GANJ-ʿALĪ KHAN, a military leader and governor of Kermān, Sīstān, and Qandahār under Shah ʿAbbās I (996-1038/1588-1629). He was present at the head of his Kermānī forces in many battles (e.g., against the Uzbeks in 1006/1597, in Khorasan in 1011/1602, against the Ottomans in 1013/1604). He also put down the rebellion in Baluchistan in 1020/1611 and captured the Bampūr stronghold. He is also reported to have participated in the Georgian campaign of 1025/1616 (Eḥyāʾ al-molūk, p. 418).

Ganj-ʿAlī Khan is best remembered for his building activities that included the Zayn al-Dīn caravansary in Yazd, the Kabūtar-ḵān caravansary, and the rain-fed Ḵān cistern in the middle of Kavīr-e Lūt between Khorasan and Kermān. His major monument, however, is the Ganj-ʿAlī Khan complex in Kermān. The complex includes a large (31.5 x 23 m), rectangle caravansary with numerous chambers on two floors. A translucent marble on the entrance door bears Ganj-ʿAlī Khan’s name in an inscription by the calligrapher ʿAlī-Reżā ʿAbbāsī, which is dated 1007/1598. The architect was Ostād Moḥammad Yazdī. A small mosque (5.25 x 5 m) was constructed in one corner of the caravansary; parts of its engaging plaster decorations are still in place. The caravansary faces a large open area (99 x 54 m).

There are three bāzārs in the complex. The Bāzār-e Mesgarī (98 x 6 m), formerly known as Ḵān Bāzār, stands before the mint (żarrāb-ḵāna) and borders the caravansary on the south, north, and west. Another large bāzār (93 x 5.75 m) with seventy-five shops is located in front of the bathhouse. The third bāzār, a small one (43 x 5.5 m), faces the cistern. The three bāzārs house 183 shops, most of which have back room storage and open entry space. The entire complex is around 3,500 square meters.

The bathhouse, considered a masterpiece of architecture, was completed in 1020/1611 and functioned principally as a public bathhouse until fifty years ago. It has six separate changing rooms for the various social classes: the sayyeds, clergy, khans, wealthy merchants, and the common people. From the changing rooms one enters the bath proper, an area of 46 x 30 m. The ceiling of the bath was originally covered with fine marble that admitted light from the outside. Later marble was replaced by glass. Water from an underground channel (qanāt), which the Khan himself twice excavated and was known as Šahrābād, flowed out in the city square and fed the city cistern. Although the cistern was built in the time of Ganj-ʿAlī Khan, it is known by the name of his son ʿAlī-Morād Khan, whose name is in the inscription. The cistern (19.5 x 10 x 9 m) can hold some two million liters of water. The date of completion, 1029/1619, is recorded in the chronogram lab-e jahān-ī az īn berka mīšavad sīrāb.

After the death of Ganj-ʿAlī Khan in Qandahār in 1034/1625, the government of Kermān and Qandahār went to his son ʿAlī-Morād Khan, who remained in this post after the death of Shah ʿAbbās I (1038/1629) and the accession of Shah Ṣafī.

(Mohammad-Ebrahim Bastani Parizi)

Originally Published: December 15, 2000

Last Updated: February 2, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. X, Fasc. 3, pp. 284-285