BURHANPUR (Borhānpūr), city in Madhya Pradesh (formerly Central Provinces and Berar), India (21° 18’ north latitude, 76° 8’ east longitude), on the Tapti river, 275 miles northeast of Bombay. It was founded in 801/1398-99 by the first Fārūqī ruler of Ḵāndēš, Sultan Nāṣer Khan (r. 801-41/1399-1437); he named it after the Češtī saint Borhān-al-Dīn Ḡarīb (d. 11 Ṣafar 738/8 September 1337; Ḡawṯī, tr., p. 90), who had sojourned on the site briefly in 727/1327. Borhān-al-Dīn was one of the spiritual successors to Ḵᵛāja Neẓām-al-Dīn Awlīāʾ (d. 17 Rabīʿ II 725/3 April 1325, Sīar al-awlīāʾ, p. 292). Under the Fārūqīs Burhanpur became the most important city in Ḵāndēš, a center of Persian and Indo-Persian literature and Sufism; a number of Sufi families from the provinces of Gujarat and Sind were settled there, the latter in their own quarter (Sindhipura). In the field of Islamic studies it is sufficient to note that ʿAlī Mottaqī, who compiled Kanz al-ommāl fī sonan al-aqwāl wa’l-afʿāl, was a native of the city. The poet Mollā ʿAbdī Šīrāzī and a Persian ophthalmologist, ʿAyn-al-Ḥaqq Gīlānī (d. 27 Ḏu’l-ḥejja 1003/2 September 1595), were among the Persians living there (Šafīq, Šām-e ḡarībān, pp. 100, 175). A number of monuments from this period still survive: the ruined fort and palace (Bādšāhī Qaḷʿa, ca. 802/1400), the Bībī mosque (ca. 993/1585), the main congregational mosque (996/1588), and several mausolea.
The Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 963-1014/1556-1605) invaded Burhanpur on several occasions. In 969/1561, Pīr Moḥammad Šervānī (d. 969/1561), a commander in the army of Bayram Khan, ransacked the city (Šervānī, p. 90). In 1010/1601 Akbar defeated Bahādor Shah, the seventeenth ruler of the Fārūqī dynasty, and incorporated Ḵāndēš into the Mughal empire (Makkī, tr. Ross, I, p. 78; Elliot, History of India VI, pp. 144-46). The province was granted to Akbar’s brother Dānīāl, and its name occurs as Dāndēš in the Mughal archives (Makkī, loc. cit.). ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm Ḵān-ē Ḵānān, the illustrious son of Bayram Khan and a renowned poet in Indo-Persian and Hindi, was appointed governor of the twin provinces (Āʾīn-e akbarī I, p. 358), with his capital at Burhanpur. His court drew many Persian poets and other literary men to the city, some of whom settled there. The poet Moḥammad-Reżā Šakēbī Eṣfahānī (964-1023/1556-1614) visited ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm in 1018/1609 (Šafīq, p. 142, Āḏar, p. 13); the poet, Yūlqolī (or ʿAlīqolī) Beg Anīsī Šāmlū, who had been director of ʿAlīqolī Khan’s library in Herat, joined the court and died in Burhanpur in 1013/1604 (Šafīq, p. 28). Mīrzā Esmāʿīl Beg Onsī Šāmlū from Herat (d. 1026/1617), also a poet, joined the court at Burhanpur, where he enjoyed the patronage of Anīsī (Eḵlāṣ, p. 16).
