Sheikh Chilliís Tomb, Thanesar
The site of Kurukshetra is synonymous with the Mahabharata war. It is situated south of the now dried-up bed of the river Saraswati, modern Sarsuti and north of the river Drshadvati, which ormed the holy land of Brahmavarta. Thanesar (ancient Sthanis/v/ara) was the capital of the Vardhana or the Pushyabhuti Dynasty who ruled over a major part of North India. The great Sanskrit poet Banabhatta, in his Harshcharita has also described the association of Harsha with Thanesar in detail. He mentions in his text, the defence wall, a moat and the palace with a two-storied dhvalagriha.
The present town of Thanesar (760 49'; 290 30') is located on an ancient mound, which is quite large both in terms of its height and area. It is about 163 kms, North-West of Delhi, between Ambala and Karnal. To reach Kamal one takes the Grand Trunk Road to Pip Ii from where it is approx. 8 kms further west.
In the Historical period, the Grand Trunk road must have passed through the town of Thanesar, as there still exists an old Bridge and Sarai adjacent to the Sheikh Chilli's Tomb which probably is datable to the reign of Sher Shah Suri or slightly later. This beautiful tomb and attached Madarsa are associated with the Sufi Saint Abd-ur-Rahim, alais Abd-UI-Karim, alais Abd-ur-Razak, popularly known by the name of Sheikh Chehli, believed to be the spiritual Guru of the Mughal Prince, Dara Sikoh (A.D. 1650).
The architectural plan shows considerable Persian influence. Due to its unique and higWy sophisticated architectural value is ranked second only to the Taj Mahal is Northern India. The monument was protected and declared as of National importance under section 4 of the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958; Vide No. 8516, dated 27-03-1919.
Close to the western gate of the Madarsa, is the small yet elegant Pathar Masjid of red sandstones. It is remarkable for its fluted minarets, which are attached to its back wall. The ceiling of the mosque, resting on pillars is decorated with floral designs carved in low relief. The pillars are also profusely decorated with floral designs, while the bases over the mouldings show chaitya-window motifs. The qibla in the centre of the western wall is flanked on either side by two arched niches inscribed with verses from the Quran. The masonry terrace forming the front court was added at a later date. The masjid is assignable to the seventeenth Century A.D.
Adjoining the southern flank of the complex (i.e. north of the tomb of Sheikh Chilli) is a large sized building which on account of both stratigraphic evidence and style of construction appears to be a garden complex following the pattern of a typical Mughal Garden and is divided into four equal, symmetrical parts (the charbagh pattern) with a square hauz in the centre. Water to the hauz (tank) was supplied by terracotta pipes from the east, concealed within the wall. On the eastern side of the central hauz there is a small rectangular tank connected with a raised open drain coming from further east. The tank had on the northern side a small cistern having cusped patterns on both longitudinal ends and a copper fountain in the centre. The water used to run through a concealed conduit pipe provided below the lime plastered surface, meant for the flow of water from the cascade.
The Park now popular as the Harshvardhan Park is entered through an elaborate double-storeyed gateway, located in the centre of the eastern wall from which one of the paths leads to all its four sides, hosting on the exterior, a series of double- roomed chambers, on three sides i, e, the east, north and west respectively with provision of niches and alcoves on its walls. The western wing of this sarai however had double storeyed chambers which could be reached through a flight of steps provided at the centre and towards the extreme south-western corner.
Exactly opposite to the main entrance gateway was another majestic structure, constructed just like the main entrance gateway. However this structure didn't carry any entrance from the ground floor, but had an opening towards the west on the upper storey. This opening on the upper floor gave a direct accessibility from the Raja Harsha-ka- Tila located west of the sarai and the chamber is constructed in such a way that probably this was the place from where an authority used to address the gathering below within the sarai.
West of the tomb are the ruins of Harsh-ka- Tila. Excavations conducted at this site revealed a continuous habitation at the site from about the first century A.D. to the late Mughal period. The findings of a few sherds of painted Grey Ware along with associated plain grey, black-slipped and red wares in pre-Kushana levels also suggest the inhabitation of the site in the first millennium B.C. On the basis of various identifiable remains, the excavations revealed a sequence of six cultural periods. These are the Kushana period (1st-3rd century AD) Gupta period (4th-6th century AD) Post Gupta or Vardhana period (6th-7th cent AD) Rajput 8th-12th cent AD) and Mughal period (16th-19th cent AD).
The monument is open on all 7 days of the week. Visitors are charged
Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) - Rs. 5 per head.
Rs. 100/- or $ 2 for Foreigners.
The monument is open to the public from 9.00 a.m to 5.00 p.m.