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Jaunpur probably was originally founded in the 11th century but was washed away by Gomati floods. It was rebuilt in 1359 by Firoz Shah Tughluq, whose fort still stands. The city was the capital of the independent Muslim kingdom of the Sharq? dynasty (1394–1479). It was conquered by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1559 and fell under British rule in 1775. Mughal Emperor Akbar ordered the construction of the Shahi Bridge, which was completed in the year 1568–69 by Munim Khan. It was designed by Afghan architect Afzal Ali.


The Bridge is built across the Gomati river. The Bridge comprises ten arched openings that are supported on huge and massive piers.There is an additional extension of five arches that were built so as to cover the diverted channel. The bridge initially possessed a hammam (public bath house) at the northern end, but it is no longer used and is permanently closed. For providing points on the bridge so that people can stop and gaze at the flowing river below, Chhatris (small pavilions) were built by the Collector of Jaunpur in 1847 ,which lined on both the sides of the bridge. These chhatris (kiosks) project beyond the bridge and are given support below by brackets that transfer the weight to the piers. The piers are elongated and extended hexagons in plan with the longer sides supporting the bridge and then there are the skewed sides that support the chhatris above. For preventing the piers from appearing like some solid mass that has risen up from the river, there were recessed and adjourned rectangular niches with blind arches built on the skewed sides of the piers.The bridge has become unstable.



The bridge was badly damaged by earthquake in the year 1934, when seven of its fifteen arches were badly damaged. These have been rebuilt and the whole bridge has been effectively conserved. Although a public road runs over it, it is maintained as an ancient monument. The Bridge is on the Protection & Conservation list of Directorate of Archaeology, (U.P.) since 1978.

The Munim Khaan’s bridge is still used today and generally recognised as Jaunpur's most significant Mughal structure. The bridge”, in the words of General Cunningham, " is one of the most picturesque in India". Its scenic beauty can best be left to imagination when the bridge often submerged during the monsoon and boats passed over it. One Mughal writer States That although Munim Khaan i khana have no issues ,the jaunpur Bridge ‘will preserve his name for ages”

On the southern end of the bridge is am impressive lion climbing over an elephant representing the decline of Buddhism. Historians speculate that this zone was once a stronghold of Buddhists which finally gave way to Brahmanism as is evident from the sites of the large cities destroyed by fire on the banks of the river.



Rudyard Kipling has written a Poem titled Akbar's Bridge which mentions this bridge.

Akbar's Bridge Source http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_akbar.htm
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Jelaludin Muhammed Akbar, Guardian of Mankind,
Moved his standards out of Delhi to Jaunpore of lower Hind,
Where a mosque was to be builded, and a lovelier ne'er was planned;
And Munim Khan, his Viceroy, slid the drawings 'neath his hand.
High as Hope upsheered her out-works to the promised Heavens above.
Deep as Faith and dark as Judgment her unplumbed foundations dove.
Wide as Mercy, white as moonlight, stretched her forecourts to the dawn;
And Akbar gave commandment, "Let it rise as it is drawn."
Then he wearied—the mood moving—of the men and things he ruled,
And he walked beside the Goomti while the flaming sunset cooled,
Simply, without mark or ensign—singly, without guard or guide,
Till he heard an angry woman screeching by the river-side.
'Twas the Widow of the Potter, a virago feared and known,
In haste to cross the ferry, but the ferry-man had gone.
So she cursed him and his office, and hearing Akbar's tread,
(She was very old and darkling) turned her wrath upon his head.
But he answered—being Akbar—"Suffer me to scull you o'er."
Called her "Mother," stowed her bundles, worked the clumsy scow from shore,
Till they grounded on a sand-bank, and the Widow loosed her mind;
And the stars stole out and chuckled at the Guardian of Mankind.
"Oh, most impotent of bunglers! Oh, my daughter's daughter's brood
Waiting hungry on the threshold; for I cannot bring their food,
Till a fool has learned his business at their virtuous grandam's cost,
And a greater fool, our Viceroy, trifles while her name is lost!
"Munim Khan, that Sire of Asses, sees me daily come and go
As it suits a drunken boatman, or this ox who cannot row.
Munim Khan, the Owl's Own Uncle—Munim Khan, the Capon's seed,
Must build a mosque to Allah when a bridge is all we need!
"Eighty years I eat oppression and extortion and delays—
Snake and crocodile and fever, flood and drouth, beset my ways.
But Munim Khan must tax us for his mosque whate'er befall;
Allah knowing (May He hear me!) that a bridge would save us all!"
While she stormed that other laboured and, when they touched the shore,
Laughing brought her on his shoulder to her hovel's very door.
But his mirth renewed her anger, for she thought he mocked the weak;
So she scored him with her talons, drawing blood on either cheek....
Jelaludin Muhammed Akbar, Guardian of Mankind,
Spoke with Munim Khan his Viceroy, ere the midnight stars declined—
Girt and sworded, robed and jewelled, but on either cheek appeared
Four shameless scratches running from the turban to the beard.
"Allah burn all Potter's Widows! Yet, since this same night was young,
One has shown me by pure token, there was a wisdom on her tongue.
Yes, I ferried her for hire. Yes," he pointed, "I was paid."
And he told the tale rehearsing all the Widow did and said.
And he ended, "Sire of Asses—Capon—Owl's Own Uncle—know
I—most impotent of bunglers—I—this ox who cannot row—
I—Jelaludin Muhammed Akbar, Guardian of Mankind—
Bid thee build the hag her bridge and put our mosque from out thy mind."
So 'twas built, and Allah blessed it; and, through earthquake, flood, and sword,
Still the bridge his Viceroy builded throws her arch o'er Akbar's Ford!

Discover Jaunpur , Jaunpur Photo Album

Jaunpur Hindi Web , Jaunpur Azadari

 

About S.M Masum

BSc.(Chem) Retired Banker(Branch Manager),freelance journalist,blogger and Web designer. आपकी आवाज़ और जौनपुर का इतिहास दुनिया तक पहुंचाती जौनपुर की पहली वेबसाईट| Cont:- smma59@gmal.com, PH. 9452060283.
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