The Mosques of Kalinjar (Banda District, Uttar Pradesh):
Retracing Its History And Architecture


Assistant Professor & HoD
Presidency University
86/1 College Street
Kolkata, 700073, India
e-mail: salimzaweed {at}

Mosque architecture, especially in medieval India is a strong indicator of culture as well a record of power struggles. In history, Kalinjar, the site chosen for this study, is known as the site of the battle where, despite winning, Sher Shah died of wounds sustained due to the explosion of gun powder. This paper surveys the architectural features of mosques located at Kalinjar from the era of the Delhi Sultans to the Mughul Emperors. We can see how, in the same premises, mosque architecture undergoes change, enabling the reader to better trace the evolution of mosque architecture within one particular site.


The mosque was not only a place for prayer, but it also acted as a place for religious gatherings under the guidance of the imām in its early phase. The hypostyle hall, which was usually a rectangle with the short axis toward the mehrāb, was entered from an open courtyard surrounded by arcades. This courtyard would also be used for prayer when the congregation was large. This type of mosque is called “fourīwān”, from which different varieties were to evolve in the sundry lands where Islam spread.1 Little is known of the history and architecture of the mosques in and around the celebrated hill fort of Kalinjar2 , the impressive remains of which dominate the environs. All historical sources concur that the mosques were built at the very beginning of the Muslim occupation. In Kalinjar also, the political hold of the Mughuls is reflected in its architectural monuments, and a particular type of mosque was constructed throughout the region. Of the total number of dated mosques constructed in Kalinjar during the entire Muslim period (1203-1800), almost three-quarters were built between the mid-sixteenth century and midseventeenth century. Writing this short paper is inspired, first, by the disturbing scenes where the mosques are being demolished at the hands of communalists of present-day India. Secondly, the general absence of printed material on the Islamic religious architecture of Kalinjar as one of the sarkÉrs of sËba Allahabad under the Mughuls.

Mosques constitute one of the most highly developed forms of religious architecture. With the rapid expansion of the Muslim community through conquests as well as missionary activities, it became necessary to set aside an enclosed area in cities or large towns for congregational worship. The architecture of a mosque is shaped most strongly by the regional traditions of the time and place where it was built. As a result, style, layout, and decoration can vary greatly. Nevertheless, because of the common function of the mosque as a place of congregational prayer, certain architectural features appear in mosques all over the world. The mosque is not merely a place of prostration, facing Mecca. The Friday Khutba is of great importance as the regular acknowledgement of the authority of the Caliph and Governors and was so from very early times. Hence the mosque must contain a pulpit (mimbar). The mimbar is usually a permanent stone structure, with an odd number of steps, only occasionally made an object of decoration (splendid examples in the older Bengal mosques and in the Malwa Sultanate). Since the condition, also, require ablution before prayer, the mosque must contain a tank or fountain (ÍauÌ), and since Friday prayers are communal and attendance is obligatory, the mosque must be spacious enough to contain the faithful, arranged line by line facing the qibla. In many mosques, this is adjoined to an open courtyard, called a ÎaÍn, containing ÍauÌ for the wuÌË; this is usually placed centrally, except that in some mosques the ÍauÌ may be placed on one side of the central axis. One of the most visible aspects of mosque architecture is the minaret or mÊnÉr, a tower adjacent or attached to a mosque, from which the call to prayer is made. A mÊnÉr is by no means an invariable appendage to the Indian mosque; apart from a few occasional early instances, only in the Gujarat Sultanate, and in Burhanpur in Khandesh, was a functional mÊnÉr provided for the adhÉn before the Mughal period; after the 16th century, the mÊnÉr becomes common, but not invariable. The mihrÉb only indicates the qibla and does not represent or symbolise any godhead. It has generally been recognized that domes-either as single domical buildings - or as cupolas in larger complexes of buildings, have played a considerable part in Islamic architecture. Most mosques also feature one or more domes, called qubba in Arabic. While not a ritual requirement like the mihrÉb, a dome does possess significance within the mosque - as a symbolic representation of the vault of heaven. Some mosque types incorporate multiple domes into their architecture such as the mosques constructed under the Tughluq Sultans of Delhi, while others only feature three where the central one is larger than the flanking ones, such as the mosques constructed under the Sayyids, Lodis and the Mughuls. Besides that, there are certain elements which are typically Islamic; some structural, such as true arch, vault, squinch, minaret, and stalactite which are found in every country and some ornamental features, i.e., calligraphy, geometrical designs, floral motifs or arabesque.

