Raja Tikait Rai was the Diwan of Awadh from 1791 – 1796 during the reign of Asaf-u-daula. He was a Srivastava Kayasth from Dalmau, a qasbah in Rai Bareli. He started his career as an a account clerk and rose on to become the powerful finance minister of Awadh.
Under the patronage of Nawab Asaf ud Daula, he was instrumental in establishing a welfare institution (Rifah-e-Aam) which provided relief to thousands of people in need. He also supervised the welfare construction drive of the Nawab where the government provided employment to the one and all during the deadly drought that struck Awadh in 1785.
Tikait Rai was, by nature , a generous person and an admirer of saints and savants in particular. He commissioned a lot of buildings and left a memorable legacy in the form of temples, mosques, bridges and tanks all over the state, some of which are still extant.
Tikait Ganj in Lucknow and its Shahi Jama Masjid, Behta Bridge at Malihabad, Pathar Ghat at Bithoor to name a few.
However one of his most remarkable buildings is almost forgotten and not known to even the scholars of archaeology. i.e. the Mausoleum of Shah Basit Ali Qalandar along with a mosque in Damgarha, Allahabad. Damgarha is an old sleepy village of (Old pargana Mah , tahsil Handia )across the Ganges in Allahabad. Syed Basit Ali Qalandar, (1114-1196 Hijri), was a Scholar and Mystic of very high repute. At the peak of his fame, he was one of the most influential saints of the entire Subah of Awadh and Allahabad. He was originally, a Rizvi Syed from Badgaon ( in Tehsil Soraon ), son of Saiyid Muhammad Maah Qalandar, he studied in Allahabad and Laharpur ( Sitapur) and spend more than twenty years in search of knowledge.
At the age of 36, after spending years in pursuit of knowledge, he settled at Damgadha, a village in Tehsil Handia and thereafter his fame spread far and wide. A charismatic mentor, he was loved by one and all. One day, Tikait Rai, a jobless Youngman , was sweeping the floor at the Khanqah in Damgarha where he often frequented.
Shah Basit Ali Qalandar, while stepping out of his house, gave him a Qalamdan ( Pen-case) and prophesied about his bright future as minister. In the mystic language, Qalamdan (a pen – case ) was among the important paraphernalia of Secretary ( Diwan ) and in today’s parlance Qalamdan means portfolio of a Minister. As it happened Tikait Rai actually became a Diwan of Asaf ud daula and the rest is history. After the death of Shah Basit Ali Qalandar in 1196 Hijri ( 1778 AD), Tikait Rai paid a visit to the place and ordered the construction of his mausoleum along with a Mosque, at Damgarha. The construction of Mausoleum was finished in 1198 Hijri. The Persian chronogram reads :
تمام ایں بناے آسماں فرش
ملک تاریخ گفت عرش العرش
When the Rauza was completed in 1783-84 AD , Maharaja Tikait Rai , dropped in with gifts including two refined green brocade sheets and ordered 100 Mann of highest quality Chana Halwa to be prepared and distributed to everyone in the village.
When Maharaja was visiting the tomb with the successor of Shah Basit Ali Qalandar, it suddenly started to drizzle and there was no place of shelter , someone remarked that untimely drizzle is not without any reason. Maharja Tikait Rai got the cryptic message and immediately ordered to built a Khanqah ( a monastery or hermitage ) for the use of hermits and the saints.
The architectural beauty of this Mausoleum is worth a visit and few consider it to be the best example of the later Awadh architecture.
Tikait Rai was very close to the spiritual successor and the most famous disciple of Shah Basit Ali Qalandar, namely Shah Muhammad Kazim Qalandar of Kakori, Lucknow. He even took pledge of allegiance at the hands of Shah Kazim Kakorvi but that is another great chapter. Will write about it later. It is an important record and an example of the cordial relations and communal amity of yore ! Those were the days my friends which we can’t even dream of now !
1. The Monumental Antiquities and Inscriptions in the North – Western Provinces and Oudh by A. Führer , ( Archeological Survey of India ) . Allahabad , 1891
2. Piety on Its Knees: Three Sufi Traditions in South Asia in Modern Times -By Claudia Liebeskind