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Tribeni. The inscription dated 1501, said to be on the mosque’s facade, could perhaps be the date of it’s restoration during the time of Alauddin Husayn Shah.

Mosque of Jamaluddin, Hughli. This mosque described as a jami‘ in the façade inscription dated 936 AH (1529 CE) is a rare example of it’s kind in the area. It is in ruins only the qibla wall and parts of other walls survive pointing to it’s archetectural character of the time. From the broken stone columns within it is evident that the mosque was a six-domed structure divided into two aisles, each having a row of three domes at the top. Of the three mihrabs, the one at the right-hand corner is a much smaller niche signifying that there was an upper storey on this part as a maqsura. In the event the function of this small mihrab was minimal, and built only to maintain symetry with the left-hand miharb of the west wall.

Molla Simla Mosque, Hughli. Dated 1375 CE in an inscription tablet found in a nearby dargah, this mosque (if the inscription belongs to it) appears to be the earliest of the single-domed type mosques in Bengal predating the Gopalganj one in Lakhnauti Environs by almost a century. The repeated restorations point to the antiquity of the structure and it’s importance. The mosque conforms to the principle of building other ek-gumbad types. The rectangular three mihrabs inside the west wall instead of being concave must be the result of later restorations.

3.2.2 Tombs

Though relatively smaller in number and scale as compared to mosques, tombs and mausoleums in Bengal represent important examples of the Muslim funerary architecture demonstrating significant variety and adaptation of the conventional Islamic form to regional tastes and requirements. The hadith injunction to practise taswiyat al-qubur, that is making the tomb level with the surrounding earth, did not prevent the raising of a grave above the ground level, erection of brick or stone cenotaph, or the building of monumental mausoleum in Bengal as it did not in other parts of the Muslim world. The tomb is conceived as the dwelling-place of the deceased; hence it assumes the form of a house. As elsewhere in the Muslim world, the most prevalent type of monumental building over a grave in Bengal during the Sultanate and Mughal periods is the qubba consisting of a domed single-unit square chamber. Though this form also gained popularity in the mosque architecture of Bengal during the Sultanate period, in Muslim India outside Bengal the use of qubba structure was restricted to tombs and gateways. Muslim tombs, like mosques, embody horizontal axis which determines their layout. Bodies are buried in a recumbent posture at right angles to the qibla or the direction of prayer in such a way that they would face the Kaba in Mecca if turned on their sides; the believer enjoys the same physical relationship with the qibla both in life and in death. As Mecca is to the west of the Indian subcontinent, in Bengal as elsewhere in the subcontinent, mosques and tombs are oriented to the west. The body with head towards the north and feet towards the south is horizontally laid in the grave, which is axially aligned


with the qibla wall. The principal entrance to the tomb-chamber is usually on the south. The position of the vault beneath the grave is indicated on the surface by a recumbent stone marking the grave. There may be a headstone on the north and footstone on the south of the grave. The headstone is furnished with a recess to hold an oil lamp or candle, a symbol of the soul. The grave may be low or may assume the shape of a high cenotaph or sarcophagus with a vaulted or gable-section top. The cenotaph stands on a plinth, often stepped.

Architectural and epigraphic remains of the Sultanate and the Mughal periods point to the burial places of three groups of people– rulers and nobility, saints and ghazis or warrior-saints. The popular Arabic and Persian terms for burial places in Bengal are qabr, maqbara, mazar, rauza, dargah and astana– the last three terms are used only for the tombs of saints and holy persons. As elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent, a cemetery in Bengal is called qabristan (Persian for graveyard). The funerary inscriptions from Muslim monuments in Bengal contain terms such as turbat, qabr, maqbara, rauza and gunbad. Burials are often in proximity to a mosque, dargah or holy tomb. Burial places in Bengal range from open-air funerary enclosures without architectural covering over the grave to monumental tombs and mausoleums. Graves of some of the important saints of Bengal, for example, Shah Jalal at Sylhet, Alaul Haq and Nur Qutb Alam at Chhoti Dargah at Hazrat Pandua (Malda, West Bengal) are in open enclosures and conform to the orthodox belief that “only the pious deeds of the dead will offer him protection and shade.” The grave of Baba Adam, one of the earliest known Muslim saints in Bengal, at Rampal, Dhaka, was until recently without architectural covering.

