December, 2020July 15, 2022
Jamali Kamali Tomb and Mosque – A Forerunner of Mughal Mosque Designs in India
My first real encounter with Mehrauli Archaeological Park was the last year around October. That was the time when I started to read about lesser-known places in Delhi. Though I had visited some lesser-known monuments earlier in other parts of the city as well. For me, the very first monument that I visited around was Qutub Minar. The second monument that I got to hear about was Adham Khan’s tomb which I visited twice this year. I had no idea if there was a place named Mehrauli Archaeological Park. For me, it was just the Qutub Complex and that’s it. Jamali Kamali Tomb and mosque were the first monuments that I visited in MAP (Mehrauli Archaeological Park) this year in January. The Indiana Jones in me took me to these paths. When I visited Jamali Kamali tomb and mosque again in the first week of December this year, I spent a little more time, getting surprised by the architecture and design that this monument has carried all these centuries.
I have been to Qutub Minar thrice in the day and once in the night and every time I visited there, I passed in front of the Archaeological Park which I had never known would hold such incredible heritage. The tomb and mosque of Jamali Kamali are the first monuments (though you will walk along the boundary of Balban’s tomb) which you will see if you enter the park from the Mehrauli Gurgaon road which is the main entrance to the park or even if you come from Qutub Minar metro station (Yellow Line).
It was unfortunate for me to miss the tomb of Jamali Kamali for so long when I visited Qutub Minar. Though the tomb of Azim Khan did intrigue me, sitting on a rocky plinth and being clearly visible from the road but that too I had just ignored it during all those times. Monuments like Jamali Kamali make me fall in love with this city which has been living with such heritages for centuries. Being not too far from Delhi when I was in school, this capital city was all about Red Fort and Qutub Minar. When I moved to Gurgaon in 2010, that radar expanded a little more and then I moved to Delhi and I exposed myself to the unexposed parts of the city which I never read in high school history textbooks.
History of Jamali Kamali Tomb and Mosque – The Sufi Poet and His Disciple
When I say Delhi is home to hundreds of unknown monuments that lack proper documentation, Jamali Kamali tomb and mosque are no exception. Historians have different theories to establish the truth behind the history of Jamali Kamali tomb and mosque. Yet, it is not certain if all those theories are true or not, and even if those theories are true, then to what extent? Moreover, you don’t want to believe more than one theory since you need a concrete source that can lay the foundation of the facts.
Read Here – Interesting Facts about Qutub Minar You should Know
I spent an hour or so digging the information about the history behind the construction of Jamali Kamali tomb and mosque but all I got was a bag full of facts with different theories. Not every theory supports the other. Thus, I surrendered just like others, since there are no historical records that can be believed. But there is no choice. To me, many of these facts sounded like folklores.
I was reading the blogpost written by Vargis Khan. He has mentioned a lot of theories that historians have put for Jamali Kamali mosque and tomb. Well, before we talk about the historical background of these monuments, let’s first talk about Jamali Kamali.
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It is said that Sheikh Hamid Fazlu’ullah was a Sufi saint and poet who was known by different names including Sheikh Jamal-ud-din Kamboh Dehlwai (Jamal Khan). Jamali was his pseudonym. He was born in a Sunni merchant family and came to India when Sikandar Lodhi was in power. He was known for his wonderful poetry. Sikandar Lodhi himself was a poet and it is said that he was so impressed by Jamal Khan’s poetry that he would get his work corrected by Jamal Khan.
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People called him Jamali since they were impressed by the beautiful words he would pen down. The Urdu word Jamal means positive aura and beauty. Jamal Khan was a disciple of Sheik Sama-ud-din who was also a Sufi poet. When Mughal defeated Lodhi and established their power, Jamal Khan became the court poet during the rule of Babur and Humayun. He lived there till his death.
The Urdu word Kamal means miracle. Not much is known about this other person Kamali. He still remains a mystery. It is not sure if he was Jamali’s disciple or who he was in reality. Historians have put different theories to establish the origin of Kamali. Yet, most of them are confusing and one finds it hard to believe in any one of them. Since they both used to live together, it is said that he was named Kamali since it rhymed with Jamali. And that’s the reason they both are known as Jamali Kamali. Here are some stories that I came across while reading about Jamali Kamali tomb and mosque online:
– Kamali was a servant who served Jamali.
