Monument of Love VIII: The Affable Sultan

So this one is a bit of grey area in the whole series. Though it doesn’t fit the traditional definition of love that we have encountered in the Monument of Love series, I am considering it one because in my opinion, infatuation and mania is a type of love. And, with the way the world of fandoms have evolved, from GoT to BTS and K-drama, this does fit that small niche in a way.

Mandu was a hotbed of drama while the Delhi sultanate under the leadership of Muhammad bin Tughlaq was facing their own set of challenges. Naseeruddin Dilawar Khan Ghuri who was the governor of Dhar, took advantage of this political tussle and Timur’s invasion in 1398, assumed complete control of Malwa, and declared himself an independent ruler of Malwa in 1401 AD. While court proceedings of the Ghuri dynasty was conducted out of the picturesque Mandu, it wasn’t until the accession of Alp Khan in 1406 as the next ruler, that the Ghuri dynasty flourished in the landscape of Mandu. Renaming himself as Hoshang Shah, Mandu gained further prominence in the chapters of history. The Ghuri Dynasty was eventually overthrown by the Khilji Dynasty led by Mahmud Shah I in 1436. The shift of reign from Khilji to the Gujrat sultans and then Humayun has its own story and dramatic impact.

The first independent Malwa ruler, Hoshang Shah, deserves a mention – not only because of his accomplishments in Mandu, but also because the man was so noteworthy in history that despite comissioning his own tomb, another ruler from a different dynasty (Khilji dynasty) completed it as an honour to the finest ruler of Mandu region.  

PC: Google

Hoshang Shah’s tomb is said to be India’s first marble edifice, that set a precedent for all Indo-Islamic architecture. Prior to this, marble facing was not done with respect to building mausoleums. The 86-ft square mausoleum of Hoshang Shah with 30 ft. high walls was built in
the Afghan style with cupolas on the top at each of its four corners. The characteristic Jali (screens) on the three sides adds further to its beauty. The mausoleum is also distinguished for having the largest dome in this Eastern part of the world. In fact, its popularity also attracted the attention of the emperor Shah Jahan. When Shah Jahan decided to build the Taj, he sent his architects to study Hoshang Shah’s mausoleum as part of their preliminary research of unique mausoleums. The date of visit is mentioned at the very beginning of the inscription as 9th of Rabi-ul-awwal, 1070 Hijri. The date is said to coincide with 14th December 1659 as per the Hijri calendar of Muslims.

“The humble beggar Lutfullah, an engineer, the son of Ustad Ahmad architect of Shah Jahan, Khawaja Sadu Rai, Ustad Sheo Ram and Ustad Hamid came on pilgrimage to this tomb and wrote these few words to commemorate it”. – Inscription left on the left pillar of the doorway records that on 14 December 1659 four architects of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan visited Mandu to pay homage to the building of the tomb.
PC: Saiyed Anwer Abbas

Clearly the men left inspired! You can see the remnants of the inspirations in the echoing domed interior and stone jalis – clear similarities between Hoshang Shah’s Tomb and the Taj Mahal.

The tomb is built on an elevated marble pavement, with three arched entrances, topped by a marble dome which is plain on the interior and decorated with blue tiles on the exterior. There are four other smaller domes on the sides. The four corners of the dome are conical shaped turrets, and the finial of the dome is crowned with a Crescent, a typical symbol of Islam. It is believed by the historians that this unique feature was introduced in Mandu from Mesopotamia. The main sarcophagus of Hoshang Shah is presented in the form of a casket with receding bands and with a mihrab moulded at the top. The carving is done with particular attention. 

I think my favourite part of the complex would be the effect of congruence of 81 pillars to appear as a point of singularity!

For some reason, the tomb of Hoshang Shah resonates with this quote:

“Do not yearn to be popular; be exquisite. Do not desire to be famous; be loved. Do not take pride in being expected; be palpable, unmistakable.”

C. JoyBell C.

May be its simply because the tomb was first of its kind in many ways within the realm of Indian subcontinent. Or maybe because the only “love story” it has is the fact that it witnessed human devotion for the ruler for his personality and not his personal life. Merit-based performance almost! Afterall, Hoshang Shah might have died in 1435, but his affable disposition and compassion ensured that he was loved by his subjects greatly. Over time, his tomb acquired a sacred character; in fact Urs (death anniversary) was celebrated by people till very late in the 19th century. Do you think I classed it correctly?

Further Readings:

You can read up on the rest of the Monument of Love series:

Monument I: Emperor, Soldier, Master Builder
Monument II: The Best Friend
Monument III: Gift from a Daughter
Monument IV: The Prince of Exile
Monument V: The Poet-Warrior
Monument VI: The Wazir and his son
Monument VII: The Mercenary

Related (and not-so related) Posts:

Madhya Pradesh


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