built by Emperor Akbar Shah II and consisted of a single story with a few small apartments, some open space, Moti Masjid, and Naubat Khana. It was expanded by an additional level, and the magnificent Hathi Gate was built by Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. In the palace’s center. He also built the Chajja/Chhatri of the Zafar Mahal. It’s connected to the Dargah of Hazrat Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (R.A) through Moti Masjid. The Masjid is located to the east of the Dargah’s wall. It has two exits. One in the south, towards the Naubat Khana of Zafar Mahal, and the other in the North that opens in the property of Dargah. The three-story Zafar Mahal was an attractive and ornamented monument for the royal family. The top balcony from where the royal family could see many processions laid with marble inlays and other ornaments. The arches however give a glimpse of Rajasthani and Bengali styles of Architecture. 

Zafar Mahal, Mehrauli : The last architetural structure built by Mughals - Sheet4
Ruins of Zafar Mahal Complex_©Varun Shiv Kapur. CC BY 2.0

The Zafar Mahal is not a decade old structure but was built over a long period. The eastern part of the Zafar Mahal complex is patterned with a sequence of dollars on the late Mughal configuration. The Moti masjid was built in 1709 A.D. by Bahadur Shah I. Diwan-i-Khaas of Bahadur Shah Zafar situated 30 yards North-West of the Zafar Palace. The house of Mirza Babar is located at a distance of 50 yards from the tomb of Alauddin Masud Shah. It was built during the reign of Akbar Shah II. The House of Mirza Salim is located around 50 yards north of the Zafar Mahal which was occupied by a person named Kallan at the beginning of the twentieth century and a modern house is constructed at the same place right now. Mirza Salim was the son of Akbar Shah II. The House of Mirza Nili is situated some 10 yards to the south of Aurangzeb’s baoli and was owned by Lala Hardiyan Singh of Delhi. The Thana of Bahadur Shah Zafar is located 50 yards south of the house of Mirza Nili. The place at that time was owned by some Rai Bahadur Lala Shiv Prasad. Khawas Pura, consisting of an inner court with a verandah on all four sides were the quarters for the maidservant of the Royal Palace.

Conclusion: Threat to the Complex

The economic status of India during the rule of Mughal emperors found the most glorious era in trade and economic improvement under the ruling of the Mughal dynasty. Many monuments and structures given by the Mughals are even helping today to generate revenue in the Indian Economy in the field of tourism. Most of the monuments are under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for taking care of and establishing a link between visitors and monuments in different manners. Zafar Mahal in Mehrauli has indeed fallen on bad days and quick action needs to be taken to preserve it, although the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is handicapped as the building does not enjoy the status of a fully protected monument. 

It needs to look over such types of monuments of Indian history that may belong to the Harappa Civilization or Mughal dynasty to look over and take care of because it is impossible to make another structure or replica of any lost or damaged structure because “The Old is Gold”. Zafar Mahal needs personal treatment for its life as it is the last and youngest Mughal Structure in India and it can contribute to boosting the economy of India. Locally, at Mehrauli, it can contribute to business and increase the trade of transportation and local street vendors.

Last Monument of Mughal Dynasty Zafar Mahal_©

Reference list (n.d.). Zafar Mahal. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Oct. 2022].

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica (2018). Mughal dynasty | History, Map, & Facts. In: Encyclopædia Britannica. [online] Available at:

Aug 26, P. /, 2008 and Ist, 17:24 (n.d.). India to reclaim Mughal-age economic aura – Times of India. [online] The Times of India. Available at:

Unacademy. (n.d.). A Glimpse of Economic Conditions During Mughal Rule. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Oct. 2022].

City, S. (2022). The Ancient Mughal Mahal Is Sitting Pretty In The Intriguing Ruins Of Mehrauli. [online] So City. Available at: [Accessed 26 Oct. 2022].

Paliwal, A. (n.d.). Zafar Mahal: A history of the Late Mughal Monument. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Oct. 2022].

abandonedspaces. (2017). Zafar Mahal: The ruined royal palace is the last monumental structure built by Mughals – Abandoned Spaces. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Oct. 2022].

Image list

  •  Zafar Mahal, Mehrauli.

  1. Hathi Gate of Zafar Mahal

  1. Drowning Glory of Zafar Mahal.
  2. Ruins of Zafar Mahal Complex. Varun Shiv Kapur. CC BY 2.0
  3. Last Monument of Mughal Dynasty Zafar Mahal

Architect Mohd. Afzal Khan graduated in Architecture with Honors from Jamia Millia Islamia – New Delhi. He has been enthusiast to uncover in architecture research work with a boundless passion to know more about the same. He has been fascinated by the historic nature and interest to discover the same.