Historic monuments of Bahadurgarh

Saif Khan’s real name was Saifuddin Mahmud. His father Tarbiat Khan was a noble during the reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Once when Shah Jahan conceived the idea of conquering Balkh and Badkhshan, he asked Tarbiat Khan for his opinion on the subject. The Khan, known for his candour and straightforwardness, warned that the emperor should never contemplate carrying out any campaigns there as Indians would not be able to withstand the cold temperature of those places. The emperor was greatly offended and removed him from the post of Bakhshi (Paymaster General). However, Tarbiat Khan’s warning proved right and later Shah Jahan reinstated him in imperial service.

Saif Khan inherited his father’s straightforwardness and honest approach to work. Overconfident of his service record and his knowledge of warfare, he would not hesitate even to oppose the emperor. Hence, he was dismissed from imperial service a number of times. But it appears that his opposition was always based on reason as he was reinstated soon after his dismissal every time. On his termination he would calmly return to his native place and live the life of a hermit until he was recalled for service. Perhaps, this uncaring attitude earned him his second name, Faqirullah. Saif Khan served as governor of Delhi, Kashmir, Multan, Bihar and Allahabad at different times. Besides being a successful administrator, he was also a poet and musician. He composed a treatise on Indian classical music called Risala Rag-Darpan, and another one on Indian classical dances, entitled Risala Rags-i Hindi. The famous poet of the time, Nasir ‘Ali Sirhindi (who died in March, 1697) was his devoted companion.

Saif Khan had very cordial relations with the ninth Sikh Guru, Teg Bahadur. Of the village founded by Saif Khan, nothing is extant but its gateway and que. Both these edifices are inside the fort at Bahadurgarh which was later constructed by the ruler of Patiala, Maharaja Karam Singh (1814-45).{pagebreak}

The original gateway of Saifabad is an impressive structure, built in the prevalent style of the gateways of the Mughal caravanserais of the region as may be seen in the Sarai at Rajpura, 20 km north of Bahadurgarh. The soaring facade of the gateway, with an octagonal tower crowned with a kiosk appended to its each corner, presents an impressive view. At the top of the facade appears a Persian inscription of four lines, said to have been composed by Nasir ‘Ali Sirhindi, written in elegant nastaliq characters. Translated into English, this inscription reads:
God desired that (His) creatures derive benefit (and)
Its dwellers be ever happy-at-heart,
(Therefore) in the reign of emperor (of the world) Alamgir
Saif Khan populated (or founded) Saifabad.

The last line of the inscription is a chronogram which, according to the abjad calculation, comes to the date 1067 hijri. The year began on October 10, 1656, and ended on September 28, 1657. Although the inscription gives the name of Aurangzeb, Shah Jahan was the reigning emperor at that time. The coronation of Aurangzeb took place on July 21, 1658. Not only this, but just three months before the coronation, Saif Khan along with Raja Jaswant Singh was fighting against Aurangzeb. But after the defeat of the royal army, Saif Khan switched his loyalty to Aurangzeb. It appears that although Saif Khan founded the village duringthe reign of Shah Jahan, he put the inscription on the structure after Aurangzeb had ascended the throne. And it was, t probably, keeping in view the exigency of the political situation at that time that Aurangzeb allowed Saif Khan to name the village after himself. Otherwise, the Mughal nobles were not always allowed to do so.{pagebreak}

After the death of Saif Khan, Saifabad was with his descendants until 1774, when Amar Singh, the ruler of Patiala, invaded it. After a week-long siege, he was able to take its possession. However, the nearby village of Chhota Rasulpur was given to the descendants of Saif Khan. They held the village up to 1947 when they migrated to Pakistan.

During the Maratha attack on the territory, in 1790, Saifabad was placed in their hands for some time.
In 1823, Kanwar Ajit Singh, half-brother of Maharaja Karam (1814-45) usurped the title of Maharaja which belonged to the reigning representative of the family. When the Maharaja tried to make friends with his brother, Saifabad was one of the two villages (the other being Sunam) demanded by his brother. But the Maharaja refused to concede to the demand as it was his favourite hunting place. Later, in 1837, the Maharaja laid the foundation of the present fort and named it Bahadurgarh to commemorate Guru Teg Bahadur.

The fort comprises two circular ramparts, the outer one being 33.5 metres apart from the inner one. The outer wall which is 8.5 metres high is surrounded by a pucca ditch 7.62 metres deep and 17.7 metres wide. The circumference of the fort is about 2.1 km.

Built in eight years at a cost of Rs 1 million, Bahadurgarh fort never faced any attack as the Patiala rulers had cordial relations with the British, and the neighbouring states were weak.{pagebreak}

A decade after founding Saifabad, Saif Khan built a que for its inhabitants in it. The six line Persian inscription over the facade, in English translation, reads:
In the time of the protector of the manifest shar (religious code),
King Alamgir son of Shah Jahan,
For the worship (i.e., offering prayers) of the men of acceptance
The foundations of this place were strengthened.
Wisdom wrote down the year of its date (of construction):
The builder of this que is Saif Khan. 1077

The last line of the inscription forms a chronogram yielding the date 1077 hijri, i.e., 1666-67 AD, which is given in numerals also. At this time, Saif Khan was serving as the governor of Multan. The inscription must have been written before the last quarter of the year when he was sent with Prince Azam to the Deccan.

The que is one of the finest specimens of its type in the region. The access to the sanctuary is through three cusped archways, opening into a nave, which is flanked by an aisle. The nave and each aisle has a mihrab, the arch-shaped niche toward which prayer is directed. The exterior of each interior division is defined by a dome. Each dome has a double shell and is crowned by an inverted lotus mould.

Just below the parapet, the facade is shaded with a chhajja which gets curved over the entrance, in consonance with the three arches below. In the courtyard of the que there is a tank. The water to this tank was supplied from a well adjoining the eastern wall of the enclosure.{pagebreak}

Saif Khan died in 1095 hijri (1683-84 AD) in Allahabad, the last place of his posting. His body was brought to Saifabad where it was interred in a not-so-elegant tomb, south of the fort. The dome-shaped tomb of Saif Khan stands on a high platform. A flight of steps on the eastern side leads to the tomb. The actual burial vault is in a chamber.

Near the tomb of Saif Khan, within the same enclosure, are two more tombs and a number of graves, presumably those of family members and descendants of the Khan. One tomb is said to be that of the son of Saif Khan who, close to the end of Aurangzeb’s reign, received his father’s title. Later, he became a teacher of Prince Kam Bakhsh. Unfortunately, the same prince ordered that his right hand and tongue be cut off as a punishment for showing disloyalty. He died of these wounds.

Not far away is an incomplete tomb. The wives of Saif Khan are believed to have been buried in it.
Even though none of the monuments at Bahadurgarh have been declared protected by the government, all of these are in good condition. They stand testimony to the patronage given to art and architecture by Saif Khan, an aspect of his personality not recorded in contemporary chronicles.

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