Muslim Architecture of South India: The Sultanate of Ma'bar and the Traditions of Maritime Settlers on the Malabar and Coromandel Coasts (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Goa) [1 ed.] 0415302072, 9780415302074

This book reinterprets the Muslim architecture and urban planning of South India, looking beyond the Deccan to the regio

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Muslim Architecture of South India: The Sultanate of Ma'bar and the Traditions of Maritime Settlers on the Malabar and Coromandel Coasts (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Goa) [1 ed.]
 0415302072, 9780415302074

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This book reinterprets the Muslim architecture and urban planning of South India, looking beyond the Deccan to the regions of Tamil N adu and Kerala - the historic coasts of Coromandel and Malabar, fo r the first time a detailed survey of the Muslim monuments of the historic ports and towns demonstrates a rich and diverse architectural tradition entirely independent from the better known architecture of N orth India and the Deccan sultanates. The book, extensively illustrated with photographs and architectural drawings, widens the horizons of our understanding of Muslim India and will no doubt pave new paths for future studies in the field. Mehrdad Shokoohy is an architect and specialist in the conservation of urban environments. He is Chair of Architecture and U rban Studies at the University of Greenwich, and has a particular interest in the architec­ ture and planning of the Middle East, South and Central Asia. His expertise extends to the fields of literature, history, archaeology, epigraphy and numismatics of these regions. For his contributions to South Asian studies he has been awarded the Degree of D octor of Science by Heriot-W att University and the Edinburgh College of Art.

ROUTLEDGECURZON STUDIES IN SOUTH ASIA Editor: Michael Willis The British Museum RoutledgeCurzon publishes a m onograph series in association with The Society for South Asian Studies, London. BOATS OF SOUTH ASIA Sean McGrail MUSLIM ARCHITECTURE OF SOUTH INDIA Mehrdad Shokoohy


Mehrdad Shokoohy

RoutledgeCurzon Taylor &Francis Group LONDON AND NEW YORK

This edition published 2011 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, 0X 14 4RN Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by RoutledgeCurzon 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2003 Mehrdad Shokoohy All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British L ibrary Cataloguing in Publication D ata

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library o f Congress Cataloging in Publication D ata

Shokoohy, Mehrdad Muslim architecture of South India: the sultanate of Ma'bar and the traditions of the maritime settlers on the Malabar and Coromandel coasts (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Goa) / Mehrdad Shookohy p. cm. - (RoutledgeCurzon studies in South Asia) Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Architecture-India-Malabar Coast-14th century. 2. Architecture-India-Coromandel Coast-14th century. 3. Architecture, Islamic-India-Malabar Coast. 4. Architecture, Islamic-India-Coromandel Coast. 5. MuslimsIndia, South-History. I. Title. II RoutledgeCurzon-IIAS Asian Studies series NA1507.M35S55 2003 720'.954'8-dc21

2002037174 ISBN 0-415-30207-2

EDITORIAL NOTE The system em ployed in this book for the tran sliteratio n of m odern P ersian and A rab ic is as given below. The system reflects the w ritten form of the words, although the pronunciation of som e vow els and consonants differs in Persian and Arabic. Vowels T


I j 1




















q k


















































t t


y »

For Sanskrit and Hindi words the method of transliteration used for M oeier W illiam s’s Sanskrii-English Dictionary, Oxford, 1893, and Platts’s A D ictionary o f Urdu, C lassical H in d i and English, 1930, has been follow ed with slight m odifications. M odern spelling is used fo r towns and o th er geo g rap h ical locations.






Indian Ocean maritime settlements Early sites Bhadresvar Junagadh

8 11 11 18


23 23 25 27


Ma‘bar in the Muslim records The Sultanate of Ma‘bar Madura: its origin and urban form Islamic buildings of Madura Monuments in the 4Ala al-din and Shams al-dln complex The Shrine of ‘Ala al-din and Shams al-dln The Mosque of ‘Ala al-dln Chatri of Sayyid Husain Quddus’ullah Octagonal tomb of Bara Mastan Sada Plr Domed pavilion with portico Mosques in Madura town The mosque of QadI Taj al-dln Tiruparangundram Shrine of Sikandar Shah

32 34 35 42 46 47 48 50 50 57 58 67


History Town plan Monuments The Jami‘ al-Kablr or Khutba Parriapalli The Jam f al-SaghTr or Khutba Sirupalli Ahmad Nainar Masjid Sirunainarpalji or Qadiriya Masjid Makhdum Masjid Rettaikulampalli Marakkayarpalli and the Dargah of Shaikh Sulaiman Appapalli and the Dargah of Shaikh Sam Shahab al-dln Wali’ullah Later monuments Koshmurai Appa or Koshmeri Shrine Other mosques and shrines Qadiriya Madrasa and Mahlara Mosque Kattupalli or Makhdumpalli AN OVERVIEW OF THE ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE OF MA‘BAR

68 73 76 76 87 94 98 104 107 113 117 121 121

122 125 129 131



Quilon: the Jam f Mosque Cranganur: the Cheraman Jam f Masjid CALICUT

138 139 143

Old port The Muslim settlement The Mithqalpalli or Nakhuda Mithqal Masjid Ground level The inscribed minbar Wooden upper tiers The Jam f Masjid Historical inscriptions The mosque The minbar The roof structure The Muchchandipalli Inscriptions The mosque Other mosques and the Dargah of Sayyid ‘Abd’ullah Hadarapalli Tadruspalli Idrlspalli Dargah of Sayyid ‘Abdullah Mastan Vidu

148 151 154 156 162 169 176 176 183 190

191 193 193

195 200

200 205 205 207



Town plan The Shlfff Jam f or Chembattapalli The inscriptions The mosque The mihrab The minbar The wooden upper structure Other monuments The shrine of Sayyid Isma‘Il Bukharl and SayyidFakhr al-dln Bukharf Dargah of Shaikh Zain al-dln Makhdum al-Ma‘ban Zain al-dln’s family The shrine and other buildings

215 221 22 2 224 231

231 234 238 238 241 241 242




253 253 255 258 261



Inscription of Shams al-dln ‘Adil Shah at Madura Inscribed epitaphs of Kayalpatnam Inscription of the Shrine of Zain al-dln at Cochin: Quranic texts and translations The proportion of population and its relation to thesize of jamV mosques The Jam f mosque of Gulbarga








269 275 291 295 299



ARIE: Annual Report on Indian Epigraphy ASI: Archaeological Survey of India ASIAR: Archaeological Survey of India Annual Reports ASWI: Archaeological Survey of Western India Barbosa: Duarte Barbosa, A description of the coasts of East Africa and M alabar, tr. H enry E. J. Stanley, Hakluyt Society, London, 1866, reprinted New Delhi-Madras, 1995 Bhadresvar: M. Shokoohy, Bhadresvar: the oldest Islamic monuments in India, Leiden-New York, 1988 Al-Bukharl: Abl ‘Abd’ullah Muhammad Isma‘Il b. Ibrahim b. Bardizbah al-Ju‘fI (maulahum) al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, Cairo, 1386-1397 (1966-1977) (7 volumes) Burton: Richard F. Burton, Goa and the Blue Mountains or six months of sick leave, London, 1851, reprinted Berkeley-Los Angeles-Oxford, 1992 Danvers: Frederick Charles Danvers, The Portuguese in India, London, 1894 (2 volumes) ElAPS: Epigraphia Indica, Arabic and Persian Supplement Firishta: M uhammad Qasim b. Hindu Shah known as Firishta, Gulshan-i Ib rd h im i know n as T arikh-i Firishta, Lucknow, 1864 (2 volumes with addenda bound together) Hornell: James Hornell, The Indian Pearl Fisheries of the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay, Madras, 1922 Ibn Battuta: Muhammad b. ‘Abd’ullah called Ibn Battuta, Tuhfat al-nuzzar fi ghard’ib al-am sar wa ‘a ja ’ib al-asfar known as Rahla, ed. Talal Harb, Beirut, 1987 Ibn Hanbal: Imam Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Hanbal (164-241/780-855), Al-Musnad, ed. Ahmad Muhammad Shakir, Cairo, 1949-1955 (13 volumes) JASB: Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal JASP: Journal of the Asiatic Society of Pakistan JRAS: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Marco Polo: Marco Polo, The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian Concerning the K ingdoms and Marvels of the East, ed. and tr. by Henry Yule, 3rd edition, revised by H. Cordier, London, 1903 (2 volumes) Muslim: Imam Abi’l-Husain Muslim b. al-Hajjaj al-Qushairl al-Nlsabarl, Sahih Muslim, ed. Muhammad Fu’ad Abd’ul-baqI, Beirut, 1978 (5 volumes) SAS: South Asian Studies Topographical list: Z. A. Desai, A Topographical list of Arabic, Persian and U rdu inscriptions o f South India, New Delhi, 1989 Yahya’l-dln: Yahya’l-dfn AM Zakarrlya b. Sharaf al-NawwawI al-Shafi‘I, Sharh-i Sahih M uslim , ed. Shaikh Khalil al-Mais, Beirut, 1987 (19 volumes) Zain al-dln: Zain al-dln, T uhfat al-mujahidin fi bald ahwal al-purtakaliyin, Arabic text in David Lopes, H istoria Portugueses no M alabar, Lisboa, 1898; English translation, T o h fu t-u l-M u ja h id een , an historical work in the Arabic language, tr. by M. J. Rowlandson, London, 1833 English quotations from the Qur’an are given from A rthur J. Arberry, The K oran in terpreted , London (Unwin) and New York (MacMillan), 1955 (2 volumes)


Persia and Arabia and may have known the sharp­ eyed, sharp-tongued Shaikh Sa‘dl. Along with the historical sources, A rabic and Persian literatu re provide a w ealth of m aterial waiting to be explored to provide us with a deeper understanding of the cultural history of Muslim maritime trade. As far as the physical environm ent — the architecture and urban planning — of the settlements is concerned, literary description alone may, however, be of little help, unless we can cor­ relate the narrative with existing rem ains, not a simple task. Three or four centuries have now passed since the decline of Muslim sea trade and, in most sites, later local and colonial urban develop­ ments have covered or rem oved the traces of the earlier settlements. In the Indian subcontinent there has been no archaeological excavation of such sites, while the architectural studies (mainly by the pre­ sent author) have been confined to papers published during the last ten years in the specialist journals. The time has come to bring together as much as possible of the inform ation on the urban environ­ ment and the architectural m onum ents of the Mus­ lim trading posts in South Asia and exam ine the architectural and archaeological evidence closely with the aid of the historical accounts, local records and the surviving inscriptions. In 1977 two pieces of evidence led to the identi­ fication of the earliest surviving Islamic monuments in India, the first being a brief passage in an 1875 report by James Burgess5 on, amongst many sites, a 12th century Jain tem ple in the small village of Bhadresvar on the coast of Kachh in G ujarat. In addition to the tem ple Burgess m entioned two mosques, as well as a shrine which he called Pir Lai Shobah, and noted:

I met with a merchant who had a hundred and fifty camels of burthen and forty slaves and servants. One night, in the island of Kish, he took me to his chamber, and did not cease the whole night from talking in a rodomontade fashion, and saying, ‘I have such a correspondent in Turkistan and such an agency in Hindustan; and this paper is the title-deed of such a piece of ground, and for such a thing I have such a person as security’. At one time he said, ‘I intend to go to Alexandria, as the climate is agreeable’. At another, ‘No! for the western sea1 is boisterous; O Sa‘dl I have one more journey before me: when that is completed I shall retire for the rest of my life and give up trading’. I said, ‘What journey is that?’ He replied, ‘I shall take Persian sulphur to China, for I have heard that it brings a prodigious price there; and thence I shall take China-ware to Greece,2 and Grecian brocade to India, and Indian steel to Aleppo, and the glass-ware of Aleppo to the Yemen, and striped cloth of the Yemen to Persia, and after that I shall give up trading and sit at home in my shop’.

Sa‘d fs 3 satire on the ambitions and m entality of a 13th century m aritim e m erchant rem inds us not only of the vanity of worldly pursuits, but of the scale of the enterprises of the international entre­ preneurs trading across the Indian Ocean eight centuries ago. This ancient trade route —- which eventually lured the Portuguese and other E uro­ peans to South and South-East Asia — is well known and m any studies have been m ade covering its history, the early travel accounts and even the methods of navigation and types of vessels used.4 There has, however, been little discussion of the culture, customs and habits of the maritim e traders themselves and the nature of their settlements. The fam ous p o et’s an e cd o te, unlike the tra v e lle rs’ accounts, was not intended as a record of the nature of the trade and types of merchandise, but gives a wider portrait of the merchants’ way of life, outlook and prospects. Many of the international traders circulated among the intellectual elite of the lands of

Round the architrave, above the vine-ornamented wall-head course, is a deep line of Arabic inscription in square Kufic characters. There are two lines of this on the right-end wall. The mehrab is a small

1 Darya-yi Maghrib (Sea of Maghrib): the Mediterranean. 2 Rum: Anatolia and the Byzantine territory. 3 Text given with minor amendments from: Shekh Muslihu’din Sa‘dl of Shiraz, The Gulistan or Rose-garden, tr. Edward B. Eastwick, Hartford, 1852, 171-2; for the original Persian text (composed in 656/1258-9) see Shaikh Muslih al-dln Sa‘dl, Gulistan, in Kulliyat-i Sa'di, ed. Muhammad ‘Ali Furughi, 4th edition, Tehran, 1363 (1984), 109; for other translations see those of Francis Gladwin, London 1822, 143-4; John T. Platts, London, 1873, 157-8; Edward Rehatsek,

Kama Shastra Society, 1888, revised ed. by W. G. Archer, London, 1964, 160-1. 4 For example see G. R. Tibbetts, Arab navigation in the Indian Ocean before the coming o f the Portuguese, London, 1971, reprinted London, 1981. 5 James Burgess, Memorandum on the rem ains at Gumli, Gop, and in Kachh, ASWI, Memoirs, III, 1875, 11-19; James Burgess, Report on the antiquities o f Kathiawad and Kachh, 1874-5, ASWI, II, 1876, 18­ 19.



semi-circular recess without any sculpture about it. The building stands in a small enclosure formed by a rough rubble wall built on a more solid foundation of the original court wall. In this court are some graves with inscriptions in the square Kufic character.

