Gold Dust of Begum Sultans

by Syeda Saiyidain Hameed, Zakia Zaheer, Zubaida Sultan

  1. ISBN: 978-81-291-4024-1
  2. Pages: 120 pages
  3. Date: June 2016


A powerful story set in post-1857 Rohilkhand, Western Uttar Pradesh, Gold Dust of Begum Sultans journeys from the plains to the mountains—Mohammadpur, Aligarh, Nainital. In this intensely patriarchal setting, the book explores Akbar Ali Khan’s household, paradoxically dominated by strong Begums across three generations—Qamar Zamani, Jahanara and Shehzadi. The Nawabs and Sahibzadas watch helplessly as their fortunes dwindle and the strong, tempestuous matriarchs come to the fore.

Even while studying a crumbling feudal binary of the traditional and the modern, this novel captures the cultural ethos of one of the richest riyasats—a culture in full display in the strong passions and extravagant indulgences of the patriarchs. As their antics come under the scrutiny of the British, the novel considers the manoeuvrings of the women protagonists. All the while, a new India struggles to be born.

Gold Dust of Begum Sultans is a fascinating and unforgettable exploration of the history of the powerful Rohillas and their times.


Zubaida Sultan was the grandchild of the second son of Nawab Kalbe Ali Khan of Rampur. A poet, writer and artist, she never received formal training but was naturally gifted. Her interest in films took her to Mumbai where she was cast as the female lead in Shahid Lateef’s unreleased film Lala Rukh opposite Talat Mahmood. Sunehri Rait is her only published work.

Zakia Zaheer is an Urdu litterateur and writes articles and poems for different publications. The author of a book titled Zindagi Zinda Dilli Ka Naam Hai, she has also translated into Urdu William Dalrymple’s The Last Mughul and Qaisra Shahraz’s Holy Woman. She was awarded the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award in 2014.

Syeda Saiyidain Hameed is former member of India’s Planning Commission. She has written fiction and non-fiction on women’s issues, modern Indian history, South Asia and Urdu poetry. She was Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, and founder-member of various organizations. She was member of the National Commission for Women, and was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007.

Featured Books