The establishment of Turkish rule is significant in this respect. On the one hand, it gave rise to a new socio-political system in India, on the other hand it also marked the beginning of a new expression of art. It was a synthesis of two different kinds of art. One is the Islamic style and the other hand indigenous architectural style, termed by scholars as Indo-Islamic architecture. As far as Indo-Islamic architecture, is considered, generally, we have four types of mosques from the Delhi Sultans to the Mughul Emperors. The continuous history of the mosque begins with the Masjid Quwwat-ul- IslÉm in Delhi, founded immediately after the Muslim conquest in 587/1191. It is an open courtyard surrounded by cloister on the fourth side facing Mecca. On the western side, there is a prayer hall. There was liwÉn (in Arabic iwÉn- long narrow fronted hall) with three sides having entrances or gateways. An arched screen or maqsËra was added in 1199. This is on the fashion of Ghurid mosques borrowed from the Iranian architecture of that time. The three sides’ ÊwÉn in their middle have vaulted roofs. In this way, it is a four-ÊwÉn mosque. Under the Tughluqs the traditional four ÊwÉn mosques having a single courtyard surrounded by cloisters on three sides and the western side have prayer chamber further developed into a cruciform plan, means that divided into by two additional covered cloisters running east-west and north-south and intersecting each other at the centre. But this cruciform plan did not gain much favour in the subsequent reign.

The description of medieval monuments in general and mosques in particular at Kalinjar is not easily found in the works published so far; however, there have been sporadic attempts by certain individual scholars to address them. Since the monumental research paper on Kalinjar by Lt. Maisey published in the Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal 3 , not much has been written about the medieval monuments. When in 1882, Alexander Cunningham and his team attempted a fresh study of the Bundelkhand region; they also consciously shaped their work in the form of a survey report.4 An important contribution to the study of Kalinjar was made by Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi5 and Ishrat Alam6 in 2002. Based on contemporary source material - Persian chronicles, histories, accounts, letters, and the records of foreign travellers - Rezavi and Alam gathered useful information regarding the medieval history of the fort and its architectural style and economic importance during the Mughul period. The research paper of Rezavi also contains a list of 87 inscriptions referred by earlier historians7 or reported in the Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal and Annual Report on Indian Epigraphy 8 . Although impressive, the list is not comprehensive; more so, since a large number of Persian inscriptions over mosques in and outside the fort of Kalinjar are not included. The subsequent works of Peter C. Bisschop9 and Vinod Kumar10 as research papers are mostly confined to the preChandella inscriptions and waterworks of the hill fort. Despite a host of published works on it, textual sources shed little light on the mosque architecture in and around the Kalinjar fort along with their Persian inscriptions. Close scrutiny of the mosques and their Persian inscriptions (not published earlier) is necessary to understand how much of the construction achieved under SËrs and Mughuls. Secondly, as we have seen in the brief survey of the modern works, there have been very few attempts to deal with the Kalinjar city as a whole. Most of the above mentioned research papers and books deal primarily with the antiquities of the Kalinjar fort only and have very little to add to our knowledge of the surrounding areas of the town. The present paper collates information collected through surveys with the available textual information and seeks to answer some of the questions raised earlier. I have also tried to extend the study beyond the Kalinjar fort.

The town and fort of Kalinjar [Kâlanjara] (Map I & Fig. 1) are currently located in the village of Tarahti under the Naraini tÉhsÊl of Banda11 district, Uttar Pradesh. It is known more for its impregnable hill fort than the town around 33 miles southeast of Banda in the Bundelkhand region.12 Situated below the Kalinjar hill, the township, known as Tarahti was encircled by ramparts which were punctured with four gateways of which just one survives. Stays of the northern entryway, known as Kampta Phatak on the Badausa-Kalinjar road, and the western gate, the Panna Phatak, which divided the Tarahti and Katra as two settlements also survive in fragments. The Rewa Phatak situated in the northwestern part of Tarahti, is the only surviving gate (Fig. 2).

