Sher Shah Sur Mausoleum
Sasaram, India
Sher Shah Sur (r.1540-1545), the Afghan general who overthrew Humayun and established a regime that briefly replaced the Mughals, is buried in Sasaram, the capital of the eastern sultanate at the time. Some historians believe that its location in Sasaram suggests that its construction began before the sultan took possession of Agra and Delhi in 1540. Designed by architect Alawal Khan, the mausoleum was completed by the sultan's son Islam Shah Sur (1545-1553) three months after his death in 1545.

Based on the prevalent jal mahal building typology which was commonly used in the upper Indian subcontinent by the Hindus and Muslims, the mausoleum stands on a square plinth island in the middle of a large square artificial lake with stone embankments and staircases descending into the water on four sides. The octagonal tomb sits on a tall stone podium that is placed at an angle on the plinth to align with Mecca. The island is connected to the shore with a wide stone causeway to the north, which is entered from a domed pavilion.

The stone podium, which is accessed with four sets of double stairs from the embankment, is embellished with domed pavilions (chattri) at its corners, which are flanked by balconies on the south and north facades. The domed octagonal chamber of the tomb is wrapped by an arcade at its base, giving it a terraced profile on the exterior. It is entered from seven doors, one on each side except for qibla. The arcade, which is made up of three pointed arches on each side is crowned with a continuous stone overhang (chajja) below its decorated frieze and parapet wall. Miniature domed pavilions (chattri) emphasize the corners of this parapet. A second set of eight domed pavilions envelope the recessed dome, which sits atop a sixteen-sided drum. The architectural vocabulary is derived from Sayyid and Lodi predecessors. The entire structure is built of sandstone and is forty-five meters tall.

Conventional lintel and bracket entrances lead from the arcade into the mortuary hall, which measures roughly twenty-two meters in diameter and thirty-one meters in height. All entries except for the northern entrance were glazed in to become windows. The hall has a mihrab niche on the qibla wall. The entire surface of the stone mihrab is decorated with carved inscriptions with traces of turquoise and blue glazed tiles. The date of the tomb records completion on the seventh day of Jumada 952 in the Hijri calendar. The interior is lit with a series of arched windows below the dome; they are covered with stone lattice work (jali) to allow for ventilation. The interior walls are adorned simply with decorative arches and niches along the walls.


Nath, R. History of the Sultanate Architecture. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 1978. 91-93.

Rajan, K.V. Soundara. Islam builds in India: Cultural Study of Islamic Architecture. Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan, 1983. 90-94.

Tillotson, G.H.R. Mughal India. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1990. 138-140.
Sasaram, India
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1545/952 AH
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Sher Shah Sur Mausoleum
Tomb of Shir Shah Sur
Mausoleum of Sher Shah Suri
Tomb of Sher Shah Suri
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