Bahjat al-‘ālam | Monography or Translations of known period | Geography of India | Survey | Perso-Indica

Geography of India

Monography or Translations of known period
Ḥakīm Mahārat Ḫān Ispahānī, Bahjat al-‘ālam

[Preliminary Entry] Bahjat al-‘ālam is a work on general geography that contains topographical information about the well-known cities of the world, including those in India. It was completed after the death of the Emperor Bahādur Šāh I, shortly after 1124/1712 and probably in 1130/1718. Principally based upon the celebrated geographical and biographical encyclopedia Haft iqlīm written by Amīn Aḥmad Rāzī, the work includes explanations concerning seven regions or iqlīms. It consists of an index, a preface, and the main chapter which includes the description of 155 places and - besides such topics as islands, rivers, mountains and some regions in Rom, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Maghrib - deals specifically with certain Indian regions.

The part on Indian territories is most probably extracted from the third and fourth volumes of Āʼīn-i Akbarī by Abu al-Fażl, containing descriptions of Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Ujjain, Thanisar, and Multan. The author also makes notes in this part about Indian cities such as Lahore, Sirhind, Agra, Lucknow, and Kalpi and writes about Delhi as his habitual place of residence. He mentions his two-year residence in Lahore and refers to Bahādur Šāh’s stay there and his death as events of recent date. In addition to Haft iqlīm and Āʼīn-i akbarī, Bahjat al-‘ālam utilized other sources such as Hašt bihišt, Anīs al-‘ārifīn, ‘Ajāʼib al-maḫlūqāt and Tuḥfat al- ġarāʼib. Bahjat al-‘ālam is the first volume of a two-volume work, whose second volume Raużat al-afrāḥ contains geographical information about Delhi with a perspective on Hindu-Muslim saints and Sufis. That volume was also to contain translations of several sources such as Jarīdat al-‘ajāʼib, Tuḥfat al-albāb and Risāla-i aḥwāl-i bahnāsa.

S. Kh. - E. O.


i) Place of copying; ii) Period of copying; iii) Copyist; iv) Commissioner;
v) Information on colophon; vi) Description of miniatures/illustrations; vii) Other remarks; viii) Information on catalogue(s)

Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Library, 247, 256 ff.

, v)

In the colophon, the author refers to a second volume of this work entitled Raużat al-afrāḥ.

, viii)

Hukk - 1925, pp. 214-216, Nr. 247


Calcutta, Asiatic Society of Bengal, 95, 129 ff.

, iii) Ġulām ʻAli al-Qureišī al- Ḥeidarī, v)

The copy was collated with the original on the 28th of Ramażān 1175/1762.

, viii)

Ivanow Curzon 1926, pp. 98-99, Nr. 95


London, British Library, India Office Library, 2409, 171 ff.

, vii)

Dated the 17 Rajab 1211/16 January 1797, Bibliotheca Leydeniana.

, viii)

Ethé 1903, pp. 500-501, Nr. 729


London, British Library,  British Museum, Or. 1944, 1-28 ff.

, ii)

muḥarram 1268/October 1851

, vii)

The manuscript is only an extract of Bahjat al-‘ ālam. It contains on ff. 28b-31 an account of the Sūbahs of India from the Mirʼāt al-‘ālam. The volume is endorsed as "sent by Muḥammad Ḥasan from Cawnpore".

, viii)

Rieu 1883, pp. 992a-992b


Tehran, Kitābḫāna-yi Milli-yi Malik, 1393.04.01020/001, not indicated ff.


, ii)

18 rabī‘ al-ṯānī 1285/8 August 1868

, iii) Ġulām ‘Alī Beik-i Amīr Beik, v)

The copyist specifies that he finished the copy at the beginning of the reign of Muḥammad ‘Alī Šāh.

, vii)

Bahjat al-‘alam and Raużat al-afrāḥ are mentioned as a single manuscript.

, viii)

Afšār, ʼiraj - Dānišpažūh, Muḥammad Taqī, 1351š./1972, p. 223


Tonk, Arabic and Persian Research Institute Rajistan, 1456, not indicated.

, viii)

Khan, Shaukat Ali - 1987, p. 258 (Tonk published handlist of Persian manuscripts p. 94, Nr. 2435)



Hukk, Mohammed Ashraful - Ethé, Hermann - Robertson, Edward, 1925, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Arabic and Persian Manuscripts in Edinburgh University Library, Hertford.


Ethé, Herman, 1980, Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts in the India Office Library, London, India Office Library.

Ivanow, Wladimir, 1926, Concise Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the Curzon Collection, Calcutta, Asiatic Society of Bengal.

Munzavī, Ahmad, 1382 š./2003, Fihristwāra-yi Kitābhā-yi Fārsī, Tehran, Anjuman-i Āthā r wa Mafāḫir-i Farhangī, vol. 1.

Rieu, Charles, 1883, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, London, vol. 3.

Khan, Shaukat Ali 2000, “Persian Manuscripts in an Indian Collection”, in: Muzaffar Alam - et al. eds., The making of Indo-Persian Culture: Indian and French studies, New Delhi, Manohar [u.a.], p. 426.

Khan, Shaukat Ali 1987, Historical Heritage: a Bibliographical Survey of the Rare Manuscripts in the Arabic and Persian Research Institute Rajasthan, Tonk, Arabic and Persian Research Institute Rajasthan, vol. 1.

Storey, C. A., 1958, Persian Literature A Bio-Bibliographical Survey, II, 1, London, p. 142.

Afšār, ʼiraj - Dānišpažūh, Muḥammad Taqī, 1351š./1972, Fihrist-i Kitābhā-yi Ḫatt-yi Kitābḫāna-yi Milli-yi Malik Wābasta bi Āstān-i Quds-i Rażawī, Tehran, Kitābḫāna-yi Milli-yi Malik.

Main Persian Title: Bahjat al-‘ālam
English Translation of Main Persian Title: The beauty of the world
Approximate period of composition: 1718

الحمدلله والصلواة علی رسوله...و بعد چون دریافت غرایب مبدعات و عجایب مصنوعات حکیم قدیر که در اقالیم سبعه و طبقات عناصر اربعه و موالید ثلاثه است-الخ

Place: Lahore