Know Why There Is An Urge To Visit Sharqi Dynasty and Mosques In Jaunpur?

SHARQI STYLE: In 1359, Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq halted at a place called Zafarabad on the river Ganga on his way to crusade against the Ilyas Shahi rulers of Lakhnauti in Bengal. Zafarabad was a strategic position on the road to Bengal and the Delhi Sultans had long been combatting with the rulers of Lakhnauti. This presumably provoked the Sultan, a prolific builder, to think of constructing a new city near Zafarabad.

The city was created on the river Gomti and was named Jaunpur after the Sultan’s cousin and predecessor, Jauna Khan, who had sanctioned as Sultan Mohammad bin Tughlaq.

In the turmoil caused in the Delhi Sultanate by Timur’s invasion, Malik Sarwar, a Khawaja Sara (eunuch) who had been elected the governor of Jaunpur in 1394, with the title of Malik-us Sharq (ruler of the east), announced independence. Thus was laid the establishment of the Sharqi kingdom. When he died in 1399, he left a largely expanded empire to his adopted son, Malik Mubarak Qaranfal, who dictated as Mubarak Shah.

Mubarak Shah’s supremacy was short-lived and he was succeeded by his brother Ibrahim Shah, under whom Jaunpur rose in such importance that it was known as Shiraz-e-Hind. Shiraz was renowned in the realm as the cultural capital of Persia and was one of the most significant and outstanding medieval cities. Sultan Sikandar Lodi finally put an end to the Sharqi dynasty after he overthrew it in 1479. An extraordinary style of art and architecture broadened in Jaunpur. The Sultans were supporters of knowledge and art.

Features of the Sharqi Dynasty

The main feature of Sharqi mosques is the huge rectangular pylon (gateway) with arches. Through these arches, you can arrive at the three main mosques in Jaunpur: Atala Masjid, Jama Masjid and Lal Darwaza. They are formulated of stone and have fine carving and latticework. Unlike the Delhi mosques of a similar period, there are no minarets.

The mosques at Jaunpur have cloisters for women to implore.  To visit Jhanjhari mosque, you will be intrigued by the name. You can set off on foot towards the mosque as the streets were too narrow. Farmland and trees hide the mosque, you can traipse on the mud road. At a bend, you will be welcomed by an exquisite stone screen after which the mosque is called (jhanjhari means screen). The mosque is on a big mound, but not much stays apart from this screen.

Sharqi Dynasty Destroyed by Sikandar Lodi

Sultan Ibrahim Shah constructed this mosque for a saint, Saiyed Sadr-e-Jahan Ajmal. According to the 1889 Archaeological Survey of India book, The Sharqi Architecture of Jaunpur, it was possibly built by the same architect who built the Atala Masjid and must have been extremely beautiful before Sultan Sikandar Lodi demolished many of its mosques and secular buildings.

Sikander Lodi broke parts of the walls of the mosque court, the stones used for other buildings and, according to the ASI, also the tremendous bridge, which is another famous Jaunpur landmark. The mosque was also devastated by floods as it is near the river. All that is left is the prominent façade with the exquisite screen flanked by carved voussoirs and its inscriptions.

Unlike the other mosques where the pylon is rectangular and the arch set inside it, here the arch soars upwards without constraint. This architectural gem in the middle of fields is worth a visit, for it symbolises Sharqi architecture and style at its best. The mosque is in the Sipah locality of Jaunpur on the northern bank of the Gomti. This was constructed by Ibrahim Sharki at the time of the formation of Atala and Khali’s mosques as this locality was settled-in by Ibrahim Sharki himself.

The army wielded to keep its elephants, camels, horses and mules here. It was the place of saints and pandits. Within this mosque, there are incredibly beautiful “jhanjhariya” archives. Sikandar Lodhi had got this mosque destroyed but, looking at the still residing central arch and compared to the Atala Masjid and the Jama Masjid with their tremendous length and breadth, this mosque seems to be extremely glamorous. It has been dealt with enormous damage by floods.

This arch is 35 ft. high and 32 ft. wide. Despite being relatively small, this mosque is exceptionally beautiful. After the devastation by Sikandar Lodhi, quite a lot of stones from here have been employed in the Shahi bridge. This mosque is a terrific example of early architecture. Jhanjhari mosque is a pleasant mosque based on the Sharqui style of construction.

The Takeaway

Seeking out mosques is an ultimate way for all to sightsee and unearth chapters in history across the diaspora that don’t make it into the rote scripts of cookie-cutter city tours.  You must visit the Jhanjhari mosque and marvel at walls clad in traditional mosaics juxtaposed with striking contemporary pillars, the result of a collaboration between Sharqi architects.

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