Sher Shah Suri’s Lasting Legacy

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    The town of Sasaram in Bihar is well known in political circles as the constituency which Congress’s veteran Dalit leader Jagjivan Ram and later his daughter, former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar represented for four decades. But this little pocket borough, hides within it an often forgotten and much grander legacy. It was the birthplace and the resting place of the only ruler who threw the Mughals out of India, albeit briefly, in the 16th century CE.

    Sher Shah Suri’s reign was a short chapter in a period dominated by the Mughals, but the greatness of the man is in the fact, that in the 7 years that he was in power, he left a lasting impact. He was the architect of the Grand Trunk Road , connecting Kabul to Chittagong in Bangladesh (he expanded the much older Mauryan era road and it still exists today!) , it is his monetary system of rupiya that we follow and he may have even laid the foundation of the Indian postal service!

    Go to Sasaram and you will find the echoes of this great man. Sher Shah was born here and his tomb is close to where his father is buried.

    Sher Shah Suri’s reign was a short chapter in a period dominated by the Mughals, but he left a lasting impact.

    Sher Shah blazed into the history books after ousting the Mughal ruler Humayun in 1538 CE. But unfortunately, at the zenith of his reign, he met with a fatal accident on May 22, 1545. Thus he ruled only for five short years. However, before he died, he had commissioned a splendid tomb for himself, which was still incomplete, at the time of his death. This tomb was completed on 16th August 1545, 3 months after his death.

    This jewel-like tomb stands in the middle of a fine square tank on a large stone plinth with domed kiosks on all four sides. It is connected to the mainland with a stone bridge.

    Sher Shah Suri’s tomb was completed on 16th August, 1545; Three months after his death.

    Earlier, the arches, the interior of the dome and the walls were carved with inscriptions from the Quran and decorated with exquisite floral carvings of stone and fitted with glazed tiles of various colours of which only a few traces remain. The exterior is said to have been glazed and painted with a combination of colours such as red, blue, gold and white which only remain visible in some places today. One can only imagine how splendid it must have looked in its prime! No wonder then, that Sir James Fergusson, the British architectural historian, in his book Eastern Architecture (1876) aptly described the buildings built by Sher Shah Suri as "Built like giants, finished like goldsmiths”.

    This incredible monument was listed in 1998 in UNESCO’s tentative list of World Heritage Monuments which included architectural marvels such as Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and Qutub Minar. Unfortunately, it did not make it to the final list, but nevertheless it continues to awe visitors to this day.


    Sher Shah Suri’s Tomb is located in Sasaram, a small town in Rohtas district of Bihar. It is on the Grand Trunk Road and the nearest railway station is by the same name- Sasaram railway station, 2 kms away from the tomb. The nearest airport is Gaya Airport which is about 123 kms away.

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