Humayun’s Exile and Return

The Background

Babur descended from the Hindukush mountains into the plains of Punjab and created an empire spanning from Badakhshan to Bihar.

He had many sons out of whom only four were important – Humayun (the eldest), Kamran, Askari and Hindal (the youngest).

Babur died in 1530 leaving a fragile legacy in the more fragile hands of his 20-year old son Humayun, challenged by the nobles and Kamran. Every opponent was waiting for the right opportunity to hit. Humayun, however, relied on astrology and stars instead of SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).

Indian Enemies and Clashes

Humayun had to face two threats  – Sher Shah Suri of Bihar and Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, who had also captured Malwa and Mewar.  Humayun failed to capitalise on his initial upper hand over both the rivals. Although Bahadur Shah was killed by the Portuguese in 1537, Sher Shah Suri took Bengal in 1538 and emerged as the biggest single threat to him.

Flight of Sultan Bahadur During Humayun's Campaign in Gujarat 1535
Los Angeles County Museum of Art [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The then 32-year old Humayun was clobbered twice by the 54-year old veteran Sher Shah, first at Chausa near Buxar in Bihar in 1539, and later at Bilgram near Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh in 1540.

The Run and Chase Game in India

Humayun fled Delhi to Lahore along with his family, few loyal courtiers, and bodyguards. At this time, his brother Kamran was hostile as ever and Askari was  with Kamran at Kabul. Hindal was 21, and had proved his administrative capabilities in the past decade. So his ambitions couldn’t be discounted either. Apparently Humayun was not welcome at Kabul. Instead, Kamran tried to join hands with Sher Shah.

Sher Shah was quick in capturing the Punjab. Sensing the danger of possible nexus between the pursuing Afghan and his brothers, Humayun was left with no choice except fleeing south across the Thar desert to Sindh, then ruled by the Arghun sultan Hussain Shah. Fortunately for Humayun, Hindal pledged allegiance to him.

Humayun reached Sindh in 1541 and unsuccessfully tried to win over Hussain Shah Arghun, an unexpected favour from a person whose father was expelled from Kandahar in 1522 by Humayun’s father, Babur. Although Hussain Shah allied himself with Babur, he initially refused help to Humayun. Hindal tried to besiege Sehwan, an Arghun stronghold in northern Sindh. All the efforts proved futile.

In the meantime, Humayun married Hamida Banu, the daughter of a Shia Sufi spiritual master from Sindh named Shaikh Ali Akbar Jami, in September, 1541. Interestingly, the chief consort of Humayun, Bega Begum, was married to him roughly at the time when Hamida was born. There are hints of existence of unexpressed mutual feelings between Hamida and Hindal. But Hindal expressed it in a rather strange way after Hamida’s marriage to Humayun, by deserting him. Then the loyalties started deserting him increasingly.

Being refused by Maldeo Rao of Jodhpur (Marwar) for help,  Humayun sought help of the Sodha Rajput, Rana Prasad of Amarkot (now Umerkot, Sindh). He, along with the pregnant Hamida Banu, reached Amarkot in August, 1542. Jalal (future Akbar) was born at Amarkot in October, 1542.

In 1543, finally the Arghuns of Sindh allied themselves with Humayun and he proceeded towards Kandahar with his ‘new army’ with a hope to unite with his brothers, then in Kabul, to reconquer ‘Hindustan’.

But he crossed the Indus, to reach near Kandahar in late 1543, to find that Askari was forced to acknowledge the authority of Kamran while the refusal by Hindal had earned him imprisonment. On the other hand, Sher Shah started building the strong and impregnable strategic fort of Rohtas near Jhelum in Pakistan’s Punjab (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to check the entry of the Timurids into India. To make matters worse, Askari was ordered by Kamran to capture Humayun who camped near Kandahar.

When Askari approached Humayun, he had nothing left in India to rely upon. He made quick yet calculated decision to flee further westward to the Shia Safavid Persia. He left behind the fourteen-month old Jalal (Akbar) at the mercy of the invaders. Askari not only adopted Jalal but also persuaded Kamran not to be harsh upon the baby. Kamran probably took Jalal as hostage. Nevertheless, the childhood of Jalal was to be spent in adventures in and around Kabul. Until Humayun’s return, Askari took care of Jalal and ensured his safety from Kamran.

Asylum in Persia

Humayun, Bega Begum, Hamida, and their forty loyal bodyguards took the northern route to Herat, then under the Safavid Persia, where they reached after a month-long torturous journey. At least here they received a royal welcome. But, it wasn’t unconditional.

At this time, Tahmasp I was the Safavid Sultan, the second one in his lineage, ruling since 1524. The imperial capital was Isfahan (Esfahan). The meeting between Humayun and Tahmasp in 1544 is depicted through a painting in the Chehel Sotun Palace of the city. Apparently, Hamida’s illustrious Shia background must have had strengthened the bonds between the two monarchs.

Safavid frescoes in the Chehel Sotun palace, in Isfahan
Humayun (to the left) is welcomed by the Safavid Persian ruler, Shah Tahmasp, at whose court he finds refuge in 1543 [Image Courtesy]
Tahmasp’s conditions were clear. Humayun had to shun Sunnism and accept Shi’ism. After all the current Shi’ism in Iran and Azerbaijan has direct connection with its Safavid past, which itself was actually the political manifestation of the Shia Safaviyya Sufi order from Azerbaijan, a region comprising of north-western Iran and a sovereign nation by that name.

