Saanjha Chulha – Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb

, Hazrat-E-Dilli
Saanjha Chulha
Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb
According to Yogendra Singh in “ Composite Culture in a Multi Cultural Society”, “India is a society of communities. According to a recent survey 9 by Anthropological Survey of India in 1992) there are 4634 in India, which constitute the fabric of its social structure and culture. India is also a ‘civilization society. The interaction between institutional, cultural, and social structural elements through the evolution of a civilization society in India has given birth to a cultural phenomena, popularly known as “composite culture’. Which is probably unique in history.” This is also known locally as ‘ganga jamuni tahzeeb’ , something which I hold very dear.
Composite culture refers to the “continual presence and process of reciprocity; mutual sharing and overlap of cultural practices; styles of life; a technological and economic world view of the relationship between nature and culture; shared practices of economy and technology; values and belief systems cutting across the divides of space; and religious belief systems and specificities of community differentiations,” according to Singh and that our national leaders, particularly Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru were deeply aware of  this reality.
Through the years this dynamic exchange and interaction between various cultures led to many innovations, changes and in architecture a style known as Indo- Islamic architecture in the medieval period.
When Qutubuddin Aibak established the Delhi Sultanate, he had come only with an army, some counselors. He had his visions of mosques and mausoleums as found in Afghanistan but did not have the artisans of that region.
The visions of Aibak and his successors were carried out by the local artisans, which gave rise to this new style.
The Jamali Kamali Mosque is situated in the Mehrauli village district outside the Qutb complex in southern Delhi and was built between 1528 and 1536.  It is one of the most beautiful mosques from the early Mughal period and is built of red sandstone with white details. It is definitely one of the most serene mosques that I have visited.

In this shot taken by Nadeem Ahmad Metcalfe’s Folly (canopy built by him)  can also be seen outside the mosque, tomb complex.
By the time the Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tombs were made in 1536 many features had already been imbibed from Persian and local architecture.
In this very Islamic looking mosque one can see the very Rajasthani looking ‘jharoka’ which later became a staple feature of Mughal architecture. (Jharoka is a decorative window or projecting balcony made with a jali.)
Percy Brown in his defining book, “Indian Architecture in the Islamic period”, refers to this mosque as Jamala Mosque. He makes no mention of the tombs in the compound attached to the mosque. For him the main characteristic of the mosque is that though it was built in the reign of the Mughals, after the battle of Panipat, the architectural designs of the Lodis were continued since, the Mughals too busy in consolidating their rule in a new country had not yet imprinted their own stamp on Indian architecture.
“Although confused circumstances were then prevailing, it shows that the building art remained unaffected by the political conditions and was continuing its normal course.”
But Brown says that “ A definite attempt was being made towards a refinement of the style generally and its designers were aiming at a form of architecture in which better material and workmanship were the main objects.”
This mosque according to Percy Brown was also a preparation for Sher Shah’s Qila e Kuhna mosque in Purana Qila. It also bridges the style of the Delhi Sultanate to that of the Mughals.
Masjid to bana di shab bhar mein,Iman ki hararat walon ne
mann apna purana papi hai,barson se namazi ban na saka.
Though the mosque was built overnight by the believers
Our heart being an old sinner could not ever become devout
Though the ASI has recently renovated and restored much of the treasures in the Mehrauli Archeological Park, there remains much to be done .

Ye Aik Sajda Jise Tu Garan Samajhta Hai
Hazar Sajde Se Deta Hai Admi Ko Nijat!
Though irksome, seems this prostration to you,
Frees it, you , from a thousand trials and tribulations
The mehrab (is a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla or  direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying) in the mosque
Though recent references to this complex only mention Shaikh Fazlu’llah, also known as Shaikh Jamali Kamboh or Jalal Khan, a renowned Sufi saint who lived during rule of the Lodi’s, and of  Babur and Humayun, ( Gordon Hearn in his book “Seven Cities of Delhi”, says “this mosque is said to have been built on the platform of the dwelling of the saint Kutb-ud-din, and the whole village is said to be as old as the fort of Rai Pithora. The mosque was attached to the tomb of Shaikh Fazlulla, or Jalal Khan, a celebrated poet, who wrote under the nom-de-plume of Jamali, and died in A.D. 1535. His mausoleum, once his dwelling-place, is well built, with tile ornamentation, and has two verses of the poet inscribed within.”
Saint Qutubbudin Bakhtiyar Kaki came from Ush to Delhi very soon after the conquest of this place by his namesake, Qutubuddin Aibak and  lived here , near the Jamali Masjid, for over half a century, and died in A.d. 1256, in the reign of Iltutmish, who is said himself to have performed the funeral ceremonies.
The tomb contains two graves, one is of Jamali and the other is of an unknown person referred to as Kamali.

The tomb though very simple from the outside is an explosion of colours inside
the roof looked like a flying Persian carpet , upside down and the walls had some more beautiful designs.
rang hi rang khushbu hi khushbu
gardish e saaghar e khyaal hain hum
Colour everywhere, scent all pervasive
A movement of thought, idea,  am I

the colorfully painted stucco ceiling has  elaborate arabesques and floral motifs which are juxtaposed with inscriptions including verses written by the poet himself. 
a beautiful medallion.
But what would surely fill the heart of any person who holds the Ganga Jamuni Tahzeeb dear was the mehrab in the tomb given below
Allah is inscribed in the centre of a kalash with a nariyal (coconut) on top as an offering. “Kalasha, also spelled as Kalash and kalasa (Sanskrit: कलश; literally “pitcher, Kalasha pot“), is a metal (brass, copper, silver or gold) pot with a large base and small mouth, large enough to hold a coconut . The Purna-Kalasha is considered a symbol of abundance and “source of life” in the Vedas. “ (
Another feature adopted by local artisans was of medallions to decorate mosques and building of this period. If you Google medallions in Iran you will find them used only in carpet designs not mosques! Since figures were not permitted in Islam the local artisans came up with innovative ideas to decorate the mosques, apart from the calligraphy.
There is even what seems like a rangoli design outside the tomb
 Badly damaged now, we can only guess how beautiful it must have once looked when it welcomed the visitors to the tomb.

Sab thaath para reh javega,
Jab laad chalega banjara
 (Your entire splendor will lie useless,
When the nomad packs-up and leaves)
Graves of some unknown nobles, badly neglected and ignored.
According to Percy Brown, nowhere in the world did Islamic architecture produce as many notable buildings as in India mainly because of the ‘remarkable brilliance of the indigenous craftsmen.’

(((The second in the series of Saanjha Chulha ((

This was published in Tehelka

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