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1545, Medieval India, Delhi Sultanate, Sher Shah Sur. Gold Tanka Coin. 10.77gm!
Denomination: Gold Tanka
Mint Period: 1538-1545 AD (AH 945-952)
Kalpi (Jalaun district, Uttar Pradesh, India)
Reference: Friedberg 500, Mitchiner -, CIS -. Very Rare!
Material: Pure Gold!
Obverse: Three lines of islamic script legends within sqare border.
Reverse: Three lines of islamic script legends. Border almost completely outside of flan.
Many of the known gold coins of the Suri rulers of Delhi were struck for religious purposes, making them the earliest of the Indian temple tokens.
The Suri Empire (Pashto: د سوریانو ټولواکمني) was established by a Muslim dynasty of Afghan origin who ruled a vast territory in the Indian subcontinent between 1540 to 1557, with Delhi serving as its capital. It was founded by Sher Shah Suri, an ethnic Pashtun (Pathan) of the house of Sur, who supplanted the Mughal dynasty as rulers of North India during the reign of the relatively ineffectual second Mughal emperor Humayun. Sher Shah defeated Humayun in the Battle of Chausa (June 26, 1539) and again in the Battle of Bilgram (May 17, 1540).
The Sur dynasty held control of nearly all the Mughal territories, between what is now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan to the Bengals in the east in what is now Bangladesh. The Mughals retreated from India to Persia, while most of what is now Pakistan and northern India formed the Suri Empire.
During the almost 17 year rule of the Sur dynasty, the region of the Indian subcontinent witnessed much economic development and administrative reforms. A systematized relationship was created between the people and the ruler, minimizing corruption and the oppression of the public.
Their rule came to an end by a defeat that led to restoration of the Mughal Empire. Today, the Sur are part of the Pashtun tribal system and belong to the sub-groups of the Ghilzais.
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Sher Shah Sur (Pashto: فريد خان شیر شاہ سوری – Šīr Šāh Sūrī, Bengali: শের শাহ সুরি; 1486 – May 22, 1545; birth name Farid Khan, also known as Sher Khan ) was the founder of the short-lived Sur Empire in northern India, with its capital at Delhi, before its demise in the hands of the resurgent Mughal Empire. An Afghan (Pathan) by origin, he defeated the Mughals and took control of North India in 1540 until an accidental death in 1545 when Islam Shah Suri became his successor. 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. In 1537, when Babur's son Emperor Humayun was elsewhere on an expedition, 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 adopted a tri-metal coinage based on copper, silver and gold coins and re-organised the postal system in his kingdom. He further developed Humayun's Dina-panah city and named it Shergarh and revived the historical city of Pataliputra as Patna which had been in decline since the 7th century CE. He is also remembered for purportedly killing a fully grown tiger with his bare hands in Bihar.
Sher Shah was born as Farid Khan in the Hisar district of India, according to Tarikh-i Khan Jahan Lodi (MS. p. 151). However, the online Encyclopædia Britannica states that he was born in Sasaram (Bihar), in the Rohtas district. He was one of about eight sons of Mian Hassan Khan Sur, a prominent figure in the government of Bahlul Khan Lodi. Sher Khan belonged to the Pashtun Sur tribe (the Pashtuns are known as Afghans in historical Persian language sources). His grandfather, Ibrahim Khan Sur, was a noble adventurer who was recruited much earlier by Sultan Bahlul Lodi of Delhi during his long contest with the Jaunpur Sultanate.
It was at the time of this bounty of Sultán Bahlol, that the grandfather of Sher Sháh, by name Ibráhím Khán Súri,*[The Súr represent themselves as descendants of Muhammad Súri, one of the princes of the house of the Ghorian, who left his native country, and married a daughter of one of the Afghán chiefs of Roh.] with his son Hasan Khán, the father of Sher Sháh, came to Hindu-stán from Afghánistán, from a place which is called in the Afghán tongue “Shargarí,”* but in the Multán tongue “Rohrí.” It is a ridge, a spur of the Sulaimán Mountains, about six or seven kos in length, situated on the banks of the Gumal. They entered into the service of Muhabbat Khán Súr, Dáúd Sáhú-khail, to whom Sultán Bahlol had given in jágír the parganas of Hariána and Bahkála, etc., in the Panjáb, and they settled in the pargana of Bajwára.
—Abbas Khan Sarwani, 1580
During his early age, Farid was given a village in Fargana, Shahabad (comprising present day districts of Bhojpur, Buxar, Bhabhua of Bihar) by Omar Khan, the counselor and courtier of Bahlul Khan Lodi. Farid Khan and his father, who had several wives, did not get along for a while so he decided to run away from home. When his father discovered that he fled to serve Jamal Khan, the governor of Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, he wrote Jamal Khan a letter that stated:
"Faríd Khán, being annoyed with me, has gone to you without sufficient cause. I trust in your kindness to appease him, and send him back; but if refusing to listen to you, he will not return, I trust you will keep him with you, for I wish him to be instructed in religious and polite learning."
Jamal Khan had advised Farid to return home but he refused. Farid replied in a letter:
"If my father wants me back to instruct me in learning, there are in this city many learned men: I will study here."
Farid Khan started his service under Bahar Khan Lohani, the Mughal Governor of Bihar. Because of his valor, Bahar Khan rewarded him the title Sher Khan (Tiger Lord). After the death of Bahar Khan, Sher Khan became the regent ruler of the minor Sultan, Jalal Khan. Later sensing the growth Sher Shah's power in Bihar, Jalal sought assistance of Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah, the independent Sultan of Bengal. Ghiyasuddin sent an army under General Ibrahim Khan. But Sher Khan defeated the force at the battle of Surajgarh in 1534. Thus he achieved complete control of Bihar.
In 1538, Sher Khan attacked Bengal and defeated Ghiyashuddin Shah. But he lost to capture the kingdom because of sudden expedition of Emperor Humayun. 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.
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.
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 rūpiya came 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. Rupee is today used as the national currency in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles among other countries. Gold coins called the Mohur weighing 169 grains and copper coins called Dam were also minted by his government.
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.
Tarikh-i-Sher Shahi (History of Sher Shah), written by Abbas Khan Sarwani, a waqia-navis under later Mughal Emperor, Akbar around 1580, provides a detailed documentation about Sher Shah's administration.
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.
Sher Shah Suri was succeeded by his son, Jalal Khan who took the title of Islam Shah Suri. 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.
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. Since the era of Sher Shah, the road was dotted with caravansarais (highway inns) at regular intervals, and trees were planted on both sides of the road to give shade to the travellers and merchants.
Some soldiers were left behind by Sher Shah Suri as he escaped from Bengal, avoiding the Humayun invasion. These people are known as Shersabadia. They made a colony named Shershahabad which is no more due to a course change of Ganges. Today the people of this community are found in parts of Malda, Murshidabad, Chapai Nawabganj and a few other parts of Bengal
Sher Shah neighbourhood and Sher Shah Bridge in Kiamari Town of Karachi, Pakistan, are named in the honour of Sher Shah.
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