Sultanate Tombs

Early Period

Muhammad Bakhtyar Khalji, the founder of Muslim rule in Bengal, died at Devikot

in 1206. Whether he was buried at Devikot or Bihar is not certain. The square, single- domed mausoleum at Imadpur, Bihar Sharif, believed to be the burial place of Bakhtyar, is dated to a later period on stylistic ground by Z.A. Desai. (Islamic Culture 1972, 46: 17). Minhaj mentions about the tomb of Bakhtyar’s successor, Muhammad Shiran Khalji, at Mahisantosh, but the tomb is now unrecognizable in the scattered ruins of the place (Dani 1961, 36). Nothing is so far known of the burial places of the Turkish rulers who succeeded Bakhtyar in Bengal. After his death in 1229, the body of Prince Nasiruddin, governor of Bengal, was taken to Delhi where his father, Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish, erected an octagonal mausoleum which is called ‘Sultan Ghari’ (Sultan of the Cave) because all that survives of the tomb proper is the crypt.

Tomb of Zafar Khan Ghazi. The earliest surviving Muslim tomb which is also the earliest surviving Muslim building in Bengal is at Tribeni (Hughli, West Bengal). It is ascribed to the celebrated warrior Zafar Khan Ghazi who together with the saint Shah Safiuddin brought southwestern Bengal under the Muslim influence. The tomb consisting of two roofless rooms built of reused Hindu temple



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material and raised on a stone plinth, may have formed part of a madrasa complex which, according to an inscription dated 713 AH/1313 CE and embedded on the plinth of the tomb, was built by Khan-i Jahan Zafar Khan during the reign of Shamsuddin Firuz Shah (711-22 AH/1301-22 CE). There are stone graves in each of the two rooms– Zafar Khan and his wife are believed to have been buried in the western room, facing the nearby ten-domed mosque. In it’s multi-domed oblong plan, the mosque anticipates a major type of mosque in Bengal; the plan of the tomb does not warrant any definite type. According to Professor A.H. Dani: ‘The tomb is a rough and ready construction, devised to perpetuate the memory of the first conqueror in a solid building of stone.’ (Dani 1961, 50). The square, single-domed mausoleum of Shah Safiuddin in a dargah complex at Chhota Pandua (Hughli, West Bengal) represents a popular tomb type. It has been subjected to heavy stucco coating over it’s original brick surface in later times.

Early Ilyas Shahi Period

Lakhnauti remained capital of the Turkish viceroys until Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah (1342-57), established Hazrat Pandua/Firuzabad as capital of the Ilyas Shahi dynasty. It had already been made capital by Ilyas Shah’s predecessor, Alauddin Ali Shah in

Tribeni, Hughli: Tomb of Zafar Khan Ghazi, view of restored wall (c. 1301-22)


1338, who built there a shrine for Shaikh Jalaluddin Tabrizi (d. 1244-45), which continued to be venerated and developed into a large dargah complex, known as the Bari Dargah or Baishazari (endowed with twenty-two thousand bighas of land). With the establishment of the Ilyas Shahi rule, the Chishtiya silsilah found it’s spiritual and political base in Bengal. Th Chhoti Dargah also known as Shash or Chhay Hazari (endowed with six thousand bighas of land) is the shrine of the renowned Chishti saints Alaul Haq and his son Nur Qutb Alam who played a crucial role in the political history of Bengal in the fifteenth century. The need for the blessings and support of the saints kept the bond between the ruling class and prominent saints strong throughout Muslim rule in Bengal.

