Posted by: itsme | February 25, 2010

The Mausoleum of Sher Shah Suri

Sher Shah Suri was a 16th century Afghan ruler who defeated Humayun at battle. It is not often that an important Mughal emperor is defeated at battle and somehow the name of Sher Shah Suri sticks in my memory so many years after history lessons at school. In Sasaram, the mausoleum of Sher Shah Suri is said to be one of the most beautiful Islamic monuments of Bihar.

But Sher Shah Suri’s tomb would have to wait. I had a tough trouble finding a clean place to eat last night. After much search and enquiries I found a place serving meals. This is a place popular with policemen who come here for dinner. The meal was alright but I had an uneasy feeling about the place.

I had the runs last night. My stomach felt bloated. I didn’t sleep much. The tablet I had did not bring any relief.

This morning I visit a pharmacy. There is a doctor here who has a look at me. He prescribes an injection for the gas trouble. He gives me three different tablets for today and tomorrow. I am to have only Electrol for the whole day. I can have some kichdi but where will I find kichdi in this unhygenic town?

I roll up my sleeves for the injection.

‘Lie down there for the injection,’ he says and points to a narrow long stool at the entrance. Apparently the injection is to be at the buttocks. I am hesitant to let down my pants in full view of the busy street.

‘You can go back there,’ says his assistant sensing my hesitation. There is another similar cushioned stool at screened room at the back. It is all over is seconds but I have to limp a little back to my room.

I take it easy for the day. I plan to stay at Sasaram for one more night before moving on to Uttar Pradesh. I haven’t done much drawings for most of this trip. I take some time to do a drawing of that wonderful Ganesha sculpture I saw in Barsoor, Chhattisgarh. It is done from a photograph but nothing is better than doing it live and on the spot.

Later in the day I finally head out to the mausoleum. I would have normally walked to it but take a rickshaw today.

The mausoleum surrounded by water

The mausoleum surrounded by water

The mausoleum is wonderful and very different from Maner Sharif. The structure sits in the middle of water filled lake. It is accessed by a walkway on one side. It is one of those structures where water is an important element of its architecture. The mausoleum itself is quite plain and would have been severe if not for the many chhatris that add to variety and visual interest. The chhatris are on two levels and offset beautifully the grandiosity of the main dome. The corner towers with their domes frame the monument. The entire structure stands aloof in the center of the lake.

There many little details here that are interesting. The brackets are beautifully sculpted. The platform on which the mausoleum stands is slightly offset at an angle. It appears that the platform is parallel to the lake’s margins but the mausoleum is not. This offset becomes apparent at a little arched gateway that leads into the inner courtyard of the mausoleum. The qibla on the inside is beautiful. Finally, it is interesting to look at the mausoleum at an offset of 45 degrees, that is, look straight at one of its corners from across the lake. This shows a completely different perspective and it’s anybody’s guess if this is better than the conventional view.

Other than this magnificence, Sasaram is a dirty place that I might visit again but would not stay for the night.



  1. It’s not Sher Shah Suri; the correct name is ‘Sher Shah Sur’. Afghans or for that reason; the Central Asians had a tradition of attaching the name of their homeland with their name. Farid Khan (Sher Shah’s original name) belonged to the ‘Sur’ valley in Afgahanistan. So is Muhammad of Ghor (Popularly known as Muhammad Ghori, who laid foundation of the Turkish rule in India after defeating Prithviraj Chauhan; whose town Kannauj you recently visited) and Mahmud of Ghazni.

  2. Interesting to learn this. In Tamilnadu, it is common to prefix the village name to the given name of a person. This usually happens to people known across villages and the prefix was used to identify them. An example of this is a famous violinist named Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan. Kunnakudi is the village where he was born.

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