Babur’s Early Career & Campaigns

Babur’s grandfather, Abu Sa’id Mirza was a great politician. He held Samarqand and had subdued Mawra-un Nahr. His rule extended up till Khurasan & Afghanistan. On his death his dominions were divided amongst his four sons & some others. His eldest son, Sultan Ahmad Mirza, secured the largest share viz. Samarqand & Bukhara. Mahmud Mirza got Badakhshan & the surrounding regions of Hindukush, Tirmiz & Hisar in the Amu Darya basin. The 3rd son Umar Shaikh Mirza, the father of Babur continued to rule the small kingdom of Farghana or Andijan, lying on both sides of the upper courses of Sair Darya. The last son, Ulugh Beg, got Kabul & Ghaznin. The fertile lands of Khurasan were taken up by Sultan Husain Mirza, another great grand-son of Taimur.

Babur says, his father’s nature was poetic & was a just ruler. Babur’s mother, Qutlugh Nizar Khanum was also a pious lady. Her father, Yunus Khan, the ruler of Tashkent was a descendant of Chingiz Khan. To these two, Babur was born in 1483. Zahiruddin Muhammad was named Babur (the Tiger) by his grandfather, Yunus Khan.

Till Yunus Khan was alive, Umar Shaikh Mirza would invoke his help in every expedition. After his death, Sultan Ahmad, the eldest brother of Umar Shaikh, and his brother-in-law, Sultan Mahmud of Tashkent, entered into an alliance to divide Farghana amongst themselves. In 1494 the two marched to Farghana, but an accident thwarted the attempt. Umar Shaikh Mirza died in an accident and at an age of 12 yrs Babur became the King of Farghana. News of this was sent to Sultan Ahmad with the message on behalf of Babur that Babur regarded himself as ‘his son & servant’ who would be glad to govern the country as Sultan Ahmad’s regent. However Sultan Ahmad continued his march. He was stopped by another accident: A bridge over a river collapsed killing many of his army & horses. Then an epidemic of distemper broke out among the animals & thus Sultan Ahmad was compelled to abandon his plans of attack over Farghana. While returning back, he himself fell ill & died.

With his death, the affairs of Samarqand fell into disorder.

In 1497, a 14yr old Babur led an army towards Samarqand and captured many towns & forts. The siege of Samarqand lasted for 7 months after which Baisunghar, the son of Sultan Ahmad fled from the city. Babur was welcomed by the Begs & chief townsmen of Samarqand.

However, after some time, when Babur could not bestow much on his officers & soldiers, he soon faced desertion from the Mongol soldiery. His own troops returned to Farghana & proclaimed his younger brother Jahangir as the ruler of Farghana.

On being apprised of the situation, Babur left Samarqand [‘Hundred days Rule’] with his small army. Now he was a homeless exile having lost both Samarqand & Farghana. Meanwhile Farghana came in the control of Syed Ali Mirza.

After sometime, with some help from his relatives (esp. Sultan Mahmud of Tashkent), he regained Andijan, the capital of Farghana.

In May 1497 Babur again decided to march towards Samarqand. In 1500 a siege of Samarqand was laid. But due to the intervention of Shaibani Khan, the leader of the Uzbeks, Babur had to make a retreat. After a short retreat, Babur again decided to attack the town which was now being held by the Uzbek chief. Babur’s party consisting of 240 men entered Samarqand and the Uzbeks in confusion fled to Bukhara. This second conquest of Samarqand was one of the most daring exploits of Babur which earned him much fame.

Shaibani Khan, after some time returned from Bukhara. Babur, aware of his preparations, tried to warn other Timurid princes of Central Asia, but none came to his side. Shaibani Khan’s army turning flank attacked Babur’s troops from rear & routed them.

The author of Tarikh-i Rashidi, Mirza Haider Dughlat, informs us that after 5 months siege of Samarqand, Shaibani agreed to accept Babur’s capitulation. He says that Babur’s eldest sister Khanzada Begum was married to Shaibani Khan as part of the treaty. Later Shaibani divorced her & married her to one of his chiefs.

In 1502 Babur went to Tashkent to the court of his maternal uncle Mahmud Khan. From here a confederate of Mahmud Khan, Ahmad Khan & Babur once gain attempted to take on Farghana. Andijan was to be captured but Mahmud Khan now intended to give Farghana to his younger brother Ahmad Khan.

Sultan Ahmad Tanbol of Farghana on seeing the army of Mahmud & others solicited the help of Shaibani Khan who marched to his aid & defeated the Timurid princes. The two Khans, Mahmud & his brother were however set free.

Babur somehow escaped the capture & for about a year went on wandering as fugitive along with his family. His band of followers also kept on diminishing day after day. The territories which he had once occupied – Samarqand, Bukhara & the Kingdom of Farghana was with the Uzbeks.

His sole hope now was Sultan Husain Baiqara, the Timurid ruler of Herat. He was also the most powerful Timurid ruler at that time. But he also reacted unfavourably to Babur. Babur now resolved to go towards Kabul which was separated from the other Timurid kingdoms by the Hindukush. The ruler of Kabul, Abdul Razzaq, a cousin of Babur also appealed to come to his aid. Babur soon captured Ghazni after Kabul.

After consolidating his rule at Kabul, Babur soon realized that his new kingdom was too poor to provide for his numerous relatives & followers. In the meanwhile, he received a message for help from Sultan Husain Baiqara of Herat who was now being threatened by Shaibani Khan. Babur positively responded to his appeal, & decided to go towards Herat. This was in 1506. Leaving Kabul & Ghazni in the charge of some of his untrustworthy officers he set forward. But while on his way, news came of the death of Sultan Husain. After his uncle’s death, Babur now considered himself as the senior-most Timurid prince.

After some times’ stay at Herat, Babur having heard of some disturbing news of Kabul, started for Kabul in December & attacked the rebels, most of whom were his own relatives.

In the meanwhile, the Uzbek ruler Shaibani suffered a debacle at the hands of Shah Ismail of Iran. This happened in 1510. In the battle of Merv, between the Uzbeks & the Persians, Babur’s sister, Khanazada Begum fell into the hands of Shah Ismail, who very honourably was sent to Babur.

Babur in return entreated Shah Ismail for assistance & support. In the meanwhile the territory of Farghana had also been cleared of the Uzbeks by Shah Ismail.

Babur was at Hisar when the Persian army reached to assist him. Thus along with 60,000 Persian troops Babur marched to Bukhara & then to Samarqand, which he entered in October 1511. According to Fazlullah Ruzbihan Khunji (Tarikh i Alam Ara, & Suluk ul Muluk) and Mirza Haider Dughlat (Tarikh i Rashidi), Babur this time was constrained to read the khutba & strike coins in the name of Qizilbashs which was not liked by the people of Samarqand.the coins, some of which survive till date [BM], gave Babur’s title merely as Sultan Babur Bahadur. His name was followed by the shi’i shahadat, ‘Ali Wali Allah’ and the names of the 12 Imams inscribed on the edges. Iskandar Beg Munshi in his Tarikh-i Alam Ara-i Abbasi gives a brief but matter of fact account of the re-occupation of Samarqand and the Shii khutba recited in Shah Ismail’s name. Dughlat claims this act of Babur as an ‘expediency’, which however led to betrayed.When an Uzbek army marched their in 1512, the lack of local support made Babur once again loose the area of Samarqand. Although another Persian army was sent to help Babur but to no avail.

By now Babur had realized the futility to try to hold any position of the Timurid Empire. He had occupied Samarqand thrice, but had failed to retain it each time. Yet he had full control of Kabul – but the resources of this country were not enough to sustain him. In order to augment his material resources, he had to turn towards India.

With this objective, he over-awed & in some cases reconciled the tribal belt between the mountainous country & Indus. During his stay in the region of Trans Oxiana, Babur had also come to the knowledge of gunpowder, which he now put to good use. It was in 1519, at the siege of Bajaur that he used the fire-arms for the first time. His gunner, Ustad Ali Quli used the matchlock with much effect. Babur mentions him in his memoirs as a Turkish gunner who used the farangi canon.

Babur appears to have obtained the European firearms from Turkey which included matchlocks & canons. Secondly Babur now no longer depended on the Mongol troops who had abandoned him time & again. He now depended on the Afghans whom he now freely recruited in this army. He followed a policy of reconciliation towards the Yusufzais & Afridis. He also tactically married Bibi Mubarika (later known as Haji Begum & Bega Begum) the daughter of Shah Mansur, the Yusufzai Malik. He thus became a son-in-law of that tribe and gained social acceptability to rule the Afghan tribesmen. He thus cleared his way to India.

After consolidating his position in Kabul, Babur undertook 5 expeditions to India: In 1504 he marched through Khyber Pass to Kohat. In Sept.1507 he came as far as Adinapur (Jalalabad). In 1519 after Bajaur Babur decided to cross the Indus and attack Bhera, a frontier district of the Lodi empire in the Punjab. Why did he decide to cross over to this side? There are 3 probable reasons: (1) After the conquest of Bajaur, he was in need of supplies; (2) in fact he had intended to do so since 1505, but got an opportunity now; (3) He was instigated to do so by Langar Khan Niazi, whose maternal uncles ruled the hill country near Bhera. As far as the attack at Bajaur was concerned, Babur had called it a chapqun (raid) and yurush (expedition). But now at Bhera he claimed sovereignty and stated having imperial ambitions (mulkgirliq) and calls this expedition as almaq – that is taking or seizing. He also wrote that he had a claim over this territory as it had ‘long been held by the Turks’!

His intentions further become clear from the fact that now in 1519 at Bhera he decided to tax rather than pillage. He ordered that no sacking or plundering should take place. This was in contrast to his treatment given to the people of Kabul region: towers of human skulls had been constructed there. Thus this may be considered as the first phase of the foundation of the Timurid-Mughal Empire in India.

Babur writes that it was after taking the fort of Bajaur and Bhera, he ‘devoted’ himself ‘particularly to the affairs of Hindustan’. The fact that he named his son Hindal [the taking of Hind] shows very much that Hindustan was on his mind. Abul Fazl too mentions Babur’s plans on India after his rule over Kabul.

Why did he decide so at this juncture? Was it the relative ease with which he subjugated the peasants and merchants on the flat alluvial Punjab plain? Or was it that the geography and population of this area resembled Ferghana, his home town?

Whatever the reason, he demanded 400,000 shahrukhis as māl-i amān (protection money). Bhera was a frontier town of the Lodis. It was from here that Babur sent a message to the newly enthroned Ibrahim Lodi through Daulat Khan Lodi, the governor of Lahore. He demanded all territories earlier held by Turks (read Timur) to be handed over. Ibrahim, Babur tells us, neither mobilized to oppose him nor attempted to establish friendly relations. In 1522-24 it was the same Daulat Khan who was to turn to Babur for an alliance against Ibrahim.

Bhera however could not be retained for long as in 26 April he got news from Hindu Beg, his governor, that Bhera was lost. In May he reports that Sultan Begim, Mirza Husain Baiqara’s eldest daughter arrived at Kabul: a sign that by now Babur and his rule at Kabul was beoming a haven for the Timurid Refugees. In July he mentions seeing pushkāl, the monsoon clouds – an allusion / evocative reference to the transition he was now making in 1519 from a Central Asian to a South Asian ruler.

