Qutub Shahi Tombs

The tombs are domed structures built on a square base surrounded by pointed arches. The mausoleums of the Sultans of Golconda, the founding rulers of Hyderabad are truly magnificent monuments that have stood the test of time and braved the elements. They lie about a kilometer north of the outer perimeter wall of Golconda Fort's Banjara Darwaza amidst the Ibrahim bagh. The tombs form a large cluster and stand on a raised platform. They display a distinctive style, a mixture of Persian, Pathan and Hindu forms. The tombs are graceful structures with intricately carved stonework and are surrounded by landscaped gardens.

The tombs were once furnished with carpets, chandeliers and velvet canopies on silver poles. Qurans were kept on supports and readers recited verses from the holy book at regular intervals. Golden spires were fitted over the tombs of the Sultans to distinguish their tombs from those of other members of the royal family.

During the Qutub Shahi period, these tombs were held in such great veneration that criminals who took refuge there were granted pardon. But after their reign, the tombs were neglected, till Sir Salar Jung III ordered their restoration in the early 19th century. A pretty garden was laid out, and a compound wall was built. Once again, the tomb-garden of the Qutub Shahi family became a place of serene beauty. All, except the last, of the Qutub Shahi monarchs lie buried here.

Sultan Quli's tomb, the style of which set the example for the tombs of his descendants, is situated on an elevated terrace measuring 30 m each way. The tomb chamber proper is octagonal, with each side measuring around 10 m. The whole structure is crowned by a circular dome. There are three graves in this tomb chamber and 21 on the terrace outside, all uninscribed, except for the main tomb. The inscription on  which has not been fashioned from shining black basalt. Its appearance too, is quite unlike the other tombs in the garden - it rises gracefully in two stories, unlike the squat tombs of the other kings. Jamshed's is also only tomb of a Qutub Shahi ruler without any inscriptions; of course, Jamshed's son, Subhan Quli's tomb too does not have any inscriptions. But Subhan Quli ruled for too short a while to really matter. Subhan's tomb stands mid-way between the tombs of his father and grandfather. He was popularly called Chhote Malik (small master).

Sultan lbrahim's-tomb, built in 1580, after his death, is slightly larger than Sultan Quli's tomb. Traces of the enameled tiles ,which once adorned this mausoleum can still be seen on the southern wall. The tomb has two graves in the main chamber and 16 graves on the terrace, some of them probably those of his six sons and three daughters. There are inscriptions in the Thulth script on all faces of the sarcophagus. It is interesting to note that the three famous calligraphists - Isphalan, Ismail and Taqiuddiii Muhammad Salih - who left a store of Naskh, Tulth and Nastaliq inscriptions on the many Qutub Shahi edifices in the city, were all contemporaries of Ibrahim Shah.

Sultan Muhammad Quli's mausoleum is, by far, the grandest of the Qutub Shahi tombs. Built in 1602 A.D., the tomb is situated on a terrace of 65m square and 4m high. A flight of steps leads to the mausoleum proper, which is 22 m square on the outside and 11 m square on the inside. There are entrances on the southern and eastern sides. The tomb itself is situated in a vault below the terrace. Inscriptions in Persian and the Naskh scripts decorate the tomb.
Another grand mausoleum is that of the sixth Sultan, Mohanunad Qutub Shah. The facade of this tomb was once decorated with enameled tiles, only traces of which are now evident. There are six graves altogether in this tomb and inscriptions in Tulth and Naskh. The mausoleum was built in 1626. Sultan Abdullah's tomb is the last of the royal tombs, as Abdul Hasaii (Taiia Sliah), the last Qutub Stlafii king, was a prisoner in the Ciiini Mahal in the fortress of Daulatabad, near Aurangabad, when he died. While the tombs of those who ruled dominate the area, interspersed are many other monuments too, most of them tombs of other members of the Royal family.

The tomb of Fatima Sultan, with its bulbuous dome, is near the entrance to the tomb-garden. Fatima was the sister of Mohammad Qutub Shah. Her tomb houses several graves, two of them with inscriptions. Immediately to the south of Muhammed Qul's tomb are three uninscribed tombs. There are the mausoleums of Kulthoom, Mohammad Qutub Shahi's grand-daughter born of be son of The Sultan's favourite wife, Khurshid Bibi, her (Kulthoom's) husband and daughter. Kulthoom's Tomb- is one on the west of this cluster.

