Tuesday 30 January 2018

081 - Jandiala Sher Khan (An Old Baoli & A Mosque)

Jandiala Sher Khan is well known for being the birthplace of famous Punjabi poet, Waris Shah, the writer of the most famous love story of this region, Heer Ranjha. He was born here in 1722 and died and buried here in 1798. It has a beautiful mausoleum of this poet, who is known as the Shakespeare of Punjabi language. His mausoleum situated in the same town, which I visited on 24.03.2011.

Jandiala Sher Khan is an old town and during the Mughal period, it was a significant place. During my first visit almost eight years ago, I did not know about the existence of a baoli and an old mosque in the town. The purpose of my second visit was with the specific aim of exploring this baoli and the adjacent mosque. I was informed by a local man that the baoli and the adjacent mosque were almost a ruin and had been restored only recently. That was indeed a happy news. The baoli is located at  31°49'8.00"N;  73°54'53.01"E, in district Sheikhupura.

A view of the Baoli in Jandiala Sher Khan from the west. (23.07.2017)

A closer view of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

View of the baoli and an old mosque from the south side. (23.07.2017)

View of the baoli from the east side. (23.07.2017)

View from the north east. Entrance to the steps. (23.07.2017)

In front of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

Another beautiful view of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

The actual well. Covered with an iron grill. (23.07.2017)

The baoli. 
The well. (23.07.2017)

Dome of the baoli from inside. (23.07.2017)

Steps leading to the water level. (23.07.2017)

Steps of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

Interior view of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

The water level. (23.07.2017)

The lofty interior of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

Another view of the interior. (23.07.2017)

Dome from inside. (23.07.2017)

A cupola on the roof. (23.07.2017)

Another cupola. (23.07.2017)

Umair Riaz. (23.07.2017)

View of the well from the roof of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

The mosque from the roof of the baoli. (23.07.2017)

Inscriptions beside the baoli. Including the copy of the original plaque (on the left). 

In search of some information about the baoli or Jandiala Sher Khan I found a website, which gives a lot of information about this monument. The link is given below:


بعہد شہنشاہ اکبر لقب ۔ ۔ ۔ ہمایوں نسب خسرو کامیاب
بفرمودہ سید غزنوی۔ ۔ ۔ رفع المکان خان عالیجناب
محیط سخا و کرم شیر خان۔ ۔ ۔ لہ ابرار کف ہمتش بردہ آب
بنا کرد وائے زمین کرم۔ ۔ ۔ ۔ لہ شد رشک بر چشمہ آفتاب
زد لوش بودد لوگر دوں خجل۔ ۔ ۔ ۔زچرخش بود چرخ در پیچ و تاب
مہ نخشب از شرم ناید بروں۔ ۔ ۔ ۔اگر یکشب ایں وای بیند بخواب
از تاریخ آن گربہ پرسد خرد۔ ۔ ۔ ۔ بہ از چاہ نخشب بگو در جواب

In the reign of Emperor Akbar, the successful king, from the blessed genealogy.

on the precept of Syed Ghaznavi the prestigious and distinguished Khan.

Sher Khan the embodiment of generosity, from whose open hands the sky got its glow.
From his philanthropy, constructed a step-well, from which the Chashma-e-Aftab (Spring of the Sun) also stood envious.
Seeing the bucket of this step-well, the bucket of the sky (the Sun) is embarrassed and facing its pulley, the sky, is distressed.
If the Mah-e-Nakhshab (Legendary moon of Persia which rises from a well called Nakhshab) sees this step-well in the night, due to hesitation, would not try to come out of its well.
If wisdom would discover its Tareekh, then say in response ”Beh az Cha-i-Nakhshab" (Better than Nakhshab). 
(Tareekh refers to a date using Abjad numerals, which corresponds to the year 976 A.H., or 1564 in the Gregorian calendar).
An old mosque near the baoli. (23.07.2017)

Another view of the mosque. (23.07.2017)

Interior of the mosque. (23.07.2017)

Mehrab of the mosque. (23.07.2017)

Another view of the interior of the mosque. (23.07.2017)

View of the mosque from outside the boundary wall. (23.07.2017)

Courtyard of the mosque. (23.07.2017)

On of the three wooden doors of the mosque. (23.07.2017) 

Mausoleum of the Syed Waris Shah can be seen from the roof of the baoli.  (23.07.2017)

The design of the step-well is quintessentially Akbarian. The groundplan is conceived as a central domed chamber surrounded by eight smaller rooms, a motif known as hasht bihisht ("eight paradises"), a Mughal innovation derived from Timurid precedent. In Akbar's era, the hasht bihisht motif was employed in all manner of buildings, such that "Ideas of funerary and residential architecture were almost entirely interchangeable" (Koch, p. 46). However, palace dwellings, gatehouses, and other non-mortuary buildings usually employed a flat roof rather than a projecting central dome, a rule maintained here. The profile of the roof was typically enlivened with multiple chattris that substituted for domes; at times these took the form of highly refined pith-helmet like structures such as those found at Fatepur Sikri, whereas those at Jandiala were less refined and more substantial.
Sher Khan's endowment of the baoli was immortalized by a plaque in Persian calligraphy that used to hang on the site, but was moved to the Lahore Museum for safekeeping in 1971 (for photos, refer to the final two images in the series above). The plaque describes when the baoli was built and praises its construction in poetic and flowery language: 

 According to drawings prepared by the Department of Archaeology, the superstructure of the baoli measures 21.62 meters on each side. The baoli itself has an internal radius of 7.54 meters.
As late as 2010 or thereabouts, the baoli was in extremely poor condition and partially collapsed. It was recently restored with a total reconstruction of the destroyed portions. Although the reconstructed pieces lack the ornamentation and elegance of the original design, they allow the visitor to experience the scope and grandeur of Sher Khan's vision. 

Sketches Drawn by Timothy M Ciccone, ink on mylar based on CAD rendering.

This baoli is a very important building because there are just a few baolis in Pakistan. At the moment I can recall only five; baolis in Rohtas Fort, Wan Bhachran in district Mianwali, near Dina, Wan Tarap district Attock, and another in Wah.

I am very happy that the department of archaeology is now paying attention to the restoration of old historical buildings. After Katas temples, Sheranwala Bagh and Hiran Minar this is the fourth site which I recently visited and found to be completely restored. The concerned department is indeed has done a job. It is very easily accessible as you can see in the map given below.

Tariq Amir

January 30, 2018.
Doha - Qatar.

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