Secondly, Humayun was to cede the strategic fort and town of Kandahar to the Safavids as soon as he captured it.

Such conditional asylum was nothing unusual for any prudent ruler like Tahmasp who repeated the brilliant move in the case of the fugitive Ottoman prince, Bayezid, who happened to be very capable military leader and brilliant administrator, and could apparently succeed Suleiman the Magnificent, the greatest Ottoman emperor.

So Tahmasp supported Humayun with 12,000 troops to recover his lost domains, except Kandahar.

Regaining the Lost Ground

Humayun besieged and took Kandahar from Askari in mid-1545. To add to his happiness, a simultaneous siege at Kalinjar in India killed his arch-rival  Sher Shah Suri in May. Nevertheless, Delhi would elude him for a decade.

Humayun proceeded to Kabul to confront Kamran, who found himself isolated as most of his allies and loyalists joined Humayun and forced him to leave Kabul without offering any resistance. This is how Humayun got Kabul in November, 1545.

Humayun showed his characteristic lethargy by not hunting down Kamran at this juncture. He instead indulged in festivities as he joined his lost son Jalal (Akbar) after a long. But the evasive Kamran managed to tease Humayun. Kamran took and lost Kabul twice, losing it forever in 1550. His resolution to dethrone Humayun was still there in his vindictive soul.

This was relatively easy time for him. In 1546, Humayun married Mah Chuchak Begum, a lady of military genius from Kabul. But this was to make the Kabul affairs complicated for his son Akbar as she bore Humayun two sons – Hakim and Farrukh.

In an attempt made by Kamran to retake Kabul in 1551, Hindal lost his life between Kabul and Peshawar. As a gesture of sympathy and gratitude, Jalal (Akbar) was married to Hindal’s daughter Ruqaiyyah Begum, who remained the chief consort of Akbar. Askari’s daughter Sakina too was married to Akbar.

Kamran did not give up. He asked for help from Sher Shah’s son, Islam Shah and the Ghakkars of western Punjab (now in Pakistan) who were loyal to Humayun, but was refused by both and instead captured and handed over to Humayun in 1552. A confused Humayun was under tremendous pressure this time from his loyals as the latter had lost too much and suffered from miseries for over a decade due to the former’s ill-sighted actions and indecisive behaviour. Humayun finally blinded Kamran and sent him on Hajj to Mecca, where he died in 1557.

Jalal (Akbar) was made the governor of Ghazni and he showed his mettle which he was going to prove in India over the rest of the 16th century.

Finally Delhi !

Sher Shah died in 1545. He was succeeded by Islam Shah Suri. In November 1554, Islam Shah Suri too died in Delhi, followed by quick successions to the throne. Islam’s minor son and successor, Firoz Shah’s was assassinated by his uncle, Muhammad Adil Shah. Adil Shah was overthrown by his brother-in-law, Ghazi Khan alias Ibrahim Shah. But Sikandar Shah declared his independence at Lahore and defeated Ibrahim at Farah near Mathura and became the emperor. This all happened within just six months, thus breaking the backbone of the Sur Empire.

Humayun had patiently waited for about 15 long years for the right moment to strike. And finally his penance paid off. With no rivals either in vicinity or between him and Delhi, he marched towards the de-facto capital of ‘Hindustan’ since centuries.

When the Sur civil war was going on, Humayun took Rohtas Fort, which Sher Shah had built to check Humayun’s entry into ‘Hindustan’, then Dipalpur and Lahore in early 1555. Finally, the decisive battle took place at Sirhind on 22nd June, 1555 in which, Sikandar Shah Suri was defeated and fled towards the Himalayas in today’s Himachal Pradesh. Still, Muhammad Adil Shah posed a considerable threat along with his trusted general, Hemchandra or Hemu. It was now Adil Shah’s and in effect, Hemu’s turn to wait for the better chance.

Rohtas Fort
Skazimr at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
His sudden success was less to do with his calibre, except promoting his Turcoman (Turkmen) companion and military commander Bairam Khan, who came to limelight through these victories. Sikandar could invade from the north. So the twelve year old Jalal (Akbar) was left in Punjab under the guardianship of Bairam Khan as Humayun headed for Delhi accompanied by his another trusted lieutenant, Tardi Beg.

Humayun triumphantly entered Delhi in July, 1555. It was a hard won victory which made him realise that reliance upon astrology is good only for entertainment and not for practical and tactical judgements. But this time, ironically, he was proved wrong again, not by any foe but a mishap. He lost his life in late January, 1556 due to the injuries sustained while descending the stairs of Sher Mandal (probably Sher Shah’s library or perhaps an observatory) in Old Fort (Purana Qila) in Delhi.

More than three centuries later, after this Mughal Empire established by Humayun was really over in all respects, the British historian Lane Poole rightly said – “he tumbled out of life as he had tumbled through it.”

Persia vis-à-vis the Mughal Empire

Mughals were already highly Persianised. In fact, the term ‘Mughal’ itself is the Persian word for ‘Mongol’. Humayun’s exile opened the gates for further and faster Persianisation and if one is honest enough, he would call Mughal Empire a ‘Persianate’.