Next year  he advanced to Sialkot. As the town submitted, it was not plundered. At Saiyyidpur resistance was offered & thus bloodshed occurred after which Babur returned back to Kabul. In 1522 he once again came to India. This time he came on the invitation of Daulat Khan Lodi of Lahore. It was a time when civil war had broken in India. Daulat khan Lodi wanted to overthrow Ibrahim in favour of his uncle Alauddin. Daulat Khan expected that Lahore would be bestowed upon him. However he was given some minor districts of Jullandar & Sulatanpur. Dipalpur was given to Alauddin. Daulat Khan thus fled to the hills only to return once Babur left for Kabul. He kept on pestering his uncle who now left for Kabul to seek Babur’s assistance.

  Finally the last expedition was launched in Nov.1525. Daulat Khan surrendered. In April 1526 he came face to face with the army of Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat. Ultimately the battle of Khanwa was fought between him and Rana Sanga on 16March 1527.

This victory was more significant than the victory at Panipat: the Rajput soldiers were demoralised & dispersed. Rana escaped but was badly wounded. Hasan Khan Mewati was slain & Sultan Mahmud Lodi took to flight. The result was the establishment of the Mughal Empire in Hindustan.

The fleeing Rajputs now assembled under Medni Rai of Chanderi. The fort of Chanderi was also taken. And with this the back of the Rajput resistance was broken.

Now Babur turned towards Awadh. Shamsabad & Kannauj were invested. Next to fall was Bihar. In May 1529 was fought the Battle of Ghagra in which Mahmud Lodi was defeated. The whole of Hindustan was now under Babur.

Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi

Rules & Acts Governing the Ancient Monuments in India

Cultural renaissance of early nineteenth century witnessed enactment of the first ever antiquarian legislation in India known as Bengal Regulation XIX of 1810. This was soon followed by another legislation called as Madras Regulation VII of 1817. Both these regulations vested the Government with a power to intervene whenever the public buildings were under threat of misuse. However, both the Acts were silent on the buildings under the private ownership. The Act XX of 1863, was therefore enacted to empower the Government to prevent injury to and preserve buildings remarkable for their antiquity or for their historical or architectural value.  

The Indian Treasure Trove Act, 1878 (Act No. VI of 1878) was promulgated to protect and preserve treasure found accidentally but had the archaeological and historical value. This Act was enacted to protect and preserve such treasures and their lawful disposal.  In a landmark development in 1886, James Burgess, the then Director General succeeded in prevailing upon the Government for issuing directions: forbidding any person or agency to undertake excavation without prior consent of the Archaeological Survey and debarring officers from disposing of antiquities found or acquired without the permission of the Government.  

Ancient Monuments Act, 1904:

A new era was ushered in when The Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904 (Act No. VII of 1904) was promulgated. This Act of 1904 was passed on 18 March 1904 by British India during the times of Lord Curzon. 

  It was a major step in the preservation of monuments in India. This Act provided effective preservation and authority over the monument particularly those, which were under the custody of individual or private ownership. As this Act has not been repealed, it is deemed to be still in force. 

However the provisions of this act applied only to those monuments which were brought under government control by proper notification.

In the case of privately owned buildings, the government could enter into an agreement with their owners for the proper maintenance of these buildings.

And if the owner refused to enter into such agreements, the district collectors could, if necessary, take suitable measures including their acquisition by government for their upkeep.

However the greatest lacuna of this act was that the buildings used for religious purposes were specifically left out of the provisions of this clause.

The act also prohibited the traffic in antiquities which were moveable, both from & to British India.

This applied also on princely states outside the British administration.

There was also a provision to keep the moveable antiquities in situ for preserving them in local museums. Compulsory purchase from their owners was also ordained if they had no objection on religious grounds.

The act of 1904 also empowered the government to regulate or prohibit the ancient sites by irresponsible persons.

Next Act was The Antiquities Export Control Act, 1947 (Act No. XXXI of 1947) and Rules thereto, which provided a regulation over the export of antiquities under a licence issued by the Director General and empowering him to decide whether any article, object or thing is or is not an antiquity for the purpose of the act and his decision was final. 

Act of 1951:

In 1951, The Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Declaration of National Importance) Act, 1951 (No LXXI of 1951) was enacted.  Consequently, all the ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains protected earlier under ‘The Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904’ (Act No. VII of 1904) were re-declared as monuments and archaeological sites of national importance under this Act. Another four hundred and fifty monuments and sites of Part ‘B’ States were also added. Some more monuments and archaeological sites were also declared as of national importance under Section 126 of the States Reorganization Act, 1956.

Ancient Monuments Act of 1958:

In order to bring the Act on par with constitutional provisions and  provide  better and effective preservation to the archaeological wealth of the country, The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958 ( No 24 of 1958) was enacted on 28th August 1958. This Act provides for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects. This Act was first amended in 2010,  Subsequently the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 18, 2017 by the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Dr. Mahesh Sharma which further amended the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. 

This was an Act which provided for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects.

This Act ensures that no person or agency could conduct archaeological excavations without the permission of the Government. This measure saved wilful destruction of archaeological sites by untrained persons or clandestine digging. As a result of these measures it has been possible to protect and preserve ancientmonuments and archaeological sites which have been declared to be of national importance.

Preservation of heritage, however, does not end, by declaring a particular monument or archaeological site as protected. These have to be preserved in a manner so that these do not get damaged any further. Another important point to be borne in mind is that conservation of a monument is not one time affair. Since building is old and is in a state of decay, its condition has to be regularly monitored and remedial measures taken.

While taking up conservation of a monument, the uppermost fact that is to be kept in mind is that the building is repaired in a manner so that it retains its original look and condition. The central and the state governments carry out the work of conservation of monuments and sites.

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,—

 (a) “ancient monument” meant any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith, which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than one hundred years.

The term included  (i) the remains of an ancient monument,  (ii) the site of an ancient monument, (iii) such portion of land adjoining the site of an ancient monument as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving such monument, and  (iv) the means of access to, and convenient inspection of, and ancient monument.

 (b) The term “antiquity” used in this act includes  (i) any coin, sculpture, manuscript, epigraph, or other work of art or craftsmanship’; (ii) any article, object or thing detached from a building or cave;  (iii) any article, object or thing illustrative of science, art, crafts, literature, religion, customs, morals or politics in bygone ages; (iv) any article, object or thing of historical interest, and  (v) any article, object or thing declared by the Central Government, by notification in the Official Gazette, to be an antiquity for the purposes of this Act,  which has been in existence for not less than one hundred years.

Similarly the term“Archaeological site and remains” means any area which contains or is reasonably believed to contain ruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance which have been in existence for not less than one hundred years, and includes  (i) such portion of land adjoining the area as may be required for fencing or covering in or other wise preserving it, and  (ii) the means of access to, and convenient inspection of, the area.

According to this act ancient monuments, etc., deemed to be of national importance included  all ancient and historical monuments and all archaeological Sites and remains which have been declared by the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Declaration of National Importance) Act, 1951 (71 of 1951), or by Section 126 of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 (37 of 1956), to be national importance shall be deemed to be ancient and historical monuments or archaeological sites and remains declared to be of national importance for the purposes of this Act.

As per this act, if the Director-General apprehends that the owner or occupier of a protected monument intends to destroy, remove, alter, deface, imperil or misuse the monument or to build on or near the site thereof in contravention of the terms of an agreement under Section 6, the Director-General may, after giving the owner or occupier an opportunity of making a representation in writing, make an order prohibiting any such contravention of the agreement:

 Provided that no such opportunity may be given in any case where the Director-General, for reasons to be recorded, is satisfied that it is not expedient or practicable to do so.

 Secondly, any person aggrieved by an order under this section may appeal to the Central Government which such time and in such manner as may be prescribed and the decision of the Central Government shall be final.

Unlike the Act of 1904, the monuments of religious character were also covered by this act.

Thus this act provides for Protection of place of worship from misuse, pollution or desecration.

 A protected monument maintained by the Central Government under this Act which is a place of workship or shrine according to it, ‘shall not be used for any purpose inconsistent with its character’.

  Where the Central Government had acquired a protected monument under Section 13, or where the Director-General had purchased, or taken lease or accepted a gift or bequest or assumed guardianship of, a protected monument under Section 5, and such monument or any part thereof was used for religious worship or observances by any community, the Collector ‘shall make due provision for the protection of such monument or part thereof, from pollution or desecration—

 (a) by prohibiting the entry therein, except in accordance with the conditions prescribed with the concurrence of the persons, if any, in religious charge of the said monument or part thereof, of any person not entitled so to enter by the religious usages of the community by which the monument or part thereof is used, or

 (b) by taking such other action as he may think necessary in this behalf.’

The act also provided rules for Archaeological excavations.

Thus according to a clause  [Excavations in protected areas.] An archaeological officer or an officer authorized by him in this behalf or any person holding a licence granted in this behalf under this Act (hereinafter referred to as the licensee) may, after giving notice in writing to the Collector and the owner, enter, upon and make excavations in any protected area.

For Excavations in areas other than protected areas there were other provisions. Where an archaeological officer had reason to believe that any area not being a protected area contains ruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance, he or an officer authorized by him in this behalf may, after giving notice in writing to the Collector and the owner, enter upon and make excavations in the area.

The act also provided for compulsory purchase of antiquities, etc., discovered during excavation operations.— (1) Where, as a result of any excavations made in any area under Section 21 or Section 22, any antiquities are discovered, the archaeological officer or the licensee, as the case may be, shall,—

 (a) as soon as practicable, examine such antiquities and submit a report to the Central Government in such manner and containing such particulars as may be prescribed;

 (b) at the conclusion of the excavations, give notice in writing to the owner of the land from which such antiquities have been discovered, of the nature of such antiquities.

 (2) Until an order for the[compulsory acquisition] of any such antiquities is made under sub-section (3), the archaeological officer or the licensee, as the case may be, shall keep them in such safe custody as he may deem fit.

 (3) On receipt of a report under sub-section (1), the Central Government may make an order for the[compulsory acquisition of any such antiquities].

 (4) When an order for the [compulsory acquisition] of any antiquities is made under sub-section (3), such antiquities shall rest in the Central Government with effect from the date of the order.

Further, no State Government was to undertake or authorise any person to undertake any excavation or other like operation for archaeological purposes in any area which was not a protected area except with the previous approval of the Central Government and in accordance with the such rules, or directions, if any, as the Central Government may make or give in this behalf.


Power of Central Government to control moving of antiquities.— (1) If the Central Government considers that any antiquities or class of antiquities ought not to be moved from the place where they are without  the sanction of the Central Government, the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, direct that any such antiquity or any class of such antiquities shall not be moved except with the written permission of the Director-General.

 (2) Every application for permission under sub-section (1) shall be in such form and contain such particulars as may be prescribed.

 (3) Any person aggrieved by an order refusing permission may appeal to the Central Government whose decision shall be final.

Purchase of antiquities by Central Government.— (1) If the Central Government apprehends that any antiquity mentioned in a notification issued under sub-section (1) of Section 25 is in danger of being destroyed, removed, inured, misused or allowed to fall into decay or is of opinion that, by reason of its historical or archaeological importance, it is desirable to preserve such antiquity in a public place, the Central Government may make an order for the  [compulsory acquisition of such antiquity] and the Collector shall thereupon give notice to the owner of the antiquity  [to be acquired].