Map I: Layout of the Monuments in and around the Kalinjar fort

Index to the Map I

  • 1. Daflon ki Masjid

  • 2. Mosque in front of Rathod Mahal

  • 3. Rathod Mahal

  • 4. Âlamgir DarwÉza

  • 5. Ganesh DarwÉza

  • 6. Chandi/Chauburji DarwÉza

  • 7. Mosque near the dargÉh of Mahdi Shahid 

  • 8. Budhabhadra DarwÉza

  • 9. Gate leading to Balkhandi Mahadeo

  • 10. Hanuman DarwÉza

  • 11. Hanuman Kûnd

  • 12. Lal DarwÉza

  • 13. Bhairon KËnd

  • 14. Bada DarwÉza

  • 15. Sita Sej

  • 16. Sita KËnd

  • 17. Patal Ganga

  • 18. Pandu KËnd

  • 19. Budhbhadra Talao (“Budhi Budha/burhiya”)

  • 20. Pani ki Aman KËnd

  • 21. Bhagwan Sej

  • 22. Sidh ki Gupha

  • 23. Panna Gate

  • 24. Bhairon ka Jhirka

  • 25. Mrigdhara

  • 26. Bijli Talao

  • 27. Raja Aman Singh Palace

  • 28. Koth Tirth

  • 29. Islam Shah Mosque

  • 30. Moti Mahal

  • 31. Zakira Mahal

  • 32. Rang Mahal

  • 33. Rani Mahal & Venkat Bihari Temple

  • 34. Sanichari Talao

  • 35. Qanâti Mosque

  • 36. Graveyard

  • 36 A. Mosque

  • 37. Tomb II

  • 38. Tomb I

  • 39. Chaube Mahal

  • 40. Taliyya TalÉo (“Ramna”)

  • 41. Dak Bungalow

  • 42. Ram Kotora TalÉo

  • 43. Nilkantha Temple

  • 44. Parmarddi Gate of Nilkantha Temple

  • 45. Mosque

  • 46. Mosque

  • 47. Lahad ki Kothi

  • 48. Lahad Pahadi

  • 49. Water tank with a square room

  • 50. Haveli

  • 51. Idgah

Fig. 1:

Painting of Kalinjar fort of 1814 (Source: British Library Online Gallery; Watercolour view of the fort at Kalinjar in Uttar Pradesh by Colin MacKenzie (1754- 1821) in May 1814. Inscribed on the front in ink is: 'East View of Kalangar in Bundelkand. May 1814)

Fig. 2: Rewa Phatak

In medieval times, Kalinjar fort had assumed great political and economic significance as is evident from the historical references. While giving a record of Kalinjar’s invasion by QutubuddÊn Aibak (r. 1206- 1210)13, Hasan NizÉmÊ in his TÉjul Ma’athir14, states that ‘the fort of Kalinjar was as strong as the wall of Alexander was taken’. Similar accounts were also given by the NizÉmuddîn Ahmad15 , Órif QandharÊ 16 , and AbË’l Fazl (1551-1602)17. The foundation of the fort has been allegedly referred to Chandra Bhim, the presumed progenitor of the Chandel group of Rajputs in the ninth century. Before the end of the thirteenth-century, the citadel went under the control of the BundelÉs. How long the stronghold stayed under their ownership is quite difficult to state.

Investigation in and around the citadel of Kalinjar uncovers thirtythree medieval buildings of which sixteen are sacred and eighteen civil [Appendix I]. Eight mosques, one kund (water tank), two tombs, two graveyards, an ‘IdgÉh and a temple are among the sacred buildings. Nine gateways, seven palaces and two havelÊs make up the civil structures.18

Of the eight mosques surrounding the stronghold of Kalinjar, the one placed in the center of the fort and constructed close to the SanÊchari TalÉo seems, by all accounts, to be the earliest. Compositionally it tends to be dated to the Tughluq period. The cyclopean walls, tapering bastions and a weighty facade of lime mortar are altogether suggestive of design under the Tughluqs (1320-1413). On top of the central mihrÉb is fitted a marble-stone recorded with the kalima and nad-i Ali (Plan 1 & Fig. 3). The high plinth over which the main structure is raised gives it a fortress-like attribute.19 The domical end of the turrets is beautifully decorated with inverted lotus carvings.