References :

  • Humayun-nama by Gulbadan Begum
  • The Life and Times of Humayun by Ishwari Prasad
  • Humayun Badshah by S.K.Banerji
  • Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India by J.L.Mehta
  • The Mughal world : Life in India’s Last Golden Age by Eraly Abraham
  • Akbar, the Greatest Mogul by S.M.Burkhe
  • Medieval India under Mohammedan Rule by Stanley Lane-Poole
  • Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World by Ruby Lal

Kopeshwar Temple – Khidrapur

What it cannot make up for in size and scale, the Khidrapur temple makes up in grandeur and ornateness. This temple is dedicated to the wrathful form of Lord Shiva, known as Kopeshwar. Of the Shiva temples, this one is unique, in that the Nandi is absent. We don’t know why.

Khidrapur - Kopeshwar Temple
Khidrapur – Kopeshwar Temple


Long time ago, there lived a chief of Gods called Daksha. He was married to Prasuti, the daughter of Manu, who bore him sixteen daughters. Satī was the youngest of them all, and had her heart set on Shiva.

Daksha and Shiva did not see eye-to-eye. There was, to say the least, a general animosity; more on Daksha’s side. When Satī was of marriageable age, Daksha held a Swayamvar, where he invited all, except Shiva. Satī had made up her mind about who she would choose, but not seeing Shiva in the assembly, flung the garland in the air and asked of Shiva to accept it. Shiva appeared there, middle of the assembly – garland around his neck. Daksha had no choice, but to grudgingly accept; Satī and Shiva were married.

Much later, Daksha held an ashwamedh (horse sacrifice) – again, all Gods were invited to partake of the offerings of the sacrifice; except Shiva. When Satī heard of this she was furious and after an argument with Shiva proceeded to the sacrifice, uninvited. Some insults ensued, and Satī released an inward consuming fire and died at Daksha’s feet. (some versions say Satī self-immolated in the sacrificial fire)

Khidrapur - Kopeshwar Temple
Khidrapur – Kopeshwar Temple

Shiva soon got to know of this and was consumed with rage. In that state he tore a lock of his hair and flung it to earth, which gave rise to the frightful form of Virbhadrā, who wrecked havoc at the sacrifice. Daksha was beheaded, among other ‘divine’ casualties. Brahmā and Vishṇu had to intervene to stop the carnage. Shiva bestowed a goat’s head to Daksha and made good, all injuries caused. Thus, all was well; all those present bowed to the Trinity, and departed.

Khidrapur - Kopeshwar Temple
Khidrapur – Kopeshwar Temple


Construction of this temple was started by the Śilāhāra King, Gandarāditya I, (the youngest of five sons of Mārasimha) around 1126 CE (Some sources put the date at 1028 CE). For more information of dynasties of Maharashtra, see The Dynasties of Maharashtra

The Śilāhāras were originally feudatories of the Rāśtrakuta empire, and ruled in North Konkan, from around 800 CE. By 900 CE, there were three branches of the dynasty; apart from the original North Konkan branch, they now also ruled South Konkan and South Maharashtra (Kolhapur). Gandarāditya I (r. 1108 – 1138), of the Kolhapur branch, started the construction of the Khidrapur temple. Gandarāditya was a prolific temple-builder and is credited for building four temples in the region and providing grants for a few more, including Jain and Buddhist temples. Gandarāditya was succeeded by Vijayāditya and Bhōja II, after which this dynasty came to an end at the hands of the Seuna Yādavs.

Khidrapur - Kopeshwar Temple
Khidrapur – Kopeshwar Temple


Construction of the temple continued for over seventy years during the reign of his successors, Vijayāditya and Bhōja II. The structure was still incomplete when the Yādav king Singhana annexed the Śilāhāra kingdom, and remains such, to this day. Singhana also possibly contributed to the construction of the temple, according to some inscriptions in the temple.

Temple Architecture

Plan - Khidrapur Temple
Plan – Khidrapur Temple (Click to Enlarge)

The temple consists of the garbha-grha (sanctum), the antarāla (antechamber), the gūḍha-maṇḍapa (enclosed hall) and the raṅga-maṇḍapa, constructed in a row. Usually, there is a dvāra-maṇḍapa in front of such a gūḍha-maṇḍapa but here its place is taken  by a detached large octagonal maṇḍapa (called sabhā-maṇḍapa or ranga-maṇḍapa), as in the case of the Sun Temple at Modhera. Inside, are twelve pillars in a circle which open to the sky, because the ceiling was never constructed. It is believed by the local people that a pious man who stands on the slab below that opening, goes to heaven. Hence, it is also called the swarga-maṇḍapa.

The garbha-grha, the antarāla and the gūḍha-maṇḍapa are star-shaped on the outside Their walls are decorated with various images from top to bottom The lowest part of the jaṅghā (pillars) are adorned with beautiful figures of elephants (Gajapeetha), with various Gods such as Indrā, Brahmā and Vishṇu riding them. There are 92 such elephants, 46 on each side. (Adapted from CII Vol. 4)

Khidrapur - Kopeshwar Temple
Khidrapur – Kopeshwar Temple


The construction methodology followed is the dry mortar bedding technique. (ASI, Mumbai Circle)

Here’s another extract (with minor edits for consistency and readability) from the The Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency (Vol. XXIV – Kolhapur) about Khidrapur:

Khidrapur, lies on the Krishnā river about twelve miles south-east of Shirol. The chief interest of the village is the temple of Kopeshwar which lies in the centre of the village and is 10½’ x 65’ x 52½’ high, to the top of the dome. The walls are made of black stone richly carved and the dome is covered with stucco. To the main building are attached two richly carved sculptured mandaps or vestibules. In the vestibule are two concentric squares; the outer with twenty and the inner with twelve pillars, richly carved. In front of the temple is round roofless structure called the Swarga Mandapa or Heavenly Hall, on the plan of what would be a twenty-rayed star, only that the spaces for four of the rays are occupied by four entrances. On the outside on a low screen wall stand thirty-six short pillars, while inside is a circle of twelve columns. Further from the temple is the nagārkhāna or drum-chamber. The outer walls of the temple are broken at oblique angles as in the Nilang Hemādpanti temple.