 (2) Where a notice of[compulsory acquisition] is issued under sub-section (1) in respect of any antiquity, such antiquity shall vest in the Central Government with effect from the date of the notice.

 (3) The power[compulsory acquisition] given by this section shall not extend to any image or symbol actually used for bona fide religious observances.

Compensation for loss or damage.— Any owner or occupier of land who has sustained any loss or damage or any diminution of profits from the land by reason of any entry on, or excavations in, such land or the exercise of any other power conferred by this Act shall be paid compensation by the Central Government for such loss, damage or diminution of profits.

  Assessment of market value or compensation.— (1) The market value of any property which the Central Government is empowered to purchase at such value under this Act or the compensation to be paid by the Central Government in respect of anything done under this Act shall, where any dispute arises in respect of such market value or compensation, be ascertained in the manner provided in Section 3, 5, 8 to 34, 45 to 47, 51 and 52 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (1 of1894), so far as they can be made applicable:

 Provided that when making an enquiry under the said Land Acquisition Act, the Collector shall be assisted by two assessor, one of whom shall be a competent person nominated by the Central Government and one person nominated by the owner, or in case the owner fails to nominate an assessor within such reasonable time as may be fixed by the Collector in this behalf, by the Collector.

For every antiquity in respect of which an order for compulsory acquisition has been made under sub-section (3) of Section 23 or under sub-section (1) of Section 26, there shall be paid compensation and the provisions of Section 20 and 22 of the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 (52 of 1972) shall, so far as may be, apply in relation to the determination and payment of compensation for any antiquity or art treasure compulsorily acquired under Section 19 of that Act.]

Delegation of powers.— The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, direct that any powers conferred on it by or under this Act shall, subject to such conditions as may be specified in the direction, be exercisable also by—

 (a) such officer or authority subordinate to the Central Government, or

 (b) such State Government or such officer or authority subordinate to the State Government,

as may be specified in the direction.

Penalties.— (1) Whoever—

 (i) destroys, removes, injures, alters, defaces, imperils or misuse a protected monument, or

 (ii) being the owner or occupier of a protected monument, contravenes an order made under sub-section (1) of Section 9 or under sub-section (1) of Section 10, or

 (iii) removes from a protected monument any sculpture, carving, image, bas relief, inscription, or other like object, or

 (iv) does any act in contravention of sub-section (1) of Section 19

shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three month, or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees, or with both.

 (2) Any person who moves any antiquity in contravention of a notification issued under sub-section (1) if Section 25 shall be punishable with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees; and the court convicting a person any such contravention may by order direct such person to restore the antiquity to the place from which it was moved.

  Jurisdiction to try offences.— No court inferior to that of a presidency magistrate or a magistrate of the first class shall try any offence under this Act.

 Certain offences to be cognizable.— Notwithstanding anything contained in[the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (5 of 1898)] an offence under clause (i) or clause (iii) of sub-section (1) of Section 30, shall be deemed to be a cognizable offence within the meaning of that Code.

Special provision regarding fine.— Notwithstanding anything contained in[Section 32 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (5 of 1898)]  it shall be lawful for any magistrate of the first class specially empowered by the State Government in this behalf and for any presidency magistrate to pass a sentence of fine exceeding two thousand rupees on any person convicted of an offence which under this Act is punishable with fine exceeding two thousand rupees.

  Recovery of amounts due to the Government.— Any amount due to the Government from any person under this Act may, on a Certificate issued by the Director-General or an archaeological officer authorized by him in this behalf be recovered in the same manner as an arrear of land revenue.

Ancient monuments, etc., which have ceased to be of national importance.— If the Central Government is of opinion that any ancient and historical monument or archaeological site and remains declared to be of national importance by or under this Act has ceased to be of national importance, it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare that the ancient and historical monument or archaeological site and remains, as the case may be, has ceased to be of national importance for the purposes of this Act.

Power to correct mistakes, etc.— Any clerical mistake, patent error or error arising from accidental slip or omission in the description of any ancient monument or archaeological site and remains declared to be of national importance by or under this Act may, at any time, be corrected by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette.

Protection of action taken under the act.— No suit for compensation and no criminal proceeding shall lie against any public servant in respect of any act done or in good faith intended to be done in the exercise of any power conferred by this Act.

Power to make rules.— (1) The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette and subject to the condition of previous publication, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.

 (2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the forgoing power, such rules may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely:

 (a) the prohibition or regulation by licensing or otherwise of mining, quarrying, excavating, blasting or any operation of a like nature near a protected monument or the construction of buildings on land adjoining such monument and the removal of unauthorized buildings;

 (b) the grant of licences and permissions to make excavations for archaeological purposes in protected areas, the authorities by whom, and the restrictions and conditions subject to which, such licences may be granted, the taking of securities from licensees and the fees that may be charged for such licences;

 (c) The right of access of the public to a protected monument and the fee, if any, to be charged therefore;

 (d) The form and contents of the report of an archaeological officer or a licensee under clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 23;

 (e) The form in which applications for permission under Section 19 or Section 25 may be made and the particulars which they should contain;

 (f) The form and manner of preferring appeals under this Act and the time within which they may be preferred;

 (g) The manner of service of any order or notice under this Act;

 (h) The manner in which excavations and other like operations for archaeological purposes may be carried on;

 (i) Any other matter which is to be or may be prescribed.

 (3) Any rule made under this section may provide that a breach thereof shall be punishable,—

 (i) In the case of a rule made with reference to clause (a) of sub-section (2), with imprisonment which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees, or with both;

 (ii) In the case of a rule made with reference to clause (b) of sub-section (2), with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees;

 (iii) In the case of a rule made with reference to clause (c) of sub-section (2), with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.

 (4) All rules made under this section shall be laid for not less than thirty days before each House of Parliament as soon as possible after they are made, and shall be subject to such modifications as Parliament may make during the session in which they are so laid or the session immediately following.

The Act defines a ‘prohibited area’ as an area of 100 meters around a protected monument or area.  The central government can extend the prohibited area beyond 100 meters.  The Act does not permit construction in such prohibited areas, except under certain conditions.  The Act also prohibits construction in ‘prohibited areas’ even if it is for public purposes.


The Bill introduced in 2017, referred above, amends this provision to permit construction of public works in ‘prohibited areas’ for public purposes.

Definition of ‘public works’: The Bill introduces a definition for ‘public works’, which includes the construction of any infrastructure that is financed and carried out by the central government for public purposes.  This infrastructure must be necessary for public safety and security and must be based on a specific instance of danger to public safety.  Also, there should be no reasonable alternative to carrying out construction in the prohibited area.

Procedure for seeking permission for public works: As per the Bill, the relevant central government department, that seeks to carry out construction for public purposes in a prohibited area, should make an application to the competent authority.

If there is any question related to whether a construction project qualifies as ‘public works’, it will be referred to the National Monuments Authority.  This Authority, will make its recommendations, with written reasons, to the central government.  The decision of the central government will be final.

If the decision of the central government differs from that of the Authority, it should record its reasons in writing.

This decision should be communicated by the competent authority, to the applicant, within 10 days of receiving it

Impact assessment of proposed public works: The Bill empowers the National Monuments Authority to consider an impact assessment of the proposed public works in a prohibited area, including its (i) archaeological impact; (ii) visual impact; and (iii) heritage impact.

The Authority will make a recommendation, for construction of public works to the central government, only if it is satisfied that there is no reasonable possibility of moving the construction outside the prohibited area.

Subsequent Legislations:

Subsequently, The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules 1959were framed. The Act along with Rules came into force with effect from 15 October 1959. This Act repealed The Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Declaration of National Importance) Act, 1951.

The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act 1972 (No. 52 of 1972) is the latest Act enacted on 9th September 1972 for effective control over the moveable cultural property consisting of antiquities and art treasures. The Act is to regulate the export trade in antiquities and art treasures, to provide for the prevention of smuggling of, and fraudulent dealings in, antiquities, to provide for the compulsory acquisition of antiquities and art treasures for preservation in public places and to provide for certain other matters connected therewith or incidental or ancillary thereto. This Act was also supplemented with The Antiquities and Art Treasure Rules 1973. The Act and Rules have been in force with effect from 5th April 1976. This legislation repealed The Antiquities Export Control Act, 1947 (Act No. XXXI of 1947).

Now once again the government is trying to tweak the AMASR Act of 1958, especially its provisions as amended in 2010 according to which 100 metre radius of an ASI protected monument is a “prohibited area” where no construction is allowed and next 300 metre area is regulated area where permissions are required before executing any structural change. This rule is something which the government wants to dilute. Henceforth, expert committees will decide on the extent of the prohibited and regulated areas around each monument and activities permitted herein.

Concerns which are thus raised due to these attempts:

  • Archaeological Sites across India have become commons for human and animal communities.
  • Altering land around ASI-protected monuments into industrial, commercial, or even residential plots will thus deprive human and animal communities of much-needed commons. 
  • Permitting construction work risks weakening the foundations of centuries-old edifices.
  • Also construction machines may disturb the art facets near the site, thus making the task of undertaking new research more difficult 
  • Domestic waste and greywater regularly seep into ancient sites any changes in protection status now will aggravate this problems.
  • In recent years, the Government has built new highways, metro-rail systems, and industrial parks without methodical archaeological impact assessments.
  • These projects have led to the shattering of an untold number of historical artefacts and the casual collection of many others. We cannot afford to lose more of our tangible heritage.


Bhir, Sirkāp & Sirsukh: A Note on Taxila It’s Sites and It’s Archaeology

Dharmarajika Stupa, Sirkāp
Ruins of Sirkāp

That Taxila was very famous can be deduced from the fact that it is mentioned in several languages: in Sanskrit, the city was called Takshaçila, which may be interpreted as ‘prince of the serpent tribe’; in Pâli it was known as Takkasilâ; the Greeks knew the town as Taxila, which the Romans rendered as Taxilla; the Chinese called it Chu-ch’a-shi-lo. The ruins are some 30 kilometres northwest of modern Islamabad. 

The town commanded the Indian ‘royal road’ (Uttarâpatha; more or less the modern Grand Trunk Road), which connected Gandhara (the valley of the river Cophen, modern Kabul) in the west to the kingdom of Magadha in the Ganges valley in the east. Another important route was the Indus River from Kashmir in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south. To fully understand the importance of Taxila, it must be noted that the Khunjerab pass between Kashmir and Xinjiang -the current Karakorum highroad- could already be crossed in Antiquity; therefore, Taxila was connected with the Silk road between Babylonia in the far west and China in the far east. 

Taxila was founded in the seventh or sixth century BC – according to legend by a son of the brother of the Rama. The first town was situated on a hill that commanded the river Tamra Nala, a tributary of the Indus. It was an important cultural centre and it is said that the Mahabharata was first recited at Taxila. This site is currently called the Bhir mound. The residential area was in the east; the western part of the town seems to have had a ceremonial function. If the ‘Pillared hall’ was indeed a sanctuary, as is maintained by several archaeologists, it is the oldest known Hindu shrine.