A list of the regions from where Babur earned his income includes the name of Kalinjar, shows that by 1528, Kalinjar fortress had moved on into Mughul occupancy.20 In 1538, when Sher Shah (r. 1540-1545) was able to expel Humayun from the throne and, during this interregnum, and proclaimed himself the ruler over the whole of northern India, Bengal, Punjab, Sindh and Rajputana, the fort was ruled by the Baghela chiefs of Gwalior. In 1545 when Sher Shah (1540-1545) assaulted the fortress of Kalinjar, the stronghold was held by Raja KÊrat Singh, the Baghela.21 Subsequently, the fort was captured by the Sûrs in a famous battle fought in 1545, in which Sher Shâh lost his life, on 13 May 1545.22 After his unfortunate death through a blast, his elder son Jalal Khan took charge of the fort and crowned himself taking the the title of Islam Shah.23

Fig. 3: QanÉti Mosque

Plan 1: QanÉti mosque near the SanÊchari Talao

Fig. 4: Lahad Pahar

Fig. 5: Lahad Kothi

Towards the west of Kalinjar fort is a little hillock famously known as Lahad 24 Pahadi [No.48, Map I], where Sher Shah was supposedly buried at first. The only remaining surface is a rectangular platform measuring 8.22×7.31 meters consisting of dressed stones joined to a lime mortar (Fig. 4). Perhaps this elevation or platform was the first resting place of Sher Shah who was eventually laid to rest at Sahsaram. But historians differ regarding whether his coffin was later removed to his native town since his body was severely burned and mutilated.25 Just a handful of the buildings designed during the reign of Sher Shah and Islam Shah (r. 1545-54) have survived the current century. The Lahad Kothi a way off of the two kilometers of Kalinjar fortification to the west was the location of Sher Shah’s original campsite when he came to lay siege to this fort. It is square in plan and has a trabeated entrance to the east. Several square chambers are also constructed around the main structure (Fig. 5). The rectangular room measuring 10.25 × 5.70 meters at the center having entrances towards the east and west is capped by a bangaldar roof. The structure is constructed with the help of lakhauri bricks and lime mortar covered by a thick layer of the pilaster.

Plan 2: Islam Shah Mosque

Fig. 6: Islam Shah Mosque

As indicated by the sources following the crowning ceremony, the first structure built by Islam Shah was a mosque called the Masjid Islam Shah [Plan 2 & Fig. 6]. It is located on the north bank of Kot Tirth (a water reservoir) opposite to the Aman Singh Palace. It is a rectangular single-storied building measuring 13.50 meters long and 8.50 meters wide from outside. Constructed over a high plinth, the mosque is entered through 1.50 meter five-trabeated entrances, the whole being enclosed by a wall which is one meter thick and is covered with a thick plaster of lime mortar. There are no domes or vaults. The prayer chamber is covered by a flat ceiling resting on intently positioned columns. Structurally, it is like any other mosque in the region. It is seven aisles and three-bay deep. The western wall has two open ogee arched entrances while the central arch in front of a rear-projected wall which probably could have been the central mihrÉb, formed of an elegant pointed arch whose spandrels were beautifully adorned through carvings of ‘Allah’. The mimbar estimating 1×2×1.5 meters (L×B×H) is located right in the center in front of the central mihrÉb. There are currently two small gates to the north and south of the western wall, which once closed and formed blind arches. It is fascinating to take note that no column shafts of this mosque are similar. It can be inferred from this, that it was built with the assistance of re-utilized materials. A pre-existing structure has possibly been turned into a ‘mosque’. The front open courtyard is protected by plain stone-masonry walls. From the remains of the present, it is clear that along the sides of this courtyard there are no riwÉq or cloisters.

According to an inscription, engraved over a column-shaft of the western liwÉn (prayer chamber) that this place of worship was raised soon after Islam Shahs coronation at the fort in 1545 A.D where the first khutba (sermon) in the name of Islam Shah was read. The full text but it is not clear but it is described here.26 It additionally creates the impression that a noble named Khan-i Alam was put in-charge and the hill fort was re-named as Sherkoh. After the sudden demise of Sher Shah in the battle of 1545 A.D, Jalal Khan as the heir apparent assumed responsibility for it. His coronation took place there and he assumed the title of Islam Shah. The inscription of the Islam Shah mosque has already been known for a long time, ever since the Cunningham’s report on Kalinjar in his Reports of a Tour in Bundelkhand and Rewa in 1883-84. Still earlier is the very brief reference in the ‘Description of the Antiquities at Kalinjar’ by Lieutenant F. C. Maisey, published in 1848.

