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Khan Jahan


Khan Jahan popularly known as khan jahan ali, a celebrated sufi saint and a ruler over a territory comprising part of greater districts of Jessore and Khulna. Khan Jahan was entitled Ulugh Khan and Khan-i-Azam and flourished at Khalifatabad (Bagerhat) in the first half of the fifteenth century when the later Iliyas Shahi Sultan nasiruddin mahmud shah (1435-1459) was ruling at Gaur.

Khan Jahan, a noble under the Tughlaqs, seems to have come to Bengal just after the sack of Delhi (1398) by Timur. He acquired the forest area of the Sundarbans as jagir (fief) from the sultan of Delhi and subsequently from the sultan of Bengal. He cleared up the dense forest in the Sundarban area to set up human settlements, and soon got the Masjidkur (under Baira thana of Khulna district) and adjacent areas on the eastern bank of the Kobadak suitable for habitation through the untiring efforts of his deputies, Burhan Khan and Fateh Khan. Local tradition ascribes to Khan Jahan the first Muslim colonisation of a part of greater Jessore and Khulna districts. The titles Ulugh Khan and Khan-i-Azam of Khan Jahan, as inscribed on his tomb, suggest that he was not an independent freelancer but that he owed fealty most probably to the sultan of Gaur. He ruled over the pargana of Khalifatabad stretching up to Naldi to the north of Narail.

Khan Jahan was a great builder. He founded some townships, built mosques, madrasas and sarais, roads, highways and bridges, excavated a large number of dighis in the districts of greater Jessore and Khulna. Besides his fortified metropolis of khalifatabad (modern Bagerhat) he built three townships, such as Maruli Kasba, Paigram Kasba and Bara Bazar. He is said to have built a highway from Bagerhat to Chittagong, a twenty-mile long road from Samantasena to Badhkhali, and a road running from Shuvabara to Daulatpur in Khulna. The most notable of his architectural monuments are shatgumbad mosque (c 1450) at Bagerhat, masjidkur mosque (c 1450) at village Masjidkur, his own tomb (1459) near Bagerhat and a single-domed mosque attached to his tomb. Of the large number of dighis and ponds excavated by him the most notable are the Khanjali Dighi (corrupt form of Khan Jahan Ali Dighi, 1450) near his tomb and Ghoradighi (measuring 1500'x750') to the west of Shatgumbad Mosque. Khan Jahan introduced a new architectural style in his buildings, which is named after him. The Khan Jahan style is seen in a group of buildings in the greater districts of Khulna, Jessore and Barisal. Khan Jahan who might have been an officer of the Gaur sultan betrays in his buildings affection for the Tughlaq architecture of Delhi. This amply suggests his acquaintance with the Tughlaq style of architecture and perhaps his earlier involvement in Tughlaq administration.

Khan Jahan died on 25 October 1459 (27 Zilhajj 863 AH) and was buried in the tomb built by himself. People have great reverence for him, and numerous people visit his tomb. Annual urs and fair is held in the dargah premises in the bright half of the moon in the Bangla month of Chaitra. [Muazzam Hussain Khan]