Shah Quli Khan (governor)

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Shah Quli Khan was a 16th-century Mughal official, governor, and art patron. Quli served as the Mughal governor of Narnaul, India, and notably constructed a number of historic sites in the state.


The Jal Magal in Narnaul, which was built by Shah Quli Khan in the late 16th century

Quli Khan was a member of the governing class of the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. As a young man, Quli was a protegee of Bairam Khan, a powerful noble who served as the regent of the Mughal Empire during the early reign of Akbar the Great. Quli's connection to Bairam Khan allowed him to curry an extensive amount of favor with the Mughal court.[1]

In the 1550s, a series of wars broke out between the Mughals and the Sur Empire.[1] Quli Khan was deployed with the Mughal army during the war, and distinguished himself during the conflicts. During the pivotal Second Battle of Panipat in 1556, Quli fought against and wounded Hemi, the commander of the Sur army.[1] The battle was a decisive victory for the Mughal empire, and Emperor Akbar commended Quli for his role in the victory, showering him with wealth, titles, and land.[1][2]

In the 1570s, Quli Khan was named as the Mughal governor of Narnaul.[2] As governor, Quli began a massive construction program across the territory. His first major project was to construct a tomb in his own honor. The tomb, which has been cited as an excellent example of Mughal architectural style[1], was built between 1774 and 1775.[1] The tomb featured a planned garden, and was part of Quli's gubernatorial estate.[1]

Fifteen years after building his tomb, Quli Khan began constructing a palace for himself. This building would become known as the Jal Mahal.[2] The palace was built in the middle of an artificial lake, and is adorned with art and carvings. One such carving was done in such a way as to praise Quli Khan's victory over Hemi some forty years before.[1]

Upon his death, Quli Khan (who was known for his generosity) donated much of his wealth to his courtiers; it has also been posited that this donation was a way to circumvent the inheritance laws of the Mughal empire.[1] He had no heirs.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j ASHER, CATHERINE; Asher, Catherine B.; Asher, Catherine B. (1992-09-24). Architecture of Mughal India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521267281.
  2. ^ a b c Aexander Mikaberidze, (2011). Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World a Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. p. 707. ISBN 9781598843378.