The second piece of evidence, of some ninety years later, was an epigraphic study of the epitaphs at Bhadresvar published by Z. A. Desai6 in 1965, men­ tioning an inscription on a building dating from 554/1159-60. Desai’s article did not give any details about the building itself, but by putting the two reports together it became apparent that somewhere in a remote area of G ujarat there must be at least one Islamic building of the mid-12th century. W hat made the evidence particularly significant was that the date of the building was some thirty-four years earlier than the Islamic conquest of northern India and alm ost one and half ce n tu ries b efo re the conquest of G ujarat by the North Indian sultanate. The m onum ents there could only be related to an Islamic culture independent from — and pre-dating — the North Indian sultanate. The site of Bhadresvar was visited subsequently and its Islamic m onum ents surveyed. In 1981 an­ other mosque at Junagadh, Gujarat, belonging to a mid-13th century m erchant com m unity was also found and a report on all these m onum ents pub­ lished in 1988.7 During the study it became apparent that the M uslim settlem ents at B hadresvar and Junagadh had been part of a netw ork of Muslim trading com m u n ities, know n th ro u g h lite ra ry sources to have existed in the Indian coastal towns since at least the 10th century, but of which no surviving buildings or substantial archaeological evidence had been located, apart from some tom b­ stones found in ports such as Cam bay and else­ where.8 These peaceful m erchant communities are well known for their role in the introduction of Islam to South India and indeed the whole region of South-East Asia, between the 12th and 15th centuries, as well as for their struggles in the 16th century w ith hostile P o rtu g u e s e fo rc e s, w hich w ere threatening the trading privileges granted to the merchants by the local Hindu rulers. Following the study of Bhadresvar and Junagadh, a project was set up in 1988 to carry out a survey of the historical buildings of the Muslim com ­ munities in the m ajor towns of South India. While these groups have continued to flourish until now and are am ong the m ore affluent communities of South India, no earlier attem pt had been made to study their historic heritage with regard to their

architecture, their vernacular houses, the urban con­ figuration of their traditional quarters, or indeed any other feature of th e ir b u ilt en v iro n m e n t. The Muslim buildings in South India w ere, therefore, virtually unknown outside their own localities, let alone to W estern scholarship. Even locally, people tend to be familiar with only a few im portant near­ by shrines and there is little awareness of the collec­ tive heritage. The project was carried out in five seasons in 1988, 1990, 1994, 1996 and 1999 with the help of Natalie H. Shokoohy and was supported by the L everhulm e Trust, the Society for South Asian Studies and the British A cadem y. The fieldw ork covered all m ajor sites and buildings at Kayalpatnam, Madura and Tiruparangundram in Tamil Nadu, the main monuments at Calicut (Kozhikode), Cochin and Cranganur in Kerala, as well as the main mosque at Ponda in Goa. In C alicut, Cochin and Kayalpatnam parts of the historical urban layout of the Islamic settlements are also preserved and their study was included in th e p ro jec t. In London B ahram L eissi, Dip. A rch ., h e lp e d w ith th e production of final drawings based on the measured sketches prepared on site. The study would not have been possible without the hospitality and the help of the m em bers of the Muslim communities in each of these towns and the custodians of the buildings who gave permission and provided facilities for the survey. In Kayalpatnam we w ere w arm ly received and the tow nspeople shared their interest in and knowledge of the local historic monuments with us, in particular Hadji M. A. Abdur-Rasheed, the T reasurer of the Qadiriya Mosque, M. K. Sayid Ahmad, a knowledgeable local historian, R. S. Abdul Latif, the H eadm aster of the Kayalpatnam Secondary School, and also the late Haji V. M. S. Lebbay, President of K ayalpatnam Town Panchayat, who provided us w ith valuable inform ation and a town plan of K ayalpatnam . In Goa our work was welcomed by the small Muslim community of Ponda, and in M adura the survey of the Sultan ‘Ala al-dln complex was well received by the hospitable members of the com m ittee in charge of the complex, who are am ongst the m ost res­ pected and well educated rep resen tativ es of the community. In the same town the descendants of QadI Taj al-dln, who are still in c h a rg e of his mosque, the Kazimar Masjid, not only gave per­ mission for the survey of the building, but offered us a copy of the publication on the history and the lineage of their family — a valuable source for the local history. Sim ilarly, in Cochin, M oham ooda

6 Z. A. Desai, Kufi epitaphs from Bhadresvar in Gujarat, E l APS, 1965,1-8. 7 M. Shokoohy, Bhadresvar: the oldest Islamic monuments in India, Leiden-New York, 1988. 8 Z. A. Desai, Arabic Inscriptions of the Rajput period from Gujarat,

E l APS, 1961, 1-24; Z. A. Desai, Some fourteenth century epitaphs from Cambay in Gujarat, E l APS, 1971, 1-59; also see B. Ch. Chhabra, D. C. Sircar and Z. A. Desai, Inscriptions from Mantai Tirukeswaram, Mannar District and from the tomb of Mangaroli Shah at Veraval in: Epigraphical Research, Ancient India, Vol. 9, 1953, 228-9, p i 113.



Abdel Latheef, the kaikkar (executive manager) of the shrine of Shaikh Zain al-dln M akhdum alMa‘barl, not only gave permission for the survey of the shrine but also provided inform ation from the records preserved in his house on the life of the Shaikh and his descendants, many of whom were celebrated religious scholars in South India, amongst them Shaikh Zain al-dln, the well-known author of the T uh fa t a l-m u jd h id in . In C alicut th ere was occasional distrust by some individuals concerning our "motivation" for surveying the buildings and in some cases we were allowed to carry out only a limited survey. At the Jam f and the Muchchandipalli we were able to prepare sketch drawings only, and the finished draw ings are not as detailed or as accurate as would be desirable. H ow ever, in the same town, Qadl N. Mohammed Koya, one of the two main leaders of the Muslim com m unity of Calicut and in charge of the historic m osque of Mithqalpalli, not only gave permission for the full survey of this remarkable building, but also himself attended all sessions of su rv ey in g and helped personally with the survey. This enthusiasm on the part of the intelligentsia of the local communities was an encouraging force behind the project. A large num ber of mosques and shrines were surveyed, none of which had been studied pre­ viously, and during the tim e of the project seven separate articles w ere published as prelim inary reports associated with one or two of the sites.9 During the study it em erged that in spite of the sharp difference in appearance between the stone buildings and those with a wooden superstructure, the monuments share certain stylistic relationships, which take their roots not only from older local traditions, but also from the architectural traditions of th e P ersian G ulf and th e Red Sea — th e homelands of the settlers — on one side and from the architecture of South-East Asia on the other. The p re sen t w ork g ath ers all these buildings together and includes a number of structures which have not been discussed in the preliminary articles. The ch apter on Calicut, in particular, is m a in ly concerned with material not presented in the earlier articles. C alicut’s m ain m onum ents, am ong the earliest in the region and on a grand scale with fine details, provide some of the best examples of the Islamic architecture of Malabar. These structures were visited briefly in 1988 and short accounts of

some of them given in the earlier reports (1991 and 1993) together with some sketch drawings. In later seasons Calicut was visited again and a num ber of the buildings su rv e y ed , in c lu d in g th e ab o v e mentioned Mithqalpalli, a four-storeyed mosque of 14th century origin, which is w ithout doubt the most im portant Islam ic building in Kerala. The drawings given here supersede all the published sketches in the earlier reports. While the aim of the present w ork is to discuss the more significant Muslim m onum ents of South India, the book should not be regarded as a com ­ plete survey of the Islamic m onum ents of the re­ gion. There are indeed many more buildings — some of considerable age — in almost every town which has an old Islamic settlem ent. In P annauni (or Ponnani), fo r exam ple, th e re is a m osque of probably the 16th or 17th century which is similar in form and in scale to the Shaffi la ra f of Cochin. In Kondotti10 there is a ChishtI shrine and a mosque, both having the traditional plan and structure, while in Mambra near Calicut the shrine of Sayyid ‘Alawi, although not more than one or two centuries old, is again built in the traditional m anner.11 In the town of Calicut itself, in the Big Bazaar area, to the north of the old Muslim quarter of the town, there is an old m osque know n as P arria p alli w hich is of considerable age and comparable in form and size to the medium sized m osques of the tow n such as Muchchandipalli and Idrfspalli The Parriapalli has been m odernized extensively, but m any of the original features such as the coffered ceiling of its entrance porch and its old roof stru ctu re have survived. This building, as with the others noted, requires further investigation. On the Malabar coast there were, until recently, a large num ber of old mosques with the traditional plan and structure, similar to those found in Calicut and Cochin, but during the last three decades many of these buildings have been demolished to give way to larger, but featureless, mosques of brick and con­ crete. In the 1980s for exam ple the old Jam f of Quilon was demolished and was replaced with a new structure of this type. In Tamil Nadu the disappearance of the old mosques has not been as rapid or perhaps as dram a­ tic as what is happening in Kerala. Nevertheless, in 1988 a new m osque replacing the old Ja m f of Tanjore was under construction. The old Jam f,

9 M. Shokoohy, A rchitecture of the Sultanate of Ma‘bar in Madura and other Muslim monuments in South India, JRAS, Third Series, I, 1991, 31-92; A rchitecture of the Muslim trading communities in India, Islam and Indian region s» Beitrage zur Siidasienforschung, Sudasien Institut, Universitat Heidelberg, no. 145, ed. Anna Libera Dallapiccola and Stephanie Zingel-Ave Lallemant, Stuttgart, 1993, I, 291-319, 11, 87, 90, 91-113, pis. XXIII-XXX; A rc h ite c tu re of the Muslim port of Qa’il on the Coromandel Coast, South India, Part One: history and the 14th-15th century monuments, SAS, IX, 1993, 137166; Part Two: the 16th-19th century monuments, SAS, X, 161-178; Epitaphs of Kayalpatnam, South India, SAS, XI, 1995, 123-129; The Safa Masjid at Ponda, Goa — an architectural Hybrid, SAS, XIII, 1997,

71-85; The town of Cochin and its Muslim heritage on the Malabar Coast, South India, JRAS, Series 3, VIII, pt. 3, 1998, 351-394; also see entry in The Macmillan Dictionary o f Art, London-New York, 1996, Vol. V, 355-359, under Indian Subcontinent, 11 th-16th century, (f) South (Kerala and Tamil Nadu). 10 Stephen Dale, Islamic architecture in Kerala: a preface to future study, Islam and Indian regions, Beitrage zur Siidasienforschung, Sudasien Institut, Universitat Heidelberg, no. 145, ed. by Anna Libera Dallapiccola and Stephanie Zingel-Ave Lallemant, Stuttgart, 1 9 9 3 ,1, 493, II, pi. 102. 11 Ibid., I, 493; II, pi. 103; for the recent Muslim history of Mambra see William Logan, Malabar, I, Madras, 1887, 560-77.



apparently a significant example of its kind, seems to have been a stone structure comparable to the Ahmad Nainar and Qadiriya mosques of Kayalpatnam. On Friday 26th January 2001, when this book was being prepared for publication, an earthquake of 7.9 magnitude, with its epicentre near Bhuj, de­ vastated the towns and villages of Kachh and many other regions of northern Gujarat. The quake was so powerful that many miles away in Ahmadabad some modern apartm ent blocks collapsed and trem ors were felt as far away as Nepal. The quake left be­ hind a great human tragedy with the loss of thou­ sands of lives and the destruction not only of homes, but also of historic buildings, palaces and temples. The news media focussed on cities and the larger villages. The small village of Bhadresvar — almost at the epicentre of the earthquake — attracted no attention. Traditional Indian structures form ed of monolithic beams and brackets supporting stone blocks with little or no m ortar are particularly vul­ nerable to earthquake damage, but are also easily reassembled. While it is unlikely that the m onu­ ments of Bhadresvar could have remained intact, it can only be hoped that they have not been affected by substantial damage and that in the near future particular attention will be paid to the restoration of these unique edifices of the early Muslim settlers in India. A part from the loss of traditional buildings through natural forces or planned demolition, many mosques and shrines have been subject to renova­ tions and extensions unsym pathetic to the original

structure. In many cases, such as the Cheram an Jam f at Cranganur and the Kazim ar Masjid at Madura, the additions are so extensive that the old buildings are hidden in the core of the new structures. The exterior of these buildings, with plain m odern walls topped by slim and spiky m inarets with bulbous pinnacles, crudely made out of cem ent, leave little indication on the outside that there is a m onum ent of considerable interest enclosed within. A better understanding of the Islamic architec­ ture of the region is hoped to bring about a wider acknowledgm ent of this little know n area of the architectural heritage of the world and also raise the awareness of the com m unities — the present cus­ todians of these buildings — of their historic, artistic and cultural significance. Such an aw areness may prevent the repetition of the practice seen in past decades of dem olishing or defacing exam ples of such an important heritage. In the following pages, through a detailed study of each building, the Mus­ lim architecture of South India as a whole will also be explored and the similarities as well as the diver­ sities of the architectural style of each tow n and region highlighted. The w ork aims to dem onstrate that in spite of superficial regional differences there is indeed a common stylistic ground am ongst the Muslim buildings of South India, which is mainly un­ related to — and unaffected by — the sultanate and Mughal architecture of North India, but is associated with the entire Islamic culture of the Indian Ocean maritime trade, the boundaries of which go far be­ yond the Indian subcontinent.