Taxila was the capital of a kingdom that was added to the Achaemenid empire under king Darius I , but the Persian occupation did not last long. There are no archaeological traces of the presence of western armies in the Punjab, although a claim that the Persians built something at Taxila was made in 2002.

When the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great occupied Gandara and the Punjab in 326, the Indian kingdoms had already regained their independence. King Ambhi of Taxila, who is called Taxiles (‘the man from Taxila’) and Omphis in the Greek sources, had invited Alexander in 329, because he needed support against king Porus (Indian: Puru) of Pauravas, a state that was situated in the eastern Punjab. 

Alexander did what he had been asked to do, defeating Porus on the banks of the river Hydaspes (modern Jhelum), and then unexpectedly allied himself with Porus. He forced Ambhi and Porus to reconcile and left behind an occupation force of Macedonian and Greek veterans under a satrap named Philip. Thus for sometime Taxila became a part of the Greek empire.

In 316, king Chandragupta of Magadha (321-297) could conquer the Indus valley. Taxila lost its independence and became a provincial capital. 

Chandragupta was succeeded by Bindusara. His son Ashoka was for some time governor of Taxila until 269, when he succeeded his father. Ashoka became famous for his religious policy: he stimulated Buddhism wherever possible. At Taxila, the existing monastery, which was situated on the other bank of the river, was abandoned. Two new monasteries were built to the east. The Dharmarajika monastery, where Ashoka buried several relics of Buddha, is still famous for its stupa.

In 184, the Greeks, who had maintained a kingdom in Bactria, invaded Gandara and the Punjab again. From now on, there was a Greek king living in Taxila. His name was Demetrius. The town was rebuilt on the plains on the other bank. This second Taxila, called the Sirkap (‘severed head’), was built according to the Hippodamaean plan, that is: according to Greek fashion, like a gridiron. The largest sanctuary, called ‘apsidal temple’, measured 70×40 meters. The Sun temple and a sanctuary known as ‘shrine of the double-headed eagles’ are near the apsidal temple.

In ca. 80 CE, the Yuezhi nomads or Kushans took over the area. Again, Taxila was re-founded, this time even further to the north. This third town is known as the Sirsukh. It must have looked like a large military base. The wall is 5 kilometres long and no less than 6 meters thick. From now on, Taxila was visited by Buddhist pilgrims from countries as far afield as Central Asia and China. There were many sanctuaries and monasteries in the neighborhood.

Another visitor was a Greek philosopher named Apollonius of Tyana. A description of Taxila can be found in the Life of Apollonius of Tyana by the Greek author Philostratus. In section 2.20 he writes that the town is as big as Nineveh and was fortified like the Greek cities.

“While Apollonius was engaged in this conversation, messengers and an interpreter presented themselves from the king, to say that the king would make him his guest for three days, because the laws did not allow of strangers residing in the city for a longer time; and accordingly they conducted him into the palace. I have already described the way in which the city is walled, but they say that it was divided up into narrow streets in the same irregular manner as in Athens, and that the houses were built in such a way that if you look at them from outside they had only one storey, while if you went into one of them, you at once found subterranean chambers extending as far below the level of the earth as did the chambers above.”

[Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, 2.23;tr.F.C. Conybeare]

The city was badly damaged when the Huns invaded the Punjab in the fifth century, and never recovered.

The main ruins of Taxila include four major cities, each belonging to a distinct time period, at three different sites. The earliest settlement at Taxila is found in the Hathial section, which yielded pottery shards that date from as early as the late 2nd millennium BCE to the 6th century BCE. The Bhir Mound ruins at the site date from the 6th century BCE, and are adjacent to Hathial. The ruins of Sirkap date to the 2nd century BCE, and were built by the region’s Greco-Bactrian kings who ruled in the region following Alexander the Great’s invasion of the region in 326 BCE. The third and most recent settlement is that of Sirsukh, which was built by rulers of the Kushan empire, who ruled from nearby Purushapura (modern Peshawar)

The main sites at Taxila today are:

• Bhir mound, the oldest part, probably belonging to the Achaemenid period; 

• Sirkap, a Buddhist city, founded by Greeks from Bactria; together with the Zoroastrian shrine at Jandial; 

• Sirsukh, a large square fortress founded by the Yuezhi nomads or Kushans, to which the Buddhists added monasteries like 

• Jaulian and Mohra Moradu

Bhir Mound:

The oldest part is Bhir, which consists of several building phases:  

1. The oldest stratum, usually dated to the sixth and fifth centuries BCE; 

2. The fourth century, in which raja Ambhi entertained Alexander the Great in 326; 

3. The stratum of the Mauryan empire, third century 

4. And the uppermost stratum, which is everything after the Mauryan period. 

The division between the first and second strata is a bit artificial. Even worse, the common identification of the oldest part of the city with the presence of the Achaemenid king Darius the Great in India in ca. 518 BCE is not based on archaeological finds. In his own texts, Darius claims to have conquered the Indus country, but until now, there is no archaeological confirmation. It would help if we found a Persian coin or cuneiform tablet.

In 316, king Chandragupta of Magadha (321-297) conquered the Punjab. Taxila lost its independence and became a provincial capital. Yet, the city remained important as center of administration, education and trade. During the reign of Chandragupta’s grandson Ashoka, Buddhism became important and the first monks settled in Taxila. They built the stupa called Dharmarajika, ‘the tomb of the real law lord’, i.e., the Buddha, because Ashoka had sent relics to several places in his empire. At the same time, Taxila was rebuilt.

There is some continuity from the oldest to the youngest levels. The main street has been found on the same place in every stratum. The rest of the town changed considerably in the course of the centuries. It consisted of irregular, zig-zag, small streets and housing blocks made of bricks, stones and timber. There was a temple (‘the pillared hall’) and it is said that in the palace, the Mahabharata was recited for the very first time.

About 3 acres of mostly Mauryan remains have been unearthed in the middle of the Bhir mound: it is an irregular plan with four streets, 5 lanes and associated house blocks.

One street was 6.6m wide and the rest 2.7 – 5m in width. The houses are in the chatuhśala plan: open courtyards surrounded by rooms. Most of the houses appear to have been multi-storeyed: in one case the ground floor had 15 to 20 rooms.


The second city at Taxila is called Sirkap, which means ‘severed head’ and is the name of a mythological demon that is said to have lived on this site. It devoured human flesh and was killed by the hero Rasalu. Sirkap was founded by the Bactrian king Demetrius, who conquered this region in the 180’s BCE, and rebuild by king Menander.

Demetrius considered himself a Greek and built the city on the Hippodamaean plan, that is: like a gridiron [a structure consisting of parallel bars]. The ruins are younger than, but similar to, those of Olynthus in Macedonia and Halos in Thessaly. Taxila’s sanctuaries reflect the multicultural nature of the kingdom, which consisted not only of the Punjab, but also of Gandhara, (i.e., the valley of the Kabul and Swat), Arachosia, and a part of the Ganges valley. Greek religious practices, Zoroastrian cults, Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism are all known from second-century Taxila. (For example, there was a Zoroastrian sanctuary at Jandial, north of Sirkap, which looks just like a Greek temple.)

Archaeologists have identified seven strata: 

1. A suburb of Bhir mound; sixth-third century BC; 

2. The first, Demetrian phase of the Greek city, early second century; 

3. The second, Menandrian phase of the Greek city, late second century; 

4. The first phase of the Saka period, beginning ca. 90 BCE; 

5. The second phase of the Saka period 

6. The last phase of the Saka period, until an earthquake in ca. 30 AD (picture, center); 

7. The Parthian period. 

The modern visitor essentially sees the sixth phase and its reconstruction by the Parthian king Gondophares. The excavated area is large: about 1200 meters long and 400 wide. The wall that surrounded the city, built in phase 5, had a height of 6-10 meters, was 5-7 meters wide, and almost 4,800 meters long. This picture shows the northern gate.

The enclosing stone walls of Sirkap (to the north-east of the Bhir mound) are made from coursed rubble masonry, which is characteristic for the Greek and Saca periods and are 5 Km long, 4.5 to 6.5 metres wide and 6 to 9 metres high. It wass strengthened by berms and rectangular bastions. The only gateway which has been excavated is the northern gateway. Immediately behind the gate was, as one could have expected, a guard room.

For a length of about 600 metres, the Indo-Parthian level of the city has been excavated revealing a grid-plan with house blocks interspersed by Stupas and temples. 

The main road of Sirkap also has a number of shops along it. 

The private houses were constructed of rubble masonry covered with lime or mud plaster. Usually, they had a small court, a second floor and a flat roof. One house covered 2160 sq.metres. After the earthquake, in the Parthian period, many were rebuilt with stronger walls and deeper foundations. The palace has been inferred in the South east extremity of the excavated remains.

A Greek visitor, whose description of Taxila was included in the Life of Apollonius by Philostratus, says that the houses gave the impression of having one story, but had in fact basement rooms. This visitor may indeed have been the neo-pythagorean philosopher Apollonius of Tyana; at least Philostratus believed that the subject of his vie romancée had visited the Punjab, and much information appears to be correct. That the palace of Taxila was small, that there was a Sun temple, that there was a temple in front of the walls (Jandial), and that the streets were as small as those of Athens – it has all shown to be correct.


After 80 AD, the Punjab, which had been conquered by Macedonians, Greeks, Sacae, and Parthians, was taken over by theYuezhi nomads or Kushans, a tribe that had once lived in northern China. Their king Kanishka abandoned the part of Taxila known as Sirkap, and founded the third city -in a green and lush valley- Sirsukh. It was to become famous for its fortifications, which is a masonry rampart wall with bastions.

It is almost 5 kilometres long and is nowhere less than 6 metres thick. It circumvenes an irregular square of 1350 x 990 meters. The walls are made of rough rubble and faced with the heavy diaper masonry masonry that is characteristic for this period. The semi-circular bastions, which probably had second and third stories, had loopholes inside the wall, at floor level.

The inner part of this citadel was not really investigated by archaeologists. It is low-lying and abundantly irrigated land, where ruins are buried inaccessibly deep.

There were several contemporary Buddhist monasteries (e.g., Jaulian and Mohra Moradu) in the neighborhood.

Sirsukh was left when the White Huns invaded the Punjab at the end of the fifth century.

Since 1980 Taxila and it’s various settlements have been declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. The site was initially identified by Sir Alexander Cunningham and was excavated by Sir John Marshall.

• Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi

Tughluqābād: The First Planned City of Medieval Delhi

Tughluqabad is conventionally the (Indarpath? Qila Rai Pithora, Siri) fourth city of Delhi. Built between 1320 and 1325 AD by Ghiyasuddin Tughluq, it was abandoned within a generation. According to Zia Barani, its construction started soon after Ghiyasuddin Tughluq’s accession. According to Ibn Battuta, its site was in the mind of the Sultan even when he was a minister in the court of Mubarak Shah. The architect was Ahmad bin Ayaz, an Anatolian (Rumi) malikzada.

