The Legend of Jamali-Kamali

Of many marvels situated in Archeological Park, Mehrauli; a neighborhood in South West Delhi district just a few kms away from the famous Qutub Minar; Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb is one of a kind.

Built during the years 1528 – 29, this monument’s architecture was decorated with marble embellishments. The design of the mosque, first of a kind in India, has been appreciated and studied with awe for many years. This mosque and tomb is dedicated to Jamali and Kamali.

Jamali, was a Saint and Sufi poet, who lived between Sikandar Lodi’s reign and that of Humayun. His full name was Sheikh Fazlullah or Sheikh Jamal-ud-din Kamboh Dehlawi. Jamali’s poetry created a special place in Sikandar Lodi’s heart; his works were so impressive that though Mughals conquered India, Jamali remained in the royal court till Humayun’s death.

However, this seemingly just another monument entails more stories and history than one could fathom. Few of them are tough to believe but definitely catch the attention. Let’s get started.

First 10

The gushing leaves in the courtyard seem to welcome every visitor alike. As I enter I couldn’t help but observe the structure of the mosque and the red sandstone work is so peculiar of the Mughal Architecture. It reminds me of the works in Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandra, near Agra.

First 08

The wazukhana (where the followers cleanse themselves before offering prayers), lies empty now and looks more like a shallow pond but illustrates how meticulously it was constructed back then.

As I enter the elegant Mosque, the architecture takes me to another world. The carved bands and medallions, and five arched openings, and the narrow gallery leading to the second floor; there’s something peaceful about the whole setting.

First 06AP 04

However, it is believed that the peaceful turns to eerie silence in the evening, the presence of ‘Jinns’ (or the super natural forces) has been confirmed by many stories. Some say, it haunted, I don’t really know. To me, it looks and feels mysterious yet amazing.

First 09

In the adjoining closure, there’s a flat roofed tomb, the entry to this tomb has now been closed, but it’s famous for ornamentation with colored tiles and exquisite patterns embedded with inscriptions composed by Jamali himself.

First 07

It’s the Jamali – Kamali tomb, Kamali’s relationship with Jamali was a special one as illustrated by the fact that Kamali was buried alongside Jamali. Not much validated information is available about Kamali, however there are many stories speculating that he was – A disciple, brother, friend and / or a lover. Historians, explain that during that era homosexual love was as normal as opposite sex and hence there is a high possibility that this burial side-by-side is extension of promise, made in love of being together forever. Like the Taj Mahal in Agra commemorates Shahjahan’s eternal love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Jamali-Kamali tomb has a similar theory. 1000 years back, who knew mausoleums could elicit such great interest in history.

With myriad questions rumbling in my mind I made my way to another ruined monument, a new story and experience and yet more unanswered questions.



21 thoughts on “The Legend of Jamali-Kamali

  1. I don’t know if this is a coincidence but I have read quite a lot about this place in last one year. Maybe it is because of heritage walks, I don’t know. Well, We still know very little about certain aspects. Some claim that both were homosexuals but who knows? Well, what is not written or evidenced in any form can always be cooked up any which ways! Great pictures, Charu!

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  2. What an incredible place and the date that it was built ….. it is extraordinarily beautiful – so graceful the architecture and the colour is exquisite. I so enjoyed reading the history and gazing at your fabulous pictures and yet again I feel this great urge to jump on a plane and head to India to spend I should think it has reached 5 years by now exploring all the treasures you have shared ….. thank you so much!

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  3. Pingback: The Legend of Jamali-Kamali | The Bohemian Home Journal

  4. wonderful and enthralling picture. with good description. i visited there 2 times. i liked its comparison with Sikandra. it is really a mysterious place basically the whole archaeological complex in Mehrauli is full of such thought provoking sites. thank you

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  5. Thank you for this shot of Mughal architecture. It is quite magnificent and we never tire of spending time or seeing photographs of this splendid time in Indian history. The color of the sandstone is quite striking. Interesting also to read about the tolerance for homosexuality at the time, especially through the prism of todays conservative politics in India.


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