By the south door of the temple is a Devgiri Yādav inscription of Sinhadev in Devnāgari dated Shak 1135 (A.D. 1213) granting the village of Khandaleshwar in Miraj for the worship of Kopeshwar.


Khidrapur is about 65kms south-east of Kolhapur and well laid out on Google Maps.



  1. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum. Vol. 6 Inscriptions of the Śilāhāras
  2. Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency Vol. 24 – Kolhapur
  3. ASI Mumbai Circle. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2017, from
  4. Gupta, S. P., & Asthana, S. P. (2009). Elements of Indian Art: Including Temple Architecture, Iconography & Iconometry. New Delhi: Indraprastha Museum of Art and Archaeology.
  5. Nivedita, S., & Coomaraswamy, A. K. (n.d.). Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists.
  6. Shilahara Dynasty. (2017, March 26). Retrieved March 30, 2017, from
  7. Virabhadra. (2017, March 28). Retrieved March 30, 2017, from

Gyaraspur Galleries | Chaukhamba & Hindola Torana

The Kachchhapaghata dynasty ruled the north-western parts of Madhya Pradesh during the 10th and 12th CE. They are assumed to be the progeny of the Nāgas and were the vassals of the Gurjara-Pratiharas and later, of the Chandelas of Central India.

Hindola Toran & Chaukhamba, Gyaraspur

Click to see details

This dynasty contributed much to art and architecture and many temples were built under their patronage. Their early work follows the Gurjara-Pratihara style, and later developed unique and new trends in temple construction.

The Vishnu Temple (some sources refer to it as a Trimurti temple) at Gyaraspur is one example of the Kachchhapaghata style of architecture. Not much remains of this temple except the four pillars (Chaukhamba) of the central sanctum and a gateway (Hindola Torana).

Monument Details

Click to see details

There are ornate carvings on the two sandstone pillars of the Hindola Torana depicting the ten incarnations of Vishnu; these beams carry two horizontal beams, with two ornamental arches between the two beams. This gateway is the southern entrance to the east-facing temple, which is believed to have been 150 ft east to west and about 85 ft north to south. The four pillars, Chaukhamba, are the central pillars of the hall, which are equally adorned by ornate carvings on all sides.

Gallery | Dashavataar, Hindola Toran

Click to see details


  1. Gyaraspur – A Heritage of Excellence. (n.d.). Retrieved March 02, 2017, from
    Jain, K. C. (1972). Malwa through the ages, from the earliest times to 1305 A.D. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 432-433
  2. Journal of History & Social Sciences. (n.d.). Retrieved March 02, 2017, from
  3. Kachchhapaghata dynasty. (2017, February 23). Retrieved March 02, 2017, from
  4. Vishnu Temple (Chaukhambha and Hindola-Torana). (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2017, from

Gallery | Hessing’s Tomb, Agra

Text of the information plaque at Hessing’s Tomb, Agra and the Tomb inscription (below gallery)

Hessing’s Tomb (1803 AD)

This is the tomb of Col. John William Hessing who was Dutch and came to Ceylon as a freelance adventurer. He participated in the battle of Kandy in 1765. Then, he served the Nizam of Hyderabad and in 1784, entered the service of the Maratha chief Mahadji Sindhia. He fought several battles under the command of the French general De Boigne. Mahadji trusted him the most, and Hessing accompanied him to Poona in 1792. On Mahadji’s death there in 1794 he returned to Agra which was held by Marathas. He was made commandant of the fort and its Maratha garrison in 1799. He died here on 21 July 1803. The fort was captured by the British the same year. His tomb was built by his children.

It stands on a square platform which 11.25 feet high and 58 feet side, containing a crypt with the real grave and a corridor around it. An octogonal chabutra is attached to each corner in the form of a mini-tower. Twin stairways are also attached to it on the western side of the platform measuring 22 x 8.75 feet. The tomb reposes effectively in the middle of the main platform. It is square in plan with 34.75 feet side and 28.5 feet in height. Each facade has an iwan in the middle, flanked on either side by ornamental peshtaq (alcoves). It is essentially a Mughal design. Slender turrets are attached to the central iwan frame. They are crowned by pinnacles. Square turrets, 2 feet side, are attached to the corners of the tomb. These have vertical flutes and are surmounted by beautiful square chhatris. The tomb is roofed by a double-dome, crowned by mahapadma (Sheath of lotus petals) and Kalash finial. With pinnacles and chhatris of the turrets, it makes up a perfect superstructure. The interior is a square chamber 17.75 feet side with ribs-and-panels soffit. The cenotaph bears an inscription in English. As a whole it is a perfectly balanced and beautiful building and is rightly called “A Taj in miniature.” This is in fact, the most beautiful tomb of a European at Agra, and probably in India. Though a Dutch tomb, it belongs in letter and spirit, to Agra and the art of the Jamuna-Chambal region. It marks continuance of Mughal “ideas”, “feelings”, and “skills” in 19th Century A.D

