Bhodesar Masjid was built by Sultan Mahmood Begarrho, ruler of Gujarat whose forefathers were of Rajput origin and his mother was a lady from Sama tribe of Sindh.
By Noor Ahmed Janjhi
Today I will discuss the Bhodesar Masjid and its inscription stones. The historic mosque is located in Parkar, a unique area in its topography, geography, history and culture. Its social interaction is also interesting and unique because of its environment and social context. It has been a seaport with flourishing beach and swimming pools. The area has no big dunes like the other parts of Thar. Its soil is alluvial and a strip of marshy land is found there. Moreover, the mighty Karoonjhar Mountain range is riveted by nature. Town of Nagarparkar is at the foot of the mountain.
Bhodesar village is situated at a distance of four miles in the north west of Nagarparkar town. It was established by Bhodo Parmar. ‘Sar’ is called to natural pond for water. Thus, the settlement was called as Bhodesar – the pond of Bhodo. The village is also seat of antiquity and history. Its large pond, Poni Dehro (Jain Temple), Jucks Dehra and memorial stones at the pond are some of the symbols of history. Besides, there is a mosque also called the Bhodesar Masjid. The mosque was built by Sultan Mahmood Begarrho, ruler of Gujarat. His forefathers were of Rajput origin and his mother was a lady from Sama tribe of Sindh. The author of Mirat e Sikandari has called him as “Best among the Sultans of Gujarat”. His original name was Fateh Khan. As it has been tradition that power brings titles, he was known as Sultan Mahmood Begarrho. He was born on 8th Ramazan 849 AH corresponding to 1445 AD and according to Mirat e Ahmadi he died at the age of 66, on 3rd Ramzan 917 AH corresponding to 23 November 1511AD. His shrine is at Sarkhej near Ahmedabad, a city founded by his grandfather Ahmed Shah. He ruled Gujarat for about fifty four years. He has attacked many kingdoms and principalities. On the request of Nizam of Deccan, he attacked and stopped the attempt of Sultan Khajloo. He attacked Junagadh for four times (AH 871, 872, 874, 877) and captured the fort during the last attack. In 1479, he captured another fort, the fort of Pavagadh (Champaner). Mohammad Jaunpuri settled in the mosque of Taj Khan Salar of Ahmedabad during his rule but the people of Sultan and religious scholars expelled Jaunpuri. His title Begarrho is an interesting title. Most of the historians attribute it to his conquest of two forts (Junagadh and Pavagadh). ‘Be’ means two and ‘gadh’ means fort. Begarrho means the conqueror of the two forts. However, the author of Mirat e Ahmadi (p 76) writes about his title as “There are two views among people of Gujarat about his nickname Begadho. Firstly, mustachios of the Sultan were big and twisted (curved) like two horns of an ox. In the Hindi language such an ox is called Beghada. Secondly, ‘be’ in the language of Gujarat means two and ‘gadh’ as a fort. As the Sultan conquered the forts of Junagadh and Champaner, he was called Beghada.”
Mr. Mangharam Ojha, in his book Purano Parkar, has mentioned two attacks (First attack in 1504 and second in 1505 AD) on Parkar by Mahmood Begarrho. He has given causes of the attacks. First attack was made against the dacoits and the second one after the loot and plunder of his mother’s entourage. He has mentioned Begarrho as the son of Ahmed Shah. However, he was the grandson of Ahmed Shah. Why he attacked Parkar? There are different views mentioned by the local historians. It is said that the Thakurs of Parkar stopped caravan of his mother (Bibi Mughli ) who was on her way to perform Hajj. However there are no details about it in the history books of Gujarat. Only the year of the attack is mentioned as 878 AH. Ustad Raichand, in his book Tareekh Registan has written with the reference of the history of Gujarat. He writes: “He has built a small masjid sharif during the period. It is built of the marble like stone. Its width and breadth is about 30 feet. Its half is constructed with pillars and the remaining half is hollow. There is dome at its roof like the construction of the middle era mosques of the Mughal period. There is an inscription stone at the mehrab (Arch) in Persian, but the writing has faded because of no care. They seem illegible. Albeit, the name of Mahmood Shah bin Muzaffar Shah and the year 1505 AD can be read. It can be concluded that the Sultan made his third attack during the year 1505 AD corresponding 880 AH and Sambat 1562 (Tareekh Registan Part I p 119 with ref to Tareek Gujarat by Shaikh Ghullam Muhammad p 77 and Kachh jo Gujrati Itehas p 70).
Bhodesar Masjid exists in good condition near the Poni Dehro and Juck Dehra. There has been a little bit study about the architecture of the mosque. Captain Stanley Napier Raikes, Political Agent of the area, has written about one of the inscription stones in the para number 37 his memoir “Thurr and Parkur” as, “At Boodesir, also in Parkur, there are the remains of a large Jain temple, and a mosque; the latter bears an inscription as follows: “If it may be injured, any one in power who will not repair it, will be considered a sinner by God.” A.D. 1436.”
By translating the stone, he has mentioned the year of the construction of the mosque as 1436 AD. It is not correct. Perhaps he has done mistake while reading the Persian text. About the inscription stones, Mr. Hidayatullah Siddiqui has written in the journal “Archaeology” clearly as follows:
“There are two Persian inscriptions fixed on the western wall, one in Persian above the pulpit at the considerable height and other in Arabic/Persian in its northwest corner. Both are inscribed on marble tablets in intermediary Nasakh and Nasta’liq scripts. The former consists of five lines and is damaged at places. It is not possible for the writer of these lines to prepare its suitable rubbing. The legible portion noted by him is reproduced below:
“It is evident from the above that the mosque was constructed during the period of Sultan Muhammad (II) son of Ahmed Shah son of Muzaffar Shah Ghiyasuddin son of (?) at the instance of Malik Safi al Mulk ( may be some Amir). The names and the titles of Sultan and Amir recorded in the inscription are clear testimony to the fact that they belonged to the ruling class of Gujarat.”
The other inscription carved on a tablet of 18 by 9 inches, consists of four lines. It is comparatively fair and legible. Crowned with the 18th verse from Surah al Jinn of the Holy Quran, it reads as under:
- “And the mosques are Allah’s so call not upon anyone with Allah.”
- On the 7th of the Holy Month of Ramazan…..year eight hundred fifty two (Hijrah).
- “If this mosque is damaged, everybody who is capable must get it repaired so that they may be blessed by God.”
Mr. James Burgess in his book “Antiquities of Kutch and Kathiawar” has given a detailed account about the inscription stones on the mosques constructed by the rulers of Gujrat. He has given images of the inscriptions. The images reveal the identical nature of the inscription stones. It has been written on the stones for rulers to maintain and repair the mosques along with the mention of the year of the construction and other details. It is needed to maintain and repair the historical mosque of Bhodesar.