Bijnor district in Uttar Pradesh, was once a part of the vast Mughal Empire. Traces of its Mughal era history linger on faintly.
In 1647, the story goes that Emperor Shah Jahan’s consort, while on a duck hunting trip near the Ganges, was bitten by a poisonous snake. Jaahar Diwan, a Sufi saint known for snake bite antidotes, saved her life. The Emperor gifted Jahanabad village in Bijnor district to him out of gratitude. A fair is held annually in Jahanabad to honour the saint’s memory. Locals believe that anyone visiting the fair will never be bitten by snakes.
A Mughal era tradition that lives on in Nagina, another village in Bijnor district, is the art of wood carving. Nagina features in the Ain-i-Akbari, a 16th century account of life in the time of Emperor Akbar. In 1881, during British rule, The Imperial Gazetteer of India noted the superb craftsmanship of Nagina’s artisans and the products they made - walking sticks, boxes and trays, many with ivory inlay. The abstract or floral motifs used by artisans even today are typical of Mughal-era design sensibilities. A few craftsmen specialize in carving beautiful ornamental combs, in male and female pairs.
Today, only faint shadows of Bijnor’s Mughal days remain.