Tomb of Sultan Sikandar Shah. It is popularly believed that Sikandar Shah (d. 1389), the builder of the Adina Mosque at Hazrat Pandua, after his defeat and death during a battle with his son and successor, Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah, was buried in the now ruined square chamber attached to the north bay of the west exterior wall of that mosque (see Adina Masjid). The chamber was internally divided into nine bays by four stone pillars in the centre and roofed with nine small domes supported by brick pendentives. The domes and pillars are now fallen, but the traces of four pillars, which might have enclosed the now vanished sarcophagus in the central bay, are still visible. Placed on a high plinth, the entrance to the chamber is provided by an L-shaped ramp on the north; on it’s east are two carved stone doors leading to the raised maqsura (the so-called ladies’ gallery, also popularly called Badshah ka takht) inside. The west wall of the chamber is completely fallen, but remains of stone-trellised windows can be seen on it’s north and south walls. The expedience of roofing a large square structure with nine domes in this supposed mausoleum of Sikandar Shah finds interesting parallels in some fifteenth-century mosques in Bangladesh.

Mausoleum of Shaikh Akhi Sirajuddin. Shaikh Akhi Sirajuddin (d. 1357), spiritual father of Shaikh Alaul Haq, was a close disciple of Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya and sent by him to Bengal to preach the Chishtiya teachings. His mausoleum, a single-domed square brick building, stands amidst his dargah complex on a high mound near the north­ east corner of the Sagar Digi at Sadullahpur, Gaur. Cunningham ascribed the construction of the tomb to Sikandar Shah. The enclosure wall of the dargah contains three gateways; two of which contain inscriptions of Sultan Husain Shah, dated 916 AH (1510 CE). From the contents of the inscriptions Cunningham inferred that the tomb was already in existence before Husain Shah built the gateways (Cunningham, pp.70-2).

Tomb of Maulana Ata. A partly Arabic and partly Persian inscription, dated 765 AH/ 1363 CE and found at the now ruined Dargah of Maulana Ata at Devikot, records the erection of a gunbad (dome) over the grave of Maulana Ata by the order of Sikandar Shah (Ahmed, 34-5). The term gunbad signifies a domed tomb, generally a qubba or a single-domed square tomb. Maulana Ata was probably a contemporary of Sikandar Shah.


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Tomb of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah. It is presumed that Sultan Ghiyasuddin was buried (d. 1411-12) at Sachilapur village (Mograpara, Sonargaon) at a short distance to the east of the Panch Pir Dargah. The grave is marked by a large, massive sarcophagus consisting of a table-like plinth embellished with ornamental panels and a plain vaulted top, carved from a single block of black basalt. James Wise noticed remains of stone pillars lying on the ground close to the tomb, which might have supported a canopy and formed an enclosure around the grave (Dani 1961, 73; Cunningham, 140). On the north of the grave is a headstone (chiragh-dan) to

hold a lamp. The ornamental motifs on the sarcophagus– rows of billets and beads around the top and hanging lamps suspended from niches on the sides of the plinth– may recall similar motifs in the Adina Mosque. But the style of workmanship in the two monuments is different; the carving in the Sonargaon monument is deeper and bolder echoing terracotta prototypes; the Adina ornament, on the other hand, is smooth and in low relief. The motif depicting hanging lamp or floriated ornament became ubiquitous in mihrabs and recessed panels of the Sultanate mosques in Bengal; it’s funerary symbolism had already developed in the medieval Muslim tombs in Iran. In India, the marble cenotaphs in Gujarat show interesting variation of form of this motif.

End of the Early Ilyas Shahi Period and the Rise of the House of Raja Ganesh The political turmoil caused by the ascendancy of Raja Ganesh at the court of the early Ilyas Shahi rulers after the death of Ghiyasuddin and the short-lived reigns of his successors was finally resolved by the conversion of Raja’s son Jadu to Islam at the hand of Nur Qutb Alam. Assuming the powerful title of Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah, Jadu ushered in an era of peace and prosperity that besides significant social and political advancement also witnessed the bourgeoning of a truly Bengali style of artistic expression. Sultan Jalaluddin enjoyed a peaceful reign of about two decades (c.1415-33). His coins and inscriptions show that he exercised his authority over the entire territory inherited from Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah including eastern Bengal (Mu‘azzamabad) and Chittagong. For raising his status as an independent Muslim Sultan, Jalaluddin established diplomatic relations with the Timurid ruler of Herat, Shah Rukh and the Mamluk ruler of Egypt, Al-Ashraf Barsbay. Jalaluddin’s assumption of the title Khalifat Allah testifies to his acceptability in the central lands of Islam and absolute authority in his own kingdom.


