Exploring the heritage of Burhanpur
Burhanpur may appear at first glance to be little more than the average small town, to those who care to peel away its layers, it offers a glimpse into a truly glorious past. At almost every turn in the older part of town, now known as ‘Seetee’ there seems to be a medieval mosque, gurudwara, temple or towering gateway. Its immediate outskirts, too, within a 20 odd km radius offer the massive Asirgarh Fort to the north, the luxurious pleasure palace of Mahal Gulara to the east and the sacred Icchadevi Temple to the south, with numerous, old dargahs, temples, and medieval ruins on the way.
Asirgarh Fort : Perched high on a hill of the Satpura range just under 25 kms north of Burhanpur is one of the most magnificent forts of the region, rivaling even the great Golconda in impregnability. Alexander Cunningham attributes the origins of the fort to ‘great antiquity’ , going so far as to identify it with the ‘Ozoabis’ mentioned by Ptolemy
Kali Masjid : One of the oldest Faruqi monuments is Kali Masjid (black mosque). While locals insist that this is Burhanpur’s oldest mosque, the MP District gazetteer, 1969 attributes it to the last Faruqi ruler, Bahadur Khan(1596-1600). It is looted in the Daulatpura Mohalla, a 10-minute walk uphill from the Rajghat along the Tapti.
Bibi ki Masjid : Further inside the town, about 15 minutes by foot from the Rajghat area is another Faruqi monument, Bibi ki Masjid. For more ornate than Kali Masjid, Bibi ki Masjid was built between 1520 and 1540 by a Faruqi queen.
Jama Masjid : Built when Bibi ki Masjid, became too small to accommodate Burhanpur’s growing population, the miraculously well preserved Jama Masjid, is located at the very centre of town in Gandhi Chowk. Its over 36m high minars tower over the mosque arched compound and the bustling bazaar outside.
Tombs of Nadir Shah and Adil Shah : About 3 kms from the centre of town are the tombs of several Faruqi rulers and their queens, set within a walled enclosure. Most noteworthy of these are the tombs of Nadir Shah and Adil Shah.
Badshahi Qila : A prolific builder of the Faruqi dynasty and the ruler under whom Burhanpur enjoyed most prosperity, was Adil Khan II cr. 1457-1503. The king propelled the construction of a citadel, with walls pierced by eight gates stretching around Burhanpur. This was known as the Badshahi Qila.
Diwan-e-Khas : Outside the baths are the grounds of the Diwan-e-Khas, its lawn beautifully maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, which also has its offices here. Diwan –e – Aam : Adjacent to the Diwan-eKhas is the Diwan-e-Aam, the delicate frescoes on its walls and arches faded except in a few places.
Zenana Hammam : The Mughals added enormously to Burhanpur’s architectural treasures. Within Badshahi Qila is the Zenana Hammam. Built in a combination of Mughal and Persian styles distinctive of early Mughal architecture, the baths were once decorated with beautiful frescoes on the ceilings, some of which still survive.
Kundi Bhandara : The Mughal pleasure in water- fountains, canals, baths is well known. Burhanpur boasts of what may be one of their most elaborate system for transporting water demonstrating an unparalleled constructional technique. Even today, these remain glorious relics of Mughal engineering, ingenuity and skill.
Tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan : On the northern outskirts of Burhanpur, about 2 kms from the town, is a beautiful Mughal monument, the tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan, on the banks of the Utaoli river.
Bilquis Jahan’s Tomb : The tomb of Bilquis Jahan, or Begum Shah Shuja is barely 2 kms from Shah Nawaz’s tomb because of its distinctively shaped dome, the tomb is locally known as Kharboozi (‘melon-like’) Gumbaz. Shah Shuja, Shah Jahan’s second son, lost his beloved wife, Bilquis Jahan, in Burhanpur during childbirth, and erected this tomb in her memory.
Hazrat Shah Bhikari : Very close to the tomb of Bilquis Jahan is the dargah of Hazrat Shah Bhikari also known as Hazrat Shah Nizamuddin.
Dargah-e-Hakimi : About 3 kms from Gandhi Chowk in Burhanpur is the village of Lodhi, said to have been founded by and hence named after a king of the Lodhi dynasty. The village houses the Dargah-eHakim, a sacred pilgrimage for the Dawoodi Bohra Muslims. It is the mazar of Syedi Abdulqadir Hakimuddin.
Mahal Gulara : Beautifully located on the banks of the Badi Utaoli river is Mahal Gulara, a Mughal pleasure retreat, 21 kms from Burhanpur on Amravati Road, north of the village of Sindhkheda.
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