In most middle classes in school, while studying about the Moghul era, children invariably come upon the name Sher Shah Suri, the founder of the Suri dynasty, who decisively defeated the Mughal emperor Humayun twice, forcing the latter to flee Delhi for the north-west. In fact, Sher Shah Suri was an able administrator and many historians say that Emperor Akbar and others after him drew inspiration from Sher Shah’s plans.
While nobody can tell which way the medieval history of India would have flowed if Sher Shah did not die from an accident in Kalinjar, it is a surprise that his capital and the place of his burial lie in semi-anonymity. Not many travellers wend their way to Sasaram in Bihar.
Interestingly, Humayun's Tomb in Delhi is not only a tourist attraction, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An example of Indo-Islamic architecture, Sher Shah’s tomb or maqbara in Sasaram is located in the middle of an artificial lake, connected to the mainland by a long stone bridge. The octagonal tomb,which stands on a raised platform, is decorated with arches, chhatris and kiosks, and intricate carvings on its walls. A flight of stairs lead to the main structure. It is said that the construction was ordered by Sher Shah (born Farid Khan) in his lifetime and it was completed three months after his death. Inside, According to some reports, the domes of the kiosks were covered in coloured glazed tiles but nothing is evident today.
In fact, Sasaram contains tombs of Sher Shah’s family members, including that of his father and son. However, many of the tombs are in disrepair.
The tombs are not only attractions here. If history beckons you, drive to the hill-top Rohtas Fort, about 85km from Sasaram. However, perched at 1500 feet, it has to be reached by foot from the base of the hill. It is a steep climb and is a lonely place. So it is best visited in a group and preferably with a local person for a guide. Lying about 32km from Sasaram is another spectacular hill-stop fort, Shergarh, almost hidden in the middle of a forest.
Just when you are getting a tired of history, pay a visit to the waterfalls – Manjhar Kund and Dhuan Kund – about 10km from Sasaram. Rising on the Kai River, these falls are best seen during the post monsoon period when the volume of water expands. These also take some steep climbing and walking along jungle paths.
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Sasaram is about 155km from capital Patna. It is also an important railway junction on the Gaya-Mughalsarai (now Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Nagar) line. The best time to visit is during winter. Accommodation is limited and has basic infrastructure.