It was built over a period of around 2 years and it was declared the dar us sultanate in 1322-23. In 1352 Ghiyasuddin died and was succeeded by Muhammad Tughluq who soon after ordered the construction of Adilabad, which was a new citadel. Tughluqabad and Adilabad are connected with each other by a causeway, which was also a dam to hold the lake water. Soon after was founded the new city of Jahanpanah. Thus Tughluqabad ceased to be the capital. A severe draught in North India and the transfer of capital to Daulatabad appears to have caused a total collapse. Firuzshah (1351-88) during his reign shifted to his new city of Firuzabad, far north of Tughluqabad. This led to a total desertion of the Tughluqabad site.

Thus like Fathpur Sikri, Tughluqabad is a fossilized town having buildings dating back to a brief period and a single reign.
For the brief period that it did exist, it was a splendid city, the magnificence of which is attested to by Ibn Battuta:

“Tughluq’s treasury and palaces are located there, and in it is the greatest palace, covered with golden brick, which, when the sun shines, reflects dazzling light, preventing the eyes from looking at it for long…”

This probably was a reference to the lustre painted ceramic tiles, which were extensively used in Iran during the 13th and 14th Century.
The site of this town, spread over some 300 acres, is located on a hill surrounded by a low lying area ( a basin) where water collected during the rainy season. This seasonal lake was regulated by the construction of a number of dams. The result was that a lake was created to the south of the city which supplied water to the town as well as irrigated the fields all around.

The plan of the city of Tughluqabad appears to have been inspired from Khurasanian (or Iranian) models represented by such towns as Bust, Nishapur and Tus: It comprises of three distinct areas – (a) the lower town (pā‘īn shahr); (b) the upper town (bālā hisār); and (c) the citadel (arg). Generally the Iranian towns conspired of two enclaves, the main town (shahristān) and the citadel.

The Plan
The Layout of the Town

The main town of Tughluqabad appears to have been larger than Siri: its ramparts enclose an area of around 6 Km. The main streets were almost 2 Km long. These ramparts do not appear to follow any geometrical pattern or form, but follow the natural contours of the hill on which the city is located. The general layout of the city is in the form of a trapezium, i.e., a quadrilateral with only one pair of sides parallel. Its massive walls are made of rubble and sand mortar and cased with dressed stones quarried locally. The casing stones are large blocks of stones measuring generally 0.5 × 0.5 × 2 m. Some are bigger and some even as large as 3m.
The thickness of these walls differs: the maximum is 10m. The height reaches up till 30m, but on an average, it varies between 10 to 15m. These walls are pierced with round towers at regular intervals and 12 gates on the outside, while 2 gates are situated between the fort and the town. A single gate connects the fort with the citadel.

The tapering walls with circular bastions

Typical of the period, the ramparts, the bastions and the gates are all tapering (i.e. cyclopean / battered) in form.
The citadel is situated to the south of the town, on the highest point of the hill. It comprised private imperial structures, and thus it is here that we find a three-tiered defence system: (a) a sharply battered first tier with a 2m wide ledge protected with battlements (parapet with indentations), loopholes (slits in walls for firing guns), and merlons (crenellations, or solid wall between two openings); (b) a second wall 5 – 10 m high with a barrel-vaulted gallery; and then (c) on top of this arch-shaped battlements with loopholes.

The most prominent structure in the citadel appears to be a pavilion (no.5), the Jahan numa, which possibly was Ibn Battuta’s ‘great palace of golden brick’.

Most of the buildings and palaces in the citadel have disappeared and what remains is only the under ground cells which made up the plinth / platform on which these structures were situated. The only surviving building in the area is a small mosque (no.8).

The Mosque

The fort is situated to the south-west of the town. On its south is the lake. The other exposed sides are defended by a moat.
This fort consists of four main gates and two postern gates. A gate from the north leads from this fort to a straight street known as Khās Bazar ending at the Dhoban Dhobani Gate. The East Gate opened on a short processional street leading to the Jami’ Masjid.
Behind the East Gate was the Royal Square (maidan) [no.9] measuring 180 × 120 m to the south and west of which are the ruins of various buildings, probably public buildings including audience halls, stables etc.

The Street Layout:

Inside the town, most of the street layout is still preserved. There appears to be a well defined grid-plan for the roads which run from gate to gate. The main streets are fairly straight and some of them are aligned with north-south or east-west coordinates.
Three of these streets, which end at the gates, may be called the main streets: two of these commence at the north-east corner of the fort, one leading north and the other east.
The road between the East Gate of the fort and the gate in the centre of the Eastern side (Rawul Gate) although short, appears to be the main ceremonial and bureaucratic passage. Probably just outside the East Gate of the fort, there was a chauk (square) as the Iranian tradition also followed in many Sultanate towns like Nagaur, Bidar and Ahmadabad. And probably as in those places, it was surrounded with buildings and shops, but nothing survives. Probably it was a square for common people and a place for civic and commercial activity. According to Mehrdad and Natalie Shokoohi, an old aerial photograph hints of traces of buildings surrounding this area.

Another road from the north of this square led to the end of the town. This street was parallel to the one of Khas Bazar, and it was along this that two market squares are located in the middle of the town.

These two principal roads are linked with at least 3 streets. A street also ran along the fortifications and was probably meant for access to the walls and their defence.

Residential & Commercial Areas:

The house structures and other buildings were generally oriented along the streets. Probably the residential areas of the town were towards the north and the houses were planned around one or several courtyards. The residential areas were compactly built with narrow side-streets giving access to the main streets. Some residential structures also probably comprised private gardens. The residential areas also contained a number of small mosques for each quarter. There were some grander mosques as well.

The Plan of an excavated House

As far as the commercial areas were concerned, we have noted at least two in the centre of the town. These are rectangular areas which probably were the whole sale grain markets (mandi). Shops and bazaars were also located along the main streets. The Khas Bazar appears to have been the main market street of the town with shops on either side. The ruins of shops have been found in the middle portion of this street. Such shops ran alongside the entire length of the road.
This street is about 20 m wide and at each side of it is situated a platform about 0.65 m high over which the shops were constructed in a row of equal sized units. Each of this shop was 3 m wide and 5 m deep. The platform fronting these shops was around 1 m wide. Although at Khas Bazar, only the lower parts of the shops survive, but it is enough to give the earliest example of how they were constructed.

Khās Bazar & Plan of Shops
Excavated Shops

An east-west street from the Khas Bazar area ran between Nimwala Gate in the north west and passed on to the Bazar squares in the centre of the town and the continued up to the Rawul Gate.

The Granaries:

Another remarkable feature encountered at Tughluqabad are the silos – the grain storage chambers – which have been found in large numbers built next to the walls both in the town and the fort. Ibn Battuta mentions anbārs of grain (granaries) in the cities of Delhi ‘some having edible grains from the time of Balban’.

The Location & Plan of Silos near the Gates

These are massive but simple structures. One such set of silos is found near the Northern Gate: They are in the form of a large platform about 10m high having 10 circular domed chambers which are 6.50 m wide and 9 m deep. They are set 1 m apart from each other. The walls are solidly constructed with rubble stone and mortar. On one side of the flat domed roofs is a sloping chute by means of which the chamber could be filled and the filling would be monitored through a central hole in the dome. Once filled, both the chute and the hole could be closed and sealed.

The Granary Silos

Similar silos are found near other gates as well, for example the Hathi Gate, Rawal Gate, Bandoli Gate, and other places in the town and the fort.

A number of wells and reservoirs have also been located in and around Tughluqabad. There are two big baolis or step-wells, one in the Palace area and the other in the citadel. The main hydraulic works however are the sluice gates which regulated the lake. They have been initially surveyed by Tatsuro Yamamoto and his team.


The above writing is based on Mehrdad Shokoohy and Natalie H. Shokoohy, which they published in the form of three interim reports in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies; Shokoohy and Natalie H. Shokoohy, Tughluqabad: A Paradigm for
Indo-Islamic Urban Planning and Its Architectural Components
, London, 2007; and my paper on Bazārs and Markets in Medieval India published in Studies in Peoples History in 2015

• Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi

Lalkot to Siri: The Delhi Before Tughluqs

The area around the Qutb complex, known as Lalkot, is the earliest defense work in Delhi created by Anangpal II, who is also credited to have brought the Iron Pillar of Chandragupta II, which now stands in the Quwwat ul Islam.
The massive walls and bastions of the Lal Kot enclose the Qutb complex, the Anangtal and some other mounds. It is pierced by a number of gates.

According to Cunningham (I, p. 151), its date of construction is between 1052-60. He reaches this conclusion on the basis of the Mehrauli Iron Pillar Inscription:

Samvat Dhilli / Dhihali 1109 Ang Pal Bahi”, i.e., “ In Samvat 1109 [1052 AD], Ang [Anang] Pāl peopled Dhilli”.

Buddha Rashmi Mani (1997), the archaeologist who took up some excavation work there and wrote a book on Delhi, read it as follows:

Samvat Kinllī 1109 Aṅgapāla bādi [Anangpal tightened the nail [iron pillar] in Samvat 1109]

Then we have two manuscripts, obtained from Garhwal and Kumaun regions which mention that Anangpal II built the fort in Samvat 1117 / AD 1060.

Perhaps taken together, one may gather that construction was started in 1052 AD, and completed in 1060 AD, eight years later.

The term Dhillika first appears in the Bijhli rock inscription found in district Udaipur, Rajasthan which was issued by the Chahamana (Chauhan) ruler Someshwar in VS 1226 / 1169-70 (Epigraphica Indica, XXVI, 1941-42, no. 9, pp. 84-112).

Iron Pillar in the courtyard of Qubbatul Islām Mosque, Delhi

According to Meera Dass and R. Balasubramaniam (2004) the iron pillar was originally erected at Udayagiri in Madhya Pradesh. And as per the inscription cited above, it was relocated to Delhi by Anangpal. Later when the Turks built the city, it was either Aibek or Iltutmish who had it fixed within the congregation mosque.

The circumference of the ramparts is nearly 3.6 Km with varying thickness ranging between 3-9 m. The ramparts are surrounded with a ditch and the height of the ramparts is nearly 20m at some places. At intervals are semi-circular bastions.

Later on around 12th Century, Vigraharaja IV, the Chauhan (Chahamana) ruler of Sakambhari captured the Dhillika of the Tomaras. His grandson, Rai Pithora (Prithvi Raj III) extended this Lal Kot by throwing up massive ramparts around it. This enlarged city came to be known as Qila Rai Pithora, which was captured by Aibek in 1193.

Ramparts of Lalkot

In the 12th Century, the Tomar Rajputs were overthrown by the Chauhans of Ajmer who built the Qila-i Rai Pithora (Prithvi Raj III) with massive stone ramparts to defend it from the Turks. For this period, we have the bardic poem, Prithviraj Rāso composed by Chānd Bardai, which mentions that the fort here was in fact built by Prithviraj Chauhan [Prithviraj III].

Chand Bardai, is supposed to be Prithviraj’s court poet, who accompanied the king in all his battles. Chand Bardai, whose traditional occupation was to compose poems and ballads in praise of their patrons, based this ballad loosely on historical incidents. These balladeers were poets and scribes who accompanied the armies of their patrons and encouraged and exhorted the warriors to bravery in battle by reciting the great deeds of their illustrious clan forebears.
Over time, the Prithviraj Raso has been embellished with the interpolations and additions of many other authors. Only a small portion of the existing texts is likely to have been part of the original text. Several versions of the Prithivraj Raso are available, but scholars agree that a small 1300 stanza manuscript in Bikaner is closest to the original text. The longest available version is the Udaipur manuscript, which is an epic comprising of 16,306 stanzas. The language of the texts available today largely appears to be post-15th century.

