Gulbadan was born to the Mughal emperor Babur in 1523 (present day Afghanistan). Gulbadan means body like a rose flower. Roses are frail. Gulbadan was anything, but a rose.
Gulbadan was only 8 when her father left for his heavenly abode in 1530. She was then nurtured and cared for by her stepbrother Humayun. At the tender age of 17, she was married off to a Chagatai Nobel, Khizr Khwaja Khan. They kept moving towns due to her brother’s military expeditions. For a considerable time, she lived in Kabul. When her brother Humayun reinstated himself as the ruler at Agra, she didn’t migrate immediately. She went to Agra to join the imperial household on persuasion by Akbar. She was Akbar’s favorite aunt. Akbar commissioned her to pen down the life of his father Humayun. Akbar instructed her to write whatever she could remember about the late Mughal ruler. The document that she produced was known as Humayun-Nama. Her account in Humayun Nama is regarded as candid and transparent as she put everything as it is without any ratification that was most notably seen in the Akbarnama by Abu Fazal. She even put details of the harem in her accounts. She didn’t write in labyrinthine Persian rather she opted for simple Persian.
Jahnara Begum, the daughter of Shah Jahan, said that the rot of the empire would set in when the Mughals would confine themselves to closed houses. Gulbadan Begum epitomized how the Mughal men and women were never static. Gulbadan Begum and Hamida Banu Begum, The Widow Of Humayun went on a voyage to the holy cities of mecca and medina. The voyage was nearly 5000 kilometers. They with harem crossed perilous mountains and empty deserts. Jahanara Begum stayed in mecca for nearly 4 years. She returned to Agra seven years after she had put foot on this journey. Right after which, she went to the dargah at Ajmer. She breathed her last on 7th February 1608, at the age of 80.