A working professional can’t ride to Kaza or Spiti on a daily basis, so what does he do to fuel the fire of wanderlust ? I decided to “Discover Bengal in Two Wheels” . This time I had decided to ride to the Tomb of Sher Afghan and Qutubbuddin Khan Koka in Bardhaman district. Both tombs are situated within the shrine complex of the poet Bahram Saqqa, popularly known as PIR BAHRAM. It was about a 126 km turnaround ride from my home.
#HowTo Reach. From Kolkata, one rides along NH2 and crosses Shaktigarh, thereafter cross the Rathtala Flyover in Bardhaman, take an about turn and go along the overbridge till one reaches Allumgunge. From there take a left turn and go to a yellow bridge and there onwards, start asking localites. Most localites might not know the place right next door to them, but do not loose hope, and you will be guided through the labyrinth of serpentine crowded streets of Allumgunge right onto the Maqbara of Pir Bahram, where both the tombs are also collocated. It may surprise you how two sworn enemies are laid side by side, but that’s lifes numerous realities.
#History Ali Quli Istajlu, ‘Sher Afgan Khan’, also mentioned as Ali Quli Khan Istajlu ‘Sher Afgan Khan’ was a Mughal courtier, earlier serving in Persia, who became the jagirdar of Burdwan in West Bengal (1605–1607). He was also the first husband of Nur Jahan (Mehrunissa), who later married Jahangir after Ali Quli Khan’s death and became Empress of India. He was given the title Sher Afgan Khan, by Prince Salim, Jahangir, after his meritorious actions, during a war with the Rana of Mewar. Like his wife, Sher Afgan was also an immigrant from Isfahan,Persia, who fled from Iran, to Kandahar, then in India. He was the father of a daughter called Ladli Begum, after she married Prince Shahryar, the fifth and youngest son of Jahangir and rival to Shah Jahan.
Shaikh Khubu, Qutbuddin Khan Koka, (Khan-i-Chishti), was the foster-brother of Jahangir, as his mother was a daughter of Shaikh Salim. When Jahangir ascended the throne of Mughal Empire in 1605, Qutbuddin was made the subedar (Governor) of Bengal, by replacing Raja Man Singh. Meanwhile, Sher Afghan Ali Quli Istajlu was tahvildar of Bardhaman, also in the province of Bengal. In 1607, Qutbuddin Khan Koka was instructed to send Sher Afgan Khan to the court as he was accused of negligence and siding with Afghan rebels and transferred. Sher Afgan Khan refused to obey. Seeing this, Qutbuddin started off for Bardhaman, while he sent Ghiasa, the son of his sister, in advance to pacify Sher Afgan and bring him to the court. So upon his arrival on May 30, 1607, Sher Afgan duly went to meet him, accompanied by two men. At that moment Qutb signaled his men to arrest Sher Afgan, who stepped forward in alarm and attacked Qutbuddin sensing treachery. Qutbuddin was fatally wounded, and seeing this, his men surrounded Sher Afgan and killed him instantly. Qutbuddin, who was fatally wounded, died later in the night.
The claim that Ali Quli was killed because the emperor coveted his wife has been discounted by many later historians, who cite the fact that if Jahangir had had any such intentions, he wouldn’t have bestowed upon Ali Quli the title Sher Afgan, or pardoned him after he ascended the throne, or given him Bardhaman.
#Thoughts. Though the complex itself is reasonably well maintained and clean, however, it can be felt that the area is not within any tourist limelight. The joy of highway riding can be marred by the serpentine narrow and crowded lanes of Allumgunge. Hence, though not a Riders hotspot destination, but history and local culture buffs like me will love to visit the place and relive moments of history.