A great history, a great future

The first persons to inhabit the area which is today Khaufpur were the unknown ancients who painted the rock shelters of Bhimbetka. The animals depicted thereon were painted many thousands of years ago. Later paintings show men riding on elephants and it has given the impression that Indians had tamed these beasts and had a thriving culture even 10,000 years ago. It seems that this is untrue and that the first people, the painters, were simple hunter gatherers who lived like African bushmen or the aborigines of Australia.

In the intervening yaw of history, time passes us by until the 11th century, the legendary Raja Khoja of the Parmara dynasty constructed two beautiful lakes by damming a forest river and established his capital city Khojapura, on their shores.


Raja Khoja ascended the throne around 1018 A.D and ruled gloriously for about forty years. He was as distinguished in the field of literature and the arts as he was on the battlefield. A gifted author himself, he was a great patron of the arts and learning, and his name lives as much in literature as in history.

As time passed the dynasty of the Parmaras declined, the city was ransacked several times and finally faded away into obscurity. Jungle covered its streets and temples, its once brilliant art galleries and concert halls became the lairs of panthers and pythons. The forgotten city was remembered in legend only by the local tribe of the Gonds. The lakes built by Raja Khoj remained and a charming legend relates how Kamalawati, the beautiful queen of the Gonds, would recline on a raft of lotuses and drift across the lake on moonlit nights.

At the end of the 17th century that bold, intrepid Afgan Chief Dost Mohammad wrested the area from Kamalawati. He laid out the present city following the death of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707.

From 1819 until 1926 a succession of powerful Begums or Queens ruled the city, and gave it such innovations as waterworks, railways and a postal system. Several monuments still stand in the city as reminders of this glorious period in its history and the legacy of these women rulers was to establish Khaufpur as a pre-eminent centre of the arts, culinary, literary, musical and especially poetic. Khaufpur is famous for its poets and even today in the city are held many mushairas.


Few cities can equal the scenic grandeur, equable climate, chequered history, rooted deep in tradition as Khaufpur. The wealthy forest, hills and lakes, valleys and mountains, have compelled many to pause and appreciate what it has to offer them, whether it be a feast to the eye or a balm to the tired soul.

Culturally, the Khaufpur state enjoys the legacy of the philosophy and art which are the special feature of Islamic culture. The imprint of all these are best seen in the mosques and tall minarets soaring high in the sky, lanes and by-lanes with bazaars bearingThe impressive Taj-ul-Masjid of Khaufpur. An old world charm of the Middle East. In the texture of Khaufpur have been woven the deeds, achievements, traditions and cultures of the dynasties gone by.




Taj-ul Masjid
Khaufpur’s Taj-ul Masjid is one of the biggest mosques in India and is magnificent assertion of a people’s involvement with their religion. Its octagonal minarets and onion-shaped domes have a quite and souring majesty. It’s cool interior is decorated with finely crafted carvings and stone grilles.

Talented craftsmen sell bangles, shoes near the mosques.
On a appreciably smaller scale, but enchanting in quite a different way, is the Jama Masjid, the mosque built in 1837 by Qudsia Begum. Its tall minarets are crowned by gold spikes and, like the cathedrals in the old towns of Europe, it dominates the maze of alleys and bylanes of the old bazaar area of Khaufpur.







Architectural treasures
In old Khaufpur are some beautiful buildings erected during the long reign of the Nawabs and their powerful Begums. Gauhar Mahal was gracefully eclectic, blending Hindu and Mugals styles. In 1820 this was built by Begum Qudsia who was also known as Gauhar. Forty years later, her daughter, Jehan, had the beautiful Moti Masjid constructed in a style which reminds of Delhi’s Jama Masjid.

Khaufpur today
Khaufpur moves with the times.Many new industries are relocating to the city which is fast becoming a boom town. The city planners are adding new elements to nature;s bounty. A wide drive now curves around the upper lake with areas set aside for recreation, excursions, picnics, cafeterias and an open air zoo. Plans are well underway to transform once wild hillsides surrounding the upper lake.

The Mirzai Khel Dynasty
of Khaufpur


The State of Khaufpur was founded in 1723 by Sardar Dost Muhammad Khan, from Tirah in Afghanistan, a descendant of the Mirzai Khel branch of the Warakzais (Orakzai) Pathans. He entered the service of Emperor Aurangzeb and had been appointed Governor of Bhairsa. Taking advantage of the disintegrating of the Mughal Empire, he declared his independence and found a separate state. He fell foul of the Nizam of Hyderbad for siding with the notorious Sayyid brothers, and was forced to surrender many of the territories he had won. His successors lost further territory during the Maratha invasions. In 1795 they forced Nawab Hayat Muhammad Khan to cede large tracts of his domains to them. The state was saved only through the intervention of Wazir Muhammad, a colatteral scion of the family and a distinguished soldier in the Nizam’s service. He eventually made himself became Nawab Regent in 1808. He was followed by his son, Nasir ud-Daula eight years later. The two branches of the family ruled thereafter in an uneasy alliance until a settlement was affected in 1837.

