Qutb Shahi Heritage Park

Qutb Shahi Heritage Park in Hyderabad spread over 106-acres is located in the Ibrahim Bagh, close to the famous Golconda Fort in Hyderabad, Telangana State, India.

There are a total of 80 monuments, including 40 mausoleums of rulers of the Quli Qutb Shahi dynasty (1518-1687) , 23 mosques, seven baolis (step-wells), a hamam, pavilions, tanks, wells, garden structures and enclosure walls.

Qutub Shahi tombs were planned and built by Qutub Shahis. These were renovated by Salar Jung III, Mir Yousuf Ali Khan in the 19th century. Constructed on an elevated platform, these tombs are made up of grey granite. These are dome-structured and have quadrangular shape. Each tomb is surrounded by pointed arches and is of 9-15 meters in height from the platform. These pointed arches also add on to the beauty of these structures. Each tomb is also decorated with beautiful ornamentation. 

The most important yet the most modest tomb is considered to be of Sultan Quli Qutub-ul-Mulk, who is the founder of Qutub Shahi Dynasty. He not only built his tomb himself but is also said to be the longest supervisor of this magnificent architectural project. It was also his decision to build the tombs on non-ruling royal family members as well such as of nephews, nieces, and sisters.

The Qutb Shahi tombs complex consists of 30 tombs, mosques and a mortuary bath. The tombs belong to the rulers of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty, their queens and children and the nobles who faithfully served them. It contains the epigraphically documented tombs of five of the dynasty's seven sultans, as well as those of another four members of the royal family, spanning the 130-year period from 1543 to 1672. The Qutb Shahi tombs collectively constitute an outstanding example of an Indo-Muslim dynastic necropolis and is the most extensive and best epigraphically documented in all of India.

Qutb Shahi dynasty ruled the region from 1518 A.D. to 1687 A.D. Qutb Shahi Islamic Sultanate was one of the five prominent dynasties that emerged in the Deccan following the downfall of the Bahmani Dynasty in 1518 A.D. Seven rulers of the Dynasty ruled for 170 years and successfully resisted the Mughal attack till 1687 A.D. It was the last kingdom to be absorbed in the expanding Mughal Empire.

Qutb Shahi monuments provide a unique testimony to the vibrant cosmopolitanism that characterized the medieval period in India and in the Deccan region in particular. Other Deccani sultanates were similarly multi-ethnic and multi-lingual, but the Qutb Shahi Sultanate appears to have been at the forefront of this cosmopolitanism. The founder of the dynasty and many influential nobles were immigrants from Iran. The success of the Qutb Shahi state depended critically on the ability of these "westerners" (gharbian) to form alliances both with members of the deeply rooted class of Deccani Muslims, and the local Telugu-speaking Hindu elite. In a manner that is more striking than at any other site, the Qutb Shahi monuments reveal the innovative and inspired blending of Persianate and Indic cultures that flowed from the successful integration of this multi-ethnic society.

The group of Qutb Shahi tombs constitutes an outstanding example of an Indo-Muslim dynastic necropolis. Although many other Indo-Muslim dynasties also produced such necropolises, that of the Qutb Shahis is unique on three counts. First, it is a more complete dynastic complex than any other in India, as it unites in one location the tombs of five of the dynasty's seven rulers as well as four other identified members of the royal family. Second, its chronological span of 130 years is longer than that of any other documented necropolis in India. Third, because of these first two factors, the necropolis provides unique testimony not only for the stylistic development of Qutb Shahi architecture, but also for the dynastic politics within the family.

Because the Qutb Shahi necropolis includes nine tombs of members of the royal family, all firmly datable by means of their epitaph inscriptions, the complex affords the best controlled means of understanding the developing Qutb Shahi architectural style and its chronology. The earliest tomb-that of the dynasty's founder Sultan Quli (d.1543)-reveals its dependence on late Bahmani traditions of tomb design, while the tomb of the next to last ruler, Abdullah (d.1672) exhibits all of the distinctive qualities of the fully formed Qutb Shahi style. In between, every intermediate stage is represented, and several unusual variants as well, including the tomb of Muhammad Quli (d.1612) with its Iranian-inspired post and beam porticoes (talar), and the so-called tomb of Jamsheed (d.1550) with its unusual two-storeyed octagonal plan.

