THE SMALL. PRINCIPALITY of Tonk, the only Muslim kingdom in Rajasthan, was created by the British in the early 19th century to appease the powerful Pathan warlord, Air Khan, The legacy of its nawabs is evident throughout the old city. They constructed the imposing Jami Masjid for worship, as well as a number of fine painted mansions of which the Sunehri Kothi (“golden mansion”), built in 1824 by Amir Khan in the old palace complex, is the most spectacular. Magnificent enamelled mirror work and gilded stucco cover the walls and ceilings of its jewel-like interior, the windows are fitted with stained-glass and the floors beautifully painted The old city also has many Raj-style bungalows that were once the homes of the British Resident and his entourage.
The nawabs were dedicated patrons of art and literature. In the late 19th century, the third ruler established a grand centre of Islamic art, now known as the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Arabic and Persian Research Institute. Its collection of rare Arabic and Persian manuscripts includes several illuminated Korans, such as Aurangzeb’s Alamgiri Koran Sharjf and the Koran-e-Kamal, prepared on the orders of Shah Jahan. There are also translations of the epics, the Ratnayana and the Mahabharata inscribed in exquisite Persian and also Arabic calligraphy.
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