Fig. 7: Mosque in Masoni Village

It has a chronogram showering praise on Islam Shah for his achievements. If oral tradition is reliable, during his blockade of the stronghold, Sher Shah also built another two mosques [Nos. 45 & 46, Map I] situated on the north and south side of the Masoni village. Be that as it may, without engravings or solid historical explanations, it is hard to decide to which specific date the works have a place with. Notwithstanding, the existing western wall of one of these mosques and the remnants of the subsequent one shows that they were, like most others qanÉti mosques of the late seventeenth-century (Fig. 7). This conclusion is upheld by the way that these mosques materially and compositionally take after mosque No. 2 on the Map which is dated to the reign of Aurangzeb (r. 1659-1707).27

The second phase of mosque construction started with the Mughul re-occupation of Kalinjar under Humayun’s son and successor, the great Akbar (r. 1556-1605). It took place in A.D. 1569, and Majnun KhÉn QaqsÉl28 was appointed as the first Mughul qil adÉr of the fort.29 Between 1674-1700, the citadel went into the hands of Bundelas under the leadership of Chhatrasal (r. 1675-1731). The Mughuls did not permanently reoccupy it until the last decade of the reign of Aurangzeb.30 It was only through propitiatory arrangement towards the Bundelas that the imperial powers were able to recover the Kalinjar sarkÉr in 1701 once again. From 1704 until the beginning of the reign of Bahadur Shah

(r. 1707-12), the qil adÉri of Kalinjar stronghold was in the possession of Mîr Qulî (1704), Muhammad SharÊf (1704-1705), Shaikh HÉmid (1705) and Bahramand Khan respectively.31

Fig. 8: Mosque with graves

A mosque (no. 36 A, Map I) ascribed to the Mughuls in the center of the fort, is situated inside a graveyard. Constructed on an one-meter high stereobate, it is measuring 3.50 meters from east to west and 8 meters from north to south covering an area of 6.20×2.50 meters [Plan

3]. There are three identical pointed arches on the mihrÉb, encircled by small niches or ÏÉqs on each side (Fig. 8). Several masonry graves are situated in front of this mosque over a raised platform. The lack of inscription makes it hard to assign this structure an exact date, yet the architectural characteristics proposed that this anonymous mosque was raised during the later Mughal era.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth century, a number of other mosques large and small were constructed within the town as well as around the fort. Presently most of them are in a deserted condition. All these mosques are of qanÉti (screen) type, that is structures comprising of a qibla (western) wall with arched recesses (mihrÉbs) fronting an open quadrangle or platform, dating from the reign of Aurangzeb (r. 1659-1707) to that of Farrukh Siyar (r. 1713-19). Also known as namÉzgÉh32, ‘place of prayer’, the qanÉti mosque is in general the open structure built usually to the west of a town, consisting solely of what in a mosque would be the western wall, with mihrÉb (s) and mimbar and, essentially, within a spacious enclosure which should be capable of accommodating the entire adult male Muslim population of Kalinjar. The wall-structure may stand at the western end of a large paved area (ÎaÍn), but there is usually no hauÌ for ablutions. It is a kind common during the Lodi period in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Technically, it is an arcade and such arcade- walls were built in ‘IdgÉhs and graveyards for facilitating ‘Fatiha’ prayer, during the whole medieval period (1192-1803 A.D.). At their inception, qanÉti masjids might have been perambulatory tent-mosques; the term qanÉt might have been meaning canvas or tent because it had no roof and was covered by a shÉmiÉna. In their sedentary, stone and mortar incarnations, these mosques were constructed on a small qibla wall. The west screen wall has exquisite designs of the mihrÉb with the three/five lobed recessed arches in different decorative forms are a striking feature of these mosques. The central mihrÉb is emphasized by raising the wall and flanking minarets. There is also a back wall on the north and south. The entire walls are beautifully decorated with battlemented friezes. Sometimes, as in the mosques in Saket, Delhi, the remnants of the open courtyard are enclosed by low walls and are still visible. These mosques were generally built of rubble masonry covered by a thick layer of lime mortar and courtyard approached by a flight of steps. The most probable reason for the construction of this type of mosque was the easy construction with minimum cost and time.

