Jahan Ara: The world’s richest princess who built luxury hotels and mosques

Jahan Ara: The world’s richest princess who built luxury hotels and mosques

  • author, Azizullah Khan
  • position, BBC Urdu


Jahan Ara is a beautiful and talented princess. Many historians remember her as ‘the most influential princess of the Mughal era’ and ‘the richest princess in the world’. In history, much has been written about his ‘Amarat’ i.e. his reign and his influence and dominance during the Mughal period.

But not much is mentioned about Princess Jahan Ara’s visit to Peshawar in present day Pakistan and the construction of a modern hostel during her time for the convenience of merchants. Peshawar was a major commercial center during the Mughal period. Trade from Delhi to Central Asia was carried on through Peshawar. A group of businessmen from different countries stay here. Their business operations are held here. After this the traders will rest and refresh themselves. Cattle carrying goods also get rest. The expedition then moves on to the next destination. These facilities for merchants in Peshawar did not exist before the arrival of Jahan Ara. Jahan Ara reached Peshawar in 1638. He made a big announcement during his time there.

Sarai Jahan Ara Begum

Jahan Ara saw the problems of the people here. He announced that he would build a modern inn here especially after seeing the problems of the merchants staying. The work of the inn began in 1638. It was completed in 1641. The building is remembered in history books by the names ‘Caravan Sarai’, ‘Sarai Jahan Begum’ and ‘Sarai To Dhar’. ”Jahan Ara Begum built this inn at an important location in Peshawar city. It is very secure as it is built inside the city fort,” said Abdus Samad Khan, Director of Archaeology, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Apart from living rooms, all kinds of facilities were made for traders. The inn was built at a very high place in the middle of the city called ‘Ghor Khatri’ where a small verandah was built in front of each room and a large reception room was built near the room. Merchants sat in reception and made their deals. Apart from that, a separate place was provided for resting the cattle carrying goods.

There was a well for water and a beautiful mosque with it.


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