Tomb Inscription

1803 — HESSING, J. W. Colonel

John William Hessing, late a Colonel in the service of Maharaja Daulat Rao Sindhia, who, after sustaining a lingering and very painful illness for many years with true Christian fortitude and resignation, departed this life, 21st July 1803, aged 63 years, 11th months, and 5 days. As tribute of their affection and regard this monument is erected to his beloved memory by his disconsolate widow, Anne Hessing, and afflicted sons and daughters, George William Hessing, Thomas William Hessing and Magdalene Sutherland. He was a native of Utrecht in Holland and came out to Ceylon in the Military service of the Dutch E. I. Company in the year 1752, and was present at the taking of Candia by their troops. Five years afterwards he returned to Holland and came out again to India in the year 1733, and served under the Nizam of the Deccan. In the year 1784, he entered into the service of Madho Rao Sindhia and was engaged in the several battles that led to the aggrandizement of that Chief and wherein he signalized himself so by his bravery as to gain the esteem and approbation of his employer, more particularly at the battle of Bhondagaon near Agra in the year 1787, which took place between this Chief and Nawab Ismael Beg, when he then became a Captain, and was severely wounded. On the death of Madho Rao Sindhia in 1793, he continued under his successor, Daulat Rao Sindhia, and in 1798 he attained to the rank of Colonel and immediately after to the command of the Fort and City of Agra, which he held to his death.

[There is little to be added to the history given in the epitaph. He was born in 1740. There is no record of his adventures between 1763 and 1784. He served in De Boigne’s brigades of regular troops. The “several battles” are Lalsot, Chaksana and Patan. After Patan, he quarrelled with De Boigne and left him but Madhoji Scindia employed him to raise a bodyguard for him. which grew to 4 battalions. In 1800 he was compelled to resign his command by ill- health and retired as commandant of Agra to that city. He is described as a “good, benevolent man and a brave soldier.” His tomb is a miniature of the Taj in red Agra sandstone.]



  1. Blunt, Edward. List of inscriptions on Christian tombs and tablets of historical interest in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. Allahabad: Printed by W.C. Abel, Offg. Supdt., Govt. Press, United Provinces, 1911. Print. p. 46-47 Download.

Bidar Fort


A view of Bidar Fort from the top of Rangeen Mahal, looking out. Built in 1428 by Ahmed Shah Al Wali Bahamani
A view of Bidar Fort from the top of Rangeen Mahal, looking out. Built in 1428 by Ahmed Shah Al Wali Bahamani

Sultan Alla-Ud Din Bahman of the Bahmanid Dynasty shifted his capital from Gulbarga to Bidar in 1427 and built his fort along with a number of monuments in it. The fort was captured by Bijapur Sultanate in 1619–20, but fell to the Mughals in 1657; as a part of a Peace treaty.

The fort has five gates, 37 bastions and is surrounded by multiple moats. It houses multiple monuments, of which Rangin Mahal is the most decorated of them all. [Link]

Gallery | Sultan Bateri, Boloor, Mangaluru

Mangalore was an important town even during the early historic times referred to by Greek Geographers Pliny (23 AD) and Ptolemy (c. 150 AD). It was the capital of the Alupa rulers for a long time. In 1526 AD Mangalore was taken over by the Portuguese who were subsequently expelled by the Nayakas of Bidnur in the early 18th century. Haider Ali captured this place in 1763. In 1768, it went into the hands of the British.

Sultan Bateri, a watch tower, is said to have been built by Tipu Sultan to contain the warships into the Gurpur River. Though it is a simple watch tower, it looks like a miniature fortress with its many musket holes for mounting canons all round.

~ ASI Plaque at Sultan Bateri (Battery)

Click the images to view large images.

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Gallery | Haft Gumbaz

Text of the Archaeological Survey of India‘s information boards at Haft Gumbaz, Kalaburagi (Gulbarga), Karnatak.

Tombs and mausoleums represent a large portion of Islamic architecture in India. The culmination of this rich funerary tradition is, of course the Taj Mahal in Agra. Perhaps because it is among the most well known monuments of the sub-continent, it is easy [to] take for granted the grand manner in which deceased rulers and holy men have been honoured, a practice that seems difficult to reconcile with a religion that has a history of discouraging veneration of humans through monuments. The earliest Islamic tomb in the subcontinent was that of Iltutmish of the Mamluk Dynasty, built in 1236 AD. The interior of his tomb is decorated with inscriptions, from thirty chapters of the Koran, about the power and unity of God, and duties of the devout believer. [This] practice of Koranic inscription continued through the tomb-building tradition in India and is mostly associated with the promise of Paradise to the true believer. This promise is also reflected in certain architectural elements, which represent aspects of Paradise which is visible in many tombs of the Deccan, through floral motifs, in the painting of the domes, and carving of masonry starting with the Bahamani style. The second possible reason for the growth of the funerary culture in India is the need for leaders, who came from abroad, bringing new traditions, languages, and religion, to establish a lasting relationship with the […] people they ruled.

This first occurred in India through the sufi saints of the Chisti order, who were the first religious leaders to be buried in the subcontinent.

The sufi saints became the medium for discourse between locals and their new rulers.

