Qutb Shahi Tombs, Hyderabad

late 19th century

This photograph of the Qutb Shahi Tombs in Hyderabad, is by Lala Deen Dayal (1844-1905).

Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah founded the city in 1591 by, moving away from the historic capital at Golconda. The Qutb Shahi empire was founded by his grandfather, Sultan Quli Qutb Shah. Hailing from Hamdan in Persia (present-day Iran), he travelled to India in the second half of the 15th century. In 1518, he was a governor in the empire of the Bahmanis in Bidar when their dynasty fell. As orthodox Shia Muslims, the Qutb Shahis were followers of Imam Ali, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed and, according to the Shia sect, His rightful heir. A key part of the faith is the observing of Muharram, a day of mourning for the death of Imam Hussain, son of Imam Ali.

The Qutb Shahis built halls of mourning known as Ashurkhanas across their empire and appointed local Hindu families as caretakers at many of them. That led to Hindus observing Muharram every year as Peerulu Pandaga or Festival of The Saints, a tradition that continues till date.

To read more about the Qutb Shahi kings, click here.

Qutb Shahi Tombs, Hyderabad
late 19th century
Lala Deen Dayal
H: 19.5 cm x W: 28.1 cm
Accession No.