The history of Indo-Muslim architecture is usually considered to commence with two major buildings,1 the mosques of Quwwat al-Islam in Delhi (fig. 1.1, pi. 1.1) and Arha’i din ka Jhonpra in Ajmer (fig. 1.2, pi. 1.2), both built of tem ple spoil im m ediately follow ing th e co n q u est of n o rth e rn India in 588/1192-3 by the G hurid sultans of K hurasan (N orth-East Iran and A fghanistan). In India the

Ghurids and the first Delhi sultans who succeeded them employed the traditional Indian trabeate buil­ ding method in their mosques and other structures. The re-used stone column shafts, sometimes two or three, w ere superim posed and surm ounted with bracket capitals supporting stone lintels bearing the load of flat roof slabs, or corbelled domes of older temples carefully reassem bled in their new

Plate 1.1 Delhi, Quwwat al-Islam mosque built following the Ghurid conquest in 588/1192-3, showing the building elements of the Indian trabeate system re-used to construct a spacious high colonnade with superimposed parts of columns supporting a roof of slabs resting on lintels, combined with reassembled corbelled domes.

Plate 1.2 Ajmer, Arha’i din ka Jhonpra, the prayer hall built following the Ghurid conquest in 588/1192-3, using temple spoil with columns made of three superimposed column shafts, fronted by a purpose built screen wall added by Iltutmish in c. 623/1225-6.

1 James Ferguson, H istory o f Indian and Eastern Architecture, revised by James Burgess, London, 1910, II, 198-214; John Marshall, The monuments of Muslim India, The Cambridge H istory o f India, W. Haig (ed.), Cambridge, 1928, III, 575-6, 581; Percy Brown, Indian

Architecture, Islamic period, 7th reprint, Bombay, 1981, 9-13. Since the publication of Bhadresvar this old view is being gradually abandoned, see Catherine B. Asher, The New Cam bridge H istory o f India, Vol. I, iv, Architecture o f Mughal India, Cambridge, 1992, 2.



Fig. 1.2 Plan of the mosque known as Arha’i din ka Jhonpra, Ajmer, consisting of a colonnaded structure with a central courtyard, similar in concept to the Quwwat alIslam mosque.

Fig. 1.1 Plan of the Quwwat al-Islam mosque, Delhi, showing the mosque built by Qutb al-dln Aibak in the last decade of the 12th century, surrounded on three sides by the extension completed in 1229 by Iltutmish. The mosque was further extended by ‘Ala al-dln Khaljl, but only a small portion of the Khaljl structure adjacent to the earlier mosque is shown in this plan.

Fig. 1.3 Plan of the Ja m f mosque of Herat, a brick structure originally built in the 12th century on a traditional Persian plan with four twans (open fronted halls in the middle of each side of the central courtyard). In spite of several alterations in later periods, many parts including the large western Iwan containing the mihrab — are original. In Sasanian palaces the great Iwan functioned as the throne room and a similar arrangement is also found in the palaces of Tughluqabad In Delhi.

place. The contribution of Islam to these buildings is, of course, in th eir concept as places of Muslim worship, as well as in their architectural plans, which consist of a colonnaded prayer hall at the western end of a courtyard, orientated to face the direction of Mecca (the qibla). In the larger Indian mosques the c o u rty a rd itself is also s u rro u n d e d by a colonnade, follow ing th e plan of ea rly A rab mosques, although by the end of the 12th century in the mosques of Khurasan and elsewhere in Iran the Arab type of plan was already abandoned in favour of a m ore indigenous plan type, originating from pre-Islamic palaces. This type of plan consists of a central courtyard surrounded by vaulted and domed structures with a large vaulted hall, known as the iwan, open at one end at the middle of each side of the courtyard (fig. 1.3).2 In North India this type of plan was never adopted fully in its original Persian form, but various adaptations of the plan can be found in 14th century buildings and later. In mosques of the late 12th and early 13th cen­ tury, however, the influence of the artistic traditions of Khurasan, the hom eland of the con q u ero rs, was surprisingly lim ited and appears only in the

2 For a discussion on mosques with the Arab type plan and those with the Persian type plan with Iwans see A. Godard, Athar-e Iran»I,

1936, 187-210; A. U. Pope, A Survey o f Persian Art, London-Tokyo, 1964-5, III, 914, 920-1.



Plate 13 Delhi, the tomb of Sultan Balban (d. 686/1287-8), built entirely of masonry with true domes which once stood over the squinches in the Persian manner, with no allusion to Indian architectural traditions.

Plate 1.4 Delhi, Mad rasa of FTruz Shah, built c. 752^ ...___y _irs of the reign, general view, showing trabeate structures harmoniously combined with masonry architecture incorporating true domes and arches.



Indian architecture, particularly of the Mughal period, is renowned. IN D IA N O C E A N M A R I T I M E S E T T L E M E N T S

elaborate calligraphy, some decorative details and the corbelled arches im itating the facades of the vaulted mosques of Khurasan, but during the 13th century the Khurasan! influence gradually increased and masonry structures with vaults and true domes su p ported on squinches or p en d e n tiv e s w ere introduced (pi. 1.3). Side by side with these new methods the old trab e ate structural system also survived and the combination of methods produced an Indo-Islamic style of architecture which is well known through the buildings of the Khaljl and the Tughluq dynasties (pi. 1.4). Finally a combined IndoPersian style of architecture developed, for which

The influence of Islam in the subcontinent, however, goes back to long before the time of the Ghurids, or even the Ghaznavids, who in the first decades of the 11th century made repeated raids on India to loot its treasures and later, until the end of fall of their dynasty in 1186, also ruled over Multan and part of Siwalik (present H aryana and w estern Rajasthan).3 The early Muslim geographers record the existence of peaceful Muslim com m unities in India from at least the 10th century. Today on the M alabar coast there are a number of mosques, the origins of which are said to go back to very early Islamic dates. For example, the Muslims of South India have a legend that the first m osque in the su b c o n tin e n t was founded at C ranganur (K odungallo r), n o rth of Cochin in Kerala by Raja Cheram an in AH 8/62930. Such an early date is not of course acceptable, as at that time Islam was still confined to a small part of Arabia — the regions of Medina and Mecca —but the tradition may reflect the fact th at the trade route was used well before the Islamic period and there must have been foreign, including Arab, settlers in these coasts from much earlier tim es.4 One should also bear in mind the presence of the Jews in the ports of South India, who are trad i­ tionally believed to have been settled there since the tim e of King Solom on, and also the N estorian Christians, who came originally from Sasanian Iran and whose crosses, one with a Pahlavi inscription (fig. 1.4), are preserved in som e places on the eas­ tern and western coasts of South India.5 The present structure of the Cheram an mosque, described in the chapter on M alabar, appears to be

3 Abu ‘Umar Minhaj al-dln ‘Uthman b. Siraj al-dln al-Jauzjani, Tabaqat-i N asiri, ed. Abd al-Hai Habibi, Tehran 1984, I, 231-244; Ghiyath al-dln b. Humam al-dln al-Husainl known as Khwand Mir, Tarlkh-i Habib al-siyar, Tehran, 1976, II, 394-400; Firishta, I, 50; also see Clifford Edmund Bosworth, The later Ghaznavids: splendour and decay, Edinburgh, 1977, 30-33, 101-103. 4 A large amount of Roman pottery and coins found in South India shows the extent of the trade via this sea route even in ancient times, if not by the Romans themselves, at least by their Arab and Near Eastern subjects. See: R. E. M. W heeler et ah» Arikamedu, an Indo Roman trading station on the east coast of India, Ancient India, II, July, 1946, 116-19; Mortimer Wheeler, Rome Beyond The Im perial Frontiers» London, 1955, 143-52, 171-78, 181, pis. 22-23; P. L. Gupta, The Early Coins from Kerala, Kerala State Department of Archaeo­ logy Series No. 1, Trivandrum, 1965; P. L. Gupta, Roman Coins from Andhra Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh Government Museum Series, No. 10, Hyderabad, 1965, particularly 41-7; P. L. Gupta, Early Byzantine Solidi from Karnataka, Numismatic D igest, VIII, 1984, 37-43; Peter Berghaus, Three Denarii of T iberius from Arikam edu, Indian numismatics, History, Art and Culture — essays in the honour o f Dr. P. L Gupta, ed. David W. MacDowall, Savita Sharma and Sanjay Garg, Delhi, 1992,1, 95-97; also see the following articles in Coinage, Trade and Economy (3rd International Colloquium, January 8th-l 1th 1991, Indian Institute of Research in Numismatic Studies), ed. Amal Kumar Jha, Bombay-Anjaneri, Nashik Dist., 1991: Peter Berghaus, Roman coins from India and their imitations, 108-121 (includes a

comprehensive bibliography of the subject); P. L. Gupta, Coins in Rome’s Indian trade, 122-137; Sunil C. Ray, A revised study into the numismatic evidence of the Indo-Roman trade, 138-144; David W. MacDowall, Indian imports of Roman silver coins, 145-163; Reinhold Walburg, Late Roman copper coins from Southern India, 164-167. For a study of the Classical sources concerning Sri Lanka see D. P. M. Weerakkody, Taprobane, Ancient Sri Lanka as known to Greeks and Romans, Turnhout, 1997, particularly 151-70 and 223-50. 5 A. Burnell, Pehlevi inscriptions, Indian Antiquary, II, 1873, 273-4; A. Burnell, On some Pehlavl inscriptions in South India, Indian Antiquary, III, 1874, 308-16, particularly 311-14 and a lithograph of the cross at St. Tome in fig. 1 facing p. 308, d ifferen t from the one given here. The form of the cross at Kottayam in fig. 2 facing p. 312 is also worthy of attention, as it is carved on a stone slab with a twocentred pointed arch, which looks like a Gothic arch, unusual for the late Sasanian or early Islamic period suggested, unless we assume that the cross is much later in date and that Pahlavi could have remained the language of the Middle Eastern Christian settlers for many centuries longer than was previously thought. Our illustration is given after Henry Yule, The Book o f Ser M arco Polo, the Venetian, Concerning the Kingdoms and M arvels o f the East, 3rd ed. (2 vols.), London, 1903, II, 353. For a more recent study of these inscriptions see Gerd Gropp, "Die Pahlavi-Inschrift auf dem Thomaskreuz in Madras," Archaeologische Mittelungen aus Iran, III, 1970, 267-71, pi. 118 (this source in clu d es a m ore up-to-date b ibliography of publications on the South Indian crosses).

Fig. 1.4 Early Christian cross with a Pahlavi inscription at St. Thomas near Madras (after Yule).


"j^y^Yogyakarfa Fig. 1.5 Map of the Indian Ocean and its main trading ports of the 10th to 16th centuries.

only a few hundred years old. However, the legend of its early foundation may have developed because of the presence of com m unities of Muslim m er­ chants on the coasts of India, confirmed by the early Muslim geographers and other sources, who record Muslim merchants and sailors plying the ancient sea route between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, to the coasts of India and beyond (figs. 1.5 and 1.6). It was through these m erchants that Islam was taken to the Maldives, Malaysia, Indonesia and even parts of China. Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo also travelled this route on their sea voyages to and from China and finally it was th e sam e ro u te w hich was exploited by the Portuguese in their determ ination to monopolize the trade with Asia. The pioneers of the Muslim com m unities who reached India via the Arabian Sea established them ­ selves first on the coasts of Gujarat and later in all the im portant — and even the lesser — ports of Malabar (Kerala), Ma6bar (Tamil Nadu) and Bengal They imported from the regions of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea Middle Eastern horses, goods and gold in exchange for the local products, mainly

spices and precious stones. In addition Chinese and Far Eastern merchants also brought goods to India to sell to the Muslims who then re-exported them to their homelands. We shall see that the Muslim communities played a vital role in the economy of the Indian ports and as a result the merchants benefited extensively from the trust of the local Hindu rulers, who often granted them permission to practise their religion freely, observe their own judicial system and build religious edifices. The earliest record of the appearance of Muslims on this route is in association with the attacks by Indian pirates on Muslim ships in the waters of Sind and Kachh. In retaliation Hajjaj, the governor of Kirman and Mukran for the Caliph al-Walld, sent an army under the command of his nephew Muham­ mad b. Qasim, who in 93/711-12 took over Daibul and in the following year annexed Sind to Muslim territo ry .6 Excavations at the site of Daibul at Banbhore7 have so far uncovered the foundations of the main mosque of the town, with a foundation ins­ cription dated 109/727-8, which m akes the building one of the earliest known mosques in the world.8

6 Ahmad b. Yahya b. Jabir al-Baladhuri, F atih al-buldan, Beirut, 1958, V, 611-28; The Chachnama, tr. Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg, Karachi, 1 9 0 2 ,1, 81-9; Sayyid Muhammad Ma‘sum Bakkari, Tarikh-i Sindh, Poona, 1938, 20-31. 7 Excavation at Banbhore (author not given, but under Departmental Excavations), P akistan A rch a eo lo g y, I, 1964, 49-55, pis. 14-23; Muhammed A bdul G hafur, Fourteen K u fic in scr ip tio n s o f Bhanbhore: the site of Daibul, Pakistan Archaeology, III, 1966, 65-90, pis. 25-39; S. M. Ashfaque, The grand mosque at Banbhore, Pakistan Archaeology, VI, 1969, 182-209, pis. 21-6; F. A. Khan, Banbhore, A preliminary R eport on the Recent Archaeological Excavations at Banbhore, 3rd revised ed., Karachi, 1969. 8 Muhammed Abdul Ghafur (op. cit. 76-9, pi. 25) disagrees with the date 109/727-8 and dates the building to over a hundred years later and to square up his argument claims that the inscription had at least an extra line, which has been lost. He reads the name of the Caliph as Harun instead of Marwan, the word mi'a (one hundred) as thalathin

(thirty) and claims that the word representing the year two hundred must have been in the m issing lin e, m aking the date o f the inscription 239/853-4. His dating has been accepted in a later report by his colleague S. M. Ashfaque (op. cit., 202), but the argument is conjectural. If there were an extra line, nothing of it has survived and there is no indication as to what it could have contained. However, the stone slab of the inscription seems to be complete and in the last report of the site, F. A. Khan (op. cit, 24-30) reads the date as 109/727-8. The date as appears in the existing inscription can safely be read as tis'a wo mi'a (one hundred and nine) and furthermore the outline of the inscription does not allow extra room for the word mi’atain (two hundred). The style of the script is also closer to early 8th century K ufic, rather than that of the mid-9th century, a very good example of which has also been found in Banbhore. It seems, therefore, that Khan’s reading is more credible and as in early Kufic inscriptions the words sab’a (seven) and tis*a (nine) are almost identical, the date may alternatively be 107/725-6.



