The ‘Qutb Shahi Tombs’ or the ‘Seven Tombs’ as the locals call it are located in the Ibrahim Bagh some couple of km from the famous Golconda Fort in Hyderabad, India. These imposing edifices of architecture marvels are dedicated to the seven Qutub Shahi kings who ruled Golconda for 170 years. These tombs were built by the sultans themselves as per their wish and taste during their reign to be buried after death.
Tomb of sixth sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah
The first tomb at the main entrance is magnificent of them all. Obscured by the trees the tomb gets into view dramatically bit by bit unfurling its grandeur. Once closer we could get a glimpse of other tombs hidden behind this colossal structure.
The tomb is a two-storied structure crowned by a large dome. The tomb stands on an elevated platform with lower storey bounded by seven pointed arches on each side and with five arches on the upper level.
The domed structures are built in a typical style which beautifully blends the Persian, Pathan and the Indian architectural styles. The domes have intricate carvings with lotus petal-like designs flanked by minarets at corners. The galleries are bounded by balustrades bedecked with pineapple designs. The entrance doors also have some exquisite artwork sculpted on the portal.
We were astonished to find beautiful artwork designs adorning the roof and interior walls and arches of the tomb.
Most of the tombs are in the garden enclosed within walls. There is a small museum near the entrance of the garden which houses some of the artifacts of the history of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, the excavation and the renovation work being carried out on the tombs. Just before the entrance to the garden is an incomplete tomb which we would get to later in this post.
The first tomb when entering the garden is of Fatima Sultan, a single storey tomb with a bulbous dome. Fatima was the sister of Muhammed Qutb Shah. The other quaint tombs are that of Sultan I, II and III further into the interior of the gardens.
Tomb of Hayath Bakshi Begum
Yet another remarkably impressive tomb is of Hayath Bakshi Begum the daughter of the fifth king Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, wife of the sixth king Muhammad Qutub Shah and mother of the seventh king Abdullah Qutub Shah. Hayath Bakshi Begum is believed to be one of the powerful queens and has been regarded with honor equal to the grandeur of the sultans.
The inside of the tombs is a great relief from the heat outside. The walls built of granite and limestone keep the interior supercool. The sarcophagus built of granite was covered in silk cloth and had Urdu inscriptions engraved on it.
The guide who walked us through the complex demonstrated us the astounding acoustic system in the tomb which was more like a wireless telephone system. The guide whispered into the wall diagonally opposite to where we were standing and we could hear his voice clearly in the wall. This basically worked for the guards who could hear if someone plotted against the royal family and could immediately be imprisoned.
The mosque accompanying the tomb popularly called as the ‘Great Mosque’ of Golconda tombs stands at the rear end. The tomb was built as a replica of Charminar though it has only two minarets, unlike Charminar which has four. The mosque contains inscriptions which considered as masterpieces of calligraphic art.
The other mosque at the entrance of the queen Hayath Bakshi Begum tomb is said to have been constructed by Aurangzeb. When Aurangzeb visited Hyderabad to attack the fort he did not have a place to offer Namaz and he got this mosque built in a day.
Tomb of the fifth Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah
Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah’s tomb is the grandest of the tombs. Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah was the founder of the city Hyderabad named after his wife Hyder Mahal. The Mecca masjid and the Charminar were built during the reign of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah. Opposite to the tomb is a mortuary bath, where the ritual bathing would take place prior to the burial ceremony.
The tombs complex not only houses the tombs of the royal family but also of loyal courtiers. The twin tombs of the two favorite physicians of Sultan Abdullah, Nizamuddin Ahmed Gilani, and Abdul-Jabbar Gilani could be seen opposite to the tomb of Hayath Bakshi Begum. The tombs have open arches unlike other tombs for it is believed that the doors of the doctors are always open to welcome anyone who wished to take their advice. It is said that the doors of their house would also remain open always. Other tombs which are not that of a Qutb Shahi family is that of Neknam Khan the commander-in-chief who served in Abdullah’s army and that of Premamati and Taramati, the favorite courtesans of Sultan Abdullah Shah.
Twin Tombs of Physicians
Tombs of Premamati and Taramati
Each of the kings of Qutub Shahi dynasty who ruled Golconda lies at rest in this park except Abul Hasan’s the eighth and last ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty. The Mughals conflict with Abul Hasan due to irregular tax payment to the Mughals led to Mughals attack Golconda where Abul Hasan was held as a prisoner by Aurangazeb. Abul Hasan died in the fortress of Daulatabad, near Aurangabad where he was imprisoned for 12 years and was laid at rest in a simple grave near Aurangabad. His tomb stands incomplete in Ibrahim Bagh even to this day. And with his defeat ended the Qutub Shahi dynasty.
The incomplete mausoleum of Abdul Hasan actually houses the grave of Mir Ahmed, the son of seventh Sultan Abdullah’s son-in-law. The tomb of Fadma Khanum, daughter of Sultan Abdullah and wife of Mir Ahmed stands in the vicinity. (the picture below).
During the reign of Qutub Shahis, the tombs were observed with reverence. The tombs are said to be furnished with carpets, chandeliers and velvet canopies on silver poles. Golden spires were fitted over the tombs of the sultans. Today the tombs in its austere simplicity are undergoing conservation work to preserve the heritage in its original state.
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