Zahir Dehlvi, an accomplished poet and young official in the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar, lived through the cataclysmic 1857 revolt that changed the course of history, marking the end of Mughal dominion and the instatement of the British Raj. Dehlvi’s memoir, written on his deathbed, chronicles the fading glory of the Mughal court and most importantly, pivots on the violent siege of Shahjahanabad.
Translated into English for the first time, Dehlvi’s memoir is intensely vivid and moving. Here are six defining moments from the petition made to the then Mughal Emperor by rebellious soldiers that demystify the great revolt.
Rebellious soldiers arrive in Delhi to petition Bahadur Shah Zafar
When cartridges misfired
The ‘meat’ of the matter
Shooting religious sensibilities
When an army was treated like outlaws
Meerut, the epicentre of the revolt