Sonargaon: Tomb of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah (c.1411-12)



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Eklakhi Mausoleum at

Hazrat Pandua

Eklakhi Mausoleum. The Eklakhi Mausoleum at Hazrat Pandua is a landmark in the history of Muslim architecture of Bengal. It is not only among the earliest extant buildings in the regional style of the Muslims of Bengal and a model for the subsequent structures built in this style, but also the only extant free-standing funerary monument associated with a royal personage of the Sultanate period in Bengal. It translates into brick a typical Bengali thatched house having curved roof supported on four corner posts. Instead of the indigenous dochala or chauchala roof, the builder of the Eklakhi Mausoleum places a Muslim symbol, a dome, over a gently curved roof, which externally covers a square brick structure having four octagonal corner towers. The Eklakhi Mausoleum represents in it’s plan and elevation the most basic and persistent type of a Muslim funerary structure consisting of a domed square, termed as the qubba or canopy tomb. It embodies two traditional forms associated with Muslim tombs and shrines– a square and an octagon. The square is used for the exterior and the octagon for the interior tomb-chamber: the transition from square to octagon is achieved by filling the entire core with brick. An ornamental stringcourse is carried horizontally across the middle of the exterior surface; the upper portion is divided into ornamental offsets and recesses, thus giving the effect of a blind storey. This arrangement of surface decoration has an antecedent in the exterior of the Adina Mosque at Hazrat Pandua. Applied much earlier in the Alai Darwaza, the gateway added to the Quwwat al-Islam Mosque complex at Delhi by Alauddin Khalji (1296­ 1316), the most articulated use of this feature could be seen in the fifteenth-century


square tombs at Delhi. In the centre of each side of the exterior is a doorway leading to the tomb-chamber, in the centre of which are located three concrete graves. A large dome, supported on eight squinches resting on stone pillars embedded in the brick wall, covers the eight-sided interior. At each of the four corners of the tomb-chamber is a low cell built within the thickness of the wall. The main building material is brick which is used for the construction of the walls and the dome. The exterior walls were originally embellished with rich terracotta ornamentation and glazed tiles and the interior was plastered over and painted with floral and a variety of other ornamental motifs. Stone can be seen in the reused carved doorframes, originally collected from the ruins of Hindu temples; from the same source came the slabs of horn-blende, sparingly interspersed in the brickwork of the exterior. The reason for the name Eklakhi for this mausoleum is believed to be the high cost of it’s construction.

The Eklakhi Mausoleum does not contain any inscription. The date of it’s construction and the identity of the persons interred here may be determined by it’s location and architectural style and evidence provided by some historical records and local traditions. The Eklakhi Mausoleum can be identified with the tomb at Hazrat Pandua referred to by Ghulam Husain Salim, the author of the Riyaz al-Salatin, as the large-domed mausoleum of Jalaluddin in which the graves of his wife and son lie by the side of his own grave.

Munshi Ilahi Bakhsh in his Khurshid-i- Jahan Numa attempts to identify each grave and suggests that the western tomb which is the highest is that of Sultan Jalaluddin; that the one to the east is of his son Sultan Ahmad Shah; and that the middle one is the tomb of his wife (Abid Ali Khan, 125). The location of the Eklakhi at a short distance to the north-east of the Chhoti Dargah is strong evidence in support of it’s being the burial place of Jalaluddin. To be buried close to the dargah of his spiritual guide would have ensured perpetual baraka (blessing) for Sultan Jalaluddin. There are two stone posts at the head of the graves of Jalaluddin and Ahmad Shah. According to Abid Ali Khan, the height of the stones in relation to the graves indicates the circumstance in which the person died. He states that the stone on the grave of the latter is raised a little above the level of the tomb, which shows that it belongs to a martyr. The stone post of Jalaluddin’s tomb is on the same level with the tomb, and so it is known that he died a natural death (Abid Ali Khan, 126). Towards the end of the nineteenth century Alexander Cunningham undertook the first systematic study of the Eklakhi tomb. In his view, of the three graves the middle one belongs to Jalaluddin’s wife, the larger one on the east side is of Jalaluddin, and the western one belongs to Ahmad Shah (Cunningham, 88-9, xxiv).

