Maner: History of Shaikh Yaha Maneri

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The Badi Dargah:

This tomb is situated to the east of the tank, on the site of an earlier Hindu temple as is amply testified by some carved pillars and a lintel found in its premises and by the lion colossus lying near its entrance on the north.

It enshrines the mortal remain of Shaikh Yaha Maneri, who is said to have been the grandson of Taj Faqih and who died in 1291 CE. (A.H. 690) at a very ripe age of 110. Because of his very high reputation as a saint, great emperors like Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq, Sikandar Lodi, Emperor Barbar and the famous musician Tansen paid homage to his tomb. The building containing his grave is locally known as ‘Badi Dargah’ (i.e. the larger tomb); though infact it is quite insignificant and small a structure as compared with the other large mausoleum called Chhoti Dargah (i.e. literally, smaller tomb). This was probably beause of the fact that Shaikh Yahaya Maneri was a more reputed ancestor of Shah Daulat (Chhoti Dargah).

The building of the Badi Dargah consists of a walled enclosure, with a gallery funning along its north. The tomb is in the middle of the enclosure. On the central portion of the westrn gallery is a mosque attached to the tomb. There are a number of other graves inside the enclosure including the one of Prince Tajuddin Khandgah, said to be a scion of the family of Mahmud of Ghazni. Outside its northern gate, there is an open mosque said to be built by two Kwaja Saras (eunuchs of chamberlains) of a king of Delhi who were later buried here at their express wishes.

Chhoti Dargah:

Chhoti Dargah is the tomb of Shah Daulat, who was the grandson of Shaikh Yahya Maneri. The building of his tomb is a fine piece of work and, by far the handsomest building that I have seen in the course of the survey, according to Buchanan. This tomb was erected in early c. 17th century CE. by Ibrahim Khan Kakar, who was the Governor of Gujarat, according to Hafiz S. Ahmad.

Though the tomb complex was built in the Mughal period but architecturally, the mausoleum is the continuation of the Afghan-Suri period as Bihar came directly under Mughal rule during the time of Akbar in 1574 CE (i.e. 18 years after his succession in 1556 CE.) and got stabilized during the later part of his reign. Hence, the Mughal architecture got its late-entry in Bihar and, that too, through fusion and synthesis with the existing schools of architecture.

Architecturally, it is the finest monument of the Mughal period in Bihar, its interior walls, ceilings and pillars being carved and ornamented with foliage and fret-work of great delicacy and high finish. The building consists of a large brick-walled enclosure, 10’ high, covering an area, 275 x 252 feet, with the tomb proper standing in the middle. Along north and west of the enclosure are remains of unfinished galleries. At each corner of the enclosure is a twelve-sided tower, there being two extra towers on the southern side. The main entrance is on the north, having guard-rooms on both sides of the entrance passage and a dome above, flanked by a small octagonal tower on either side. The entrance gate has an inscription in Arabic verse referring to its construction in 1613 CE (1022 A. H.).

The tomb is built entirely of Chunar sandstone and consists of the main chamber, 31 feet square internally and 34 feet 8 inches wide, all around, the whole building standing on a low platform, 2 feet 4 inches in height and 58 feet square. The high ceilings of stone in the verandas bear exquisitely carved panels with floral and geometrical patterns and calligraphic devices containing the Quranic verses. At the corners of the verandas are open sided rooms, with small domed cupolas above them, each resting on 12 pillars.

The roof of the main chamber is supported on each side, with thin stone-built curtain walls in between them, adorned with horizontal mouldings and rows of niches and arches, fitted with stone screens of jails. The pillar-bracket-lintel method of support is used in the construction and continues upwards up to the base of the dome, by changing the square of the ground-plan, first to octagon and then gradually to a circle, so as to form the base of the dome.

The grave of Shah Daulat is in the centre of the chamber, while that of Ibrahim Khan, the builder of the bob, lies to its west and the mosque attached to the tomb is in the middle of the western gallery.

Lesser monuments:

1. There is a tomb of Hazrat Momin Arif, probably the earliest Muslim inhabitant of Maner (may be of Bihar), which is a wimple grave without any building or canopy over it.

2. There is a tomb of Tangur Kuli Khan of Badak Shan, the architect or engineer who designed the tank, the Choti Dargah and othr important buildings, but died long before the completion of the works. The tomb is a beautiful construction surrounded by an enclosure wall, with a mosque on its western side.

Besides the above monuments, numerous other tombs exist across the village, scattered over miles around.

Ruins of Hindu Fort and Buildings:

To the north and north-west of the Choti Dargah are shown the ruins of the old Hindu fort and of the palace of the Hindu Raja destroyed by Taj Faqih. Later, it became the residential quarter of his descendents as male and female rewaq of ‘apartments’, and appears to have undergone changes during the intervening centuries. The apartments are associated with the birth of Yahya and contain a curious piece of wooden furniture called chauki or low table, on which, it is said, the mother of Makhdum Sharifuddin of Bihar, used to say her prayers, over six hundred years ago. The spot is thus invested with considerable religious sanctity and is equally interesting, historically and archaeologically.