The Qutb Shahi tombs, the Golconda (Golkonda) Fort, and the Charminar, located in the city of Hyderabad, India, are the landmarks of the Qutb Shahi dynasty that ruled the region from 1518 to 1687. Their early capital was at the Golconda, a fortified citadel comprising military structures, mosques, temples, palaces, and residences as well as water canals, fountains, and gardens.
The Golconda Fort, one of India’s most formidable citadels, was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Golconda which flourished in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries although the Fort dates to around 1143 when the Kakatiya Dynasty reigned. According to legend, a shepherd boy found an idol in the area. Upon hearing this, the Kakatiya king ordered a mud fort to be built around it, with successive rulers extending and expanding the fort, which eventually came to be known as Golia Konda, meaning “shepherd’s hill,” in Telugu.
The Fort was battled over by successive dynasties, becoming the seat of power of the Qutb Shahis in 1518. The fifth king of the dynasty, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (r. 1580-1612), established Hyderabad in 1590, subsequently moving the seat of power there.
In 1687, the ruling dynasty of Quṭb Shahi was overthrown by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, and Golconda was annexed to the Mughal Empire (1526–1857).
The Qutb Shahi complex, now designated as Qutb Shahi Heritage Park, comprises 40 mausoleums of the rulers of the dynasty, their wives and children, and the nobles who faithfully served them; the complex also includes 23 mosques, 6 baolis (step-wells), a hammam (mortuary bath), pavilions, garden structures, and an enclosure wall, representing almost two centuries of funerary architecture.
Qutb Shahi Heritage Park “is the only surviving complex of this nature where architectural styles used during an entire significant dynasty are found in one ensemble. During the Qutb Shahi period, these tombs were held in great veneration but after their reign, the complex fell into neglect.”1 In November 2013, Aga Khan Trust for Culture, in partnership with local governments and conservation agencies, began restoration work on the complex to “improve the quality of life and socio-economic development of communities residing in historic neighbourhoods.”1
1Qutb Shahi Heritage Park, Conservation & Landscape Restoration, Archnet (accessed May 2017)
Golconda Fort, Hyderabad Guide (accessed May 2017)
The Qutb Shahi Monuments of Hyderabad, UNESCO (accessed May 2017)
Compiled by Nimira Dewji
Previously on Ismailimail…
Prince Amyn Aga Khan: “This dialogue – silent, musical, literary – is what binds us all together in a common cultural heritage that we share.”