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Sher Shah Suri

Sher Shah Suri
  • Born: 1486
  • Died At Age: 59
  • Born In: Sasaram
  • Famous As: Founder Of The Sur Empire In North India
  • Born In: Sasaram
  • Famous As: Founder Of The Sur Empire In North India
  • Died On: May 22, 1545
  • Place Of Death: Kalinjar Fort
  • Cause Of Death: Accident

Who was Sher Shah Suri?

Sher Shah Suri was the founder of the Sur Empire in North India. After taking control of the Mughal Empire in 1540, he set up a new civic and military administration and implemented several reforms in the financial and postal sectors. He reorganized the empire and revived the historical city of Pataliputra as Patna which had been in decline since the 7th century CE. He was known to be a great warrior and an able administrator whose works laid the foundation for the later Mughal emperors. Born as one of the several sons of a horse breeder, he grew up to be a brave young man with an ambitious and adventurous spirit. He rebelled against his father and left home to join the service of Jamal Khan, the governor of Jaunpur. He then moved on to work for Bahar Khan, the ruler of Bihar, and impressed him greatly with his valour and courage. He soon rose through the military ranks and became the governor of Bihar following the death of Bahar Khan. Growing in stature with each passing day, he went on to conquer Bengal and at the Battle of Chausa he defeated the Mughal Emperor Humayun and assumed the royal title of Farid al-Din Sher Shah. Counted amongst the greatest Muslim rulers of India, he died during the siege of Kalinjar fort in 1545.

Childhood & Early Life

Sher Shah Suri was born as Farid Khan in 1486 in Sasaram, Rohtas district, Bihar in India. His grandfather Ibrahim Khan Suri was a land lord (Jagirdar) in Narnaul area and his father Mian Hassan Khan Suri, was a horse breeder and a prominent figure in the government of Bahlul Khan Lodi. Farid had several brothers.

Farid Khan grew up to be a brave young man and was given a village in Fargana, Delhi (comprising present day districts of Bhojpur, Buxar, Bhabhua of Bihar) by Omar Khan Sarwani, the counselor and courtier of Bahlul Khan Lodi.

Farid often got into disputes with his father and ran away from home to independently seek his fortunes.

Later Years

He then enlisted as a soldier in the service of Jamal Khan, the governor of Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh. Meanwhile his father died and he took possession of his paternal jagir.

Farid Khan entered the service of Bahar Khan, the ruler of Bihar, in 1522. He quickly impressed Khan with his bravery and valor, and was appointed his deputy. He also became the tutor and mentor of Bahar Khan’s minor son.

Once on a hunting trip Farid killed a full grown tiger with his bare hands, and earned the title of Sher Khan from Bahar Khan in recognition of his bravery.

An aggressive personality, Sher Khan developed difference with Bahar Khan and left his services to join Babur’s camp in 1527-28. He returned to Bihar after the death of Bahar Khan and became the governor. In this position he effectively reorganized the administration and established a well-disciplined army. Within a course of four years he became the recognized ruler of Bihar.

He grew more ambitious and attacked Bengal in 1538, easily defeating Ghiyashuddin Shah. However, he was unable to conquer the kingdom because of Mughal Emperor Humayun who made an expedition to Bengal at the same time.

Sher Khan faced Humayun at the Battle of Chausa in June 1539. Sher Khan defeated the Mughal Emperor and assumed the royal title of Farid al-Din Sher Shah. The confrontations between Sher Shah and Humayun continued as Humayun retried to capture lost territories and the men faced each other again at Kannauj in May 1540.

Sher Shah was once again successful in defeating Humayun who was forced to flee India. By 1540, Sher Shah had managed to drive out all his enemies from Bengal, Bihar, and the Punjab. He took control of the Mughal Empire and founded the Sur Empire in North India, with its capital at Delhi. He then went on to conquer Malwa in 1542; Raisin, Multan and Sindh in 1543; and Marwar and Mewar in 1544.

Sher Shah Suri was not only a courageous warrior, but also an able administrator. He introduced several reforms and reorganized the civil and administrative structures. He is also credited to have introduced the tri-metal coinage system which later came to characterize the Mughal coinage system.

He undertook notable architectural works during his reign and built structures like Rohtas Fort, Sher Shah Suri Masjid, and Qila-i-Kuhna mosque. He also built a new city Bhera of Pakistan in 1545.

Major Battles

One of the most famous battles fought by Sher Shah Suri was the Battle of Chausa in which his forces defeated the Mughal emperor Humayun’s army in 1539. Sher Shah’s victory in the battle marked the beginning of the downfall of Humayun’s reign and laid the foundation for Suri to establish the foundation of the Sur Empire in North India.

Major Works

Sher Shah Suri rebuilt the Grand Trunk road, which existed during the Maurya Empire, extending from the mouth of the Ganges to the north-western frontier of the Empire. The purpose behind building the road was to link together the remote provinces of his vast empire for administrative and military reasons.

He also built several monuments including Rohtas Fort, Sher Shah Suri Masjid in Patna, and Qila-i-Kuhna mosque at Purana Qila, Delhi

Personal Life & Legacy

Sher Shah Sur married Lad Malika, widow of Taj Khan, governor of Chunar. This marriage helped him greatly in consolidating his powers as a powerful ruler as it gave him the possession of the Fort of Chunar.

He remained a brave and ambitious warrior till the very end. Sher Shah Suri was killed in a freak accident during the siege of Kalinjar fort on 13 May 1545. He was succeeded by his son, Jalal Khan who took the title of Islam Shah Suri. His successors, however, proved to be weak rulers and the Mughals were able to re-establish their rule in India after a few years.


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