The complex also provides invaluable evidence shedding light on the nature of dynastic politics within the Qutb Shahi family. Tombs were built not only for the ruling sultans, but also for their wives and consorts, and for sons who were excluded from the succession. The spatial relationships between these various tombs are often highly instructive. Thus, until the 1620s, the original necropolis was confined to the southwestern block of the present enclosure and contained the monumental tombs of Sultan Quli (d.1543), Ibrahim (d. 1580), and Muhammad Quli (d.1612). Additionally, there was the small tomb of Ibrahim's son, Mirza Muhammad Amin (d.1596), which occupied the same terrace as his father's tomb, and numerous smaller tombs lacking inscriptions and most likely belonging to various members of the Qutb Shahi elite. Although this area also contains two structures that are popularly identified as the tombs of the Sultans Jamsheed (d. 1550) and Subhan (d.1550) -with whom Ibrahim fought a succession dispute-neither contains epitaphs confirming this identification, and moreover, they are built in the fully developed style of the mid-seventeenth century, making it impossible that they should belong to these two rulers. At least during the sixteenth century, it would appear that Jamsheed and his son Subhan were excluded from the royal necropolis, as if to deny that their reigns had ever occurred.

Qutb Shahi Tombs also known as ‘Seven Tombs’ get UNESCO World Heritage recognition for its conservation of six stepwells (Baolis). UNESCO awarded the 2022 award of distinction to the royal necropolis.

In January 2013, an MoU was signed between the Department of Archaeology and Museums (now Heritage Telangana), the Quli Qutb Shah Urban Development Authority, Aga Khan Foundation and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for conservation and landscape development of the tomb complex. The funds came from AKTC, Tata Trust, US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, IndiGo CSR, and the German Embassy. No funds have been sought from the government.

In recovering the stepwells and associated aqueducts from a state of neglect and partial ruins, the project has revived the function of the historic waterworks of irrigating the surrounding orchards and forests, thus enabling the holistic restoration of the historic landscape,” said the UN body.

Ratish Nanda is the Projects Director of Aga Khan Trust for Culture, India. The landscape master plan for Qutb Shahi Tombs was developed by architect M. Shaheer, who envisaged the 106-acre complex into three zone the archaeological zone, a visitor facility zone and an ecological zone. “We have not buried archaeological remains, rather have tried to preserve the sanctity in the best way possible,” said Nanda, speaking about the elaborate design patterns involving dragons and birds that were unearthed.

But when you restore a landscape, you don’t just look at the monuments. An exhaustive tree survey was undertaken that mapped 3,300 existing trees covering 72 species. Over 2,000 tree saplings have been planted along the edge of the site to create a natural buffer.

Over 2,500 measured drawings, condition reports, topographical survey of the 106 acres and more went into the Hyderabad restoration plan. And you cannot rebuild history without archives. A sustained effort at archival research has already led to the collection of over 500 images—some dating back to the 1860s. While a major part of the restoration, which began in 2013, has been completed, the pandemic and multiple litigations have pushed the deadline from 10 years to 14 years now.

The stepwells Badi Baoli, Hamam Baoli, Baug Baoli, Mashriqi (eastern) Baoli, Maghribi (western) Baoli and Eidgah Baoli were all believed to have been constructed between 16th and 17th century under the first ruler of Qutb Shahi dynasty Sultan Qutb-ul-Mulk.

19th April 2018 : Known as one of the largest necropoleis in the world, Qutb Shahi Heritage park is open for public viewing after an elaborate restoration. It is said to have taken 50 layers of whitewash to surface the intricate detailing of this 16th-century seven-arch arcade. This heritage park also has a Persian Hamam which was used as a mortuary bath in olden days and is considered as one of the finest Persian Hamams. Ever since it opened its gates for public viewing on April 18th, it’s being thronged by visitors and historians who are gladly exploring the beauty of the monuments. The Qutub Shahi Tombs are also undergoing a restoration and the idea is to revive the natural architecture from the times they were built. The heritage park is perfect for the individuals who are interested in exploring the historical significance of the city. We think you should quickly make a visit to the park and witness the grandeur of the monuments that withstood the test of time.

Sep 15, 2022: Newly-arrived US Consul General Jennifer Larson and IT Minister KT Rama Rao on Thursday visited the historic Qutb Shahi Heritage Park Complex to mark the completion of a $112,560 conservation project funded by the US Consulate and conducted by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The project supports the conservation of five stepwells inside the Tombs Complex, which will conserve 15 million litres of rainwater during monsoon and provide for the water needs of the 106-acre Heritage Park.

Timings are from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm and closed on Friday.

The entry fee for the tombs is only Rs. 10 per person and for children it is Rs. 5 per person. If interested in taking photographs, you are required to pay minimal fee Rs. 20 for each camera.