Mausoleum of Aga Khan is the witness to the legendary love story that gathered between the owner of the Mausoleum and the French florist Ivet La Bodous.
Aga Khan is a name that has a long history; today its Mausoleum lies on a plateau on the western side of the city on the central island of Aswan, where the tomb of Prince Muhammad Shah Aga Khan is found, the forty-second Imam of the Ismaili sect.
The Aga Khan Mausoleum overlooks the palace of King Farouk previously, which is now the Cataract Hotel, and on the other side overlooking a Greek-Roman tomb and the temple of goddess Satet, which was built by Queen Hatshepsut.
The prince built the Mausoleum next to his palace, which takes the style of the Fatimid tombs in Islamic Egypt.
What is the story behind building the Mausoleum of Aga Khan?
The prince used the marble in building this palace to be the witness to a legendary love story that gathered between Prince Aga Khan and the beautiful French florist in the late 1930s.
The prince saw her while attending a royal ceremony in Egypt where she was invited to attend after she won the Miss France title in 1938.
The 68-year-old prince admired her at his first glimpse, and when the heart beats, he told her, therefore, the challenge began with reality. The social traditions have threatened this love story, how can a prince marry a florist.
Furthermore, the girl was thirty years younger than him, but a year after their meeting, the power of love succeeded in crowning her as queen on the throne of the Ismaili sect after the prince married her.
Prince Aga Khan paid about 1 million Swiss francs to her as a dowry. After joining the sect, she became known as “Um Habiba” and was called “Begum Aga Khan” as the prince’s wife was called at that time.
She moved to Egypt to continue her life with her lover. Aga Khan was suffering from Rheumatism and pain in the bones.
The greatest doctors of the world failed to cure him, so a friend advised him to visit Aswan, where it had a wonderfully warm winter and good people.
He came to Aswan in 1954 with his wife, his entourage, and a large group of his followers. Aga Khan was unable to walk, as he was moving in a wheelchair.
His followers brought the best Nubian physician to him. The physician advised him to bury his lower half of body in Aswan sands three hours a day for a week.
After one week of applying the advice, Aga Khan returned back while walking on his feet, surrounded by the joy of his wife and followers.
As a result, Aga Khan decided to visit Aswan every winter; the place that the prince and his wife loved it so much. They lived in a villa overlooking the Nile; besides the villa, the Mausoleum of Aga Khan is located.
Aga Khan’s wife supervised his funeral and burial. She also built his tomb, which was designed by the best architect in Egypt and the Arab world, Dr. Farid Shafei, who made Aga Khan Mausoleum an architectural masterpiece to commemorate him in the city that he loved.
The Mausoleum of Aga Khan was designed on the Islamic Fatimid architectural style based on the desire of Aga Khan, as he recommended to be buried in this cemetery.
After months of building the cemetery, the prince died, but his wife decided to stay next to his mausoleum and lived next to him in the palace, completing her love for him and putting a flower on his tomb every morning.
Um Habiba ordered the guards to put a red rose in a silver cup over the tomb of the prince every morning and replaced it daily, throughout her life.
The Princess was upset by the misuse of visitors of Aga Khan Mausoleum, so she ordered by closing the cemetery.
She also stated in her will that the change of the rose must stop upon her death, as the flower refers to her love to the prince.
In 2000, the princess died and wrote the last words of her love story and she was buried beside her husband.
Aga Khan Mausoleum became a touristic place for the Ismaili sect, where they called the princess “Mother of the Ismailis”. The cemetery also became a destination for lovers in the last century.