The present writer’s on-the-spot study of the Eklakhi Mausoleum has shown that, in actual fact, it is the reverse. Jalaluddin’s grave which is the highest is to the west and that of Ahmad Shah to the east of Jalaluddin’s wife. This observation finds support in the identification of the graves by Munshi Ilahi Bakhsh mentioned earlier. To know the actual location of the graves, Cunningham’s plan of the Eklakhi


mausoleum will have to be seen upside-down. In Bengal as elsewhere in the Indian sub-continent, the direction of the qibla being on the west, the Muslims bury the body in a north-south position, head towards the north with face turned towards the qibla and feet towards the south. In the case of husband and wife being buried side by side, the husband’s grave is invariably on the west or the right of the grave of the wife. The central grave in the Eklakhi is laid on axis with entrances on the north and the south. This axial position of the central grave suggests that the person buried there was either the person for whom the mausoleum was primarily raised, or that the person predeceased the other persons buried there. Interesting parallels of such burial, though much later, are the burial of Mumtaz Mahal in the Taj Mahal and that of her grandmother, Asmat Begum in the mausoleum which is known after her husband’s name, Itimad al-Daula. The central grave in the Eklakhi Mausoleum has lost it’s original shape. Cunningham at the time of writing his report saw it with “a plain top” and deduced that it was of a female. Now as we see it, this and the other two graves all have vaulted tops making them indistinguishable to tell which is which. But the western grave believed to be of Sultan Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah retains it’s size higher than the other two.

The original plaster ornamentation on the interior walls of the Eklakhi Mausoleum is no longer visible. In Bengal the tradition of raising monumental sarcophagus developed early, a good example being the so-called tomb of Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah at Sonargaon. One can presume that the Eklakhi graves, when originally raised, had ornamental stone cenotaphs in harmony with the richly painted plaster decoration of the tomb-chamber. The cenotaphs may even have had inscriptions. The four low cells in each corner of the tomb-chamber of the Eklakhi Mausoleum deserve mention. According to Abid Ali Khan they were intended for the readers of the Quran (Abid Ali Khan, 126). Professor Dani’s argument that it was difficult to see how these dark dingy rooms were used for that purpose (Dani 1961, 79) can be refuted on the ground that these cells may not have been originally “dark dingy” as we see them today. They may have been plastered and painted and the colourful interior of the tomb-chamber must have lent some glow to these cells.

Later Ilyas Shahi Period

Nasiruddin Mahmud (1442-59), the first Sultan of the restored Ilyas Shahi dynasty, laid the foundation of the citadel and palace of Gaur which since Jalaluddin’s reign had once again began to be repopulated. At Gaur Jalaluddin erected a mosque, a reservoir, the Jalali tank and a caravanserai (Riyaz, 118). Professor Dani misread “Jalali tank” for Jalali tomb and identified the so-called Chika Building at Gaur, which has close structural similarity with the Eklakhi Mausoleum at Hazrat Pandua, as the Jalali tomb (Dani 1961, 85).

This single-domed square building is named Chika because of the bats that filled it’s interior. It is generally taken to belong to the same period as the Eklakhi


Mausoleum. The purpose of this building is much debated. Scholars identify it as a tomb, jail, mosque or office building (see The Chika Building in Chap- 3.1.2). On account of it’s similarity in size and style with the Eklakhi Mausoleum, Cunningham and Dani believe that the Chika Building is a tomb. However, there is no sign of any grave. Cunningham identifies it as a tomb of Nasiruddin Mahmud and his sons, Barbak and Fath and his grandson Yusuf (Cunningham, 56). Dani, as mentioned earlier, names it the Jalali tomb. The location of the Chika Building in what appears to be an administrative complex and it’s alignment on the east with the Gumti Darwaza– generally believed to be a Husain Shahi monument– raise interesting questions about it’s function.

