The Qutub Shahi Dynasty

A brief History of the Qutub Shahi dynasty

In 1463, disturbances broke out in the Telangana area of the Bahamani kingdom of Deccan. Sultan Quli Qutbul Mulk, a Turk who was a high ranking military officer under Muhammad Shah Bahamani, was sent to quell the trouble. He was successful and was rewarded by being made the Subedar of Telangana in 1495, with Golconda as his head- quarters. Subsequently, with the disintegration of the Bahamani Kingdom in the early 16th century, Sultan Quli assumed virtual independence. Thus he founded the Qutub Shahi dynasty that lasted from 1518 right up to 1687 when Aurangzeb's armies swept the Deccan.

This dynasty spanned 171 years in the history of South India. The eight kings of this royal line have left a firm impression of their strong personalities upon the land and its people.
The Qutub Shahi rulers were great builders and patrons of learning. They not only patronized the Persian culture but also the regional culture of the Deccan, symbolized by the Telugu language and the newly developed Deccani idiom.

Qutub Shah 1 : SULTAN QULI QUTBUL MULK (1518 - 1543) 
The founder of the Qutub Shahi kingdom did much to strengthen and improve the capital Golconda. He beautified his fortress capital with mosques, palaces and gardens. On the foundations of the old mud fort Sultan Quli built a massive citadel. This city called Muhammad Nagar, soon grew rapidly and earned fame as one of the leading cities of the east, well known for its trade in diamonds and precious stones.
Sultan Quli's subjects thought highly of him and he governed kindly and well. But at the age of 99, the king died at the hands of his own son Jamsheed Quli.

Qutub Shah 2 : JAMSHEED QULI QUTUB SHAH (1543 - 1550)
Jamsheed, the third son, took over the reins of government with blood stained hands. His seven years reign was marked by the people's resentment over his patricide. However, Jamsheed Quli was educated and loved poetry. He died in 1550 of on incurable disease. 

Qutub Shah 3 : IBRAHIM QULI QUTUB SHAH (1550 -- 1580)
The youngest son of Sultan Quli Qutub Shah, Ibrahim, lived in exile as an honored quest of the Raja of Vijayanagar. It was during this sojourn that he learnt to love Telugu and speak it almost as his second mother tongue. When he ascended the throne, Ibrahim patronized and encouraged the learning and writing of Telugu as few Muslim or non-Muslim rulers had done before him. Poets from all over the Deccan converged at Ibrahim's court.
During his reign, Golconda was further strengthened. Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah invited his nobles to construct buildings within its walls, Mosques, Schools, Alms houses, and the Dam at Hussain Sagar, Budwel and Ibrahimpatnam were all to his credit. Besides, Ibrahim was noted for his able administration.

Qutub Shah 4 : MUHAMMAD QULI QUTUB SHAH (1580 -- 1612)
It was in the long, peaceful and prosperous reign of the fifth king Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah that the Qutub Shahi dynasty reached its zenith.
Muhammad Quli was crowned king when only 15 years of age. He is best remembered as the great planner and founder of the city of Hyderabad. According to popular legend, the king was enamored of a dancer called Bhagmati, belonging to a small village of Chichelam where the famous Charminar now stands. He found Bhagnagar to perpetuate his love for her, the name of the city was accordingly changed by the king to HYDERABAD.
Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, like Ibrahim, patronized and encouraged the Telugu language as much as he did Arabic and Persian. He was himself an accomplished poet in Telugu and fostered local traditions and rituals. He was also the creator of the first Deccani poetry.
Muhammad Quli was hardly 48 when he died in 1612 after a fairy long reign of 32 years. He was a humane and just king, besides being a great builder and man of letters. Hayath Bakshi Begum was his only daughter who was married to his nephew and successor, Sultan Muhammad Qutub Shah. 

Qutub Shah 6 : SULTAN MUHAMMAD QUTUB SHAH (1612 -- 1626)
The nephew and son-in-law of Muhammad Quli, Sultan Muhammad ascended the throne as the sixth Qutub Shah. A well versed scholar, he had a deeply religious temperament and was a connoisseur of good books. The Qutub Shahi chronicles were completed during his reign. He further contributed to the architectural achievements of the Qutub Shahi dynasty. The foundation of the principal mosque Mecca Masjid was laid during his reign in 1617. He also began the construction of the building of Sultan Nagar. These projects were however not completed in his lifetime. 

Qutub Shah 6 : ABDULLAH QUTUB SHAH  (1626-1672)
Son of Sultan Muhammad, Abdullah ascended the throne at the age of 12, his mother administering the kingdom till he attained maturity. He lived a life of pleasure and ease. Though the Kingdom was extended during his rule, it came under Mughal pressure in 1636. Golconda was attacked in 1656 and as a result, heavy indemnity had to be paid. He died on 1st May, 1672.

Qutub Shah 7 : ABUL HASAN TANA SHAH (1672 -- 1699)
Abul Hasan, also known as Tana Shah, was Abdullah Qutub Shah's son-in-law. He proved an able ruler and a staunch defender in the face of the Mughal might. He is remembered as a benign and tolerant king who placed his people's prosperity and well-being above everything else. 
Tana Shah was the last king of Golconda. During his rule, the Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb seized the fortress of Golconda for a period of 8 continuous months. In 1687, the Mughals finally stormed the fortress after the gates were opened by a traitor. Abul Hasan was taken prisoner. He was held captive first at Bidar and then at Daulatabad (Aurangabad) where he died in prison after 12 years of captivity. Jan Sapar Khan, one of the nobles of Aurangazeb, accompanied Abul Hasan up to Daulatabad. He was later made the governor of the Deccan under the kingdom of Aurangazeb.

Qutub Shahi Tombs

The tombs erected in the memeroy of the departed kings of Golconda are truly magnificent monumnets that have stood the test of time and the vagaries of nature. They stand a kilometre north of Golconda fort's Banjara Darwaza.


Charminar, the edifice of four minarets, is the legendary masterpiece of the Qutb Shahis. The awesome rectangular structure was built upon four grand arches by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 to commemorate the end of the plague.

The plan is a square, each side 20 metres long, while the four arches are 11 metres wide and rise 20 metres from the plinth. The four storeyed minarets rise 20 metres from the roof of the massive monument and measures 24 metres from the plinth. The western section of the roof contains a mosque with 45 prayer spaces with a large open space in front to accommodate more for Friday prayers. To the east of this space is a verandah with a large open arch in the centre, flanked by smaller ones both sides.


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