Bega Begum was also known as Haji Begum after she performed the Hajj pilgrimage. Haji Begum was Empress consort of the Mughal Empire from 26 December 1530 to 17 May 1540 and 22 February 1555 to 27 January 1556 as the first wife and chief consort of the second Mughal emperor Humayun.
She was a Persian from Khorasan and a daughter of Humayun’s maternal uncle. Haji Begum is remembered for the tomb of Humayun that she built in Delhi.
After the death of her husband, when she decided to build the mausoleum, she was encouraged in her endeavour by her stepson Akbar, who was very fond of her.
Bega Begum lived a life of surprising independence. She went off to the Haj and came back with Arab craftsmen who worked at the Humayun’s tomb. Bega Begum did not join the harem in Agra but remained in Delhi, supervising the building work.
Haji Begum was the first of the Mughal women to become a builder, and many would follow to build mausoleums, mosques, madrasas, seminaries, bazaars and gardens.
Humayun’s Tomb introduced India to the Persian style of a domed mausoleum set in the centre of a landscaped char-bagh garden, which would reach its peak with the Taj Mahal.