Najaf Khan's Tomb
The Tomb of Najaf Khan lies opposite Safdarjung Airport which is situated towards the eastern side of the Delhi-Mehrauli Road and in close proximity to Safdarjung's Tomb. It is easily accessible by local buses, auto rickshaws and hired cabs. Mirza Najaf Khan was probably born sometime in the year 1722 AD though there is no conclusive evidence to this fact. He was an Adventurer who relocated to India and became a noble in the Imperial courts of Mughal Emperor Shah Alam III. A Persian by native, his ancestry lineage traces back to Prince Safavi, a royal Persian dynasty that was overthrown by Nader Shah in 1735 AD.
'Mirza Najaf Khan came to India with his sister sometime around or before 1740 AD (actual dates and year are unknown) and presented themselves at the courts of Emperor Muhammad Shah. The Emperor then appointed Najaf Khan as the Deputy Minister of Awadh wherein he married his sister into the noble family of the Nawab of Awadh. Later, Najaf Khan was appointed as the Commander In Chief of the Army of the Mughal Empire from 1772 AD up till his demise in April 1782 AD.
Mirza Najaf Khan was instrumental in implementing a blend of the European model as well as the Traditional methods in the Mughal Cavalry which was penned down by H. G. Keene in his work named 'The Fall of the Moghul Empire of Hindustan' where he illustrates that Najaf Khan's Army were the most indomitable Military Forces to ever exist in India as seen in 1781 AD besides the famous British Cavalry of Bengal. The method implemented was based on the fundamentals of proper administration and order which were the main qualities that Najaf Khan reinforced within the corrupt Mughal Empire. Soldiers were paid premium wages on time which did not exist before. Adventurers from France and other places were welcomed to add their expertise that helped to improve knowledge and hence made way for exposure and awareness of new forms of combat. This assisted the Mughal Army to fight better and use the latest combat techniques and methods hence enabling the Soldiers as well as Najaf Khan to serve their Empire and Country to the best of their capabilities.
Mughals did not only face threats from their rivals but also numerous treacheries from their own Ministers. History has that Nawab Majad-ud-Daulah who was the Minister in the Royal Courts of Shah Alam III would get the Sikhs to cause panic for the Mughal Forces which constantly kept Najaf Khan and his Cavalry busy. This never deterred Najaf Khan from being loyal and continuously fighting for his Emperor and hence the years between 1772 AD and 1782 AD saw the best of the Mughal Military Forces.
Mirza Najaf Khan passed away on 26th April 1782 after serving the Country for 42 years and within six years of his demise, the Mughal Empire became feeble when its Military Forces ceased to exist. He never had a son and hence was survived by his adopted son named Najaf Quli Khan, who later, converted to Hinduism and paved his own way and a biological daughter named Fatima.
Najaf Khan was buried in a separate enclosure that lies next to Safdarjung Airport in Delhi. His Tomb is constructed in a 'Charbagh' or 'Four-square Garden' style which is typical of a Mughal as well as Persian style of architecture.
The Mausoleum of Najaf Khan was constructed at the centre of the enclosed boundary on a raised platform overlaid with red sandstone. Interestingly, the Tomb reveals the absence of a Dome and hence the roof is covered with a flat base which is a strange yet unique architectural style not seen in that era.
There are two marble cenotaphs next to the Tomb site of Najaf Khan with inscriptions revealing that Najaf Khan is buried in one grave and the other is where his daughter, Fatima, lies buried after she died in 1820 AD. The real graves are situated way below (underground) in the heart of the chamber just underneath the raised platform.
Today, Najaf Khan's Tomb is survived by a wall enclosing the Garden area where his Tomb sits and an entrance doorway on the eastern side; all in ruins, however, a newly planted and reasonably maintained garden now dresses the enclosure of the Tomb site.