18 April 2012

Indian Themes on foreign stamps……


Sher Shah Suri


Sher Shah Suri (1486- 1545) also known as Sher Khan  was the founder of the Sur Empire in northern India, with its capital at Delhi. An Afghan (Pathan) by origin, he defeated the Mughals and took control of North India in 1540. He first served as a private before rising to become a commander in the Mughal Army under Babur and then as the governor of Bihar . He is also remembered for purportedly killing a fully grown tiger with his bare hands in Bihar.


In 1537, Sher Khan turned against his master and overran the state of Bengal to establish the Sur Empire. A soldier of fortune, Sher Khan also proved himself a gifted administrator as well as an able general. His reorganization of the empire laid the foundations for the later Mughal emperors, notably Akbar the Great, son of Humayun. During his five year rule from 1540 to 1545, he set up a new template for civic and military administration. He conquered Bihar in 1534 & Bengal in 1538. In 1539, Sher Khan faced Humayun in the battle of Chausa. He forced Humayun out of India. Assuming the title Sher Shah, he ascended the throne of Delhi.

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He adopted a tri-metal coinage based on copper, silver and gold coins and re-organised the postal system in his kingdom. The system of tri-metalism which came to characterize Mughal coinage was introduced by Sher Shah. While the term rūpya had previously been used as a generic term for any silver coin, during his rule the term rūpiyacame to be used as the name for a silver coin of a standard weight of 178 grains, which was the precursor of the modern rupee.

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Sher Shah rebuilt the longest highway in South Asia. The highway was called the Shahrah-e-Azam (also Sadak-e-Azam, Badshahi Sadak and later Grand Trunk Road by the British). It is still in use in present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab region Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal. Mughals extended Grand Trunk Road westwards: at one time, it extended to Kabul in Afghanistan, crossing the Khyber Pass. The road was later improved by the British rulers of  colonial India. It was extended to run from Calcutta to Peshawar (present-day Pakistan). Over the centuries, the road acted as a major trade routes in the region and facilitated both travel and postal communication.

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Sher Shah built monuments including Rohtas Fort (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Pakistan), many structures in the Rohtasgarh Fort in Bihar, Sher Shah Suri Masjid, in Patna, built in 1540-1545 to commemorate his reign.Qila-i-Kuhna mosque, built by Sher Shah in 1541, at Purana Qila, Delhi, a Humayun citadel started in 1533, and later extended by him, along with the construction of Sher Mandal, an octagonal building inside the Purana Qila complex, which later served as the library of Humayun. 

Sher Shah died from a gunpowder explosion during the siege of Kalinjar fort on May 22, 1545 fighting against the Chandel Rajputs. His death has also been claimed to have been caused by a fire in his store room.

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His mausoleum, the Sher Shah Suri Tomb (122 ft high) stands in the middle of an artificial lake at Sasaram, a town that stands on the Grand Trunk Road.

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India (1970) & Pakistan (1991) released stamps to honour him.

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- Kenneth Sequeira, Dubai ( UAE)

email : kenneth.sequeira@hotmail.com

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