– Kamali was a poet and Jamali took credit for his poetry.
– Kamali was Jamali’s wife and later, she was portrayed as a male.
– Kamali was Jamali’s lover and they both were homosexual.
There is a lot to be read yet less to believe. Even Kamali’s real name isn’t mentioned anywhere. Karen Chase has mentioned their homosexual relationship in her book “Jamali Kamali – A Tale of Passion in Mughal India.” I also read that Kamali died before Jamali.
Now let’s talk about the history behind the Jamali Kamali mosque and tomb. Since Jamali was a famous poet and Sufi saint in Mughal court, he had a great influence. If online facts are to be believed, Humayun built Jamali Kamali tomb after Jamali’s death. The monument is said to be built around 1528-29 and finished around 1536. Jamali was buried here after his death.
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Some history scholars also state that the poetry which is mentioned in Guru Granth Sahib belonged to Jamali. Baba Farid who wrote the poetry was a follower of Qutubdin Bakhtiyar Kaki. But I am not sure if this description is true or not. So, I am not buying it. If you know anything about it, do let me know.
Architecture of Mehrauli’s Jamali Kamali Mosque and Mausoleum
The mosque of Jamali Kamali is set in an enclosed garden. The mosque is built of red sandstone along with marble decoration. The mosque has a prayer hall and a courtyard. The mosque has one dome and five arches as well as a central arch. As the arches move to the central arch, their size increases. The central arch is the largest which has spandrels. These spandrels are adorned with medallions. You will find mihrab on the walls as well as inscriptions from the Quran. The corners of the mosque have octagonal towers. The mosque has decorated arcades which still hold the carvings and decoration though they have been weathered at several places. The mosque is considered to be the forerunners of all the other mosques built during the Mughal period.
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The tomb of Jamali Kamali is well decorated. The flat ceiling of the chamber is heavily decorated and plastered. The ceiling has been painted with blue and red ink as well as it has inscriptions from the Quran. The walls of the chamber have been decorated with colored tiles along with poems written by Jamali. The tomb has been decorated so beautifully that for a moment you will feel like entering a jewel box. There are two graves. One belongs to Jamali and one belongs to Kamali. These graves are built close to each other and if you see it for the first time, you will think that they both were lovers.
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The tomb of Jamali Kamali remains locked and has been sealed to avoid pubic entry. Since the monument doesn’t add anything to commercial tourism, therefore, the entry gate of the tomb has been sealed. The walls of the mosque have turned love letters which you will notice when you come here. People have written their names on the walls which is pathetic. There is an act in the constitution but not enforce.
Ticket and Timing of Jamali Kamali Tomb and Mosque
Jamali Kamali tomb and mosque are among the monuments to visit without an entry ticket in Delhi. The timing must be from 10 AM to 6 PM. You can easily reach here from Qutub Minar metro station which is the nearest metro station. Since it is located in Mehrauli Archaeological Park, there are several other monuments inside the park which you should visit when you come here.
I visited Jamali Kamali mosque and tomb in January 2020 for the first time. The second time I visited here was in the first week of December 2020. Many of the monuments in the park were closed while some were open which didn’t make sense to me like Jamali Kamali mosque was open while Balban’s Tomb which is just opposite the mosque was locked. Rajao ki Baoli was open while an unknown tomb just opposite was closed.
There are several myths about Jamali Kamali tomb and mosque and these monuments are known to be haunted. In his blog, Vergis Khan says that people have experienced paranormal activities here in the dark. They have heard voices, animal growling, someone’s breath near the ear, or they have had visions of white lights and something eerie. It is also said that jinns live here. These are cooked up stories only.
The tomb and mosque were renovated by ASI before the Commonwealth Games of 2010. Tomb and mosque of Jamali Kamali may not add to the mainstream tourism of the city but add a lot to the heritage. That’s the reason, mostly heritage lovers come here. You won’t any guide here. If you want to explore the park and its monument, either you will have to do it on your own or you need to contact the heritage walk organizers in Delhi.
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I am a food & travel enthusiast, a music aficionado, poet, artist, and someone who loves to explore unexplored/off-beat places. I started this blog to share my food and travel journey.