No monumental tomb of the later Ilyas Shahi period at Gaur has come to light, except for the Chika Building whose funerary purpose cannot be ascertained with certainty. A large number of inscriptions are found all over the kingdom recording the erection of mosques, khanqahs, gates and tombs under the Ilyas Shahi sultans. The most important social development during Nasiruddin Mahmud’s reign was a steady expansion of Muslim colonization and settlement in different parts of Bengal, especially in the southern region. At the time buildings were being erected at Gaur and elsewhere in Bengal under the patronage of the later Ilyas Shahis, there appeared a group of buildings in Khulna, Bagerhat and Jessore, distinct in style from the prevailing style in Bengal and bearing some features like the tapering towers and simplicity of form similar to the Tughlaq buildings at Delhi. This style is called Khan Jahan style after Khan Jahan, the leader of this process of Muslim settlements in south Bengal, whose mausoleum at Bagerhat (Khalifatabad) is a rare example of a keenly documented funerary structure in Bengal. The stone sarcophagus over his grave inside the mausoleum contains Arabic and Persian inscriptions; one of the Arabic inscriptions records the deceased’s name, titles, aspiration and mission and the day, month and year of his demise and burial (863 AH/1459 CE). It is traditionally believed that the mausoleum was constructed in the lifetime of Khan Jahan at his expense. The inscription recording his demise must have been inscribed on the sarcophagus after he expired.

Mausoleum of Khan Jahan. The funerary complex of Khan Jahan consisting of his mausoleum and a mosque is erected on a high spot on the north bank of the Thakur Digi. Probably, this artificial lake was dug by the saint-general himself and the material excavated from it was used for building the embankment on which the complex stands. The mausoleum is a square, single-domed brick structure with engaged corner towers. Thus, it follows the plan and elevation postulated earlier in the Eklakhi Mausoleum. But interesting stylistic variations can be noticed in the Khan Jahan Mausoleum. It is smaller in size; the large dome is supported on squinches springing from stone brackets; the exterior walls are devoid of any ornamentation except for the string coursing beneath the gently curved cornice of the roof and on the corner towers, which


are round and not octagonal like the Eklakhi’s. The two mausoleums are also distinguishable in their purpose– the Eklakhi is a royal edifice to immortalize a dynasty; the Bagerhat monument is a dargah enshrining a missionary.

The Mausoleum of Khan Jahan is enclosed in an inner and outer enclosure wall.

Within the outer enclosure wall on the west is a single-domed square mosque stylistically identical with the mausoleum. Between the mosque and the mausoleum is a large stone sarcophagus, ascribed to Pir Ali or Muhammad Tahir, a close associate of Khan Jahan. A feature common in Muslim tombs in north India since the Early Turkish period, which is found in the Khan Jahan mausoleum, but so far not found in any other known tomb in Bengal, is the underground mortuary chamber or crypt (Leeuw, 174).

The entrance to the tomb-chamber is through arched doorways consisting of arches over stone lintels on the east, west and south walls; the north wall has an arched recess. A Muslim tomb in Bengal and elsewhere in the subcontinent is often closed for entrance on the north to show respect to the deceased whose body is laid in the grave with it’s head towards the north. This principle is more often adhered to in the tombs of saints. The vaulted-top sarcophagus of Khan Jahan lies in the centre of the burial chamber. A series of stepped terraces inlaid with variegated tiles, now much damaged, form the base of the sarcophagus which is embellished all over with Arabic and Persian inscriptions.