Fig. 1.6 Map of India showing important cities and main centres of power at the time of the Muslim conquest, as well as sites associated with maritime trade.

The mosque (fig. 1.7) has an Arab type plan with the usual colonnade around a central courtyard, but in this case only the foundations of the mosque have been preserved, leaving us with little knowledge of the architectural featu res of the superstructure. Nevertheless, from what is left it appears that the building had stone walls and probably a light flat roof supported by wooden columns. The earliest mosque built by the Prophet himself is said to have had such a type of structure, made of pise walls and

wooden columns,9 and mosques of later dates with a similar type of structure, but on a different plan, can still be found in the Yemen10 and in C entral Iran.11 We shall see that the ground level of the buildings of Malabar also have a similar structure, although their elaborate roofs are far from the simple light flat roofs of the Iranian and the Yemeni examples. Daibul remained for one or two centuries the last port of call in the Muslim lands on the sea route to the east, but, as already noted, from the accounts of

9 K. A. C. Creswell, Early Muslim Architecture (two parts, part two in 2 vols.) Oxford, 1932, Part 1 (Umayyads A.D. 622-750), 2-7. 10 See for example the Great Mosque of Harib, the prayer hall of which is built with unworked tree-trunks used for the columns, the beams and the rafters of the ceiling, in Fernando Veranda, Art of building in Yemen, Art and Archaeology Research Papers, London, 1981, 59; also see p. 129-30 below. 11 See for example the Ja m f of Abyana in M. Siroux, Anciennes

voies et monuments routiers de la region d’Ispahan, M em oires de I Institut fran^ais d’Archeologie orientale du Caire, LXXXII, Cairo, 1971, 223; Javad Golmohaminadi, Wooden religious buildings and carved woodwork in Central Iran, unpublished Ph. D. thesis, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1988, 115-20, figs. 1-2, the mosques of Purzala and Hajatgah at the same town in ibid., 182-4, 197-203; figs. 6, 28; also see E. Yarshater’s entry on Abyana in Encyclopaedia Iranica, I, London, 1985, 403-4.



northern sultanates. Even today the Muslims of South India, while well aw are of their history and social and ethnic ties with the W estern Islamic world, have relatively few links with the Muslims of the north. Most of the South Indian Muslims still live in close com m unities in their traditional quarters, which are usually on the same sites as their early settlements, although modern construction and new street layouts have often altered old urban patterns. Nevertheless, the survival of the old core of Calicut and some of the old street layout in Kayalpatnam and Cochin, as well as the survival of a large num­ ber of old mosques and other religious buildings in these towns, leave enough evidence to enable us to study the old urban patterns in addition to the architecture. In the following chapters the architecture of the C orom andel coast to the east is discussed first, followed by that of the M alabar coast to the west. Although the Muslim settlem ents spread in India from western India via Malabar to the Coromandel coast, the stone architecture of the latter region displays a m ore obvious link with the buildings of the earlier settlers in B hadresvar and Junagadh. However, the underlying current in the architectural forms — and concepts — in the whole coastal region remains similar, in spite of the distinctive tiered roofs of the buildings of Malabar.

Fig. 1.7 Plan of the mosque at Bhanpore, most probably the Jam f of Daibul, a colonnaded structure built on an Arab type of plan. The linga used as a step in front of the threshold of the entrance is also shown.

10th and 11th century geographers12 we know that there were Muslim com m unities in places such as Khanbaya (Cambay), N aharw ala (m odern Patan), Asawul (Ahm adabad) in G ujarat and also in the ports of Saimur, Sindan and Subara, probably in Gujarat or on the Malabar coast. The exact locations of the last three ports are not certain. The Islamic settlements were not limited to these towns, as we learn from al-ldrlsl13 that, at least in western India, most towns had a Muslim presence. By the 13th century the M uslims gradually established com ­ munities in South India, first in the ports of Malabar in the west and later on the eastern coasts of India (Ma‘bar) and in Ceylon. The Islamic conquest of North India never expanded to Malabar and its hold over Ma‘bar was confined to a short period in the late 13th and early 14th century. As a result, the traditions of the M uslim settlers in South India have been preserved almost uninfluenced by the

Bhadresvar is now a small village,14 but in ancient times it was an important fortified port, recorded as Bardaxima by Ptolem y,15 and as the independent state of Bhadra by al-Blrunl.16 The Sanskrit sources such as the Jagaduchrita17 and a local chronicle18 record that in the 11th and 12th century the town was indeed an independent city -state run by a council of Jain m erc h an ts and was under the protection of the C haulukian rulers of Gujarat. These sources also record the existence of a Muslim com m unity of the Ism a‘IlI sect, who used their wealth to build a mosque with the permission of the leader of the Jain council. This mosque may well be one of th e tw o m o sq u es still p re s e rv e d in

12 Hudud a l-alam min al-mashriq ila’l-maghrib, Tehran, ed. M. Sotoodeh, 1962, 66; Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Muhammad al-Istakhri, masalik wa mamalik (Persian text), ed. I. Afshar, Tehran, 1961, 147, 151, Al-masalik wa al-mamdlik (Arabic Text), Cairo, 1961, 102, 104-5; Abu ‘A bd’ullah Muhammad b. Ahmad al-MuqaddasI, Ahsan altaqdsim f i m a'rifat al-aqdlim » Leiden, 1906, 477, 484, 486. Ibn Hauqal, Surat al-ard, Leiden, 1872,227-8,232-3. 13 Abu ‘Abd’ullah Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Idrisi, O pus Geographicum, Napoli-Roma, 1971, 185. 14 For a more detailed study of the monuments see Bhadresvar» here only the main buildings are discussed briefly to highlight the

features common to the architecture of the settlers. 15 Ptolemy, Book VII, 1, 3; J. W. Me Crindle, ed., Ancient India as described by Ptolemy, London, 1885, 33, 37. 16 Alberuni’s India (Tahqiq md lil-H ind), ed. E. C. Sachau, Arabic text, London, 1887, 102, 152-3, 155; English translation by E. C. Sachau, London, 1888,1, 301. 17 G. Buhler, The Jagaducharita o f Sarvanada, Indian Studies, I, Sitzungsberichte, CXXVI, Wien, 1892. 18 J. Burgess, Memorandum on the rem ains at Gumli, Gop, and in Kachh, ASWI, Memoirs, III, 1875, 11-19; J. Burgess, R eport on the antiquities o f Kathiawad and Kachh, 1874-5, ASWI, II, 1876, 205-10.





VM S5n' ft (\*i A "w w ■i n in ii 11«•a•l*ti tumv m iiiim n n i 11 iiiii.i.iii i i j i i i i i i i m m « is a i as p




Fig. 1.8 Bhadresvar, plan and section of the Shrine of Ibrahim, the earliest dated Islamic building in India, with an inscription of Dhi’l-Hajja 554/December 1159-January 1160.

shrine is a square dom ed cham ber with a single mihrab in the qibla wall and has a portico on the eastern side, in front of the entrance (pi. 1.5), The portico has a flat roof, while the cham ber is roofed with a corbelled dom e, pyram idal from outside, finely carved on the inside with lotus m otifs and built in the manner of the corbelled domes of a Jain temple. The pyramidal form of roof, though not com m on in tem ple arch itectu re, has been seen occasionally in Indian buildings as fa r east as

B hadresvar and described below, but the m ost notable Islamic building on the site is the Shrine of Ibrahim (fig. 1.8), a small tomb known locally as the Dargah L ai Shahbaz. The shrine has an inscription mentioning a cer­ tain Ibrahim and bears the date Dhi’l-Hajja 554/ December 1159-January 1160. This is the earliest Islamic dated inscription in situ in the subcontinent, making the shrine almost half a century earlier than the Quwwat al-Islam and Arha’i din ka Jhonpra. The



Plate 1.5 Bhadresvar, the Shrine of Ibrahim, Interior looking towards the tnihrab» showing the purpose built corbelled dome, finely carved on the Inside with lotus motifs in the manner of a Jain temple.

Plate 1.6 Bhadresvar, the coffered ceiling of the Shrine of Ibrahim and the Kufic inscription bearing a Quranic text. The inscription is dated Dhi’l-Hajja 554/December 1159-January 1160.



Fig. 1.9 Bhadresvar, the SolahkhambT Masjid, plan and north elevation. The mosque has an Arab type plan with a semi­ circular projection for the mihrdb, but is built in the Indian manner with monolithic columns and a flat roof supported by brackets and beams.

Bhubanesvar,19 in tem ples such as B rahm esvara, Meghesvara and Ananta-Vasudeva. Nevertheless the form may also be an interpretation in stone of the form of wooden hipped roofs, which — judging from the later buildings — may have already existed in India. An imitation of a timber ceiling is more apparent in the flat ceiling of the portico of the shrine (pi. 1.6). The ceiling is decorated with a grid of squares, each one having a lotus motif in the centre. The grid form may be an imitation of wooden coffered ceil­ ings, which, as we shall see,20 were employed in the 12th century mosques of the Yemen and Iran and also appear in later m osques in Kerala. The ins­

cription, which runs on a frieze around the walls and the lintels below the ceiling of the portico, is in floriated Kufic with foliations and lobed endings for the letters with vertical strokes, a style comparable to that of the 12th century Arab epigraphs. Similar forms are seen as far away as North Africa. In Bhadresvar there are also a num ber of tom b­ stones dated between the m id-12th and early 13th century, some of which are scattered around the main mosque, known as the SolahkhambT Masjid (fig. 1.9). The mosque itself bears no inscription, but on account of the dated tombstones and the mention of the construction of a mosque in VE 1223/1166 AD in the Sanskrit sources, we can safely suggest a

19 Debala Mitra, Bhubanesvar, ASI, New Delhi, 1961, 48-57, pis. 14, 20.

20 See pp. 183-5, 196-8 and 225-9 below.



Plate 1.7 Bhadresvar, the SolahkhambT Mosque (c. VE 1223/AD 1166), exterior of the northern wall showing the colon­ naded front portico.

Plate 1.8 Bhadresvar, ChhotT Masjid, interior showing the purpose built colonnade and part of the mihrab with its semi­ circular arch formed out of a single slab of stone.

mid-12th century date for the building. The Solahkhambi Mosque is now half buried in sand and is partly in ruins, but most of the columns, lintels and the entire northern wall still stand. The rest of the building under the sand also seems to have been preserved. The mosque has an Arab type of plan with a colonnade around a central courtyard, similar in principle, though on a much smaller scale, to the mosque of Daibul and the Ghurid mosques of North India, but the plan was not followed in the mosques of South India dating from at least som e tw o

centuries later. The SolahkhambT has an unusual feature: a large colonnaded portico seven bays wide and four aisles deep in front of the eastern entrance, taking up the whole width of the mosque (pi. 1.7). The portico of the SolahkhambT is provided with a subsidiary mihrab in the exterior of the eastern wall of the mosque, but the main mihrab is, of course, in the centre of the qibla wall, now in ruins. In Arab, Iranian and even North Indian Islamic architecture such porticoes are virtually unknown,21 and at first

21 Apart from the monuments of the Muslim settlers in India the colonnaded portico also appears in wooden mosques of later dates in the Hindu Kush and North-East Frontier regions. So far there seems to be no apparent link betw een the two traditions. See Umberto Scerrato, Survey of wooden mosques and related wood carvings in

the Swat valley, under ISMEO activities in E ast and W est, XXXI, 1981, 178-81, figs 22-36; Umberto Scerrato, The wooden architecture of Swat and the northern areas of Pakistan, East and W est, XXXIV, iv, 1984, 501-15.





