The Mysterious Tomb Outside Rohtas

They say one Khair-un-Nisa was buried here, but there’s no grave, and no historical clue
Then in 2001 Lahore Museum Bulletin featured a story

Someday when the sun’s out, the day’s warm and we have our tea mugs raised in cheer, we shall listen to a story.

From Khwas Khani Gate of Rohtas Fort on a bearing to Dina, the banks of Kahan River in an ancient graveyard host this tomb
Blackened to algae, still the glazed plaster shines yellow in the setting rays of sun
With no historical clue its identity is shrouded in mystery

Talib Hussain & Irshad Hussain conducted a detailed survey of building giving us an architectural footprint of the ‘So Called’ Tomb of Khair-un-Nisa
Their findings initially presented at a national seminar were later published by Lahore Museum in one of their bulletins

Built on three storeys the the tomb transitions from a square to an octagon
The tomb has three arched entrances one on each side
The western side has a mehrab in the wall
The construction formula is semi ashlar stone laid in kankar lime mortar topped with glazed lime plaster

The central arched entrances are enclosed in rectangular frame
There are two recessed blind arches on the flanks again within rectangular frame
Elegant arched alcoves decorate each side of central arch
The parapet on top of the central arch has decorative blind merlons

On the southern side a staircase leads to the rooftop to four kiosks
These hexagonal kiosks have six sided cupolas
An inverted lotus style lantern crowns these cupolas
Here the floor plan becomes octagonal
A hemispherical dome sits in the center topped with a lantern and finial

This architectural blueprint of our Rohtas Tomb has striking resemblance with a few Delhi tombs
Chota Khan Ka Gunbad near Mubarakpur complex and Dadi Poti Ka Gunbad in Hoz Khas
A rough estimate of construction for these Delhi monuments is from mid 15th to early 16th Century CE

Back to our tomb at Rohtas the interior squinches and a frieze has Quranic inscriptions in Kufic and Tuluth Script
This calligraphic footprint is a lot in resemblance with the tomb of Ibrahim Sur at Narnaul constructed around 1540 CE

So our tomb at Rohtas has its date of construction almost overlapping with that of the fort
In all likelihood it is one of the Suri era mausoleums, the only one in Pakistan
The question is who ‘was’ buried here as there is no sign of a grave

we have a few interesting versions

One version says the tomb had Prince Khurram, son of Sher Shah Suri & Roshan Ara, initially buried here later shifted to Sasaram in Bihar
Another story puts Zaib-un-Nisa daughter of Suri King in this tomb and later moves her to Sasaram
take a moment, dear reader, to digest all this …


And if you write to Archaeology department they will send you an email
There was one Qadir Bakhsh, Food Minister of Sher Shah who buried his daughter Khair un Nisa in this then empty tomb
The body was later moved as Islam Shah Suri was not much pleased to learn of the burial


Yet another tale tells us of Khair-un-Nisa, a trusted female general of Sher Shah
She got buried here, her body later moved to Sasaram
Now our Suri King is buried there with his generals in a magnificent tomb

Think about it, spice up a bit and another fascinating story shall be born

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