This legitimised new sultanates simultaneously, as Muslim and Indian spaces.

In 1422 AD, Gaisu Daraz (Bande Nawaz) of the Sayyid family (descendants of the Prophet) was buried in Gulbarga, which transformed the Deccan from a land of infidels open for conquest by Muslim invaders, to an Islamic sultanate, under the Bahamani Dynasty.

The Bahamani rulers were buried near his tomb, to receive his eternal benediction, but at the same time, created an eternal bond with Gulbarga, validating and bearing testament to their rule.

The Haft Gumbaz, meaning “seven domes” is a mausoleum of the Bahamani royal family, located on the outskirts of Gulbarga.

Individual ambitions, not only of the kings, but of their ministers and commanders account for the rich funerary tradition among Deccan sultanates.

While the ministers often overthrew, blinded, and assassinated weaker rulers they did not declare themselves “shah” or “sultan” but continued to pay tribute to an overthrown king.

Perhaps their desire to maintain social order accounts for these grand tombs, dedicated even to short reigning or puppet rulers.

Four of the Haft Gumbaz tombs are identifiable as those of Mujahid Shah Bahamani, Daud Shah Bahamni, Shams-ai-din, and Ghyas-al-din Bahamani, and Firuz Shah Bahamani.

The earlier tombs show predominant Tughlaqi influence, while the latest and most elaborate tomb, that of Firuz Shah, shows traces typical of what became the Bahamani style of architecture, the first Islamic style of the Deccan that deviated completely from Tughlaqi precedents.

Conversations of the Dead

Sri Aurobindo wrote these dialogues in 1910 or shortly before. He published the first two in the Karmayogin in 1910. The other three were published in 1920–23 without his editorial supervision; the fourth, between Jay Singh and Chh. Shivaji is reproduced here, from his manuscripts.

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Shivaji, Jaysingh

JAYSINGH: Neither of us has prevailed. A third force has entered into the land and taken the fruits of your work, and as for mine, it is broken; the ideal I cherished has gone down into the dust.

SHIVAJI: For the fruit I did not work and by the failure I am not amazed nor discouraged.

JAYSINGH: Neither did I work for a reward, but to uphold the ideal of the Rajput. Unflinching courage in honourable warfare, chivalry to friend and foe, a noble loyalty to the sovereign of my choice, this seemed to me the true Indian tradition, preferable even to the unity and predominance of the Hindu races. Therefore I could not accept your overtures. But I gave you the opportunity to accept my own tradition and, when faith was not kept with either of us, I saved my honour and assisted your escape.

SHIVAJI: God extended to me His protection and moved the heart of a woman to give me love and aid. Traditions change. The ideal of the Rajput has its future, but the mould had to be broken in order that what was temporary in it might pass. Loyalty to the sovereign of my choice, that is good; but loyalty to the sovereign of my nation’s choice, that is better. The monarch is divine by the power of God expressed within him, but he has the power because he is the incarnation of the people. God in the nation is the deity of which the monarch must be the servant and the devotee. Vithoba, Virat of the Mahrattas, — Bhavani, incarnate as India, — in that strength I conquered.

JAYSINGH: Your political ideal was great, but your standard of means was abhorrent to our morality. Ruse, treachery, pillage, assassination were never excluded from your activity.

SHIVAJI: Not for myself I fought and ruled, but for God and the Maharashtra dharma, the religion of Hindu nationality which Ramdas enunciated. I offered my head to Bhavani and She bade me keep it to scheme and plot for the greatness of the nation. I gave my kingdom to Ramdas and he bade me take it back as a gift from God and the Mahrattas. I obeyed their commands. I slew when God commanded me, plundered because it was the means He pointed out to me. Treacherous I was not, but I helped my weakness in resource and numbers by ruse and stratagem, I conquered physical force by keenness of wit and brain-power. The world has accepted ruse in war and politics, and the chivalrous openness of the Rajput is not practiced either by the European or the Asiatic nations.

JAYSINGH: I hold the dharma as supreme and even the voice of God could not persuade me to abandon it.

SHIVAJI: I gave up all to Him and did not keep even the dharma. His will was my religion; for He was my captain and I his soldier. That was my loyalty, — not to Aurangzeb, not to a code of morals, but to God who sent me.

JAYSINGH: He sends us all, but for different purposes, and according to the purpose He moulds the ideal and the character. I am not grieved that the Mogul has fallen. Had he deserved to retain sovereignty, he could not have lost it; but even when he ceased to deserve, I kept my faith, my service, my loyalty. It was not for me to dispute the will of my emperor. God who appointed him might judge him; it was not my office.

SHIVAJI: God also appoints the man who rebels and refuses to prolong unjust authority by acquiescence. He is not always on the side of power; sometimes He manifests as the deliverer.

JAYSINGH: Let Him come down Himself, then, as He promised. Then alone would rebellion be justified.

SHIVAJI: From whence will He come down who is here already in our hearts? Because I saw Him there, therefore I was strong to carry out my mission.

JAYSINGH: Where is the seal upon your work, the pledge of His authority?

SHIVAJI: I undermined an empire, and it has not been rebuilt. I created a nation, and it has not yet perished.

शिवा-बावनी – ३ / Shiva Baavni – 3

The third of the 52; (बावनी)। We have an English and a हिन्दी translation. Scroll to the language of your choice.

