If you ask an outsider to name 5 must visit places in Hyderabad, the most likely answers will be Charminar, the Laad Bazar, the Golkonda fort, Hussain Sagar, and the Ramoji Film City. These are extraordinary places and by all means deserve all the fame. However, they do overshadow a few other exquisite places. One among these is the Qutubshahi Tombs, also known as the 7 Tombs.
The hidden gem.
Tucked away in a sprawling space behind the famous Golkonda fort, the Qutubshahi Tombs or the 7 Tombs complex is home to the line of Qutub Shahi Sultans and hosts some of the grandest architectural marvels of Hyderabad.
The first of these tombs was built in the mid 16th century and the last around the late 17th century. Though named as 7 tombs, it goes well beyond just 7 tombs, hosting 23 mosques, 40 mausoleums, 6 step-wells, and 1 ' mortuary bath, and multiple pavilions, arches, decorated walls, and a beautiful landscaped garden. For those interested in architectural history, these monuments offer an intricate mix of Indian and Persian decorative styles on their exterior walls and interiors. Similarly, the arches, pillars, corridors etc. also bear a blending of different architectural and artistic styles - making the entire place an intriguing study for those interested in art, history, and culture.
The timeless tombs.
However, you do not need to be a connoisseur in art, architecture, culture, or history to enjoy the exquisite charms of the Qutubshahi tombs. The quaint and seamless blend of large trees, beautiful landscaped gardens along with gigantic monuments, windy corridors, majestic arches, intricate decorations, as well as the eerie presence of mortuary baths create a kaleidoscope that has to be experienced to be really understood.
The grand tombs and other structures blend seamlessly with every mood of nature - they dazzle in the sun, blend with the clouds, and exude a sense of irresistible charm during the monsoon.
Here are some images and short descriptions from my numerous visits to this place.
Head in the cloud. On a clear day, clouds float above one of the tombs in the complex - giving it a striking aura. That's the thing here - you just have to look closely to find the extraordinary - almost everywhere and at any time.
Intricate patterns. Light seeping through the glass panes at the decorated ceiling and the open doors in the mortuary bath area. From the inside, this circular space looks exquisite, especially on a sunny day.
Blended with nature. One of the many tombs seen through thorns and bushes. The Qutubshahi complex has abundant greenery with majestic trees, velvety grassy lawns, as well as small shrubs. All of them create exquisite frames around these mighty monuments.
Arches framing a tomb. A very frequent sight in the Qutubshahi tombs. Walk through almost any of the airy, spacious corridors of any of the tombs or mausoleums and see another grand structure through the intriguing frames of these many archways.
Blended with nature. Two massive tombs sit quietly in a cloudy, largely empty day as grasses swing along in the breeze. This was from one of the post lockdown visits to this place. While it was open, people still largely avoided visiting them. That in turn created an engrossing emptiness and in that, the ancient tombs looked grand as always.
A timeless trail. A pathway, cradled by well kept grassy lawns, leads towards two tombs and the surrounding trees in a cloudy day. It was just after the lockdowns were lifted and since the weather in Hyderabad has been one of intermittent rains these days, it remained largely devoid of people - creating a grand sense of empty serenity.
Layers nesting layers. Many weathered and withered architectural marvels of this place are now getting restored. As they are in the process of getting restored, they represent an endless series of layers in different shades and hues when seen from certain angles.
Majestic monument. One of the most striking tombs in the entire complex. You will need to climb up a slightly stiff flight of stairs to reach the windy base of this staggering structure. This structure was not open to the public till a few years before. However, now that it is, it creates a staggering visual impression any time you visit it.
Through the canopy. The quintessential Qutubshahi tombs - majestic trees frame an equally majestic monument. and none of them look out of place.
The baoli. Or the step-well that was designed to store excess rainwater during the monsoons. This also used to be out of bounds for the common tourists till a few years ago. However, restoration works have started here and now the water here has fishes and tortoise swimming in it.
I can go on and on. However, you get the drift. Go to this exquisite place, spend a day amidst these architectural marvels and the blended, sprawling greenery. Relax, stroll around, and come back with fond memories and experiences. And if you get the hang of it, I can assure that you will land up here much more than the formidable forts of Golkonda right beside it.
You know, it is a place to fall in love with in a strange, peaceful, almost surreal way.