The Qutb Shahi dynasty ruled the Golconda Sultanate in south India from 1518 AD to 1687 AD. The Qutb Shahis were descendants of Qara Yusuf from Qara Qoyunlu, a Turkoman Muslim tribe. After the collapse of Bahmani Sultanate, the "Qutb Shahi" dynasty was established in 1518 AD by Quli Qutb Mulk who assumed the title of "Sultan". In 1636, Shah Jahan forced the Qutb Shahis to recognize Mughal suzerainty. The dynasty came to an end in 1687 during the reign of its seventh Sultan Abul Hasan Qutb Shah, when Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb seized Golconda fort and occupied the kingdom. The kingdom extended from the parts of modern day states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The Golconda sultanate was constantly in conflict with the Adil Shahis and Nizam Shahis.
The Qutb Shahis were great patrons of persianate Shia culture, eventually it also adopted the regional culture of the Deccan (Telugu culture, language and the newly developed Deccani dialect of Urdu). Although Telugu was not their mother tongue, the Golconda rulers spoke and wrote Telugu, and patronized Telugu so exclusively that they were termed the "Telugu Sultans". The Qutb Shahis were known for their secular rule.
The dynasty's founder, Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk was a descendants of Qara Yusuf (from Qara Qoyunlu, a Turkish Muslim tribe). He migrated to Delhi with his uncle, Allah-Quli, some of his relatives and friends in the beginning of the 16th century, from Hamadan Province(now in Iran then it was ruled by his ancestral Turkish tribe). Later he migrated south, to the Deccan and served the Bahmani sultan, Mahmood Shah Bahmani II. He conquered Golconda, after the disintegration of the Bahmani Kingdom into the five Deccan sultanates. Soon after, he declared independence from the Bahmani Sultanate, took the title Qutub Shah, and established the Qutb Shahi dynasty of Golconda. He was later assassinated in 1543 by his son, Jamsheed, who assumed the sultanate. Jamsheed died in 1550 from cancer. Jamsheed's young son reigned for a year, at which time the nobility brought back and installed Ibrahim Quli as sultan. During the reign of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, relations between Hindus and Muslims were strengthened, even to the point of Hindus resuming their religious festivals like Diwali and Holi. Some Hindus rose to prominence in the Qutb Shahi state, the most important example being the ministers Madanna and Akkanna.
Golconda, and with the construction of the Char Minar, later Hyderabad, served as capitals of the sultanate, and both cities were embellished by the Qutb Shahi sultans. The dynasty ruled Golconda for 171 years, until the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb conquered the Deccan in 1687.
During the early seventeenth century a strong cotton-weaving industry existed in the Deccan region. Large quantities of cotton cloth were produced for domestic and exports consumption. High quality plain and patterned cloth made of muslin and calico was produced. Plain cloth was available as white or brown colour, in bleached or dyed variety. Exports of this cloth was to Persia and European countries. Patterned cloth was made of prints which were made indigenously with indigo for blue, chay-root for red coloured prints and vegetable yellow. Patterned cloth exports were mainly to Java, Sumatra and other eastern countries.
The Qutb Shahi rulers were great builders, whose structures included the Char Minar, as well as patrons of learning. Quli Qutb Mulk's court became a haven for Persian culture and literature. Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (15801612) wrote poems in Dakhini Urdu, Persian and Telugu and left a huge poetry collection. Subsequent poets and writers, however wrote in Urdu, while using vocabulary from Persian, Hindi and Telugu languages. By 1535, the Qutb Shahis were using Telugu for their revenue and judicial areas within the sultanate.
Initially, the Qutb Shahi rulers patronized Turkish culture, but eventually adopted the regional culture of the Deccan, symbolized by the Telugu language and the newly developed Deccani idiom and Urdu became prominent. Although Telugu was not their mother tongue, the Golconda rulers spoke and wrote Telugu, and patronized Telugu so exclusively they were termed the "Telugu Sultans". In 1543, fearing for his life, Prince Ibrahim Quli fled to the Vijayanagar court, which lavishly patronized the Telugu language. Upon his enthronement as sultan in 1550, Ibrahim Quli was thoroughly acquainted with Telugu aesthetics.
The Qutb Shahi rulers were much more liberal than their other Muslim counterparts. During the reign of Abdullah Qutb Shah in 1634 CE, the ancient Indian sex manual Koka Shastra was translated into Persian named Lazzat-un-Nisa (Flavors of the Woman).
The Qutb Shahi architecture was Indo-Islamic, a culmination of Indian and Persian architectural styles. Their style was very similar to that of the other Deccan Sultanates.
Some examples of Qutb Shahi Indo-Islamic architecture are the Golconda Fort, tombs of the Qutb Shahis, Char Minar and the Char Kaman, Mecca Masjid, Khairtabad Mosque, Hayat Bakshi Mosque, Taramati Baradari and the Toli Mosque.
The Qutb Shahi Kingdom was like the other Deccan kingdoms, a highly centralized state. The sultan enjoyed absolute executive judicial and military powers. When expediency demanded, the post of regent was created to carry on the administration on behalf of the king.
The Peshwa (Prime Minister) was the highest official of the sultanate. He was assisted by a number of ministers, including Mir Jumla (finance minister), Kotwal (police commissioner), and Khazanadar (treasurer).
In the Qutb Shahi kingdom, all the muslims were paid allowances from the treasury. The Persian origin muslims had the highest respect and were paid the highest, then the other Indian muslims. The Persian origin muslims became rich by lending money on high interest (usury) of 4-5% per mensem much to the despair of Hindus.
The Sultanate had 66 forts, and each fort was administered by Nayak. The Qutb Shahis hired many Hindu Nayaks belonging mainly to the Kamma, Velama, Kapu, and Raju communities. These groups mainly were the regional aristocracy, served as revenue officers and military commanders, but many of them fell into obscurity following the fall of the Qutb Shahis in 1687.
Tax collection was through auction farms, the highest bidder used to get the Governorship. While the Governors enjoyed luxurious life style, they had to bear the brunt of severe punishments for default, consequently they were harsh on the people. People were in distress as the complaints of the poor never reached the sultans.
The Qutb Shahi dynasty has been considered a "composite" of Hindu-Muslim religio-social culture. For instance, the Qutb Shahis began the sacred tradition of sending pearls to the Bhadrachalam Temple of Rama on Rama Navami.
The eight sultans in the dynasty were:
The tombs of the Qutb Shahi sultans lie about one kilometer north of Golkonda's outer wall. These structures are made of beautifully carved stonework, and surrounded by landscaped gardens. They are open to the public and receive many visitors.
Qutb Shahi lineage
- Hyderabad Deccan
- Battle of Talikota
- Chopra, R. M., The Rise, Growth And Decline of Indo-Persian Literature, 2012, Iran Culture House, New Delhi.
- Jawed Vashisht, Ghizal-e Raana (A selection of Quli Qutab Shah's ghazals)
- Jawed Vashisht, Roop Ras (Romantic poems of Quli Qutab Shah)
- Jawed Vashisht, Mohammed Quli aur Nabi ka Sadka
- Jawed Vashisht, Dakhni Darpan