The ramparts of this fort were pierced with 13gates, three of which open into the future city of Jahanpanah. The Badaun Gate towards the east is the most elaborate and well-known of these 13 gates. And if we believe Ibn Batuta, this was probably the main gate through which the city could be entered. And by the time Delhi was captured by Aibek, it already possessed 27 Hindu and Jain temples.
Dhillika under the Chauhans was but a provincial outpost. Excavations conducted in the area suggest that the Lal Kot was divided into two parts – the original western section, and a later eastern division. Y. D. Sharma, through his excavations brought to light structural remains of a Gate, ‘the Bhind Gate’ of the original Lal Kot.

Excavations have also proved that the extension of the Lal Kot towards the east was the area in which the Turkish Sultans and the Khaljis built their structures. Palaces like Kushak-i La’l (Ruby Palace) and the Kushak-i Sabz (Green Palace) were towards this side. J.D. Beglar had noticed large quantities of green enamelled tiles with Arabic inscriptions and ornaments, as well as corner and portions of a floor of a well plastered structure at the back of the Qubbat ul Islam Mosque. This tallies with the information given by Minhaj us Siraj, who tells us that the mosque stood outside the Lal Kot. Firishta also gives us the same type of information. While discussing the details of Haji Maula’s conspiracy, which was subdued by Malik Hamid, the foster-brother of Alauddin Khalji, Minhaj tells us that Hamid entered the Old City through the Ghazni Gate and crossed through Bhind Gate where he killed Haji Maula. Then he went to Kushak-i La’l and slew another rebel. Firishta, at another place tells us that after the retreat of Mongol invaders, Qutlugh Khan and Targhai Khan, Alauddin constructed a palace and directed the citadel of Old Delhi (Lal Kot) to be pulled down and built anew.

Excavations were then undertaken at Lal Kot area under the charge of B.R. Mani between 1991-92 and 1994-95. These revealed a sequence of two cultural periods:
Period I – Rajput Period (middle of 11th C to the end of 12th C)
Period II – Early Sultanate (end of 12th Cent to end of 14th C)

Period I was found divided into three structural phases all of which were generally represented by mud floors and rubble walls with medium sized stones set in mud mortar. In Phase III were encountered two floors of red murram and mud.

In this Period I one thus encounters either mud floors or mud floors mixed with lime finish. Two plastered drains were also noticed. At one spot remains of ochre painting were found over mud plaster on a wall. Ceramic industry included red ware, both plain and decorated. Black slipped grey ware were also encountered.

The Period II (Early Sultanate) is represented by four structural phases. Rooms with water cisterns and drains lined with lime plaster, Lime plastered water tanks and lime floors are encountered. In the succeeding phases, the drainage is covered with stone chips and fresh lime floor. ‘Rajput Style’ pillar bases, probably supporting wooden canopy are also found.
Another notable feature of this period is the use of brick-masonry for the construction of the water cistern, tank, small alcoves and the upper parts of the random rubble wall. All the structures have fine or decorated lime plaster, white in colour in which the decorated parts were probably painted with red colour. The structures were provided with fine lime floors. The ceilings were also probably provided with decorated lime plaster. The fragments of lime plaster of ceilings, decorated with undercut designs of flower were recovered from the debris.

The pottery of this Period II is also quite distinct. Glazed ware, both of sandy friable as also of ordinary terracotta core was profusely used. Foreign ceramics was another notable feature: (a) Chinese celadon ware; (b) fine quality of thin, monochrome & polychrome glazed ware; (c) some sherds of Chinese porcelain. Red ware and Grey ware are also encountered.

Shift Towards Yamuna and a ‘New City’:

It appears that the Dihli-i Kuhna (the Lal Kot / Qila Rai Pithora / Dhillika), the Old Delhi, along with the Hisar-i Nau (the New Fort) – the eastern extension of the Lal Kot – had a natural problem: the problem of water supply. It was situated 18 Km from the river. Dry wells have been excavated outside the Badaun Gate of Lalkot.

To rectify this issue, Sultan Iltutmish built the hauz-i Shamsi (Tabaqat-i Nasiri). Barani mentions that when in 1260’s the Meo’s rebelled, they obstructed the water-carriers and slave girls from filling water from the hauz-i sultani. From the Futuhat-i Firuzshahi we come to know that the channels feeding this tank also dired up as they were ‘dammed’ by ‘dishonest people’. Firuz Shah had to endeavour to get it back in working order.

According to Ibn Batuta, it was 2 mil long and one mil broad. However if you take its dimensions today, they are 200 metres by 125 metres. It is situated approximately 3 Km north of the Qutb complex. Probably, the difference is in the understanding of the term mil, which was definitely much shorter than the English mile. This tank fed with rain-water drained from the higher catchment areas on the ridge, was thus not enough to meet the requirements of the town.

Thus we find a gradual shifting of the city towards Yamuna. First a suburb, Ghiyaspur (during the reign of Ghiyasuddin Balban) developed. It was established near the khanqah of Nizamuddin Auliya. The distance between Ghiyaspur and the Dihli-i Kuhna was around 7 miles as the crow flies.

Between this settlement of Balban and the Yamuna, Balban’s successor Muizzuddin Kaiqubad, according to Zia Barani, built a walled palace (qasr), which was known as Kilokhari. According to Shaikh Nasiruddin (Khairul Majalis), it was half a kuroh (less than a mile) from Ghiyaspur. The palace was towards the river and between the two, Jalauddin Khalji is said to have laid out a garden. The Shahr-i Nau (the New City) developed during this reign around this palace.

According to Barani, the Sultan ordered the nobles and other great men to build their mansions and other large edifices in this area. Large markets were also established. And all this was surrounded with a great stone fortification. Its suburbs included areas around Indarpat and a place known as ‘Bakula’ where Mongols were settled – these areas were also known as Mughulpuri.

It was in 1952 that Olaf Prufer excavated Kilokhari {Report on the Trial Excavations carried out at Khilokhri, Delhi, 1952}
These excavations were conducted near the village Jogabai at a mound 100 × 100 m, having a height of 6 metres. They revealed two phases of structural activity at the site:

a. Pre-Tughluq: in which generally constructions of brick masonry are encountered; and

b. Tughluq: where we find constructions which are of stone masonry

From the excavations it also becomes apparent that the area was abandoned due to some invasion: thick ashy deposits mixed with unburied skeletal remains.
Glazed ware along with red ware, black slipped grey ware as well as ‘foreign ceramics in the form of Chinese pottery is also encountered.

Both Barani and Isami (Futuh us Salatin) inform us of ferocious Mongol invasions of Qutlugh Khwaja and Targhi Beg on Delhi.[ And then of course, the invasion ans sack of Delhi by the forces of Timur at the end of the Tughluq reign.] Thus Alauddin Khalji was forced to revert back to the rocky zone once again. To quote Barani:

The terror of the Mongols became all pervasive. Mughal horsemen began to come up to the Chabutara-i Subhani and the villages of Mori and Hadhi, and the banks of the hauz-i Sultani – after the disaster of Targhi’s invasion – which was a great disaster – Sultan Alauddin woke up from his sleep of negligence and gave up the projects of taking away the army on campaigns and reducing forts (in India). He now built his palace (kushak) in Siri and began to reside at Siri; he designated Siri his capital (darul khilafah) and made it well populated. He also built up the fort of Old Delhi.
Siri was in fact a plain wasteland (sahra) situated to the northeast of Shahr-i Kuhna.

Yazdi in his Zafarnama gives this directional information. Initially this settlement at Siri was called Lashkar or Lashkargah, army encampment or cantonment in contrast to the area around the Qutb which continued to be called the Shahr. Around 1317 AD, Nizamuddin Auliya in one of his recordings in Fawaid ul Fawad (Amir Ahmad Sijzi) comments on the distance between the Shahr and the Lashkar. A few years earlier, in 1314, Amir Ahmad Sijzi had a house built at Lashkar and used to pray in the Jama Masjid of Kilokhari. It was only around 1318 that Lashkargah (Siri) came to be nomenclated as Darul Khilafah, a fact which is corroborated by Ibn Batuta and Zia Barani.

The area of Siri was first identified by Cunningham who identified it with a vast area enclosed by raised mounds of earth near the village Shahpur Jat. The enclosed area is roughly 1.7 sq kilometres and aligns with what Yazdi described of Siri: it was a circular walled enclosure (sura). The main city however continued to be the area of the Qutb where Alauddin kept up his architectural projects: it was still the shahr, while Siri and Kilokhari were the Darul Khilafa and the shahr-i nau. The grand cloth market of Alauddin Khalji was located within the precincts of the Badaun Gate in the direction of Kushak-i Sabz. According to Barani it was known as Sara-i Adl. The grain market, the mandi, was situated near another gate of the city, the Mandvi Darwaza.

Further works to retain water were undertaken. The hauz-i sultani of Iltutmish was redug and resilted. Another tank, the hauz-i Alai or the hauz-i khas, about 2 miles north of the Qutb was dug. According to Carr Stephen it was square with each side measuring some 600 metres and a total space of 70 acres. Yazdi calls it as daryacha (a small sea) which would be filled during the rainy season and took care of the annual needs of the city inhabitants. The catchment area of this tank was the area now occupied by the IIT and the JNU where some of the channels are still visible.

Excavations at Siri were under taken by Raghbir Singh in 1976-77. They revealed the traces of the fortification walls built of undressed rubble laid in lime mortar. It was oval in plan with bastions at regular intervals. It further revealed single culture occupational deposit datable to early 14th Century

• Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi

Sources For Akbar’s Reign

Abul Fazl presenting Volume One of Akbarnāma to Akbar

The study of the sources of Akbar’s reign is a topic which has to be tackled in three parts, viz.
• A general Survey of the sources: the broad categories
• Abul Fazl’s approach to the study of history; his world out-look with special reference to Ain-i Akbari
• Basic structure of Badauni and his Muntakhab ut Tawarikh; his world out-look and also the general bias that we find in his historical writings.

General Survey:

The sources are mainly written in Persian language and their total number is very large for this period. It is possible to place the sources we have for the Akbar’s reign under different categories, keeping in mind the world out-look and political loyalties of the authors, their cultural predilections, their social status and also keeping in mind the themes with which their work is primarily concerned.

If we try to work out the characterization of our sources, both primary and some later sources giving primary information of this period, we may get the following seven categories:

1. Official Histories

2. Semi-Official Histories

3. Histories written by theologians (ulema)

4. Insha collections

5. Regional histories

6. Biographical Dictionaries

7. Later sources and histories

There were other sources also – for example the Jesuit Portuguese Fathers writing letters and reports to their superiors in Goa and Lisbon – comprising very interesting sources of information. We also have Traveller’s Accounts, for example that of Finch, who came during the reign of Akbar, or the Ottomon traveller Sidi Ali Reis, whose ship wrecked and he came to Delhi on the eve of Akbar’s accession. The accounts which he left behind for just before and after Akbar’s accession are the only accounts of these political and eventful days.

We also have a very large number of inscriptions and coins of Akbar’s time. Then we have quite a considerable number of original documents of Akbar’s reign which add much to our knowledge on the period under consideration.

