Does the image show Mumtaz, Shahjahan’s wife? No, it’s Bhopal’s Begum, Shah Jahan Begum!


Koi BKL hi honga Jo iske liye Taj Mahal banayenga

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A monochrome image of a woman dressed in the royal ensemble is circulating on social media. Rumors are circulating about this post that claims to show Mumtaz Mahal, the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s wife. The social media users continued their mocking, asking, “Did the emperor build the Taj Mahal for her?”

You can view related posts with similar claims here, here, here, and here.

What’s the truth?

First, we used the circulating photo to perform a reverse image search, which directed us to an India Net Zone article that featured the same viral image.

According to the article, “Sultan Shahjahan Begum, Knight Grand Commander was the ruler or Begum of the princely state of Bhopal. She reigned over the state on two separate occasions, the first from 1844 to 1860 and her second rule was during the period 1868 to 1901. Shahjahan Begum was born on July 29th, 1838 in Islamnagar, located near the city of Bhopal. She was the only surviving child of Jahangir Mohammed Khan and his wife Sikandar Begum, Nawab of Bhopal by correct title. She was acknowledged as ruler of the princely state of Bhopal in the year 1844 when she was merely 6 years of age.”

Also, we found the same image on the Royal Collection Trust website after narrowing down our search.

Based on the image’s caption on the website, the woman is identified as “Sultan Shah Jahan Begum,” a Bhopal Begum.

The photo was reportedly shot during the visit of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales the eldest son of Queen Victoria, who embarked on a tour of the Indian subcontinent in October 1875. The Prince visited 21 towns and cities across parts of modern-day India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Nepal, where he exchanged and received gifts from each ruler he met during his tour. The trip was an effort to strengthen diplomatic relations between the Indian rulers and the British Crown.

Similarly, we found the same viral photo featuring the portrait of Shah Jahan, the Begum of Bhopal, on the Heritage Lab website.

However, when we looked for pictures of Mumtaz Mahal, the emperor Shah Jahan’s wife who served as an inspiration for building the Taj Mahal, we learned that she passed away in 1631.

In contrast, since the camera wasn’t invented until the late 1800s, it is evident that she passed away before it was, meaning there aren’t any authentic pictures of her online.

As all the information above makes it clear, the viral image does not depict Mumtaz, the wife of Shah Jahan, as the claim implies.


Therefore, we deduce that the black-and-white photo purporting to depict Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, is false. The Begum of Bhopal, Sultan Shahjahan Begum, is seen in the photograph.

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Indu Meenakshi

Indu Meenakshi is a former Microbiologist-turned-journalist, works as a Sub-Editor at YouTurn. She additionally holds Master’s in Management and English Literature. As a fact-checker, her job entails actively dispelling false information found online, exposing fake news, and raising public awareness.
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