Ed’s History Challenge. Sheikh Cheli

Sheikh Chelib’s Tomb

I was tossing between going to some modern history of India, or staying in Kurukshetra. I decided to stay in Kurukshetra for two more weeks, blogwise speaking, before writing about some rather remarkable modern history in India. So, some history this week, and some mythology next week.

Now, Kurukshetra is actually Krishna-Mahabharatha land, and I was a bit stunned when I stumbled upon Sheikh Cheli’s tomb in Thanesar. Thanesar is a little village today in the Kurukshetra region. Almost 2,000 years ago, however, Thanesar was the capital of Pushyabhuti Dynasty.

Thanesar has 6 periods of settlement:

  • Kushana – 1st to 3rd century AD
  • Gupta – 4th to 6th century AD
  • Vardhana – 6th to 7th century AD
  • Rajput – 8th to 12th century AD
  • Mughal 16th to 19th century AD

We’ll come back to the Rajput one, in a minute. Sheikh Cheli, otherwise known as Abd-ur-Rahim or Abd-ul-Karim or Abd-ur-Razak was a Sufi saint, who was the spiritual Guru of Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan. Dara Shikoh was a remarkable man in many ways, and would have been a superb leader. However, in the wars of succession, he was ousted and killed by his youngest brother – Aurangzeb.

About 10 km from Thanesar, is a place called Tarain, which is significant in its place in Indian history for the two battles that took place there in 1191 and 1192 AD.

Mohammed Ghori came in and fought the Rajput Ruler, Prithviraj Chauhan in two battles, in 1191 and 1192. He was routed in the first battle, and came back in 1192. He changed his battle strategy during the second battle of Tarain, and defeated Prithviraj Chauhan. Prithviraj Chauhan was captured, taken to Kabul, where he was blinded and beheaded.

The second battle of Tarain was significant in that it ended, for all practical purposes, Hindu rule in North India for the next 700 years. Mohammed Ghori returned home, and allowed his general, Qutb ud-din Aibak, to rule.

Qutb-ud-din-Aibak set up the Delhi Sultanate, and the Slave Dynasty. He started construction of the Qutb Minar, which was completed by his successor, Iltutmish.

Delhi, they say, was founded in 736 AD ( it has seen human settlement for 3,000 years, however). However, it was with the setting up of the Delhi Sultanate after 1192, that Delhi became the seat of power and politics.

Despite what the current brand of rabid Hindu maniacs say today, Delhi owe’s its first real importance as a city to the establishment of Islamic rule in India.


  1. Such a stunning image. There is nothing more profound then exploring the history behind beautiful and ancient architecture. There’s so much we can learn from history, yet most of us fail to understand it. Thank you for sharing this with us! I learned something new today 🙂 Also, excellent photography, are you a photographer as well?

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