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Sher Shah Suri

Sher Shah Suri (1486 May 22, 1545) ( - r h S r , ), birth name Farid Khan, also known as Sher Khan (The Lion King), was the founder of the Muslim Sur Empire in northern India, with its capital at Delhi.[1] An Afghan (Pathan) by origin, he rebelled against the Mughals and took control of India in 1540 until an accidental death in 1545 when Islam Shah Suri became his successor.[2][3][4][5][6] He first served as a private before rising to become a commander in the Mughal Army under Babur and then as the governor of Bihar. In 1537, when Babur's son Humayun was elsewhere on an expedition, Sher Khan, power hungry turned on his true master and overran the state of Bengal and established the Sur Empire.[7] A brilliant strategist, Sher Shah proved himself a gifted administrator as well as an able general. His reorganization of the empire laid the foundations for the later Mughal emperors, notably Akbar the Great, son of Humayun.[7]

During his five year rule from 1540 to 1545, he set up a new template for civic and military administration, issued the first Rupee and re-organised the postal system of India.[8] He further developed Humayun's Dina-panah city and named it Shergarh and revived the historical city of Pataliputra as Patna which had been in decline since the 7th century CE.[9] He is also famously remembered for killing a fully grown tiger with his bare hands in a jungle of Bihar.[2][7]


Early life and origin

Sher Shah was born as Farid Khan in the Hisar district of India, according to Tarikh-i Khan Jahan Lodi (MS. p. 151).[10] However, the online Encyclop dia Britannica states that he was born in Sasaram (Bihar), in the Rohtas district.[2] He was one of about eight sons of Mian Hassan Khan Sur, a prominent figure in the government of Bahlul Khan Lodi. Sher Khan belonged to the Pashtun Sur tribe (the Pashtuns are known as Afghans in historical Persian language sources).[11] His grandfather, Ibrahim Khan Sur, was a noble adventurer who was recruited much earlier by Sultan Bahlul Lodi of Delhi during his long contest with the Jaunpur Sultanate.

During his early age, Farid was given a village in Fargana, Shahabad (comprising present day districts of Bhojpur, Buxar, Bhabhua of Bihar) by Omar Khan, the counselor and courtier of Bahlul Khan Lodi. Farid Khan and his father, who had several wives, did not get along for a while so he decided to run away from home. When his father discovered that he fled to serve Jamal Khan, the governor of Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, he wrote Jamal Khan a letter that stated: Jamal Khan had advised Farid to return home but he refused. Farid replied in a letter:

Conquering Bihar and Bengal

Farid Khan started his service under Bahar Khan Lohani, the Mughal Governor of Bihar.[12][2] Because of his valor, Bahar Khan rewarded him the title Sher Khan (Tiger Lord). After the death of Bahar Khan, Sher Khan became the regent ruler of the minor Sultan, Jalal Khan. Later sensing the growth Sher Shah's power in Bihar, Jalal sought assistance of Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah, the independent Sultan of Bengal. Ghiyasuddin sent an army under General Ibrahim Khan. But, Sher Khan defeated the force at the battle of Surajgarh in 1534. Thus he achieved complete control of Bihar.[12]

In 1538, Sher Khan attacked Bengal and defeated Ghiyashuddin Shah.[12] But he lost to capture the kingdom because of sudden expedition of Emperor Humayun.[12] In 1539, Sher Khan faced Humayun in the battle of Chausa. He forced Humayun out of India. Assuming the title Sher Shah, he ascended the throne of Delhi.[2]

Government and administration

Sher Shah rebuilt the longest highway in South Asia. The highway was called the Shahrah-e-Azam (also Sadak-e-Azam, Badshahi Sadak and later Grand Trunk Road by the British). It is still in use in present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab region Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal.

Rupiya]] released by Sher Shah Suri, 1540 1545 CE, was the first Rupee The system of tri-metalism which came to characterize Mughal coinage was introduced by Sher Shah. While the term r pya had previously been used as a generic term for any silver coin, during his rule the term r piya came to be used as the name for a silver coin of a standard weight of 178 grains, which was the precursor of the modern rupee.[8] Rupee is today used as the national currency in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles among other countries. Gold coins called the Mohur weighing 169 grains and copper coins called Dam were also minted by his government.[8][13]

Sher Shah built monuments including Rohtas Fort (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Pakistan), many structures in the Rohtasgarh Fort in Bihar, Sher Shah Suri Masjid, in Patna, built in 1540–1545 to commemorate his reign.

Qila-i-Kuhna mosque, built by Sher Shah in 1541, at Purana Qila, Delhi, a Humayun citadel started in 1533, and later extended by him, along with the construction of Sher Mandal, an octagonal building inside the Purana Qila complex, which later served as the library of Humayun.

Tarikh-i-Sher Shahi (History of Sher Shah), written by Abbas Khan Sarwani, a waqia-navis under later Mughal Emperor, Akbar around 1580, provides a detailed documentation about Sher Shah's administration.

Death and succession

Sher Shah Suri Tomb at Sasaram Sher Shah died from a gunpowder explosion during the siege of Kalinjar fort on May 22, 1545 fighting against the Chandel Rajputs. His death has also been claimed to have been caused by a fire in his store room.

Sher Shah Suri was succeeded by his son, Jalal Khan who took the title of Islam Shah Suri. His mausoleum, the Sher Shah Suri Tomb (122 ft high) stands in the middle of an artificial lake at Sasaram, a town that stands on the Grand Trunk Road.[14]


Grand Trunk Road

For centuries, the Grand Trunk Road has served as the main artery from travel across northern India. A scene from the Ambala cantonment during the British Raj.

Mughals extended Grand Trunk Road westwards: at one time, it extended to Kabul in Afghanistan, crossing the Khyber Pass. The road was later improved by the British rulers of colonial India. It was extended to run from Calcutta to Peshawar (present-day Pakistan). Over the centuries, the road acted as a major trade routes in the region and facilitated both travel and postal communication. Since the era of Sher Shah, the road was dotted with caravansarais (highway inns) at regular intervals, and trees were planted on both sides of the road to give shade to the travellers and merchants.

Shersabadia community

Some soldiers were left behind by Sher Shah Suri as he escaped from Bengal, avoiding the Humayun invasion. These people are known as Shersabadia. They made a colony named Shershahabad which is no more due to a course change of Ganges. Today the people of this community are found in parts of Malda, Murshidabad, Chapai Nawabganj and a few other parts of Bengal


Sher Shah neighbourhood and Sher Shah Bridge in Kiamari Town of Karachi, Pakistan, are named in the honour of Sher Shah.


File:Court_Road,_Comilla.jpg|Presently a part of Comilla's Court Road, the photographed street had once been an extension of Grand Trunk Road, to communicate with the port facilities of Chittagong File:Lal Darwaza or Sher Shah Gate, with ruins along approach.jpg|Lal Darwaza or Sher Shah Gate, the Southern Gate to the Sher Shah Suri's city, Shergarh, opposite Purana Qila, Delhi, also showing with the adjoining curon walls and bastions File:Rohtas Fort Magnificent Kabuli Gate.jpg|Rohtas Fort's magnificent Kabuli Gate File:Qila-i-Kohna.jpg|Qila-i-Kuhna mosque, built by Sher Shah in 1541, Purana Qila, Delhi File:Sher Mandal, Purana Qila.jpg|Sher Mandal built in his honour by the Mughals, Purana Qila, Delhi File:Silver rupee coin of Sher Shah Suri.jpg|Rupee, round area type File:Copper Dam of Sher Shah Suri, issued from Narnul mint.jpg|Copper Dam issued from Narnul mint

Additional reading

See also


External links

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