Akbarnāma & Tarīkh i Alfi:

Let us start with the Official Histories.
Amongst the official histories we have Akbarnama compiled between 1593-94 – 1597: The last portion of the volume III was completed sometime in 1597. Another important source of this category is the Tarikh-i Alfi compiled in 1582 and completed in 1588.
Then we have the Takmila-i Akbarnama. It is in a way a continuation of the Akbarnama after 1597. But it is an account which is in a different style and a different approach. This was written as a concluding part after the assassination of Abul Fazl in 1602 by Faizi Sirhindi. It covers a period from 1602 to 1604.
Official histories are important as they project the official version of the contemporary events as well as of past developments which naturally tend to be in conformity with the cultural predilections or leanings of the monarch under whose perusal such works are produced. They are actually in the nature of justification of many of the measures taken by a particular ruler.

Therefore it is indeed very useful that in Akbar’s reign we have two official histories written at different times – one is from an early stage during his reign and the other was completed at the end of his reign when he had adopted his policies for which his reign is distinguished. A comparison of the interpretations of the same events in the two works enables us to ascertain as to what the main stages were through which his main outlook was passing through and how they were being perceived. For some events and policies we have one interpretation in the Tarikh-i Alfi, while another is given in the Akbarnama which was completed 10 – 15 years after the former.

Tarikh-i Alfi, as its name indicates, was conceived by Akbar as a comprehensive history of the first millennium of the Islamic era. It was undertaken towards the close of the millennium and the idea was that in this book the account which began from the dawn of Islam would be brought till the end of 1000 years. The task of compiling this work was entrusted to a team of historians consisting of Mulla Ahmad Thattavi, Asaf Khan and Abdul Qadir Badauni.

The book was planned as the history of the world in which the political developments in the then known world were to be put under individual chapters. But the era used here is not exactly the ‘Islamic’ era. In fact Akbar altered the Islamic era by calculating it not from the hijrat i.e., 622 AD but by calculating it from the date of Rihlat, i.e., Prophet’s demise in 632 AD. The justification that Akbar gave for this change was that, as Abul Fazl says, it is not proper to start the Islamic era from an episode which actually represented the temporary success of forces of evil. Its better to start it from the date of the Prophet’s demise which is a more momentous date. Therefore the years under which individual chapters were organized were rihlat years and not hijrat years.

The chapter would open with developments at the Mughal court of a particular year; it would then abruptly switch to an account of events on the Ottoman empire of the same year before recounting the events that took place in the Safavid court, the Uzbeks and then back to the Deccan for the same year. This was quite an arbitrary approach which squeezed in varied information in one single chapter. Thus this is a narrative of dis-connected events and happenings in different parts of the world.

In fact we do have at our disposal one interesting work providing an insight in the manner in which this book was compiled. This is a work preserved in the Khuda Bakhsh Library at Patna known as Tarikh-i Khandan-i Taimuria. The only copy of this work that has survived contains paintings in large numbers by some of the well-known painters of Akbar’s court which is testimony to the fact that it is a manuscript which was completed at Akbar’s court. Like Tarikh-i Alfi in this book also the account is divided into chapters that commence with rihlat years. But this is only an account of the political history of the Timurids from the time of Timur to that of Akbar in 1576. If one compares the account of the history in this book with the passages on Timurid history in the yearly account in the Tarikh-i Alfi, one will find that this account is exactly the same as given there. This goes to indicate that perhaps Tarikh-i Alfi was initially compiled by its team of authors as separate histories each of which was divided on an yearly basis. And then these accounts were put together to create and constitute a large account represented by Alfi.

Badauni tells us that the Timurid account was compiled mainly by Ghiyasuddin Asaf Khan. Thus we can say that the Khuda Bakhsh manuscript was authored by Ghiyasuddin Asaf Khan.

So far as the nature of this source is concerned, this source included some facts omitted in the Akbarnāma. In this official history written in 1582, some information later suppressed in official history is re-produced without any inhibition. This would naturally indicate that by this time Akbar had not yet arrived at a state of mind to suppress some developments of the earlier period that did not present some people close to him in a favourable light.

For example, in Tarikh-i Alfi it is mentioned that at the time of Tardi Beg’s execution in October-November 1556 Bairam Khan had succeeded in securing the co-operation of Akbar’s favourite wet-nurse Maham Anaga through bribery. This fact is missing in the Akbarnama. According to Akbarnama she was against Bairam Khan from the very beginning and organized Bairam’s downfall in 1560.
This indicates the manner in which a tailored history was prepared by Akbar; and which facts Akbar was subsequently trying to hide.
Another similar discrepancy between the two accounts regards the capture of Hemu. In the Akbarnama Abul Fazl devotes a long passage to the famous episode of Hemu’s capture at the Battlefield and his execution at the hands of Bairam Khan after Panipat. Abul Fazl says that when Hemu was brought before Akbar in a wounded state, Akbar refused to raise his own hand towards him and attributes a full speech to the effect that it is not right to attack a man injured. This was to shift the blame on Bairam Khan. Abul Fazl was trying to build a particular image of Akbar which shows him generaus and farsighted.

But in the Tarikh-i Alfi the episode is narrated in total frankness: the speech attributed to Akbar is not quoted here. It is possible that Akbar invented it to Abul Fazl who incorporated it. But what is important to note is that till 1582, Akbar did not had it included and that it is not reproduced in the account written in 1582.

Thus a reading of both the accounts helps us understand how the political image of Akbar and his history was being tailored.
Similarly in the Akbarnama Abul Fazl makes an explicit statement that Akbar had abolished jizya and the Pilgrimage tax in 1562-64. Abul Fazl goes out of his way to explain the significance of this on Akbar’s Rajput Policy. Jizya was not justified and Abul Fazl denounces earlier rulers for imposing it. Now, he says, relief was provided to the non-Muslims.

But then, these two measures are not mentioned in the 1582 text! It is not to suggest that Abul Fazl invented them; perhaps these orders were there but were not enforced in a regular manner and even Akbar did not give much importance to them. He did not regard them as great achievement. But in the subsequent history, attempt was made to give an impression that they were the starting point of Akbar’s religious policy. When subsequently the principles of sulh-i kul were evolved, they were mentioned with great fanfare!

Apart from all this, certain sections of Tarikh-i Alfi relating to Babur and Humayun are important as they were copied by later Mughal histories of Babur and Humayun’s reign.

Semi-Official Histories:

So far as these are concerned, they are histories written by persons in imperial service or one of those who was a noble at Akbar’s court at the time when he wrote his account. These accounts were written by these persons in their individual capacity and not on the order of the king. They were generally written on their own initiative. But at the same time as they identified themselves with the Mughal state and were involved in its working, they tended to give an imperial bias which does not reflect changing situations and policies at the court. Their information tends to justify the role of the authors or that of their immediate superiors and employers.

In this connection one can list the following:
a) Nafais-ul Ma’asir, Alaud Daulah Qazwini (c. 1575)
b) Tarikh-i Akbari, Haji ‘Arif Qandhari (1580’s)
c) Tazkira-i Humayun wa Akbar, Bayazid Bayat (1590)
d) Tabaqat-i Akbari, Nizamuddin Ahmad Bakhshi (1594)
e) Risala-i Asad Beg, Asad Beg (1604)

One thing that is common to all of them is that the authors of these histories were in the service of the Mughal state in one or the other capacity. Some were minor or important nobles. Nizamuddin Ahmad was an imperial bakhshi of the central government. Similarly Alauddaulah Qazwini was the son of a distinguished Persian scholar Khwaja Abdul Latif Qazwini who came in 1555 and had acted as Akbar’s ataliq during the last one year of Humayun’s reign.

But then, Bayazid Bayat was a petty officer who could reach to the position of 200 sawars towards the end of his career as a mansabdar. However, he was close to the royal family and had access to them as a close servant. At the time of writing his account, he was not a regular noble.

Same was the condition of Arif Qandhari who was in the service of Bairam Khan. Later he served Muzaffar Khan. At the time of writing he was still in the service of the same noble.
So far as the Nafais ul Ma’asir is concerned, it comprised two sections, one is the political history of the Mughal rule in Hindustan from the time of Babur’s conquest in 1526 to 1575 – the conquest of Bengal.

The second part comprises of biographical notices of poets etc which are not found anywhere else. Much information contained in the III volume of Badauni on the biographies the contemporaries is drawn from Nafais-ul Ma’asir.

Tazkira-i Humayun wa Akbar is more a memoir than a regular history. A great significance of this account is that Bayazid’s account of Akbar is focussed mainly on developments taking place in different provinces where Bayazid was staying and posted at different points of time.

In fact Bayazid joined the service of Munim Khan Khan-i Khanan in 1555 and stayed with him at Kabul down to 1560. For this crucial period, Bayazid’s account helps us to understand how the Mughal nobles placed at a long distance to the court were reacting to the tussle that was going on at the court between the regent Bairam Khan and his opponents.
Subsequently Bayazid was made the in-charge of Munim Khan Khan-i Khanan’s jagir at Hisar Firuza where he remained between 1560 and 1567. Again during this period his account is the only account helping us to understand what repercussions’ were created in a provincial town due to the events taking place at the court. For example, when in 1562 Mirza Sharafuddin revolted against Akbar he escaped towards Hisar Firuza and much fighting took place between him and the royal officers in the vicinity of this town where Bayazid was stationed. So there is an account of the manner in which military operations against Sharafuddin were organized.
Subsequently Bayazid stayed with Munim Khan at Jaunpur from 1567 to 1573. Again we find the developments and repercussions at Jaunpur to the eventsat the court as well as preparations at Jaunpur for further expansion towards Bihar & Bengal known to us only as a result of Bayazid’s account at this provincial headquarters.

Bayazid’s account is presented from the Imperial point of view: thus it is a tailored account.

Same is true for Risala-i Asad Beg as it covers a period for which no other history is present. He served Abul Fazl for a number of years and was in his party when Abul Fazl was assassinated. After that in 1602 he was sent by Akbar as his envoy to the Deccan from where he returned sometime before 1604. His Risala contains a detailed account of his activity in the Deccan and the journey to Agra and the presents he brought with him to the court. First mention of tobacco in medieval sources occurs in his Risala and he displayed how it was smoked.

Histories Written by Ulema:

General Nature: These histories represent the reactions and assessments of the Muslim religious elite, the social category which was known in the medieval period as ashraf living on madad-i ma’ash or suyurghal grants (revenue free grants for charitable purposes). It is therefore understandable that in these histories the authors seem to be particularly sensitive about Akbar’s measures relating to the management of suyurghal grants and also Akbar’s policies which in any other manner effected the position of the orthodox people. For this reason these sources represent a very important evidence that relates to the religious policy of the Mughal state under Akbar.

The second important feature of these accounts is that all of them suffer from a religious bias and an attempt is made by these authors to interpret political history on doctrinal lines – i.e. their own understanding of the shariat. But at the same time it is also true that in spite of this doctrinal approach, individual interpretations of different authors of this category are at variance with each other as a rule. Therefore it is of great interest for a student of political history that how a particular measure of Akbar is variously assessed by historians and chroniclers, all of whom are writing from an Islamic orthodox point of view.

