1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Jaunpur

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JAUNPUR, a city and district of British India, in the Benares division of the United Provinces. The city is on the left bank of the river Gumti, 34 m. N.W. from Benares by rail. Pop. (1901), 42,771. Jaunpur is a very ancient city, the former capital of a Mahommedan kingdom which once extended from Budaun and Etawah to Behar. It abounds in splendid architectural monuments, most of which belong to the period when the rulers of Jaunpur were independent of Delhi. The fort of Feroz Shah is in great part completely ruined, but there remain a fine gateway of the 16th century, a mosque dating from 1376, and the hammams or baths of Ibrahim Shah. Among other buildings may be mentioned the Atala Masjid (1408) and the ruined Jinjiri Masjid, mosques built by Ibrahim, the first of which has a great cloistered court and a magnificent façade; the Dariba mosque constructed by two of Ibrahim’s governors; the Lal Darwaza erected by the queen of Mahmud; the Jama Masjid (1438–1478) or great mosque of Husain, with court and cloisters, standing on a raised terrace, and in part restored in modern times; and finally the splendid bridge over the Gumti, erected by Munim Khan, Mogul governor in 1569–1573. During the Mutiny of 1857 Jaunpur formed a centre of disaffection. The city has now lost its importance, the only industries surviving being the manufacture of perfumes and papier-mâché articles.

The District of Jaunpur has an area of 1551 sq. m. It forms part of the wide Gangetic plain, and its surface is accordingly composed of a thick alluvial deposit. The whole country is closely tilled, and no waste lands break the continuous prospect of cultivated fields. It is divided into two unequal parts by the sinuous channel of the Gumti, a tributary of the Ganges, which flows past the city of Jaunpur. Its total course within the district is about 90 m., and it is nowhere fordable. It is crossed by two bridges, one at Jaunpur and the other 2 m. lower down. The Gumti is liable to sudden inundations during the rainy season, owing to the high banks it has piled up at its entrance into the Ganges, which act as dams to prevent the prompt outflow of its flooded waters. These inundations extend to its tributary the Saī. Much damage was thus effected in 1774; but the greatest recorded flood took place in September 1871, when 4000 houses in the city were swept away, besides 9000 more in villages along its banks. The other rivers are the Saī, Barna, Pili and Basohi. Lakes are numerous in the north and south; the largest has a length of 8 m. Pop. (1901), 1,202,920, showing a decrease of 5% in the decade. Sugar-refining is the principal industry. The district is served by the line of the Oudh & Rohilkhand railway from Benares to Fyzabad, and by branches of this and of the Bengal & North-Western systems.

In prehistoric times Jaunpur seems to have formed a portion of the Ajodhya principality, and when it first makes an appearance in authentic history it was subject to the rulers of Benares. With the rest of their dominions it fell under the yoke of the Mussulman invaders in 1194. From that time the district appears to have been ruled by a prince of the Kanauj dynasty, as a tributary of the Mahommedan suzerain. In 1388 Mālik Sarwar Khwāja was sent by Mahommed Tughlak to govern the eastern province. He fixed his residence at Jaunpur, made himself independent of the Delhi court, and assumed the title of Sultan-us-Shark, or “eastern emperor.” For nearly a century the Sharki dynasty ruled at Jaunpur, and proved formidable rivals to the sovereigns of Delhi. The last of the dynasty was Sultan Husain, who passed his life in a fierce and chequered struggle for supremacy with Bahlol Lodi, then actual emperor at Delhi. At length, in 1478, Bahlol succeeded in defeating his rival in a series of decisive engagements. He took the city of Jaunpur, but permitted the conquered Husain to reside there, and to complete the building of his great mosque, the Jama Masjid, which now forms the chief ornament of the town. Many other architectural works in the district still bear witness to its greatness under its independent Mussulman rulers. In 1775 the district was made over to the British by the Treaty of Lucknow. From that time nothing occurred which calls for notice till the Mutiny. On the 5th of June 1857, when the news of the Benares revolt reached Jaunpur, the sepoys mutinied. The district continued in a state of complete anarchy till the arrival of the Gurkha force from Azamgarh in September. In November the surrounding country was lost again, and it was not till May 1858 that the last smouldering embers of disaffection were stifled by the repulse of the insurgent leader at the hands of the people themselves.

See A. Führer, The Shargi Architecture of Jaunpur (1889).