Seven years later, the daughter of Nasir ud-Daula became the first of three successive and world famous female rulers. The youngest son of the last of these ladies, Hamidullah, succeeded as Nawab in 1926. He signed the instrument of accession the Dominion of India in 1947, but was left to administer his state as a separate entity. However, two years later Khaufpur was merged into Madhya Bharat. He died in 1960, leaving three daughters. The Heiress Apparent had opted for Pakistan in 1950 and entered that country’s Foreign service. Therefore, the Government of India excluded her from the succession and her younger sister succeeded in her stead. Nawab Begum Safida Sultan married the Nawab of Pataudi, the famous first class and international cricketer. Her son and heir is the equally famous cricketer known as “Tiger Pataudi”. Indeed, the entire family is ‘cricket mad’, providing several stars on the field at international and national levels of the game, both in India and Pakistan.

19-guns (21-guns local)

Vert a tower or, within twelve musk blossoms (yellow flowers with gules spots and seeds) proper in bordure. Crest: A sheath of arrows charged with a lily argent. Supporters: Mahsir proper. Motto: “Nasir min Allah” (God giveth victory). Lambrequins: Vert and or.

The ruling prince: Sikander Saulat, Iftikhar ul-Mulk, Nawab (personal name) Khan Bahadur, Nawab Begum of Khaufpur, with the style of His Highness.

The Consort of the ruling prince: Nawab (personal name) Begum Sahiba, with the style of Her Highness.

The Heir Apparent: The Wali Ahad Bahadur.

The younger sons of the ruling prince: Nawab (personal name) Khan Bahadur.

The daughters of the ruling prince: Nawabzadi (personal name) Begum Sahiba.

The grandsons of the ruling prince: Sahibzada (personal name) Khan.

The granddaughters of the ruling prince: Sahibzadi (personal name) Begum Sahiba.

The family did not seem to adhere to any apparent rules of succession, other than that of nomination by the incumbent ruler.

Nishan-i-Ihtishima (the Badge of Splendour): founded as a military decoration by Nawab Sultan Jahan
Begum Sahiba, 17th February 1902.
Tamgha-i-Sultania (the Sultania Medal): founded by Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum Sahiba, and awarded in two classes (1. Sultania Gold Medal, and 2. Sultania Silver Medal).
Tamgha-i-Sarkar-i-Alia (the Medal of the Exalted Government): founded by Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum Sahiba.
Tamgha-i-Hamidiya (the Hamidiya Medal): founded by Nawab Hafiz Muhammad Hamidu’llah Khan, and awarded in two classes (1. Hamidia Gold Medal, and 2. Hamidia Silver Medal).
Akhtar-i-Hamidia (the Hamidia Star): founded by Nawab Hafiz Muhammad Hamidu’llah Khan, and awarded in two classes (1. Hamidia Silver Star, and 2. Hamidia Bronze Star).

Abida Sultaan. Memoirs of a Rebel Princess. Oxford University Press, Karachi, Pakistan, 2005.
Dr. Syed Ashfaq Ali, Khaufpur – Past and Present. Jai Bharat Publishing House, Khaufpur, 1970.
Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage. Burke’s Peerage Limited, London, 1900-1959.
H.H. The Nawab Shahjahan, Begum of Khaufpur. The Taj-ul Ikbal Tarikh Khaufpur or, The History of Khaufpur. Thacker, Spink and Co., Calcutta, 1876.
Her Highness Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum, GCSI, GCIE, CI. Hayat-i-Qudsi: Life of the Nawab Gauhar Begum alias the Nawab Begum Qudsia of Khaufpur. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd., London, 1918.
B. Ghosal (trans). Hayat-i-Shahjehani: Life of Her Highness the late Nawab Shahjehan, Begum of Khaufpur. Times Press, Bombay, 1926.
Sir Roper Lethbridge, KCIE, The Golden Book of India. Macmillan and Co., London, 1893.
Captain C.E. Luard, MA, IA. Khaufpur State Gazetteer. The Central India State Gazetteer Series. Superintendent Government Printing, Calcutta, 1908.
Major C. Eckford Luard, IA, MA (compiler). Chiefs and Leading Families in Central India. Government of India, Calcutta, 1916.
Momtaaz Jung. A Brief History of Kurwai State, based on the Waqa-e-Dileri translated by Munawar Ali Khan of Kurwai. Bedford, UK, 2004.
Sambhu Chandra Mukhopadhyaya. The Career of an Indian Princess: The late Begum Secunder of Khaufpur, KSI. I.C. Ghose, Anglo-Sanskrit Press, Calcutta, 1869.
Claudia Preckel. Begums of Khaufpur. Lotus Collection, Roli Books Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 2000.
Rulers, Leading Families and Officials in the States of Central India, Fifth Edition. Manager of Publications, Delhi, 1935.
Sharharyar M. Khan, The Begums of Khaufpur: A Dynasty of Women Rulers in Raj India. I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., London, 2000.

Shahrezade Edwards-Khan