We are very grateful to Shree Rajendra Chandrakant Rai, our Mentor & Advisor for teaching us the wonderful nuances, and helping us discover the beauty of Mahakavi Bhushan’s poetry.

प्रेतिनी पिशाचऽरु निसाचर निसाचरिहु,
मिलि मिलि आपुस में गावत बधाई हैं।
भैरौं भूत प्रेत भूरि भूधर भयंकर से,
जुत्थ जुत्थ जोगिनी जमात जुरिआई हैं।।
किलकि किलकि कै कुतूहल करति काली,
डिम डिम डमरू दिगम्बर बजाई है।
सिवा पूँछै सिव सौ समाज आजु कहाँ जली,
काहू पै सिवा नरेस भृकुटी चढाई है।।


भूरि = बहुत। भूधर = पहाड़। जुत्थ = समुदाय। जमात = संघ, झुण्ड। कुतूहल = तमाशा। दिगम्बर = महादेव। डिम डिम = डमरू बजने का शब्द। भृकुटी चढाई है = क्रोध किया है। शिवा = पार्वती। शिव = महादेव।


महाराज शिवाजी के द्वारा युद्ध की घोषणा करते ही तमाम प्रेतिनी, पिशाच, राक्शस-राक्शसनियां, भैरव-भूत, काली आदि सभी आनंद से उछल रहे हैं। वे एक-दूसरे के गलो लगकर बधाई-गीत गा रहे हैं। एक से एक भयंकर भूत-पिशाच और जोगिनीयों के झुण्ड के झुण्ड जमा हो रहे हैं। देवि कालिका किलकारियां लगाकर अपने हृदय की उत्सुकता को प्रकट कर रही हैं। और स्वयं शिव, जो ध्वंस के देवता हैं, प्रसन्नतापूर्वक अपना डमरु बजा रहे हैं। ऐसा वातावरण इसलिये बन गया है, क्योंकि सभी को यह आशा हो गयी है कि शिवाजी महराज रण-भूमि में पहुंचकर इतना नर-संहार करेंगे कि वे सब मांस खाकर और रक्त पीकर तृप्त हो जायेंगे।

शिव की पत्नीपार्वती देवि शिव से पूछ रहीं हैं कि यह सेना आज कहां जा रही है? क्या छत्रपति शिवाजी महराज की भृकुटी किसी पर टेढ़ी हो गयी है।

काव्य सुषमा:

१। अप्रस्तुत प्रशंसा अलंकार। इसे ब्याज स्तुति अलंकार भी कहते हैं।
२। पद में अनेक स्थलों पर अनुप्रास अलंकार है, क्योंकि एक ही वर्ण की आवृति एकाधिक बार हुई है।
३। पद में वीर रस है।
४। बुंदेली भाषा में पद रचना की गयी है।

English Translation:

pretinee pishaacharu nisaachar nisaacharihu,
mili mili aapus mein gaavat badhaee hain.
bhairaun bhoot pret bhoori bhoodhar bhayankar se,
jutth jutth joginee jamaat juriaee hain.
kilaki kilaki kai kutoohal karati kaalee,
dim dim damaroo digambar bajaee hai.
siva poonchhai siv sau samaaj aaju kahaan jalee,
kaahoo pai siva nares bhrkutee chadhaee hai.

Word Meanings:

भूरि = much, very. भूधर = mountain, जुत्थ = group, army. जमात = group, crowd. कुतूहल = specticle, frolic; also curiosity. दिगम्बर = Lord Shiva डिम डिम = the sound of a damru भृकुटी चढाई है = raised an eyebrow (depicting annoyance) शिवा = Parvati, Lord Shiva’s wife शिव = Lord Shiva.


Shivaji’s declaration of war has all the denizens of the netherworld in great excitement. Goblins, ghosts, devils, demons, and hell hounds alike are dancing with joy. They are in full embrace, greeting each other, celebrating.  Groups of these scary, mountain-like dwellers of the infernal world are merging into one crowd. Their happiness is because Shivaji is leading his army to the battle-field, and there will be death and destruction of the evil forces. The inhabitants of hell, will today feast on the flesh and blood of the dead. Goddess Kali is excited by this spectacle; she shows eager interest (since her purpose: the destruction of evil, will be fulfilled). Lord Shiva; the God of Destruction, plays the damru in continuous litany.

Parvati, Lord Shiva’s wife, asks where is this army of Shivaji headed? Who has incurred Shivaji’s wrath?

(In the verse, the poet uses a phrase that literally means, “caused Shivaji’s eyebrow to be raised” — implying irritation or annoyance, however describes the scene beforehand of destruction of enormous proportions.)

Poetic Beauty:

  1. This verse employs a type of metaphor in which the tenor is missing. Another quality is that it employs ब्याज स्तुति अलंकार – a figure of speech where blame, or negative connotations are used to praise someone or something.
  2. There is significant use of alliteration throughout the verse.
  3. The heroic metre in exaggerated form continues from the previous verses.
  4. The verse uses many words from the Bundelkhand region.

संदर्भ / References

  1. पं॰ हरिशंकर शर्मा कविरत्न। शिवा-बावनी, टीका-टिप्पनी, अलंकार तथा प्रस्तावना सहित। आगरा: रामप्रसाद एण्ड ब्रदर्स
  2. आनन्द मिश्र ‘अभय’।। शिवा-बावनी, छत्रसाल दशक सहित। लकनऊ: लोकहित प्रकाशन। २०१२
  3. आचार्य विश्वनाथप्रसाद मिश्र। भूषण ग्रंथावली। नयी दिल्ली: वाणी प्रकाशन। २०१२।

Featured Image: By Mir Muhammad [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons and Shilpi Awasthi

Ancient Places: Benares

Extract from “The Geographical Dictionary of Ancient and Medieval India” by Nundo Lal Dey, Luzac & Co., London, 1927.

