Mumtaz Mahal – The foxy lady of Pakistan

Posted on June 20, 2007
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Humor, Travel
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Owais Mughal

Some of the public parks in Pakistan are one of their kind. Few months ago we had introduced the Haunted House of Hill Park, and today we will introduce Mumtaz Mahal located inside the Karachi Zoo. Karachi’s zoological gardens (also called Gandhi Gardens) has many animals to boast about. Animals are however not the only creatures at display here.

For the past 35 years a ‘maa-fauq-ul-fitrat’ (super natural) character is also kept in captivity here. This creature has a head of a lady and body of a fox. It is kept in a special pavilion called Mumtaz Mahal.

Inside the zoo, it is easy to find Mumtaz Mahal as the organisers use megaphone to invite you to see it. Zoo’s entrance ticket does not cover the visit to Mumtaz Mehal therefore one has to buy a separate ticket to see it.

Once inside the pavilion, you will see a fox’s hide placed on a table. Suddenly a woman’s head appears out of this hide in bright lipstick and heavy make-up. Small children in the audience are usually spell bound at this stage. The creature then talks with following starting line:

I was born like this in Africa 35 years ago, and live on cake, juice, and fruits …

This woman-fox creature also tells visitors their destiny and can allegedly answer your questions in any language of the world. I’ll leave the proof of this claim to our readership, who should visit Mumtaz mahal and ask this creature a question themselves. I’ve read on a website that people ask this creature all kinds of questions about their destiny. Somebody even asked about when will he get a work visa for Dubai.

The reality of Mumtaz Mehal is of course a big joke or hoax. The lady face is actually an enunch who has been doing this job for many years. The effect of fox body is created by optical illusion using mirrors. One thing I do want to mention is eventhough I wrote off Mumtaz Mehal as a big joke, it is still very popular among visitors.

I also have many fond memories of going to the zoo for day field trips with my primary school classes and family. I must admit, at younger age I used to be scared to go to Mumtaz mahal and look at this creature.

Following distant shot of Mumtaz Mahal pavilion shows the complete name of this creature as ‘Mumtaz Begum Africa wali.’

I’ll now end this post with a very short history note. Actual Mumtaz Mahal was the nickname of Arjumand Bano Begum (1593-1631) who was the wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jehan and in whose loving memory Taj Mahal was built. 

While doing a web search today I found this interesting video where “Mumtaz Begum Africa wali” is being interviewed by some TV Channel.

Photo Credits: Photos for this post are credited to Mazhar Hasan and Umair Mohsin at

Reference: ‘Foxy Lady’ is the title of a famous psychedelic rock song by Jimi Hendrix which came out in 1967.

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34 responses to “Mumtaz Mahal – The foxy lady of Pakistan”

  1. Neena says:

    “As of 2007, I am not very sure if Mumtaz Mahal is still there and operational or not. Can somebody confirm?”

    You can get some info at Karachi Zoo‘s site.

  2. Owais Mughal says:

    Neena I didn’t find the info. on Zoo’s website, that is why I asked if anyone knew

  3. tina says:

    If a joke then it is a very fascinating one. Who cares if it is deception? It sounds like a lot of fun.

    In 1995 I visited Karachi zoo and do not remember seeing that billboard or the sideshow you describe. However I cannot say if it is there or not as the zoo is pretty good size.

  4. Owais Mughal says:

    I just noticed that the date of capture on the first two photos (taken from flickr) of this article is April 14, 2007. therefore the pavilion is definitely there as of 2007.

  5. Adnan Siddiqi says:

    I must admit, at younger age I used to be scared to go to Mumtaz mahal and look at this creature

    well that was scary for every kid I think but to be honest that Mumtaz lady was one of the reason to visit the Zoo. I read somewhere in paper that the “lady” had died and the show doesn’t go on anymore.

    Last time I went Gandhi garden in 97 and by mistake we went on easter day. We were all surrounded by masis and their families.

  6. sidhas says:

    I took my kids to Ghandi Garden last year and I was surprised to see the Mumtaz Mahal still standing and luring people to cough up money but a part of me still wanted to visit and see how people were made fool.

    By the way, Ghandi Garden is not a bad place to take kids especially in city like Karachi, where there is no breathing space.

  7. Akif Nizam says:

    I had heard about Mumtaz Mehal all my life but never cared to actually see it. About ten years back, some friends and I decided to finally put this must-see fixture of Karachi into our itinerary, so we went. There was a long moving line going in one side of the building and coming out the other, most of the people there were adults, mostly Afghans or Pathans who make up most of the labor force in Karachi.

    The whole experience could not have been more than one minute; you are in a queue, you get to a certain spot where you peek through a dirty, smelly curtain and see this really lame contraption depicting the body of a lion and the head of an over made-up really ugly eunich, as Owais pointed out. We could not believe that we actually paid money to see this but it worth a good laugh. So, shaking our heads and smiling, we came out with bemused expressions on our faces, as if to say, “what the heck was that!”.

    As we stood there in the sweltering heat and wondered what a waste of time it was to come all the way to witness this spectacle, we noticed that many others coming out of the booth did not seem as befuddled as we did, infact they had huge smiles on their faces. So, one of my friends decided to approach another visitor who appeared Afghani by appearance. My friend asked, ” Khan Saab, yeh kia tha ? ” The guy answered, ” kuch nahin, jism sher a laga diya, peechay say aurat ko kharha kar diya, drama hai sara”. So my friend asked,” Khan Saab, phir aap kyoon jaatain hain yahan?”. A huge smile appeared on the guy’s face and he said, ” chokree to dekh liya naa ! ”

    I don’t think I have ever laughed harder in my life.

  8. Rehan says:

    I have good memories of this as a kid. Of course everything is cynical in real life but as a child, I stood spell-bound with and shared hours of conversations with my cousins and “complicit” elders.

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