Fig. 1.10 Bhadresvar, Chhoti Masjid with a walled courtyard and a subsidiary mihrab in the colonnaded porch, plan and transverse section through the prayer hall. The mosque is situated near the Shrine of Ibrahim and may have been as­ sociated with it. The architectural elements and the decoration of the two buildings are similar, and it is likely that the two buildings are close in date.

to the east and a colonnade leading to the sanctuary or prayer chamber with a mihrab to the west. Once again the colonnade is a pronounced feature, as it is almost the same size as the chamber and has its own mihrab (pi. 1.8). The colonnade consists of two rows of four columns and the cham ber also has a row of four columns. In addition the rows of columns ter­ minate at each end with a pilaster. An architectural influence from the Western Islamic world is seen in two of the entrances of the colonnade, which have lintels carved in the shape of a semi-circular arch.

sight it may appear th a t the existence of the SolahkhambT portico could be due to the influence of Indian temple architecture, where a portico fronts the massive sanctuary. However, we shall see that the porticoes of the m osques also have another significance and will rem ain part of an Islamic tradition shared by the trading com m unities of South India. The smaller m osque of Bhadresvar, the ChhotT Masjid (fig. 1.10), is different in arrangem ent from the SolahkhambT and consists of a walled courtyard



The form, which later also occurs occasionally in the buildings of South India, is unknown in western and northern Indian architecture and at that time was not used in Iran or Central Asia. We may, therefore, assume that the form was an imitation of the semi­ circular arches of the vernacular buildings of the Persian Gulf and the Yemen, or of those of the grander monuments of Syria and Egypt. The Chhotl Masjid is not dated, but the architectural elements and decoration of the mosque are so closely similar to those of the Shrine of Ibrahim that they must date from the same period and are probably the work of the same team of craftsmen. In Bhadresvar, although the buildings conform with Islamic liturgical requirem ents, the structural components and decoration are based on old Indian principles. The monolithic building elements, such as the column shafts surm ounted by brackets sup­ porting stone lintels, as well as the corbelled dome of the Shrine of Ibrahim are all common features of the ancient and mediaeval architecture of India. The decorative carvings used extensively in the Shrine of Ibrahim and the Chhotl Masjid are also similar to those found in both Jain and Hindu m onuments of western India of the sam e period. In two of the buildings of Bhadresvar the decoration is mainly on the columns, pilasters and lintels. The Muslims’ own contribution to the decorative scheme was the semi­ circular form of arch and the Kufic epigraphs, both of which would have made the buildings stand out from the local architecture. An im portant Islamic feature is, of course, the mihrab. All the m ihrabs in Bhadresvar have semi­ circular arches and are semi-circular in plan, with a semi-circular or angular projection outside the wall. This type of mihrab appears in the Arab lands, but is unusual in Iran and Central Asia. The Bhadresvar m ihrabs have not retained any decoration, but around the springing of the arches there are projec­ ting mouldings, which indicate that another dec­ orative elem ent, probably of carved wood, could have been fitted into the existing recess. W ooden mihrabs were particularly common in Egypt during this period. An interesting fe atu re of the buildings is the form of the column shafts, which are divided into square, octagonal and circular registers. The form is not only Indian in origin and appears in earlier monuments of the subcontinent, but also represents a Shiva lihga, the significance of which was known to the Muslims from much earlier tim es and had

been described by al-Biruni in an account of the Hindu principles of religion and the destruction of the lihga of Somnath by Mahmud of Ghazna:22

22 Alberuni’s India (Tahqiq m i IVl-Hind), ed. E. C. Sachau, Arabic text, London, 1887, 252-3, 155; E nglish translation by E. C. Sachau, London, 1888, II, 103. Sachau’s translation is given here. 23 Sachau’s translation of the word m aid an as hippodrome is not entirely accurate. The word means town square, and here most probably the royal square (maidan-i shah) of Ghazni. 24 Excavation at Banbhore (author not given, but under Depart­ mental Excavations), Pakistan Archaeology, I, 1964, pi. 17a; F. A. Khan, Banbhore, A preliminary report on the recent archaeological

excavations at Banbhore, 3rd revised ed., Karachi, 1969, 25, 27. 25 Apart from al-Blrunfs account already quoted see Minhaj Siraj, Tabaqat-i Nasiri, ed. A. H. Habibi, Tehran, 1 9 8 4 ,1, 229; Muhammad b. Khawand Shah called Mir Khwand, Raudat al-safa, Tehran, 1270 (1853-4), no page number, but under dhikr-i fath-i sumnat bi dast-i Mahmud. Farrukhi, the court poet of Mahmud, who accompanied the sultan on the campaign to Somnath, also records that the broken linga was carried away by Mahmud, see Diwan-i Hakim Farrukhi Slstani ed. M. Dabir-Siyaqi, Tehran, 1956, 71, verse 1370.

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The linga he (Prajapati, the moon’s husband) raised was the stone of Somanath, for soma means the moon and natha means master, so that the whole word means master of the moon. The image was destroyed by the Prince Mahmud —- may God be merciful to him! — in A.H. 416 (1025-6). He ordered the upper part to be broken and the remainder to be trans­ ported to his residence, Ghaznin, with all its cover­ ings and trappings of gold, jewels, and embroidered garments. Part of it has been thrown into the hip­ podrome (maiddn)23 of the town, together with the Cakrasvamin, an idol of bronze, that had been brought from Taneshar. Another part of the idol from Somanath lies before the door of the mosque of Ghaznin, on which people rub their feet to clean them from dirt and wet. The lihga is an image of the penis of Mahadeva.... Varahamihira says about the construction of the linga: ‘After having chosen a faultless stone for it, take it as long as the image is intended to be. Divide it into three parts. The lowest part of it is quadrangular, as if it were a cube or quadrangular column. The middle part is octagonal, its surface being divided by four pilasters. The upper third is round, rounded off so as to resemble the gland of a penis’.

In the excavations at Banbhore a Shiva lihga was found re-used as a step in fro n t of the Ja m f of Daibul noted above 24 The discovery of the lihga confirm ed the acco u n t of al-B iruni and o th er historians25 that the Muslim conquerors deliberately laid a lihga on the threshold of their mosques, for the public to clean their shoes on before entering the mosque. The Muslim m erchants of Bhadresvar, who would have seen the lihga of the mosque at



Daibul in th eir voyages, could not have been unaware of the significance of the form, yet allowed it to be employed in the columns of their religious buildings, showing a rem arkable tolerance towards the local religion. This attitude was perhaps the key to the success of these maritime communities on the coasts of the Indian Ocean. JUNAGADH

Many of the architectural features in B hadresvar can also be found in a mosque of the early settlers in Junagadh. During the first century of the Delhi sultanate, Junagadh, together with most of Gujarat, retained its independence until 698 A H /1298-9 AD when ‘Ala al-dln Khaljl annexed the region to his em pire. D uring th e 13th ce n tu ry the M uslim settlements continued their peaceful existence under Hindu rule and tom bstones of m em bers of these communities have been found in Cambay, Somnath and Patan (ancient Anhilvada).26 In Surashtra the only known architectural remains of the settlers is a mosque at Junagadh (fig. 1.11), situated on the out­ skirts of the town, north of the ancient fort of Uparkot. Above the central entrance of the prayer hall of the mosque is an inscription in situ recording that the mosque was built in 685 AH/1286-7 AD by the chief m erchant and shipowner Abu’l-Qasim b. ‘All al-Idhajl.27 The inscription does not m ention the name of any ruler, but at this time the king of Guja­ rat was Sarangadeva. The mosque is built on a platform set on solid rock (pi. 1.9). On the northern side the rock has been cut back and below the mosque is an ancient Buddhist cave, now also regarded as an Islamic shrine. Like the mosques at Bhadresvar, the mosque of al-Idhajl is built of large blocks of stone, with monolithic columns surm ounted by brackets sup­ porting the flat roof. The prayer hall contains the single m ihrab, semi-circular in plan, with a sem i­ circular arch and its projection outside is also semi­ circular. Framing the m ihrab are two columns sup­ porting a carved lintel set on brackets, but they may date from a later period and no trace of any earlier decoration remains in the m ihrab. The most domi­ nant feature of the mosque is the front colonnaded portico with its two rows of columns, comparable to the SolahkhambT portico. A secluded chamber, ap­ parently a private area for women, has been added to the south of the prayer hall, probably soon after the mosque was built.

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Plate 1.9 Junagadh, the mosque of Abu’l-Qasim a CAH al-Idhajl, view from lie north showing the building with Its front colonnade standing over an old Buddhist cave, which has later been converted lo a Muslim shrine.

Plate 1.10 Junagadh, the mosque of Abu’l-Qasim, the prayer hall, the columns with flanged supports for the brackets which hold up the roof lintels, and the mihrab, semi-circular in plan and with a semi-circular arch. The decorative elements framing the mihrab may be later additions put together from abandoned Buddhist remains in the area.



The decoration of the mosque is comparable with that of the Bhadresvar buildings, but the columns are more elaborately carved. The shafts are divided into four registers, square at the base, then octagon­ al, sixteen-sided and round. The lower part of the circular register represents a half opened lotus, above which are carved strings of beads and rings of diam onds and discs. The circular registers have flanges on either side (pi. 1.10), giving support to two of the brackets of the ante-capitals. The Mosque of Abu’l-Qasim al-Idhajl helps us to understand the link between the architectural forms of Bhadresvar and those of South India. The mosque, dating almost a century and a half after the Islamic monuments of B hadresvar, is from the tim e when the Muslim communities were spreading rapidly throughout the ports of South India, taking with themselves their architectural traditions which had developed in Gujarat and perhaps other regions of western India. The m osque shows how m uch by this tim e the architecture of the settlers had developed its own vocabulary and how m uch the lay o u t and de­ coration of the pre-conquest mosques had become

the established p attern along the coast and also inland. Soon after the construction of the M osque of Abu’l-Qasim, with the Khaljl occupation of Gujarat a num ber of im portant m osques w ere built in Gujarat, none of which have a portico in front, but, as we shall see, porticoes continue to appear in South India. The semi-circular plan for the mihrab also appears to have been taken to South India. In Gujarat it remained a characteristic of 14th century mosques, but during the Sultanate of Gujarat, under the influence of North Indian architecture it grad­ ually gave way to the angular form of plan. The mosques of the settlers, regardless of their size, have only a single mihrab, a tradition different from that of the North Indian mosques where there are usually a num ber of m ihrabs. In G ujarat the single mihrab and sem i-circular arch w ere to be superseded by m ultiple m ihrabs and the pointed arches favoured in the sultanate period, but in the architecture of the Muslim settlers in South India single mihrabs and semi-circular arches remain the preferred form.





D uring th e 14th c e n tu ry on th e C orom andel (Travancore) coast an independent Muslim sultanate was established which lasted for less than half a century and was eventually terminated by the newly established neighbouring kingdom of Vijayanagar. The short, brutal and enigm atic period of this sul­ tanate has attracted the attention of a num ber of modern scholars1 who have tried to put together its history through study of the coins, a few inscriptions and the brief, often dismissive remarks found in the North Indian histories, as well as, most inform ative of all, the travel account of Ibn Battuta,2 who visited the region when the power of the sultanate was at its peak. However, none of these studies agree even in the num ber and chronology of the sultans, let alone the details of the events: a confusion which is a result of the lack of adequate inform ation at the present time. Under the circumstances it may appear presumptuous to em bark on a description of the architectural monuments of this sultanate. However, not only in M adura are the tom bs of two of the sultans preserved, there are also other mosques and Islamic shrines which altogether represent a distinct architectural style — an architecture, which, as we shall see, has little sim ilarity with that of Islamic North India or even the Deccan, but takes its roots from a much earlier building tradition, perhaps that of the Muslim merchants settled in South India. Ma‘bar is the name given by the Muslims to the Coromandel coast and the region of Madura, from at least the 12th century (fig. 2.1). The 10th and 11th century Muslim geographers3 do not mention

the name, nor do they record any com m unity of Muslim m erchants settled in the region. Their ac­ counts of Muslim settlem ents on the Indian coasts are limited to Khanbaya and Naharwala in Gujarat, and the ports of Saimur, Sindan and Subara, all on the route to Sarandlb (Ceylon) and apparently on the west coast. As we have already noted, the location of the last three ports has not yet been established. Al-Idrls!4 adds to the list KhabTrun and As&wul. The location of Khabfrun is not certain, but Asawul later became part of Ahmadabad, the capital of G ujarat built by Ahm ad Shah5 betw een 813/ 1410-11 and 820/1417-18. In South India on the Malabar coast Buzurg b. Shahriyar al-Ramhurmuz!,6 a Persian shipmaster and merchant who was himself taking the Arabian Sea route to India, notes the ports of Kaulam and Sindapura but m akes no men­ tion of Ma‘bar.