For example, on the one hand we have Mulla Abdul Qadir Badauni who denounces Akbar as well as most of his close associates as heretics. He also denounces policies and measures of Akbar as aimed at destroying Islamic religion as such.

But on the other hand we have persons like Shaikh Abdul Haq Muhaddith in Tarikh-i Haqqi or his son Nurul Haq Dehlavi in Zubdat ul Tawarikh, wherein we find in spite of an attempt (of ulema) to long for an Islamic age, they have no such harsh assessment as is made by Badauni.

There are a number of important works in this category to be remembered, viz.

Muntakhab ut Tawarikh by Abdul Qadir Badauni completed by him sometime in 1595
Akbarnama compiled by Ilahadad Faizi Sirhindi in 1601
Tarikh-i Haqqi by Abdul Haq in 1605
Zubdat ut Tawarikh by Nurul Haq in 1605
All these are the works compiled by the ulema of Akbar’s period.

Insha Collections:

So far as insha collections are concerned, their number is very large. Here we will mention only the important collections.

Insha Collections are works in which specimen copies of different kinds of documents, including letters written by people belonging to different categories are collected together. These collections were compiled with the aim of presenting collections of the model documents that could serve as instructions to people who sought training as administrators and munshis. Actually when people would write these ‘manuals’, they would take out original letters and copy. So documents which survived, were original documents selected as model documents.

They provide a variety of evidence on political and social history: And are as valuable as information coming from any other contemporary sources.

Insha-i Abul Fazl is available in a number of editions. Abul Fazl’s writings were regarded for long as models of prose writing. They were used in Persian madrasas for purposes of instruction of students. So a number of editions of Abul Fazl’s writings under different titles are available. In these are included letters written on Akbar’s behalf to contemporary rulers of the Deccan, Abdullah Khan Uzbek and the rulers of the Safavid Empire. Some of the letters are written by Abul Fazl on behalf of Akbar and addressed to individual nobles.

Ruqqat-i Abul Fath Gilani published from Lahore is important as it dates back to 1580-81. It is one of the earliest collections left behind by one of Akbar’s noble.
In this collection are included a large number of letters written by Abul Fath Gilani to his contemporaries in which he has made references to the current developments particularly developments taking place in Bihar and Bengal where a revolt by some nobles was going on in 1580-81.

Then we have the Maktubat-i Imam Rabbani – a collection of letters written by the famous Naqshbandi sufi, Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, who is also sometimes remembered as the Mujaddid-i Alf-i Sāni – the Lawgiver of the Second Millenium. His Radd-i Rawafiz indicates him as a man of intolerant views of Sunni Muslims, especially the Isna ‘Ashari Shias. Naturally he was greatly provoked by the liberal religious policy followed by Akbar.
In this collection, compiled during the reign of Jahangir, there are available a number of letters that were written by him to some of the leading nobles of Akbar’s court: i.e., Shaikh Farid, Abdur Rahim Khan-i Khanan, Mirza Aziz Koka etc, in which he had pleaded with them that they should use their influence to have Akbar’s policy of separating religion from state be reversed. Shaikh Ahmad wanted this because according to him, it caused, and was causing, great harm to Islam in India.
This collection is very important for the study of Akbar’s Religious Policy that Akbar pursued towards the close of his reign and more particularly for the reaction of the Sunni orthodoxy against Akbar’s policies during this time.

Then we have Munsha’āt-i Namakīn by Abul Qasim Namakin, who was a noble in Akbar’s service and who was stationed for a considerable period in Sind and the Salt Range area of the Punjab. It was during his tenure as the jagirdar in the Salt Range area that he gave a present to Akbar made of salty rock, and as a reward for this, Akbar gave him the title ‘Namakin’, i.e., ‘salty’.

This work was completed sometime between 1595-99. It is in fact a very large collection of official letters and documents which were collected by Abul Qasim during his long tenure as a mansabdar. In this we have separate sets of documents relating to different units of administration: revenue administration, the department of sadarat, fathnamas, etc. In fact the information supplied by these documents is so overwhelming that when it was edited by Prof. I.A. Zilli, it became apparent that unless the administrative history of Akbar’s reign is re-written in the light of these documents, the study would remain incomplete. These documents give a new dimension on the administrative history of Akbar’s reign. They also furnish information on the political aspects of the reign as well.

There is given in this collection a document known as Fathnama-i Chittor, a copy of declaration that Akbar had issued after his victory over the Sisodias at Chittor in 1568. Thus it lays down his policy towards the Rajputs and the drastic measures that he had taken against the Rajputs on this occasion. It talks about establishing Islam in the territories inhabited by non-Muslims. Akbar says that since the beginning of his reign till now, he has waged warfare against kafirs. He takes pride in the fact that he was responsible for the destruction of a large number of townships inhabited by the kafirs. He massacred a lot of kafirs and converted quite a few of them. This is in sharp contrast to Akbar’s policy projected by Abul Fazl in 1597. Akbarnama describes Akbar’s victory in Chittor, but all the religious bias in this original document is missing. Thus this document helps us to understand Akbar’s attitude at this time towards the Rajputs and his role at Chittor in 1568 itself, and how it is different from his own image he is seeking to project in the official history written subsequently. Thus we can say that definite change has taken place in his personal religious approach as well as his attitude towards the Hindus and the Rajputs.

Regional Histories:

They are available mainly for the history of Gujarat, Sind, Deccan and Kashmir. These histories, as it is seen, are histories focussed on political and administrative developments taking place in different regions from the time these regions were controlled by independent kingdoms down to the end of Akbar’s reign when these regions were integrated into a new imperial system which evolved under Akbar. Therefore, these sources are very important in so far as they highlight the circumstances that led to the annexation of the individual regions to the Mughal Empire and also highlight the settlements that were made in these regions after the conquest which accounted for the diverse administrative forms that are sometimes discernible in the different Mughal subahs.

The important histories of this category are as follows:

Tarikh-i Gujarat compiled by Abu Turab Wali sometime before 1597 and which covers the history of the Gujarat region from 1526, i.e., from the coming of Bahadur Shah to the throne, down to the final suppression of the revolt of the Gujarat nobles against Akbar in 1584. So this book covers a very important period of the history of the struggle between the Mughal Imperial Authority and the local ruling dynasty of Gujarat which finally culminated in the absorption of Gujarat in the Mughal Empire.

Tarikh-i Ma’sumi or Tarikh-i Sindh written by Masum Bhakkari in 1606-07. This is a local history of Sindh giving account of the Arghun ruling dynasty of Sindh from very early time down to the time of annexation of Sindh to the Mughal Empire under Akbar. Masum Bhakkari at the time of writing was serving as a minor mansabdar of the Mughal Empire who belonged to an old family of Sindh nobility.

Tarikh-i Farishta. This is important from the point of view that it is a general history which is a near contemporary source for us. We are concerned here only with that part of it in which histories of various regional kingdoms including those of Gujarat, Malwa, Sindh, Kashmir, Bengal and Bahmani kingdoms are given from beginning of the 15th Century down to the annexation of some of these to the Mughal Empire under Akbar. It was only the Bahmani kingdom which stayed out of the Mughal Empire.

Then we have Mirat-i Sikandari by Sikandar bin Manjhu, compiled in 1611; the Baharistan-i Shahi of Kashmir compiled in 1614; the Mirat-i Ahmadi, another history of Gujarat compiled by Ali Muhammad Khan in 1761.

All these are later works but focus on the period when these territories were annexed.


They are biographical notices of the Ulema and the Mashaikh, and occasionally, of poets. Then we have a number of instances of tazkiras covering the biographies of the people in the fighting profession or holding positions as nobles. For example, the second part of Nafais ul Ma’asir compiled by Ala ud Daulah Qazwini in 1575, which is a tazkira of the nobles under the garb of the tazkira of poets.
Amongst the tazkiras of ulema and mashaikh which also contain biographical notices of nobles may be included:

Muzakkar-i Ahbab (1562) containing biographical notices on a number of persons serving in the Mughal Empire under Akbar, compiled at Samarqand. Incidentally it contains biographies of some of those who migrated to Hindustan in 1562 or after, and a number of poets, scholars and other persons and groups of intelligentsia who are not known otherwise.

Akhbar ul Akhyar compiled by Abdul Haq Muhaddis Dehlavi contains biographical notices of ulema and mashaikh.
• Another such tazkira is ‘Arafat ul ‘Ashiqin written by Taqi Auhadi.

Then we have the Zakhirat al Khawanin written by Shaikh Farid Bhakkari in 1652-53. It is important as it is entirely a biography of nobles who were serving Akbar. We get access to detailed information about Akbar’s nobility which we get nowhere else. It was however written much later.

Ma’asir ul Umara was compiled in 1742-47 by Shahnawaz Khan. This also contains original information. However, it had a particular bias – its author was a staunch Shia, while Farid Bhakkari was a staunch Sunni. Thus both these works had their own particular bias. However, Shahnawaz Khan borrowed extensively from the earlier work.

Tazkirat ul Umara was compiled in 1728 by Kewal Ram. This is important because, even for the earlier period, information about the non-Muslim nobles is quite detailed which is not found in other tazkiras.

Other Later Sources:

Source like Tarikh-i Farishta was compiled in the Deccdan in 1606-07. It provides information not only about the Mughal Empire, but also about the Delhi Sultans of earlier centuries as well, which is not found in earlier sources. Its introduction quotes a large number of sources not available now to us. So, much information is derived from authentic contemporary sources to which we now have no access. Lastly, Farishta is the first account where an attempt is made to interpret early history of the 16th Century and Mughal Empire, in terms of the controversies, for example, the Shia-Sunni controversy, and the differences being the basic reason for the rise of factional struggle during the regency.

Ma’asir-i Rahimi was written by ‘Abdul Baqi Nahawandi sometime in 1614-16. This deals with Abdur Rahim Khan-i Khanan – it is a sort of an apology for the role played by Bairam Khan and Abdur Rahim himself earlier. So it is in bias, and favour of, two nobles who served Akbar in high positions.

Iqbalnama-i Jahangiri compiled in 1620 is very important because it is an attempt made in the reign of Jahangir to elaborate the political history in such a way that it can be used as auseful guide and help to interpret the verbose statements made by Abul Fazl in the Akbarnama. It also adds information in addition to that of Abul Fazl.

Even the Tuzuk-i Jahangiri when referring about the last few years of Akbar’s reign, provides us information. It also contains an assessment of Akbar’s policies and measures.

Lastly we have the Dabistan-i Mazahib compiled sometimes towards the mid-17th Century by an anonymous author, most probably a Zoroastrian (Parsi). This book is conceived as an encyclopaedia of different religions practiced in Hindustan and for the study of the political and institutional history of Akbar’s reign: It covers what is described by the author as the so-called Din-i Ilahi, the concept of religious tolerance introduced by Akbar. It also gives a detailed summary of discussions which had taken place in the Ibadatkhana in 1575. Resume of discussions reproduce mainly relate to those acrimonious exchanges which took place between Sunni Ulema and the Jesuits, between Shi’i and Sunni ulema and also with the Hindus. It seems that this section is based on some authentic record of discussions. This is borne out by the great resemblance between it and that of the summary of the discussions given by Badauni in volume II of his Muntakhab.

• Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi