Short Essay on Architecture of Qutb Shahi Dynasty

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The Qutb Shahi dynasty was founded in 1538. It was only the third ruler Ibrahim who declared himself independent in A.D. 1550. There was not much architectural activity during the reigns of these rulers except of course fortifying the citadel and building a place or a Jama Masjid of little beauty. However, the reign of Ibrahim (1550-1580) led to large scale constructions.

His greatest construction was the erection of a 8000 yards long wall with beautiful bastions. The other buildings of his reign, as already described in the previous chapter, were the palace, the Husain Sagar, Purana Pul and his own tomb which was once a magnificient building but is now in ruins.

The Qutb Shahi monuments of latter date-the palaces, the mosques, the tombs, etc. were marked by distinctive features such as minars in place of domes, ornamentation and decoration of buildings particularly the parapets and the surface in stucco or cut plaster with occasional use of tiles, frequent use of black basalt, and in case of tombs the square style still persisted but "the type which found favour was one with a "pyramidal outline, admitting a greater play of light and shade".

The Qutab Shahi minars were modelled on the design of minars in Cairo. The characteristics of later Qutb Shahi mosques are the introduction of two minarets flanking the facade and fine arches leading to the prayer hall representing the God, the Prophet, Ali Fatima and Husasin or the first three in case three arches were built.

The arch of the Qutb Shahi is pointed and flat like those of the Mughals and well proportioned. The best example of it is the Char Minar in Hyderabad. The roofs of the mosques are flat generally but the ceiling in most cases was vaulted and rested on the intersection of arches.

The tombs of Qutb Shahi period resemble those of the Baridis. They are surmounted by a dome and there are finials at corners and sides. A parapet gallery was also provided. The interior of the mausoleums was also designed on the same lines. It was usually octagonal in shape though there were some departures as in the case of the tomb of Sultan Qutb Shah which was pyrmidal in outline.

We have already taken note of the various buildings constructed during the period in the preceding chapter on political history and will, therefore; only make a brief reference to them. Sultan-Quli's Jami Masjid (A.D. 1518) is, no doubt, the earliest of them. There is nothing very distinctive in this building which follows old Bahmani style. Similar is the case with the tomb of this Sultan.

Its arches-stiff pointed and horse-shoe type-is a relic of the Baridi style. This is also true of the tomb of Ibrahim Qutb Shah. However, in the later tombs, we find a sudden change. There were beautiful patterns on the arches as well as domes; parapets were richly decorated and there was a free use of tile for ornamentation.

Hindu motifs like lotus, chain and pendant designs, and pillar and lintel devices characterize these mausoleums. The two mosques, Mustafa Khan's Masjid (A.D. 1561) and Mulla Khayali's Masjid (A.D. 1569) throw light on the evolutionary stage of the Qutb Shahi style of architecture. This style reached its peak in ornamentation in the time of the founder of the Hyderabad city, Muhammad Quli.

Some of the important buildings constructed by these monarchs who have already been taken note of are Char Minar, the glory of the Qutb Shahi kings, the palaces, and now mostly in ruins, Daru-sh-Shifa, Jami Masjid and Sultan's own tomb. "It was in the time of Abdullah (1626-1672)" observes Dr. Z. A. Desai, "that the Qutb Shahi architecture reached its high watermark and assumed its typical form which is essentially ornate and florid and which has left its stamp on a large number of mosques built all over the kingdom.

The most prominent feature of this style is love of ornamentation which finds expression in various ways. The mosques now have at each of the two front ends, a tall and highly ornamental minar.

The shafts of the minars at times rising from kalasa or pot-bases are duodecagonial up to the first balconized gallery, which blends them with the whole composition, through a battlemented screen of perforated panels of its height either along the facade or all along the sides".

The prayer halls of the mosques usually consisted of two rooms. The black basalt is freely used. The indigenous Hindu influence is discernible in the motifs as already described. Some of the mosques which depict these characteristics are Rahim Khan's mosque, Hira Masjid and Toli Masjid.

All the tombs of the period are of the same architectural composition. Their rich ornamentation and fine workmanship lend colour and grace to them. Their surface decoration, minars at the corners and the double cornice beautify them still further.

The most magnificent of all the Qutb Shahi tombs is assuredly that of Saint Shah Raju II. In spite of the fact that it was left incomplete, it is an "outstanding monument of its class rising in two storeys."


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