Chaukhandi-Type Tomb of Khwaja Khalil Better Known Nawab Amir Khan Khalil at Makli Hill, Thatta (Sindh), Pakistan: History and Architecture

By Qazi, M. Naeem; Durrani, M. A. | Journal of Asian Civilizations, July 2012 | Go to article overview

Chaukhandi-Type Tomb of Khwaja Khalil Better Known Nawab Amir Khan Khalil at Makli Hill, Thatta (Sindh), Pakistan: History and Architecture


Qazi, M. Naeem, Durrani, M. A., Journal of Asian Civilizations


Location

The Chaukhandi tomb of Khwaja Khalil Alias Nawab Amir Khan Khalil is located to the northwest of Badi-uz-Zaman's tomb at Makli Hill. The famous necropolis of Makli Hill at Thatta is situated about 98 km to the west of Karachi and 3 km southwest of Thatta city (Qazi, 2010a: 79), which is approximately covering an area of six (6) square miles.

Historical background

It is utmost significant to advocate, that since no epigraphical record has been reported from the under discussion Chaukhandi tomb, therefore, A.H. Dani has declared it unidentified (Dani 1982: 123, fig. 80). However, the literary sources are suggesting its association with a certain Khwaja Khalil.

According to these literary sources, once Khwaja Khalil saved the life of Muhammad Baqi Beg Tarkhan, who was about to drown in the river. Keeping in view his loyalty, Baqi Beg Tarkhan became highly obliged. Therefore, he was given high rank in the royal court (Qani 2002: 284). Khwaja Khalil proved himself to be a very competent person. Thus, he was entitled as, "Nawab Amir Khan Khalil". He constructed his mausoleum in his life time. However, he desires, that he may not be buried there, because of any excess from the royal with the labour or mason, during the course of its construction. In this process, Qani in Tufat-ul-Kiram is suggesting, that as per his desire, he was buried in the courtyard of Baqi Beg Tarkhan tomb complex, under a domed structure (Qani 2002: 284). The story of his burying is further verified by Qani in "Makli Nama", that he was laid to rest inside a Chatri, close to the Badi-uz-Zaman's chatri (Qani 1994: 488). Thus, in the light of above stated version of informations, he was buried in the Chaukhandi tomb located to the southwest of Badi-uz-Zaman tomb pavilion. In the light of above stated authentic references, this Chaukhandi may be undoubtedly assigned to Khwaja Khalil better known Nawab Amir Khan Khalil (Qazi, 2010b: 112). It is octagonal in plan and resting on eight pillars (PL 1).

It has been crowned by a squat dome, whereas, its domical ceiling has been veneered through receding circles.

Pillars

The pillars provided to this Chaukhandi are devoid of any ornamentation. The base of the pillar is square in plan, measuring 42cm a side, while height of each base is 68 cm. The shaft of each pillar has two parts. The lower one is square measuring 37x37 cm and its length is 60cm, whereas, the upper part is similar to the lower portion, however, its length is 1.23 m (PL 1; Fig. 1), which shows comparatively thicker in composition.

Brackets

The octagonal shaped abacus has supported the capitals. These capitals are octagonal in plan, showing acanthus leaves decoration, which have been executed on the each part of the octagon. The capital is crowned by a circular shaped abacus, which supports the four armed brackets. These brackets have been composed in vaulted fashion.

The rectangular shaped lintels are resting over these brackets. These brackets are supporting the lintels above in order to take the load at the ceiling on one hand, while on the other these support the octagonal shaped chajja. Moreover, it has been crowned by the parapet, showing arch shaped merlons.

Domical ceiling

The low domical ceiling has been veneered through the overlapping stone rings. Whereas, at the apex of the domical ceiling a low stalagmite has been provided, which is carved in high relief (PL 2; Fig. 1).

Dome:

The in question Chaukhandi has been surmounted by a squat shaped dome, which is further topped by an Amalaka element.

Conclusion:

In the present work an attempt has been made to investigate the prevailing controversies concerning the identification of the at issue Chaikhandi tomb. The contemporary historians such as, Nisyani, Beglari, Masumi and Khuda Dad Khan are absolutely silent about the deceased person and the date of its construction. Besides, the research scholars have never shown their intention to identify the under debate funerary structure. …

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