The mosque [no. 2, Map I & Plan 4] located near the Rathod Mahal is the earliest example datable to the reign of Aurangzeb (r. 1659-1707). The open prayer hall containing mihrÉb formed an elegant pointed arch with subsidiary arches on either side, the whole interspersed with carved niches (Fig. 9). A slab of gray sandstone with a Persian inscription of two lines etched in Nasta lÊq characters over the central arch of this mosque, dating the building to A. H. 1114/ 1702-03 AD.33

Below is the original text of the Persian inscription:

Translation as continuous text
In the name of God the Most Merciful and Compassionate
During the (reign) of mortal day (Emperor)
A magnificent and glorious mosque (was) constructed!
If (you) searching its history
Than (you) understood through the visible sign!

During the rule of Bahadur Shah (r. 1707-12) in 1709-10 A.D, another mosque [No. 7, Map I] was built in the middle of the Ganesh DarwÉza and the Chauburji DarwÉza close to the DargÉh of Mahdi Shahid.34 Built on a 2.60-meter high plinth, measuring 10×6 meters from east to west and north to south respectively, this qanâti type is fronted with an elevated platform in the type of a patio [Plan 5]. There are five arches of similar size on the mihrÉb of this mosque, flanked by a small niche on each side. The inscription in Nasta lÊq characters engraved over the central arch of the mihrÉb testifies the erection of the mosque under Bahadur Shah’s reign (Fig. 10).

Below is the original text of the Persian inscription:

Translation as continuous text :

The house of God (mosque) is built by the Munificence of God, The garden of eminent paradise draws out his (King’s) strength! If any one wished to know the occasion (majesty), Say God is pleased

In was built in the reign of Shah Bahadur (Bahadur Shah),

Subsequently, under Farrukh Siyar (r. 1713-19), locally known as Dafalion ki Masjid [no.1, Map I] was built in Katra and is dated December 16, 1715 AD.35 Presently, in its original shape, only the western wall remains. Like the others, it is also a qanÉti mosque (Fig. 11). First reported in the Annual Report on Indian Epigraphy, the damaged Persian engraving in Nasta lÊq characters makes this much clear that the mosque was built by a Mughul noble known as Khizr Khan.36

The next stage of development concerning mosque construction comes under Shah Alam II (r. 1760-1806). The IdgÉh [no. 51, Map I], located at the four-kilometers northeast of the fort towards the Baghel Bari Road, is the finest example of the qanÉti type mosque. The IdgÉh in Muslim settlements in India is often a substantial building of some artistic merit, e.g. the Bahmani idgâh at Bijapur. There are many more fine ÊdgÉhs all over the country, but unfortunately few have been preserved. The structure is used only for the celebration of the two ‘Eîd festivals (Eid al-adha and Eîd al-fitr), and no special sanctity attaches to it.

It was constructed on February 13, 1766. Built on a 1.30-meter high plinth, the mosque was raised nearly to the level of the terrace. The prayer chamber along with the frontal open-courtyard is 20 meters long and 11.40 meter wide [Plan 6]. Five multi-foliated arch mihrÉb adorned the western wall (Fig. 12). Carved floral designs over the spandrels and lotus at the apex are the other mode of decoration. In addition, octagonal towers capped with small domes are constructed in each corner for further strength. Constructed with random rubble held together with lime is covered with a thick plaster of lime mortar.

To sum up, the survey and the study of the mosques and their Persian inscriptions in and outside the Kalinjar fort, I would like to emphasize that these monuments built over a period and reflect the evolution of qanÉti style in Central India. Moreover, it is deduced from the study that geography, played an important role in the development of one particular type of mosque. The reason behind the development of the above-mentioned type is Kalinjar’s strategic importance for the medieval Indian rulers. Their study further highlight that the mosques constructed under the Mughuls in various places of North India has hardly any cultural and architectural influence over this region. To conclude, I would like to introduce hitherto unpublished Persian inscriptions from Kalinjar. These inscriptions are likewise pre-Mughul and Mughul. All mentioned inscriptions are in a bad condition and some are incomplete. A prominent feature of the scripts is in Nasta lÊq characters, particularly under the Mughuls. All in all, the inscriptions attest to the presence of wealthy Mughul nobles at Kalinjar and are unique in providing us a historical narrative of vibrant Islamic culture. Kalinjar arguably has not yet received its due place in the historical writings of medieval India. It is also a splendid site for studying the history of Central India on the ground. It is a distinct possibility that the majority of the above-mentioned mosques in Kalinjar will disappear soon, and their names and marks will not remain; to be replaced by more modern buildings, as the older buildings were unfortunately not protected. During the three days of violence in North East Delhi starting on February 24, 2020, for example, at least 14 mosques and a Sufi dargÉh were burnt and destroyed systematically by the rioters.37 These buildings offer an insight into the nature of the architecture of the first mosques constructed in Kalinjar. If this information is lost, our understanding of the nature of early Islam in the Bundelkhand region of Central India will surely be less complete.