The twin-tombs of the two favouritc hakims (physicians) ot'Sultan Abdullah-Nizamuddin Ahamad Gilani and Abdul Jabbar Gilani - were built in 1651. They are among the few Qutub Shahi tombs that are not of Royalty.
Another pair of tombs are those of Premamati and Taramati - the favourites of Sultan Abdullah Shah. These lively beauties, who are believed to have once danced on ropes tied between their pavilion and Abdullah's palace, were laid to rest beside the tomb of their patron. One other tomb which is not that of a Qutub Shahi family member is the tomb of Neknam Khan. Neknam Khan, who served in Abdullah's army, was the commander-in-chief of the Carnatic.

Talboys Wheeler, in his book Madras in the Olden Times, records that the cowle (contract) handing over Madraspattnam to the British, was obtained from Nekam Khan, after the Raja of Chandragiri - whose property Madraspattnam had fled. His tomb is situated on a platform outside the mausoleum of Ibrahim Qutub Shah. It was built in 1672, two years after the death of Nekam Khan.
The mausoleum which Abdul Hasan, the last Qutub Shahi Sultan, began building for himself, actually houses the grave of Mir Ahmad, the son born of Sultan Abdullah's son-in-law's relationship with the sister of Abbas II Safair, the Shah of Persia. The tomb of Fadma Khanum, one of Sultan Abdullah's daughters, stands near the mausoleum of her husband, Mir Ahamad. Hers is the only Qutub Shahi tomb not surmounted by a dome.
To the west of the tombs lies the dargah of Husain Shah Wali, the revered Sufi Saint. He is affectionately remembered by people of all faiths as the builder of Husain Sagar in 1562. Among other monuments in the garden, that are not tombs, the most important are the Mortuary Bath and the Mosque of Hayat Bakshi Begum.

The Mortuary Bath, which stands opposite the tomb of Muhammad Quli, was built by Sultan Quli to facilitate the ritual washing of the bodies of the dead kings and others of the Royal Family before they were carried to their final resting place. The practice followed was to bring the body out of the fort, through the Banjara Gate, to this bath, before carrying it away for burial with the ritualistic pomp that was required to mark the occasion. A large number of people, fond subjects, friends and relatives attended. The bath itself is one of the finest existing specimens of ancient Persian or Turkish baths.

The Qutub Shahis built a number of mosques all over Golconda and Hyderabad, and almost every tomb has a mosque adjacent. The biggest and the grandest such mosque is by the mausoleum of Hayat Bakshi Begum. Popularly known as the great mosque of the Golconda tombs, it was built in 1666 A.D. Fifteen cupolas decorate the roof and the prayer-hall is flanked by two lofty minarets. The impression, as a whole, is one of majesty and splendour. The inscriptions in the mosque are master-pieces of calligraphic art.
Hayath Bakshi Begum was the daughter of Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, the fifth king, the wife of the sixth king, Sultan Muhammad Qutub Shah and the mother of Abdullah Quli Qutub Shah, the seventh king. Affectionately known as 'Ma Saheba' (Revered Mother), she was guide and mentor to all three kings. Several monuments survive in her memory in and around Hyderabad. Hayath Nagar Palace (16 kms east of Hyderabad), where the ceremony of Sultan Abdullah Qutub Shah's first shave was celebrated with pomp and grandeur for twelve days, the Rayath Nagar Mosque which bears testimony to the greatness of Qutub Shahi architecture, the Caravan Sarai (or the Sarai of Ma Saheba), (sarai or rest house - was a
combination of a waterhole and oasis for weary travellers) comprising several hundred rooms intended for the use of travellers, and Ma Saheba Tank, enroute to Golconda. The tomb-garden of the Kings of Golconda was known as Lagar-e-Faiz Athar (a place for bountiful entertainment) in the days of the Qutub Shahi kings, for some item or song or dance or even an occasional play was staged here every evening, free of cost, to entertain the poor. The present caretaker of the tombs is a descendant of the one appointed by Sir Salar Jung. It is a hereditary occupation. 

Numerous tombs of the members of the royal family, laid beautifully on the sprawling gardens are worth the visit. Not only are they architecturally impressive, they also make a good picnic spot. Another attraction of these tombs is that every year the State Government authorities conduct a 'Deccan Festival', which is exclusive to the city of Hyderabad with these tombs as the backdrop as they speak volumes about the history of the city of Hyderabad. One can spot many renowned artists showcasing their talents in various fields like music, dance and theater.

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