The famous tombs of the seven Qutub Shahi rulers in the Ibrahim Bagh are located close to the famous Golkonda Fort.
The Qutub Shahi tombs represent the most authentic and majestic display of the Qutub Shahi dynasty architectural traditions today. The grandeur of the tombs is ensconced amidst the beautiful and picturesque landscape and gardens of Ibrahim Bagh, and the tombs themselves are dedicated to the seven Qutub Shahi kings who ruled Golconda for nearly 170 years. The style of the tombs are varied, displaying Hindu, Persian, and Pathan forms–Indo-Persian architectures that are influenced by Deccani structural ideas.
The galleries of the smaller tombs are of a single storey while the larger ones are two storied. In the center of each tomb is a sarcophagus which overlies the actual burial vault in a crypt below. The domes were originally overlaid with blue and green tiles, of which only a few pieces now remain.
The tombs are domed structures built on a square base surrounded by pointed arches. The mausoleums of the Sultans of Golkonda, 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 Golkonda 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 great veneration. 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 Sultans lie buried here.
Sultan Quli Qutub Shah'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 Sultan Quli's tomb is in three bands, in the Naskh and Tauq scripts. The inscription refers to Sultan Quli as Bada Malik (Great Master) - the endearing term by which all people of the Deccan used to refer to him. The tomb was built in 1543 A.D. by the Sultan, during his lifetime itself, as was the prevalent custom.
The Grand Mausoleum
Another grand mausoleum is that of the sixth Sultan, Muhammed 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.
The twin-tombs of the two favouritc hakims (physicians) of 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 who were one of the favourite courtesans of Sultan Abdullah Shah 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. 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.
Dargah of Hussain Shah Wali
To the west of the tombs lies the dargah of Hussain Shah Wali, the revered Sufi Saint. He is most affectionately remembered by people as the builder of Hussain Sagar in 1562. Among other monuments in the garden, that are not tombs, the most important are the Mortuary Bath and the Masjid of Hayat Bakshi Begum.
The Mortuary Bath
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.
Masjid and Hayat Bakshi
The Qutub Shahis built a number of masjids all over Golkonda and Hyderabad, and almost every tomb has a masjid adjacent. The biggest and the grandest such masjid is by the mausoleum of Hayat Bakshi Begum. Popularly known as the great masjid of the Golkonda 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 masjid are master-pieces of calligraphic art.
Hayath Bakshi Begum was the daughter of Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah, She was affectionately known as 'Ma Saheba' (Revered Mother). The tomb-garden of the Sultans of Golkonda was known as Lagar-e-Faiz Athar (a place for bountiful entertainment) in the days of the Qutub Shahi rulers, for some item or song or dance or even an occasional play was staged here every evening, free of cost, to entertain the poor.
Despite continued assault by man and the elements across the centuries, the tombs still maintain their original glory, a testament to the craftsmanship and engineering expertise of the Qutub Shari artisans and builders.
Click here for Photo Features