APPENDIX-II (Illustration of the Inscriptions)

1. Inscription on Islam Shah Mosque

2. Inscription on the mosque in front of Rathod Mahal

3. Inscription on the Mosque near the Dargāh of Mahdi Shahid

4. Inscription on Idgāh

Notes and References :

1.Jale Nejdet Erzen, ‘Reading Mosques: Meaning and Architecture in Islam’, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 69, No. 1, 2011, p. 126.; Syed Mahmudul Hasan, Mosque Architecture of Pre-Mughal Bengal, Bangladesh, University Press Limited, 1979, pp. 1-7.

2.Abûl Fazl, AkbarnÉma, ed. Agha Ahmad Ali, Vol. I, Calcutta, Asiatic Society of Bengal, p. 498-499; A. Fuhrer, The Monumental Antiquities and inscriptions in the North-Western Provinces and Oude, Varanasi, reprint, 1969, pp. 149-154; Edwin T. Atkinson, Statistical Descriptive and historical Account of the North-Western provinces of India, Vol. I, Allahabad, pp. 446-473.

3.Lt. Maisey, ‘Description of the Antiquities at Kalinjar’, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, March 1848, pp. 171-200.

4.Archaeological Survey of India- Report, A Tour in Bundelkhand and Rewa (1883-84), ed. Alexander Cunningham, Vol. XXI, 1884, Part I-II.

5.Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi, ‘The Medieval Fort of Kalinjar and Its History’, Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Vol. 63, 2002, pp. 1233-1259.

6.Ishrat Alam’ Medieval Kalinjar: An Economic Profile’, Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Vol. 63, 2002, pp. 308-315.

7. A. Fuhrer, The Monumental Antiquities and Inscriptions in the North-Western Provinces and Oude, Varanasi, reprint 1969; Edwin T. Atkinson, Statistical, Descriptive, Historical Account of the North-Western Provinces of India, Vol. I, Allahabad.

8.Annual Report on Indian Epigraphy for 1969-1973.

9.Peter C. Bisschop. ‘Two Pre-Chandella Inscriptions from Kalanjara’, Indo-Iranian Journal, Vol. 56, No. 3/4 , 2013, pp. 279-294.

10. Vinod Kumar Singh, ‘Water Works at Kalinjar Fort: An Archaeological Survey’, Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Vol. 73, 2012, pp. 1212-18.

11.See Atkinson, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 61-62; Fuhrer, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 146; Banda: A District Gazetteer, Vol. XXI, District Gazetteer of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, ed., D. L. Drake Brockman, The Superintendent, Allahabad, Government Press, United Provinces, 1929.

12.Abûl Fazl, Aîn-i Akbarî,, trans. Jarret, Vol.I, Calcutta, 1948, pp. 170 71; Archaeological Survey of India-Reports, Vol. XXI, p. 21; Bhattacharya N. N., The Geographical Dictionary (Ancient and Early Medieval India), New Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 1991, pp. 164-65; Shah Kirit. K, Ancient Bundelkhand, Delhi, Gian House Publication, 1988, pp. 52-53.

13.For detailed political history of Kalinjar fort see, Dr. S. A. N. Rezavi’s “The Medieval Fort of Kalinjar and its history“, Proceedings of Indian History Congress, 63rd session, Amritsar, 2002, pp. 1232-1251.

14.Hasan Nizami, TÉjul Ma’âthir, MS. F.185(b); for translation see Elliot and Dowson, History of India as Told by its own Historians, Vol. II, London, 1869, pp.231-32; See also Fakhr-i Mudabbir, Tarikh-i Fakhruddin Mubarakshah, ed. Denison-Ross, London, 1927, p. 25.

15.Nizâmuddîn Ahmad, TabaqÉt-i Akbari,, trans., Brajendranath, Vol. II, Delhi, 1991, pp. 356-357.

16. Arif Qandhari, TarÊkh i Akabari, ed. Muinuddin Nadvi, Azhar Ali Dihalvi & Imtiyaz Ali Arshi, Rampur, 1962, transl. Tasneem Ahmad, Delhi, 1993, p. 156-157.