1 For modern numismatic and historical studies on the Sultanate of Ma‘bar see C. J. Rodgers, Coins of kings of Ma‘bar, JASB, LXIV, i, 1895, 49-54; T. M. Ranga Chari and T. Desika Chari, Som e unpublished Ma‘abar coins, Indian Antiquary, XXXI, May 1902, 2313; E. Hultzsch, The coinage of the sultans of Madura, JRAS, 1909, ii, 667-83; Shamsuddin Ahmad, A Supplem ent to Volume II o f the Catalogue o f Coins in the Indian Museum, Calcutta (the sultans of Delhi and their con tem poraries), AS1, Delhi, 1939, 77-87; S. A. Q. Husaini, The chronology of the first two sultans of Madura, The Proceedings o f the P akistan H istory C onference {F ifth Session) held at K hair pur under the au spices o f the Pakistan H istorical Society, 1955, 193-6; S. A. Q. H usaini, The history of Madura Sultanate, J ASP, II, 1957, 90-130. A copper coin of ‘Ala al-dln Udauji found later than the dates of the above studies has also been reported in ARIE, 1965-6, 211, no. E 206. For the main historical studies see V. Rangachari, The history of the Naik kingdom of Madura, Indian Antiquary, XLIII, January 1914, 1-6; S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar, South India and her Muhammadan Invaders, New Delhi, not dated but c.

1921; Mahdi Husain, A short history of Ma'bar, Indo-Iranica, VIII, i, March 1955, 13-23; Mahdi Husain, Tughluq Dynasty, Calcutta, 1963, 108-9, 196-7, 242-5, 600-06; D. Devakunjari, Madurai through the ages, Madras, 1979, 155-69. 2 Ibn Battuta, 500-1, 605-11. 3 For the accounts of early geographers see p. 9, note 11 above. 4 Abu ‘Abd’ullah Muhammad b. M uhammad al-Idrlsi, Opus Geographicum, Napoli-Roma, 1971, 185-198. 5 Sikandar b. Muhammad known as Manjhu b. Akbar, M ir’dt-i Sikandarl, Baroda, 1961, 30-8. 6 Le capitaine Bozorg fils de Chahriyar de Ramhormoz, Livre des m erveilles de Vlnde, text Arab public d’apres le manuscrit de M. Schefer, collationne sur le manuscrit de Constantinople par P. A. Van der Lith, traduction franpaise par L. Marcel Devic, Leiden, 1883-86, 94, 105, 157-8. 7 ‘Abd al-latif al-Baghdadi, K itab al-ifada wa al-i'tibar, Damascus, 1983, 30. 8 Yule’s comments in Marco Polo, London, 1903, II, 296, 337, 603.


It seems that Muslims must have settled in the ports of the Travancore coast during the 11th and 12th centuries and the name Ma‘bar begins to appear in Muslim chronicles from the beginning of the 13th century. In 600/1203-4 4Abd al-L atlf7 notes the name in association with the Arab trade with South India and by the end of the century the region was also known to the Chinese as Ma-pa-’rh, one of the foreign kingdoms whose "sultans" sent tribu te to Kublai Khan.8 At this time most of the commerce of the region was already in the hands of Muslim




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settlers. According to Rashid al-dln,9 Chinese m er­ chandise brought by junk to the ports of Ma‘bar was exchanged with goods m ainly from the Persian G ulf, as w ell as o th e r places such as "‘Iraq , Khurasan, Rum, Sham and Parang"* The local pro­ ducts, particularly fine red silk (lalas), arom atic roots (‘aqaqir) and pearls were also traded, but the main import to the region was horses, with a yearly quota of 1,400 horses assigned to Malik Jamal al-dln Ibrahim of the island of Kish and another 10,000 from the other islands of the Persian Gulf. The influence of the horse traders on the governm ent was apparently so great that a Muslim, Jamal al-dln’s brother, Malik TaqI al-dln (or T aqfullah)10 b. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. M uham m ad al-Tayyibl, was m ade minister of the country and governor of three ports, Fatan, M allfatan and Qa’il. TaqI al-dln was later succeeded by his son and grandson, who were all of the al-Tayyibl family, the rulers of the southern Iranian province of Fars and the region of the Per­ sian Gulf.11 Rashid al-dln mentions that Ma‘bar was the key to India:

and in Persian: dSbil JsM UJtS** and that from Kaulam (m odern Quilon or Kollam) to the region of N llaw ar was a distance of 300 parasangs (1,800 km), but he notes that he did not know the size of the region ( jlu ^ H o w ­ ever, the boundaries of Ma‘bar were better known to his contem porary geographer Abu’l-fida’12 who records: India has three regions (iqllm ). The first is the western region which adjoins the lands of Sind and Kirman, and is called Juzrat (Gujarat). The next region is Manlbar (Malabar), to the east of Juzrat. Manlbar is the same as the land of pepper... The third is the Ma‘bar region, the frontier of which lies at a distance of four days from the east of Kaulam, in other words east of Manlbar.

He continues to identify the Ma‘bar region with the area to the east of Cape Com orin (ku m h u ri) and records: "From the Manlbar direction Ma‘bar begins at Kumhuri, where there is a m ountain and town both of this name." Abu’l-fida’ also mentions that the

9 Rashid al-dln fadl’ullah b. ‘Imad al-daula Abu’l-khair, Jam i‘ altawdrlkh, facsimile of Persian and Arabic texts in Karl Jahn, Rashid al-dln’s history o f India, Arabic MS of 714/1314-15 (Royal Asiatic Society) f. 2063f Persian MS of 717/1317-18 (Tup Qapu), f. 335-6, Persian MS of 833/1429-30 (British Museum), f. 384; see Karl Jahn, Rashid al-dln's history o f India: collected essa ys with facsim iles and indices, London - The Hague - Paris, 1965; also see Henry Yule, An endeavour to elucidate Rashiduddin’s geographical notices of India, JRAS»New Series, IV, 1870, 345-56.

10 The name varies in different MS. Wassaf, who records similar information, gives the name as TaqI al-dln, see ‘Abd’ullah b. Fadl’ullah al-Shirazi known as Wassaf, T azjiyat al-am sar wa ta jriy a t al-a‘sar, Bombay, 1297 (1880), ffl,*30Z 11 Ibid., 301-9; also see H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson, The H istory o f India as T old by its own H istorians, the M uhammadan P eriod, London, 1871, III, 32, 34-5, 45-7; Cordier’s note in Marco Polo, II, 333. 12 ‘Imad at-din Isma‘Il b. ‘A ll known as Abu’l-fida’, Taqwlm albuldan, Pers. tr. by A. Ayati, Tehran, 1970, 401-3, 410-11.



surrendered to his Majesty’s trusted agents, the victorious army, weighed down by immeasurable treasure, and taking mighty elephants, returned swiftly to the court.

region was known for its excellent silk and furnishes us with the names of some of the towns in Ma‘bar» including M anlfatan and B iyardaw al (probably modern Virdachellam), its capital, also noting that horses w ere im ported to the tow n from o th er regions.13 T H E S U L T A N A T E O F M A ‘B A R

Since the 13th century the area also appears to have been known to the sultans of Delhi and with the expansion of the sultanate towards the south at the time of ‘Ala al-dln Khaljl the first campaign against the region was made, apparently under the pretext of helping Sundar Pandya,14 the ruler of M adura who had been overthrow n by his brother Vira. At first Ulugh Khan, the governor of Bayana and one of the most trusted army commanders of ‘Ala al-dln, was put in charge of the campaign,15 but he died before he had time to prepare the army and ‘Ala aldln appointed his vice regent (malik na'ib), Kafur Hizar Dinar!, in his place.16 The campaign started on Tuesday 24th of Jum ada II, 710/18 N ovem ber 1310,17 and alto g eth er lasted for a year, during which time Ma‘bar was overrun by the Muslims, the temples w ere dem olished and the towns looted. Amir K husrau,18 who recorded the campaign in detail, sums up the conquest: j ...


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»e\fjL> c-jL>At every corner conquest opened a door to them..., and in all that devastated land wherever treasure remained hidden in the earth it was sifted, searched through, and carted away so that nothing remained to the infidels (gabran) of their gold but an echo, and of their gems, a flaming fire. When all that incalculable weight of gold and priceless gems was

13 The monopoly of the horse trade in Ma‘bar by the Muslims has also been described by Marco Polo, see Marco Polo, II, 340. 14 Wassaf, op. c it, IV, 527; Amir Khusrau Dihlawl, K haza’in alfuluh»ed. Syid Moinul Haq, Aligarh, no date but c. 1927, 174. 15 Diya al-dln Barni, Tdrikh-i Firuz Shahi, Calcutta, 1862, 283. 16 Kafur was the highly valued catamite of ‘Ala al-dln and was probably a black slave. The name kafur (camphor, a snow-white substance) was com m only given to black slaves, as is reflected in the Persian proverb jjiir ju*j a "in contrast they name the blacks kafur". 17 Amir Khusrau Dihlawl, op. cit., 126. On his return Kafur was received by the sultan on Monday 4th of Jumada II, 711 /1 8 th October, 1311, ibid., 181. 18 Ibid., 172. 19 Ibid., 174; A m ir Khusrau D ihlawl, Duwal Rdrii Khidr Khan, facsim ile copy of a manuscript, commemorative volume for the

In this campaign the Muslim army penetrated south as far as Madura and F atan ,19 but the establish­ ment of Muslim control of the region is not stated clearly and Kafur usually retained the local rulers in their place when they nom inally accepted the supremacy of Delhi.20 However, the extraordinary wealth brought by K afur, w hich accordin g to one of the more m oderate records exceeded 312 elephants, 20,000 horses and 96 man of red gold (equal to 10 crore of coins),21 was enough to encourage ‘Ala al-dfn’s successor M ubarak Shah to send his malik na'ib, Khusrau Khan, on a similar cam paign. The in te n tio n b eh in d th e second cam paign m ay be illu stra te d by an in cid en t concerning the Muslim settlers of Ma‘bar. On one occasion, Khusrau, who was neither as popular nor as good a tactician as Kafur, found that the Hindus had fled, taking their gold, but that a certain Muslim merchant known as Khwaja TaqI, thinking he would be safe under the protection of the arm y of Islam, rem ained behind. K husrau to o k his w ealth as booty.22 W hatever the real reason for the second campaign may have been, the Muslim historians imply that from this time Delhi had limited control o v er the region and M uslim g o v ern o rs w ere appointed for Ma‘bar. At the tim e of M uham m ad b. Tughluq the governorship of Ma‘bar was given to Sayyid Jalal aldln Ahsan, who had been Ghiyath al-dln Tughluq’s governor of Batihagarh, where an inscription of his time dated 725/1324-5 has been found.23 Jalal al-dln was the father of the governor of Hansi and Sirsatl (modern Sirsa), Sharif Ibrahim Kharltadar (the chief scribe of the court),24 and Ibn B attuta records that when he was in North India he married one of Jalal al-dm’s daughters, Hur Nasab 25 The date of Jalal aldfn’s appointment as the governor of Ma‘bar is not known, but he minted coins26 there with the name of Muhammad b. Tughluq until 734/1333-4 just before his rebellion against the sultan, probably

700th anniversary of Amir Khusrau, Lahore, 1975, folio 8, obverse; also see Elliot and Dowson, op. cit., Ill, 550-1. 20 Amir Khusrau, Khaza’in al-futuh, Aligarh, c. 1927, 144; ‘Isami, Futuh al-salatin, ed. A. Mahdi Husain, Agra, 1938, 287. 21 Firishta, I, 120. 22 Diya’ al-dln Barni, Tdrikh-i Firm Shahi, 398-9; Firishta, I, 126. 23 See Rai Bahadur Hira Lai, Descriptive List o f Inscriptions in the Central Provinces and Berar, Nagpur, 1916, 51, inscription no. 71; also see 52, inscription no. 75; B. D. Verma, Inscriptions from the Central Museum, Nagpur, E l APS, 1955-6, 109-12. 24 Diya al-din Barni, op. cit., 480-1; Yahya b. Ahmad b. ‘Abd’ullah al-Sihrindi, Tdrikh-i Mubarak Shahi, Calcutta, 1931, 106; ‘Isami, op. cit., 449-51; Ibn Battuta, 500. 25 Ibid 26 JRAS, 1909, pi. facing 680, no. 2; JASP, 1957, 127, pi. 12 no. 1.



in the same year or soon afterw ards.27 He pro­ claimed himself as Sultan Ahsan Shah and, according to Ibn Battuta, minted gold coins,28 although only his silver and copper coins have so fa r been discovered.29 M uham m ad b. T ughluq’s campaign against him was aborted in Tilang when the sultan fell ill and the rum our of his death led to m any other rebellions which kept him preoccupied for the rest of his reign. Ahsan Shah ruled independently for about five years and founded the Sultanate of Ma‘bar. He was apparently slain in battle and was succeeded by ‘Ala al-dln UdaujI30 who was in his turn killed in another battle only a year later. The third sultan, Qutb al-dln Firuz Shah, was even less fortunate, as only about forty days after his enthronem ent he was put to death by his own nobles, who disagreed with his style of rule. Our only descriptive source on the first three sultans is Ibn Battuta’s brief account from the time he was in Ma‘bar during the reign of the fourth and fifth sultans, G h iy ath al-dln M uham m ad Piraghan Shah (c.740/1339-40 to 745/1344-5) and Sultan Nasir al-dln M ahm ud Damghan Shah (c. 745/1344-5 to 757/1356). Ibn Battuta, however, des­ cribes in detail m any of the events of the time of these sultans, quoted in most modern studies of the sultanate. From his account it appears that the Mus­ lims, who by rebelling against M uhammad b. Tugh­ luq had cut them selves off from the resources of Delhi, were engaged, perhaps out of desperation, in constant battles with the neighbouring Hindu states and had to rely entirely on their own forces, which often exercised fierce and brutal repressive methods on the local people. We know from Ibn Battuta that the sultans and their court spoke Persian and in his Arabic narrative their words are given in their original Persian form. It should also be noted that Damghan, the title adap­ ted by two of the sultans of Ma‘bar, is the name of a town in Khurasan which was an im portant cultural centre during the Sasanian31 and early Islam ic period; one of the earliest mosques of the Islamic world is still preserved there.32 It is not unlikely that G h iyath al-dln M u h am m ad and N asir al-dln Mahmud were both originally from this town. Our knowledge of the later sultans of Ma‘bar is less certain, to the extent that even the precise number of the sultans is not yet known, but, on the numismatic and inscriptional evidence33 it can be

established that Sultan Nasir al-dln was succeeded by Shams al-dln ‘Adit Shah (c. 757/1356 to 774/1372^ 3), followed by F akhr al-dln M ubarak Shah and finally ‘Ala al-dln Sikandar Shah (c. 7 7 4 /1 3 7 2 to 779/1377-8). The end of the sultanate of M adura is recorded by the Delhi court historian of the time, Shams Siraj,34 who m ay not have been entirely without bias:

Yahya b. Ahmad, op. cit., 106 too late.