Mausoleum of Badr Pir. Badr Shah, popularly known as Badr Pir, is venerated as the guardian saint of Chittagong. He is associated with the spread of Islam in Chittagong. According to Professor Abdul Karim, Badr Shah was alive in 1340 when the Muslims first conquered Chittagong. The Mausoleum of Badr Pir, though smaller in scale, shares significant stylistic affinity with the Mausoleum of Khan Jahan. It is a square, single-domed brick building, originally built within an inner and outer enclosure wall on an elevated spot in the heart of the old parts of Chittagong town known as Badrpati. The mausoleum has undergone much renovation, over-painting and embellishment in recent times. It’s original curved cornice is now hidden behind the modern straight parapet. There is an indication that there were corner towers on the exterior of the tomb chamber. It’s large dome is carried on squinch arches springing from stone brackets; each arch contains a pair of niches for oil-lamps. The arched doorways on the south, west and east lead to the interior of the tomb-chamber; the narrow arched-opening on the north is closed with a modern window. An arch- shaped, defaced stone inscription slab is attached to the exterior of the west wall of the tomb-chamber. It’s shape might suggest that it is either the north or the south end of a stone sarcophagus.

The main entrance to the entire dargah area is from a stepped gateway on the west overlooking Badrpati Road. Across the Badrpati road, on the west, is a single-aisled rectangular mosque named Badr Aulia Dargah Jami Masjid. It has a large dome over the square space in the centre flanked by narrow vaulted areas on the north and the south.


Husayn Shahi Period

Sultanate architecture reached it’s most ornate phase under the Husain Shahis (1493­ 1538). Maturity of style was already achieved during the later Ilyas Shahis; now was the time for elaboration of style. Lavish use was made of stone for covering the brick walls and for decorative carving. Variegated glazed tiles added colour and exuberance to architectural surfaces. Numerous inscriptions on dargahs and other sacred buildings at Gaur and in other parts of the Husain Shahi kingdom record the constructions and repairs carried out by Sultan Husain Shah and his successors, especially Sultan Nusrat Shah.

Mausoleum of Shah Nafa. This small single-domed square brick mausoleum built on top of a mound at Munghyr (Bihar, India) is in the tradition of funerary structures raised over the graves of saints in Bengal. The mausoleum has four circular turrets at the corner and is built on a platform. According to an Arabic inscription on a slab of stone, found on the eastern wall of the mausoleum, it was built by Prince Daniyal, son of Sultan Husain Shah in 903 AH/1497-98 CE. As the date suggests, this was one of the early buildings erected during the reign of Husain Shah.

Mausoleum of Sultan Husain Shah. No trace is now found of Husain Shah’s mausoleum, which was destroyed in c.1846, and the graveyard of the later sultans of Gaur at Banglakot, outside the palace enclosure (Abid Ali Khan, 59). On the basis of the literary evidence provided by Orme, Franklin, Ilahi Bakhsh and the pictorial evidence by Creighton, a conceptual reconstruction of Husain Shah’s mausoleum can be formed. It is reported that one Captain Adams removed the black basalt sarcophagi from the graves of Husain Shah and Nusrat Shah for use in Fort William in 1766 (Dani 1961, 118).

The Mausoleum of Husain Shah was a dynastic funerary complex enclosed within a brick wall. As Creighton’s painting indicates, the mausoleum complex was entered through an imposing gateway consisting of a stone archway, flanked on either side by a massive brick minaret embellished with friezes of richly ornamented blue and white glazed terracotta.

The gateway opened into a large enclosure containing the graves of Sultan Husain Shah and other members of his family. A mosque is reported to have been located to the north of this mausoleum and near it were over hundred graves of kings and their relations (Abid Ali Khan, 59). Some ruined graves, located inside the enclosure of the Qadam Rasul built by Sultan Nusrat Shah at Gaur in 1530, are ascribed to princes and high officials of Husain Shah and Nusrat Shah. There is even a belief that the raised platform in the Qadam Rasul building on which was placed the footprint of the Prophet is the tomb of Nusrat Shah (Abid Ali Khan, 64).

The local chiefs and the Afghan rulers inherited patronage of architecture after the

overthrow of the Sultanate of Bengal by Sher Shah Suri in 1538. Of this transitional phase no monumental tomb has yet come to light. A small single-domed square



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