Madarsa Hussain Buksh aka Haveli Bakhtawar Khan at Matia Mahal, Old Delhi

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Madarsa Hussain Buksh aka Haveli Bakhtawar Khan at Matia Mahal, Old Delhi

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On the walking distance from historic Jama Masjid to the Matia Mahal road, one can visualize a nineteenth-century decorative gateway in a narrow lane named after the monument “Gali Madarsa Hussain Buksh”. Located at Matia Mahal, Old Delhi, the Madarsa Hussain Buksh also known as Haveli Bakhtawar Khan is one of the living remnants from 19th century Delhi. From the main gateway, the old roofed gallery (Deori) led to the open courtyard of the madrasa. On passing the gallery, the visitors will catch a glimpse of a rectangular water tank (Hauz) & open courtyard lined by the black & white tiles. The major section of the building has been replaced by the new construction that took place recently in 1995. The beautifully carved pillars of verandah, arches, Hauz & gateway at the entry are the remnants of old construction. Shama Mitra Cheno in her work titled “Shahjahanabad: A City of Delhi, 1638-1857”, cited Bakhtawar Khan as a mansabdar of Aurangzeb reign with one thousand Zat & two hundred fifty sawars. She further added that a locality was built by him as “Bakhtawar Nagar” in the vicinity of Shahjahanabad that consisted of the garden, Katra (commercial enclave), & mosque with a well.  Little is known about the background of Bakhtawar Khan, and the construction of the haveli named after him. It might be possible that Madarsa Hussian Buksh was built on the remnants of Bakhtawar Nagar. Possibly the area the surrounding the Madarsa Hussain Buksh was the part of his project.

It was in 1852, a trader from Shahjahanabad, Hussain Buksh build a madrasa & mosque at the site of Bakhtawar Khan residential compound (Haveli). Every corner of Old Delhi has interesting stories build over the centuries in the multilayered history of this walled city. One such account has been narrated by Professor Abdul Aziz of Zakir Husain College. He cited the article of Mir Nasir Ali who was editor of two literary magazines in the late nineteenth century, Salai-Aam & Tehrveen Sadi (Thirteen Century). The story goes like this “once Hussian Buksh had a debate with the Imam of the Jama Masjid on the event of Eid prayer. The argument was heated to such an extent that Imam of Jama Masjid said that if you don’t agree with us construct your own mosque. Hussain Buksh who used to live in the campus of haveli Bakhtawar Khan purchased a few more adjoining houses & constructed a mosque”. Many notable tutors have been engaged in teaching at this historic madrasa. The notable scholar & poet Altaf Husain Hali got enrolled at Madarsa Hussain Buksh under the tutelage of the famous orator & teacher Maulana Nawazish Ali when he left Panipat at the age of thirteen years.  The local community & members of the madrasa committee also don’t have any detailed idea about the history of the monument. Professor SM Azizuddin (history department Jamia Millia Islamia) narrated the same version of Chenoy citing Bakhtawar Khan as a Mughal noble.  The gateway, Deohri, beautifully carved pillars & water tank in the courtyard with a fountain gave the reflection of its grandiose past. A white stone slab has been fixed on the eastern wall of the courtyard that displayed the first construction year as 1852 & renovation of the building in 1995.

ai sabā maiñ bhī thā āshufta-saroñ meñ yaktā

pūchhnā dillī kī galiyoñ se mirā naam kabhī


The verse of Hasan Naim seems to be contextual for both Barkhtawar Khan & Hussian Buksh whose names were mystified in the bylanes of the walled city with the vicissitudes of time.

References:  Chenoy, S. M. (1998). Shahjahanabad: A City of Delhi, 1638-1857. Munshiram Manoharlal.

Shamsul Ulma, Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali, retrieved from

Haveli Bakhtawar Khan, A video in Urdu language

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Mr.  Abdul Nabi Dost Khan & Prof. Abdul Aziz for their valuable inputs.

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About Rehan Asad

I am a medical educator by profession and have an avid interest in history. I have authored a book on the socio-cultural history of an Arain (a tribe from Punjab and Sindh) diaspora in Western Uttar Pradesh. I am passionate about sharing and gaining knowledge of history and culture.

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