31 A. U. Pope (ed.), A Survey o f Persian Art, London-Tokyo, 1964-5, II, 579-83. 32 Ibid., Ill, 933-4. 33 S. A. Q. Husaini, The history of Madura Sultanate, J ASP, II, 1957, 110-15. 34 Shams Siraj ‘A flf, Tarlkh-i Firuz Shahi, Calcutta, 1891, 261-3. Elliot’s translation of this passage is incom plete and inaccurate, see Elliot and Dowson, op. cit., Ill, 339.

27 The date of 742/1341-2 given by and Firishta, I, 137, is therefore much 28 Ibn Battuta, 498. 29 The date of the earliest coins may 673, coin no. 5; Shamsuddin Ahmad, 127, no. 2. 30 The name UdaujI appears on his name as U daiji

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.jLaSCil Mathura is a large city, with broad streets. The first person to make it the capital was my father-in-law, Sultan al-Sharff Jalal al-dln Ahsan Shah. He built the city to resemble Delhi and it was well constructed. When I went to the city there was an outbreak of cholera and people were dying fast. ... The sultan returned to Mathura (from Fatan) and found his mother, his wife and child ill. He remained in the city for three days and then moved to the bank of the river situated one parasang from the town. At this place there is a temple of the infidels.



Fig. 2.2 Plan of Qal‘a Rai Pithura at Delhi (from AS//?, IV, 1871).

and his representatives. The main streets of the town were fairly straight and at each end of these streets was a gateway. In Tughluqabad, while a small royal mosque may have existed in the citadel or the upper town, the congregational mosque was in the lower town and in a prom inent location com parable to that of the Quwwat al-Islam and in the middle of a square at one side of the processional street leading via the main gate of the upper town to the royal square (maiddn-i shah). A similar street layout has still been preserved in Ahmadabad45 and must have also existed in Qal‘a Rai Pithura. Ibn B attuta’s rem ark regarding the sim ilarity between Islamic M adura and Delhi should not be overlooked, as in the account of his long stay in Delhi he describes in some detail the cities of Delhi, including Tughluqabad, together with their palaces and mosques. He also relates the royal ceremonies, the various functions which took place in the square

in front of the main palace gate (including public executions) and the royal processions through the streets. The similarity of M adura and Delhi must have, therefore, been particularly striking to him, since the layouts of L a i Qila and Tughluqabad are not unique in employing the principles of Islamic urban planning in India. Many Islamic cities in the subcontinent already had similar plans, the earliest of which was perhaps the town of D aibul46 Today among the better preserved exam ples of the sul­ tanate towns with this type of plan is Daulatabad,47 the Hindu town of Devagiri rebuilt on an Islamic layout by ‘Ala al-dln K haljl and M uham m ad b. Tughluq and described by Ibn Battuta, as well as G ulbarga48 and B idar49 all in the D eccan. The Islam ic principles of urban p lanning becam e gradually a norm in India and even in the latest Mughal towns such as Shah Jahanabad50 the same principles were applied.

45 J. Burgess, The architecture o f Ahmadabad, Part I, Archaeological Survey of Western India, VII, London, 1900, pi. 2 (town plan of Ahmadabad). 46 F. A. Khan, Banbhore, a preliminary report on the recent arch­ aeological excavations at Banbhor, fourth edition, Karachi, 1976, 8. 47 Ibn Battuta, 558, describes the three parts of Daulatabad; for the town plan see George Michell (ed.), Islamic Heritage o f the Deccan,

Bombay, 1986, 18. 48 Ibid., 28. 49 G. Yazdani, Bidar, its history and monuments, Oxford, 1947, Map of Bidar. 50 Attilio Petruccioli, La citta del sole e delle acque Fathpur Sikri, Roma, 1988, 34, fig. 7.



Fig. 2.3 Town plan of Tughluqabad, the early 14th century capital of Delhi built by Ghiyath al-dln Tughluq.

The present Madura, on the other hand, is a very different city from the M adura described by Ibn Battuta. The layout of the old city is preserved in a diagrammatic plan made by Langles51 in 1688 (fig, 2.4) and in a surveyed plan by Richard Owen Cam­ bridge52 in 1757 (fig. 2.5). Perhaps the most signi­ ficant point shown in both plans is that the town is on the south bank of the River Vaigai, not six kilo­ metres away, and its location corresponds with the place where Ibn Battuta records the existence of the old Hindu temple. U nlike the Muslim tow ns the town has a concentric plan and the most im portant feature of the town is the great Sri Minaksi Temple with its double perim eter walls, the gopuras of which dominate the entire city. Today* although the town has expanded in all dir­ ections, the old core has remained with little change, still preserving the co n cen tric lay o u t w ith the temple on a square site in the centre. The straight

street layout of the town is generated around the temple, the four gates of which open to the four main streets aligned in the cardinal directions. From Langles’ plan it is clear that, as is usual with ancient South Indian towns, M adura was designed based on the strict rules of Hindu town planning as expressed, for example, in the M anasara Silpa.53 This ancient architectural m anual describes eight major types of town plan suitable for various sites. In all these plans the tem ple occupies the centre of the town. In his plan, Langles also shows th at the royal palace complex was also within the perim eter of the temple walls and occupied the south-east corner of the site. The complex consisted of the main palace (C in plan) and its courtyards (E), the audience hall (F) and the women’s quarters of the palace (west of H). There was also a hospice for the high ranking Brahmans and other royal guests. M ost of these

51 L. Langles, M onum ents anciens et m odernes de VHindoustan, Paris, 1821,1, figure facing 98. 52 Richard Owen Cambridge, An account o f the w ar in In dia between the English and French on the coast o f Corom andel from

the year 1750 to the year 1760, London, 1761, pi. 7, facing p. 105. 53 Parasanna Kumar Acharya, Architecture o f M anasara, IV, New Delhi, 1980, 63-98; M. A. Ananthalwar and Alexander Rea (eds.) and A. V. Thiagaraja Iyer (compiler), Indian Architecture, 1 ,1980,158-73.



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[You thought that the Messenger and the believers would never return to their families, and that was decked out fair in your hearts, and you thought evil thoughts,] and you were a people corrupt. Whoso believes not in God and His Messenger, We have prepared for the unbelievers a Blaze. To God belongs the kingdom of the heavens and of the earth; whomsoever He will He forgives, and whomsoever He will He chastises; God is A ll-forgiving, All-compassionate. The Bedouins who were left behind will say, [when you set forth after spoils, to take them, "Let us follow you" desiring to change God’s words...] 10 James Burgess, On the Muhammadan Architecture o f Bharoch, Cambay, Dholka, Champanir, and M uhammadabad in G ujarat, AS! (New Imperial Series), vol. XXIII, Western India, vol. VI, London, 1896, 29, p i XXI1L 11 James Burgess, Muhammadan Architecture o f Ahmadabad, Part I: AD 1412 to 1520, ASI (New Imperial Series), vol. XXIV, Western



Cranganur (Cranganore or Kodungalor) is believed to be the site of the earliest mosque of the traders, going back to a legendary date of AH 8/629-30.15 Cranganur is now a small town north of Cochin, but was once one of the important ports of Malabar and the seat of an independent coastal kingdom, before the capital was shifted to Calicut Logan16 identifies the town as the ancient port of Mouziris, noted in the Periplus, where Greek ships from Egypt used to go as early as the 1st century AD. In addition to its Muslim population, Cranganur also had a Jewish settlem ent,17 which was aban­ doned only in recent years. The old settlem ent was


Fig. 5.1 Cranganur, Cheraman Jamf Masjid. Plan of the old building, with the outline of the modern structure surrounding it.

Plate 5.3 Cheraman Jamf Masjid, exterior from the south-west showing the roof of the old building behind the modern extensions.


Plate 5.4 Cheraman Jamf Masjid, Interior of the prayer hall showing the mihrab and part of the wooden m in b a r.

located ie an area known as Chennamangalam a few miles east of the tow n18 and apart from a disused synagogue of relatively recent date there are a num­ ber of old Jewish tombstones in the area.19 The fate of the Jewish settlem ent of Cranganur will be dis­ cussed in more detail in association with the history of Cochin, but it is notew orthy that in the case of C ranganur, the non-Indian settlem ent was once again not in the Hindu town, but a few miles away. In Madura and Kayalpatnam the Hindu and Muslim towns may have been separate from each other, but the site of Chennamangalam, which also has an old temple and even some Muslim remains of relatively recent origin, has not yet been fully investigated to determine whether or not it was associated with old Cranganur. In the tow n th e old m osque know n as the Cheraman Jam f Masjid20 has survived and has been preserved in the core of some modern corridors and halls built in 1984. The m odern extensions obscure almost all of the exterior features of the original building, except for part of the tiled wooden roof

which can be seen from the courtyard. As far as the local legend claiming the foundation of the mosque to be as early as the 8th year of the Hijra is con­ cerned, it is said that in this year an A rab saint converted Raja Cheraman (or Chframan) Perumal to Islam, and the mosque was founded soon afterwards. The origin of the legend goes back many centuries and is recorded by Zain al-dln,21 and tw ice by Firishta,22 who in one account gives no date for the foundation of the mosque, but notes that the event took place during the lifetime of the Prophet, while elsewhere he implies a much later date.23 W hatever the date of the foundation of the mosque may be, as with many other early mosques of the region, the old Cheram an Masjid seems to have been destroyed by the P ortuguese in 1504 when Lopo Soarez de A lgabaria attacked C ran­ ganur, "and burnt the town and all vessels he found there”. The Portuguese spared the houses, shops and churches of the Christians, but looted those of the Jews and "Moors"24 The present mosque, therefore, was probably built some time after this date, and

18 P. M. Jussay, The songs of Evarayi, in Thomas A. Timberg (ed.), Jews in India, Sahibabad (UP, India), 1986, 151. 19 J. B. Segal, A history of the Jew s o f Cochin, London, 1993, 11. 20 The mosque has not been studied previously, but is noted briefly in H. Sarkar, Monuments of Kerala, ASI, New Delhi, 1978, 49; for a photograph of the present front fapade of the building see Stephen Dale, Islamic architecture in Kerala: a preface to future study, Islam and Indian regions, Beitrage zur Siidasienforschung, Sudasien Institut, Universitat Heidelberg, no. 145, ed. Anna Libera Dallapiccola

and Stephanie Zingel-Ave Lallemant, Stuttgart, 1993, II, pi. 106. 21 Zain al-din, A t . 23; tr. 53. 22 Firishta, II, 369-70. 23 Ibid., 368. In the opening of the chapter on the Muslim history of Malabar Firishta mentions that the first Muslims arrived in the region in c. 200/815-16, a date closer to those given in early Arab and Persian sources. 24 Danvers, I, 115.



while there is no inscription to indicate the date of the reconstruction, the present building would then date from the mid-16th to the early 17th century. The original building of the C heram an Masjid consists of a small prayer cham ber with an an te­ chamber in front (fig. 5.1, pi. 5.3). It is not clear whether or not the building had a front porch orig­ inally, as its site is now occupied by a m odern pray­ er hall. In the original prayer cham ber the main features are preserved, including the mihrab, which is semi-circular in plan and has a semi-circular arch, with a rectangular projection behind the qibla wall. The most impressive part is the ceiling, m ade of oiled tim ber supported by wooden cross beams resting on the walls. There are no columns in the prayer chamber, nor in the ante-chamber which has a plain wooden ceiling, also supported by tim ber beams. Next to the m ihrab is a small, but fine wooden minbar (pi. 5.4), which has three steps leading to a speaker’s seat with a high back. The m inbar is crowned by a wooden canopy supported on turned wooden columns decorated with various mouldings and topped by relatively large circular capitals.


Above the capitals squat shafts support the lintels of the wooden canopy, a version of the traditional hipped roofs of the local buildings in miniature, clad with wooden shingles imitating terracotta roof tiles. The minbar, together with com parable examples in the Mithqalpalli (pi. 6.15) and the Jam i6 (pi. 6.40) of Calicut, provides a repertoire for the wooden minbars of Malabar. Although similar in form to the other two minbars, that of the Cheraman is much smaller, but has an unusually large canopy. The Cheraman Jami* is a good example of the small mosques of Malabar. The layout of the mosque, con­ sisting of an ante-chamber leading to a small prayer chamber without any columns inside, is characteristic of mosques of this scale in the region. The masonry walls are plastered, with no ornamentation, and even the mihrab is relatively plain. How ever, the charm of the building is mainly in the tim ber structure of the ceiling and in the ornate minbar. In the Chera­ man Jami‘ in spite of the intrusive additions and expansions, the inner core has preserved its original hipped roof, which does not seem to have originally had the grand front gable characteristic of other mosques of the region.