Bārāṇasī: Benares situated at the junction of the rivers Barṇâ and Asi, from which the name of the town has been derived (Vâmana P., ch. III). It was formerly situated at the confluence of the Ganges and the Gumti (Mbh., Anuśâsana ch. 30). It was the capital of Kâśi (Râmâyaṇa Uttara, ch. 48). At the time of Buddha, the kingdom of Kâśi formed a part of the kingdom of Kośala.

According to James Prinsep, Benares or Kâśi was founded by Kâśa or Kâśirâja, a descendant of the Pururavas, king of Pratishṭhâna. Kâśirâja’s grandson was Dhanvantari; Dhanvantari’s grandson was Divodâsa, in whose reign Buddhism superseded Śiva-worship at Benares, though it appears that the Buddhist religion was again superseded by Saivism after a short period. In 1027, Benares became part of Gauḍa, then governed by Mahîpâla, and Buddhism was again introduced in his reign or in the reign of his successors Sthirapâla and Vasantapâla. Benares was wrested from the Pâla kings by Chandra Deva (1072—1096) and annexed to the kingdom of Kanauj. Towards the close of the twelfth century, Benares was conquered by Muhammad Ghuri who defeated Jaya Chand of Kanauj (James Prinsep’s Benares Illustrated, Introduction, p. 8; Vâyu P., Uttara, ch. 80).

In the seventh century it was visited by the celebrated Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsiang. He has thus described the city and its presiding god Viśveśvara, one of the twelve Great Liṅgas of Mahâdeva:

“In the capital there are twenty Deva temples, the towers and halls of which are of sculptured stone and carved wood. The foliage of trees combines to shade (the sites), whilst pure streams of water encircle them. The statue of Deva Maheśvara, made of teou-shih (brass), is somewhat less than 100 feet high. Its appearance is grave and majestic, and appears as though really living.”

The Padma P. (Uttara, ch. 67) mentions the names of Viśveśvara, Bindumâdhava, Maṇikarṇikâ, and Jñânavâpî in Kâśi (Benares). The present Viśveśvara, which is a mere Liṅga, dates its existence since the original image of the god, described by Hiuen Tsiang, was destroyed by the iconoclast Aurangzebe and thrown into the Jñânavâpî, a well situated behind the present temple. There can be no doubt that Benares was again converted into a Buddhist city by the Pâla Râjâs of Bengal, and Śiva-worship was not restored till its annexation in the eleventh century by the kings of Kanauj, who were staunch believers in the Pauranic creed. The shrines of Âdi-Viśveśvara, Veṇimâdhava, and the Bakarya-kuṇda were built on the sites of Buddhist temples with materials taken from those temples.

The temple of Âdi-Keśava is one of the oldest temples in Benares: it is mentioned in the Prabodha-Chandrodaya Nâṭaka (Act IV) written by Krishṇa Miśhra in the eleventh century A.D. The names of Mahâdeva Tilabhâṇḍeśvara and Daśâśvamedheśvara are also mentioned in the Śiva Puraṇa (Pt. 1, ch. 39). The Maṇikarṇikâ is the most sacred of all cremation ghats in India, and it is associated with the closing scenes of the life of Raja Hariśchandra of Ayodhyâ, who became slave to a Chaṇḍâla for paying off his promised debt (Kshemeśvara’s Chaṇḍ-kauśika; Mârkaṇḍeya P. ch VIII).

The old fort of Benares which was used by the Pâla Râjâs of Bengal and the Rathore kings of Kanauj, was situated above the Râj-ghâṭ at the confluence of the Barṇâ and the Ganges (Bholanath Chunder’s Travels of a Hindoo, vol. I). Benares is one of the Pîṭhas where Satî’s left hand is said to have fallen, and is now represented by the goddess Annapûrṇâ, but the Tantrachūḍāmaṇi mentions the name of the goddess as Viśâlâkshî.

There were two Brahmanical Universities in ancient India, one at Benares and the other at Takshaśilâ (Taxila) in the Punjab. For the observatory at Benares and the names of the instruments with sketches, see Hooker’s Himalayan Journals, Vol. 1, p. 67).

By James Prinsep (British Library [1]) [Public domain], <a href=

Benares is said to be the birth-place of Kaśyapa Buddha, but Fa Hian says that he was born at Too-wei, which has been identified by General Cunningham with Tadwa of Tandwa (Legge’s Fa Hian, ch xxi; Arch. S. Rep., XI), nine miles to the west of Śrâvasti. Kaśyapa died at Gurupâda hill. But according to Aṭṭhakathâ of Buddhaghosha, Kaśyapa (Kassapa) was born in Benares and died at Mrigadâva or modern Sarnâth (JASB., 1838, p. 796.) In the Yuvañjaya-Jâtaka (Jâtakas IV, 75), the ancient names of Benares are said to have been Surandhana, Sudarśana, Brahmavarddhana, Pushpavatî, and Ramya.


Featured image, courtesy Harini Calamur. Reproduced with Permission.