17.Abûl Fazl, AkbarnÉma, ed. Agha Ahmad Ali, Vol. I, Calcutta, Asiatic Society of Bengal, p. 498-499.

18.For the details of other medieval remains , see Salim Zaweed, “ Fort of Kalinjar and its Medieval Structures”, Proceedings of Indian History Congress, 67th Session, Farook College, Kozhikode (Calicut), 10-12 March, 2007, Kerala, pp. 1020-1028; Salim Zaweed, “Medieval Remains at Kalinjar”, Proceedings of Indian History Congress, 70th Session, 2009-10, Delhi, pp. 960-974.

19.The damaged inscription first reported in the Annual Report on Indian Epigraphy. 20.Zahiruddin Mohammad Babur, Babur Nama, ed., Annette S. Beveridge, London,

1971, (reprint), pp. 292-293.

21.Abbas Khan Sarwani, Tarikh-i Akbar Shahi or Tarikh-i Sher Shahi tr. Ambastya, Patna, 1962, pp. 723-726.

22.Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah, Ferishta, Gulshan-i Ibrahimi or Tarikh-i Firishta, Vol. I, Rampur, Lith, Nawal Kishore, 1874, p. 228; Tabaqat-i Akbari, op. cit.,

p. 232; Abul Fazl, Akbarnama, ed. Agha Ahmad Ali, Vol. I, Calcutta, Asiatic Society of Bengal, p. 194; Khwajah Nimatullah, Tarikh-i Khan Jahani wa Makhzan-i Afghani, ed., S. M. Imam Al- Din, Vol. I, Dacca, Asiatic Society of Pakistan, 1960, p. 351; Nirod Bhusan Roy, The Successors of Sher Shah, pub. by Bina Roy, Dacca, 1934, p. 6.

23.Tarikh-i Firishta, I, p. 229; Tabaqat-i Akbari, p. 233.

24.Literally means ‘a hollow cavity in which the dead body is kept in grave tomb’. 25.For a controversy regarding this alleged burial see, Hermann Goetz, “Sher Shah’s

Mausoleum at Sasaram”, Arts Islamica, Vol. IV, No. 1 (1938), pp. 96-99; Atkinson, op. cit., p. 454.

26.I am thankful to Professor Emeritus Irfan Habib and Professor Jabir Raza of the Centre of Advanced Study, Department of History, AMU for their help in reading and translating the Persian text and also other texts in this article.

27.See infra.

28.Shah Nawaz Khan, Ma’thirul Umara (c.1742-80), ed., Maulvi Abdur Rahim and Maulvi Mirza Ashraf Ali, Vol. III, Calcutta, Bib. Ind., 1888-91, pp. 207-208; Akbar Nama, II, pp. 340-41; Surendra Nath Sinha, Suba of Allahabad under the Great Mughals (1580-1707)- A political, Administrative and Economic Study, New Delhi, Gitanjali Publishing House, 1983 (Second Impression), p. 20.

29.Abdul Qadir Badauni, Muntakhab-ut Tawarikh, Vol. II, Calcutta, Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1865, pp. 119-20; Shaikh Farid Bhakkari, Zakhiratul Khawanin, ed. Syed Moinul Huq, Vol. I, Karachi, Pakistan Historical Society, 1961, p. 218. Under Akbar, Kalinjar formed one of the nine sarkars (districts) of Suba Ilahabas (Allahabad). Abul Fazl, Ain-i Akbari, ed. Saiyed Ahmad Khan, Delhi, 1882, p. 268.

30.Suba of Allahabad, pp. 81-82.

31.Ibid., pp. 188-89; Ma’asir, Vol. I, pp. 454-457.

32.The word namâzgâh is also used for those small areas seen in sparsely populated regions in Baluchistan and the North-West Frontier region of Pakistan, sometimes simply a square or rectangle demarcated by whitewashed stones, with a larger

stone at the western end to designate the qibla, and where there is no pretence of an enclosure.

33.Annual Report on Indian Epigraphy for 1973-1974, ed. G. S. Gai, published by the Director Genral, New Delhi, Archaeological Survey of India, 1986, pp. 187-188.

34.Ibid., p. 187.

35.Ibid., p. 187.


37.Anjali Mody, “In photos: Fourteen Delhi mosques and a dargÉh that were burnt by Hindutva vigilantes in three days”, published in Scroll, March 12, 2020.

© Dr. Salim Zaweed