The history of the Muslim settlers of Calicut and the im portance of their role in the political scene of South India hardly needs emphasis. The town is well known for being for several centuries the focus in the struggle with the Portuguese, and throughout this period the Muslims remained close allies of the powerful Hindu Rajas known to the Portuguese as "Zamorin" (fig. 6.1) and to the Muslims as "Samir!" (from Sanskrit samudrl: sea-lord). Calicut seems to have developed as a trading port only in the 12th and 13th centuries and was unknown to the 10th century Muslim traders,1 but by 742-3/1341-3, when Ibn Battuta visited Calicut, the trade of the town was firmly in the hands of the Muslims. Ibn Battuta2 describes Calicut as a m ajor port on the M alabar coast, governed by a Hindu ruler, and inhabited by various ethnic groups coming from places as far to the east as China, Java and Ceylon, as well as from the west —- the Yemen and Persia (fir s ). At the time of his visit the chief m erchant of Calicut was one Ibrahim, from Bahrain, with the title of shah bandar (the port m aster or chief of the harbour),3 while the qddi (religious judge and arbitrator) was one Fakhr al-din ‘Uthman. The herm itage (zdwiya) of the town was in the hands of a descendant of Shaikh Abu Ishaq KazirunI, Shaikh Shahab al-din, and was visited by Muslim devotees from India and China. This family was apparently in a position of some influence in Malabar, and Ibn Battuta records that Shaikh Shahab al-dln’s son was at that time in charge of the zaw iya of K aulam .4 In Quilon the name of another m em ber of the family, Amir Ah­ mad b. Abu’l-Fath KazirunI, has been found in an

inscription5 dated 726/1325-6. Early in the 15th century Calicut was visited by N icolo de C o n ti,6 w h o se n a r r a t o r , P o g g io Bracciolini, describes the city as "a m aritim e city, eight miles in circumference, a noble em porium for all India, abounding in pepper, lac, ginger, a larger kind of cinnamon, m yrobalans and zedoary". Some two decades later in 846/1442-3 4Abd al-Razzaq arrived in Calicut from Bengal and spent five months in the tow n, describing it in a long and informative passage in his memoirs:7

1 Hudud al-alam and Istakhri do not mention Calicut, or indeed any of the known ports of South India. However, the region of Malabar was already known to the Muslim maritime traders at least from the 9th century, and in c. 339/950-1 the Persian ship-master Nakhuda Buzurg b. Shahriyar in his book 4A ja'ib al-hind speaks of Muslims travelling to kaulam (Quilon) of mail (Malabar), south of Calicut and even to ports of the China Sea, but does not mention Calicut. This is one of the earliest records of the name of the coast in Muslim records. See: Le capitaine Bozorg fils de Chahriyar de Ramhormoz, Livre des m erveilles de VInde, text Arab public d’apres le manuscrit de M. Schefer, collationne sur le manuscrit de Constantinople par P. A. Van der Lith, traduction franpaise par L. Marcel Devic, Leiden, 1883-86, 94,120. 2 Ibn Battuta, 572. 3 JaI ^ jjllj y \ Lfj jUsJi ^ / Ibn Battuta’s account indicates that the Persian title of shah bandar was given to the am ir al-tujjar or chief merchant, the person in charge of administration

of the Muslim community in a South Indian port, see for example the case of Muhammad Shah Bandar of Kaulam, ibid., 575. As appears in inscriptions of earlier dates, the ch ief merchants had the Arabic title of sadr, see Bhadresvar, 42. For a more comprehensive meaning of the political and religious authority of a sadr in 13th century Iran see the case of Sadr-i Kablr Sayyid al-Wuzara’ and other personages with this title in Abu Sharaf Nasih b. Zafar JurfadiqanI, Tarjuma-yi Tarikh-i Yamini, Tehran, 1966, 434-40. 4 Ibn Battuta, 575. 5 H. Sarcar, Monuments o f Kerala, New Delhi, 1978, 50. 6 R. H. Major (ed.), India in the fifteenth century, London, 1857, Part II, 20. 7 ‘Abd al-Razzaq Samarqandl, Dastan-i safar-i Hindustan wa sharh-i 'aja‘ib-i an, Tashkind, 1960, 20-21, 25; the translation quoted is from Major, op. tit., i, 13-14, 17, with some words in the Persian text which do not appear in the translation added in square brackets.





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l I n the case of Bam in Kirman, p. 143, Istakhri mentions that the Friday prayer was performed in three mosques: in the Masjid-i Khwarij (the mosque of the Kharijls) in the Bazaar quarter; in the Masjid-i ahl-i Sunnat (the mosque of the Sunni sect) in the Bazzazan (tailors) quarter; and in a third mosque in the fort. The treasury for religious taxes (bait al-mal) was also kept in this mosque. This account shows that from the early days of Islam different sects each had their own jam?, and in the case of the third mosque of Bam, it seems that it belonged to th e Caliph’s governor, his court and army, and was

perhaps not well regarded by the local people. 9 For a local history of the qadis of Calicut see P. P. Mahammed Koya Parappil, The history o f M uslim s in Calicut, Calicut, 1994 (in Malayalam). 10 William Brooks Greenlee, The voyages o f Pedro Alvares Cabral to Brazil and India, London, 1938, 82-3,109-10. 11 Here only a few relevant passages are given (pp. 101-3, 146-8, 153), for the full account on Malabar and Calicut see Barbosa, 101156. 12 According to Barbosa the Muslims appeared in Malabar at about the beginning of the 10th century, a date corresponding with the accounts in the early Muslim records. The rest of Barbosa’s account on the legendary history of Calicut agrees in general with the records of Zain al-dln and Firishta.



Fig. 6.1 Vasco da Gama at the audience of the Zamorin of Calicut (from Marjay, original in the Arquivo Historic© Ultramarino, Lisbon).



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Fig. 6.2 The Portuguese fort near Calicut built in 1511 by Albuquerque, and later, when the defence of the fort proved impracticable, demolished by the Portuguese themselves in 1525, to prevent it falling into the hands of the Zamorin (from de Gray Birch’s Dalboquerque; original from Correa). house of Mekkah, and he died on the road. And before he set out from his country, he divided the whole of his kingdom of Malabar amongst his re­ lations... and at last when he had given away all and there did not remain anything more for him to give except ten or twelve leagues of land all round the spot from which he embarked, which was an unin­ habited beach, where now stands the city of Calicut... And he left an injunction to the other lords, his re­ lations to whom he had made grants of land, that... no one should coin money except the king of Cali­ cut... This city of Calicut is very large, and ennobled by many very rich merchants and great traffic in goods. This king became greater and more powerful than all the others. He took the name of Zamodri (Zamorin in other sources: the Sea Lord) which is a point of honour above all other kings... And there are many other lords in the country of Malabar who wish to call themselves kings, and they are not so, because they are not able to coin money nor cover houses with roofs (i.e. proper structures with roof

tiles) under penalty of all the others rising up against whomsoever should do such a thing... In all this said country of Malabar there are a great quantity of Moors who are of the same language and colour as the gentiles (Hindus) of the country. They go bare like the Nairs, only they wear, to distinguish themselves from the gentiles small round caps on their heads and their beards fully grown. So that it appears to me that these people are a fifth part of all the inhabitants that there are in this country. They call these Moors Mapulers, they carry on nearly all the trade of the seaports: and in the interior of the country they are very well pro­ vided with estates and farms. So that if the King of Portugal had not discovered India this country would have had a Moorish King... These people have many mosques in the country in which they also unite in council. There were other foreign Moors in Calicut, whom they call Pardesy. These are Arabs, Persians, Guzarates (Gujaratis), Khorasanys,13 and Decanys:

13 It is interesting that Barbosa distinguishes the Persians from the Khurasanls, the Persians from the north-east of the old Iranian territory. Other Portuguese sources also distinguish Khurasanls as a separate group (see p. 254). It seems that to the Portuguese th e Persians were those from the region of the Persian Gulf, the state of Hurmuz and the province of Pars, which in the 15th and 16th century was one of the more prosperous states of the Iranian world. These people must have com e to the region via the sea. The Khurasanls, on the other hand, were associated with the Persians who came from the north, in the service of the sultans of India, and were

spread throughout India overland. At this tim e a large number of them were in the service of the sultans of the Deccan. This is also alluded to by Barbosa h im self, w hen he put the name of the Khurasanls and the Deccanis together. The nature and the role of the Khurasan! communities in Malabar are not entirely clear. They were not a maritime nation, and if they were not employed in the army of the local rulers, they must have been traders who brought m er­ chandise from the interior. In this case their exports and imports would have been instrumental in sustaining the trade of the mari­ time merchants.



Fig. 6.3 A 16th century engraving of Calicut seen from the sea and showing the harbour, the shipyard, and the ships anchored in deeper waters away from the shore (from Marjay, original in the Biblioteca National, Lisbon). they are great merchants, and possess in this place wives and children, and ships for sailing to all parts with all kinds of goods. They have among them a Moorish governor who rules over and chastises them without the King meddling with them. And before the King of Portugal discovered the country they were so numerous and powerful in the city of Ca­ licut, that the gentiles did not venture to dispute with them. And after that the King of Portugal made himself master there, and these Moors saw that they could not defend it, they began to leave the country and little by little they went away from it, so that very few of them remain. And at the time that they prospered in their trade, without any exaggeration, they made ships in this city of a thousand and of eleven hundred bahars bulk, which make four quintals (200 tons) each... These Moors were very well dressed and fitted out, and were luxurious in eating and sleeping... (Near Calicut) the King of Por­ tugal has a very good fortress, made with the good will of the King of Calicut.

The fortress (fig. 6.2), in spite of Barbosa’s state­ ment, was not built with the good will of both sides, nor did the Portuguese establish any firm control over Calicut. With the appearance of the Portuguese on these shores, in 1498 the Muslims of Calicut blocked any attem pts by Vasco da Gama to set up Portuguese trade there.14 This resistance made da Gama leave Calicut in frustration, and in his second voyage in 1500, w hen his negotiations did not

succeed, his armada shelled the town, causing dam­ age and fire. On 4th January 1510 the Portuguese made a final attem pt to take over Calicut, and at first succeeded in looting the town and even reached the palace, but w ere defeated by the Z am orin’s army. In this attempt most of the Portuguese force, including their highest ranking com m ander, King Manoel’s Marshal of India, were killed, and were it not for Albuquerque, who was second in command and kept the landing place open, no one would have escaped alive.15 This event is not only given in the P ortuguese accounts, but is also reco rd ed by Firishta16 and Zain al-dln,17 who notes that during the looting the P ortuguese again set fire to the town, and som e buildings, including the J a m f Mosque, were burnt. From this date the Portuguese abandoned the idea of m aking a favourable treaty with Calicut, and, as we shall see, established themselves first in Cochin, where they already had a factory, and later in Goa where they defeated the ‘Adil Shahls and set up their main western Indian colony. The Portuguese fort near Calicut, mentioned by Barbosa, was built in 1511 by Albuquerque, who was determined to establish his authority over Cali­ cut, but the defence of the fo rt proved im prac­ ticable, and in 1525, before leaving the area, the Portuguese themselves demolished the fort to pre­ vent it falling into the hands of the Hindus.18 The

14 Gaspar Correa, The three voyages o f Vasco da Gama, tr. Henry E. J. Stanley, London, 1869, 209-14, 330, 373; K. G. Jayne, Vasco da Gama and his Successors, London, 1910, 63-6. Vasco da Gama was not the first Portuguese to arrive in Malabar. In 1487 King Dom Joao of Portugal sent Pero de Couilha to India to gather prelim inary information. He travelled partly overland and partly on board Arab trading vessels, visiting Cannanur, Calicut and Goa. For a b rief account of his voyage see A ntonio Galvano, D isc o veries o f the World, Eng. tr. corrected and quoted by Richard Hakluyt, 1601, reprinted with the original Portuguese text and edited by V iceAdmiral Bethune, London (Hakluyt Society), 1862, 77-8. For the roots of the Muslims’ hostility against the Portuguese in Calicut see William Brooks Greenlee, The voyages o f P edro Alvares Cabral to Brazil and India, London, 1938,46-8, 180-4.

15 Hernani Cidade, Asia de Joao de Barros, Lisbon, 1945, II, 153-63; Affonso Dalboquerque the Younger, The Commentaries o f the Great A ffonso Dalboquerque, Second V iceroy o f India, tr. by Walter de Gray Birch, II, London, 1877, 64-71. This account records that the palace of Calicut was set on fire, and also that the Marshal ordered a mosque near the city gate to be burnt. 16 Firishta, II, 372. 17 Zain al-din, Ar., 42, tr., 98, both Firishta and Zain al-dln give the date as 915/1509-10 corresponding with the date given by the Portuguese sources. 18 Affonso Dalboquerque the Younger, The Com m entaries o f the Great A ffonso Dalboquerque, Second Viceroy o f India, tr. by Walter de Gray Birch, II, London, 1877, 61-75. The engraving of the fort facing p. 77 is reproduced here. Also see Danvers, I, 375-6.



Muslims maintained their alliance with the Zamorin, but, as noted by Barbosa, many Arabs and Persians soon left the scene,19 and the suprem acy of the Portuguese gun-ships over the waters throughout the 16th century brought the Muslim trade — which was based on peaceful and free enterprise — to a virtual end.





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