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Sharqi Sultanate of Jaunpur, India

Jaunpur, the seat of the Sharqi kingdom, is a great recluse of medieval history. It is hardly 75 kms from Varanasi, yet too far from t...


Jaunpur, the seat of the Sharqi kingdom, is a great recluse of medieval history. It is hardly 75 kms from Varanasi, yet too far from the tourist map. Dotted with early 15th century monuments, these lofty buildings display an architectural class of its own that has acquired a nomenclature for itself – the Jaunpur style. Mughal emperor Shah Jehan admired this place as the “Shiraz of India” and rightly enough Sher Shah was one of its proud alumnus. Akbar on his visit to Jaunpur enjoyed water sports on the river Gumpti while others like Babur, Humayun and Aurangzeb were quite impressed by its splendour and did their best to restore its glory.

Standing halfway between Delhi and Bengal, it is an important halting point by the river side. During his second invasion of Bengal in 1359, Firoz Shah Tughlaq camped here for six months and founded this city, calling it Jaunpur after the original name Juna Khan of his patron Muhammad bin Tughlaq.

Malik Sarwar had been promoted to the governorship of Jaunpur under the title of Malik- us-Shark (King of the east).Malik Sarwar ruled Jaupur as a governor for five years. His adopted son Qaranfal ruled as an independent king and his brief rule was followed by that of his younger brother Ibrahim Shah Sharqi, who is considered to be one of the greatest rulers of the 15th century Hindustan whose prosperous reign of forty years produced some of the finest buildings in Jaunpur. Ibrahim was succeeded by his equally illustrious son, Mahmud Shah, who further crowned the city with monuments. During his 17 year rule, is subjects experienced the joys of life with grandeur. Traces of decline were visible with the advent of Bhikhan Khan, son and successor to Mahmud. Bhikhan was a man of tyrannical nature and thus despised by his subjects. The last of the Sharqis was Hussain Shah, whose ambition to expand beyond means brought about his downfall and that of his kingdom.

Jaunpur would have been far more attractive had most of its monuments not been destroyed by Sultan Sikander Lodi, whose persistent hostility towards Sultan Hussain Shah Sharqi (1458-77) made him take a vow not to leave intact any of the Sharqi memorials. Having demolished the palaces and other secular buildings, Sikander began to destroy the mosques, though he himself was a model of Muslim refinement. Finally, the cry of the clergy prevented him from further sacrilege of the mosques. What we get to see today in Jaunpur is only a fraction of the monuments erected by the proud Sharqis.

CHRONOLOGY of the Sharqi Sultanate of Jaunpur, India

* Malik Sarwar 13941399 CE
* Mubarak Shah 13991402 CE
* Shamsuddin Ibrahim Shah 1402-1436 CE
* Saifuddin Mahmud Shah 1436-1457 CE
* Muhammad Shah 1457-1458 CE
* Hussain Shah 1458-1479 CE.

Sultan Shamsuddin Ibrahim Shah Sharqi, the most noted ruler of this dynasty was a patron of Islamic learning and established a number of colleges for this purpose. A large number of scholarly works on Islamic theology and law was produced during his reign. Sultan Shamsuddin Ibrahim Shah Sharqi constructed a number of monuments in a new regional style of architecture known as the Sharqi.



Jaunpur’s notable history dates from 1388, during a period in which the Sultan of Delhi Feroz Shah Tughlaq appointed Malik Sarwar, a eunuch, as the region’s governor. The Sultanate was weakened by the 1398 sacking of Delhi by the Mongols under Timur, and Malik Sarwar then declared independence. He and his adopted son founded what came to be known as the Sharqi dynasty. During the Sharqi period, the Jaunpur Sultanate was a strong military power in Northern India, and on several occasions threatened the Delhi Sultanat. aunpur was then a major center of Urdu and Sufi knowledge and culture.

The Sharqi dynasty was known for its excellent communal relations between Muslims and Hindus, perhaps stemming from the fact that the Sharqis themselves were originally indigenous converts to Islam, as opposed to descendants of Persians or Afghans. Jaunpur’s independence ended in 1480, when Sikander Lodhi, the Sultan of Delhi, conquered the city. For several years, the Sharqi kings attempted to retake the city, but ultimately failed.





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