Burhanpur played a relatively minor political and military role through most of the 11th/17th century. Sir Thomas Roe met Emperor Jahāngīr’s son Parvīz there in Šawwāl 1024/November 1615 (Dictionary of National Biography XLIX, pp. 89-93; Banī Prasād, chap. X); the prince died in 1036/1626-27 (Āʾīn-e akbarī, 3rd ed., p. 324), and his mausoleum is among the surviving monuments of the city. Two years later Prince Ḵorram (later Emperor Šāh-Jahān I, 1037-68/1628-57) launched his military expeditions in the Deccan from Burhanpur. Awrangzēb ʿĀlamgīr (r. 1068-1118/1658-1707), appointed viceroy of Deccan and Ḵāndēš in 1046/1636, made Burhanpur his capital. It was there that he met Neẓām-al-Dīn Borhānpūrī (d. 1092/1681), whom he later appointed editor-in-chief of the monumental work on Hanafite law Fatāwī-e ʿālamgīrī (Kāẓem, p. 87; Moḥammad Sāqī, pp. 529-30; Nozhat al-ḵawāṭer V, p. 420). Throughout the century the city continued to attract Persian literary men, including Ḵᵛāja Aḥmad (or Moḥammad) Dehdār Fānī Šīrāzī (d. 1016/1607); Moḥammad-Reżā Nawʿī Ḵabūšānī (d. Burhanpur 1019/1610), author of the romantic epic Sūz o godāz; Taqīā Šūštarī, who wrote a Persian prose version of the Šāh-nāma (d. ca. 1021/1612); poet Ḥayatī Gīlānī (d. 1015/1608 at Burhanpur; Āʾīn-e akbarī I, p. 574; Badāʾūnī, tr., III, p. 304); Moḥammad-Bāqer Ḵorda Kāšānī (d. 1038/1628); Mīrzā Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Mīnā Eṣfahānī (d. 1061/1651), author of Ṣobḥ-e ṣādeq, who arrived there in 1036/1624; and Mīr Hāšemī Mawlawī Qomī, who came during the period of Šāh-Jahān (Šafīq, p. 284). The famous poet Moḥammad-ʿAlī Ṣāʾeb Tabrīzī Eṣfahānī also lived in Burhanpur for some time (Šafīq, Šām-e ḡarībān, p. 159). Shaikh Moḥammad Ḡawṯī (d. after 1044/1635) provided a fairly good description of the Sufis of Burhanpur in his Golzār-e Abrār: Shaikh Ṭāher Moḥammad Sabzavārī (author of Rawżat al-ṭāherīn and abridged Persian translations of the Mahābhārata and the Bhāgavata-purāṇa), Shaikh Solaymān Sayfī, Shaikh ʿĪsā Jond-Allāh, Shaikh ʿAbd-al-Sattār b. Qāsem Lāhūrī, Shaikh Borhān-al-Dīn Rāz-e Elāhī, Ḵᵛāja Moḥammad-Hāšem Badaḵšānī (author of Zobdat at-maqāmāt and Nasamāt al-qods men ḥadāʾeq al-ons), and Shaikh ʿAbd-al-Laṭīf Borhānpūrī (d. 1060/1649) are only a few of the Sufi holy men and scholars who have left manuscripts in Persian; they are preserved at Sind University, Hyderabad (Pakistan), the libraries of Dargāh-e Pīr Moḥammad in Ahmadabad (Gujarat) and the Great Mosque in Bombay, and Sālār Jang Museum Library, Hyderabad (India).
At the end of the 17th century and through the 18th the city suffered Maratha raids from the Deccan. During this period, in 1141/1728, Neẓām-al-Molk Āṣafjāh I (d. 4 Jomādā II 1161/21 May 1748), governor of Deccan and Ḵāndēš, built a defensive wall around the city. Nevertheless, writers and scholars continued to seek refuge there. Among the Persian and native-born poets who wrote in Persian were Mīrzā Moḥammad-Rafīʿ Bāḏel Mašhadī (d. 1123/1711) author of Ḥamla-ye ḥaydarī, who built the Mahmudpura quarter (Efteḵār, p. 38); Saʿd-Allāh Golšan Naqšbandī (d. 1140/1728; ibid., p. 105), a descendant of Mīrzā Alīqolī (Šafīq, p. 262); Moršedqolī Khan Rostam Jang Maḵmūr Tabrīzī (d. 1164/1750, ibid., p. 115); Mīrzā ʿAṭāʾ Żīāʾ (b. 7 Šawwāl 1143/4 April 1731; Šafīq, Gol-e raʿnā, p. 244); Moḥammad-Yūsof Nekhat (d. ca. 1150/1737); and Serāj-al-Dīn Ḥosaynī Awrangābādī (d. 1177/1763; N. A. Fārūqī, in Noqūš (Lahore) 136, December 1987, pp. 46-77). Throughout the Mughal period Burhanpur was also famous for brocades, flowered silks, gold and silver embroideries, and other textiles.
Burhanpur came under the direct control of the British government in 1277/1860.
In 1981, according to the census of that year, the population of Burhanpur was 140,986.
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(Nisar Ahmed Faruqi)
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 5, pp. 555-557