Qutb Shahi dynasty

The Qutb Shahi dynasty (or Golconda Sultanate) was a territory in south India. It was initially a highly Persianate[3] Muslim Turkmen[4] dynasty established in the 16th century that eventually adopted the regional culture of the Deccan (Telugu culture, language and the newly developed Deccani dialect of Urdu). The Qutb Shahis were known for their secular rule.[5]

Golconda Sultanate

Flag of the Qutb Shahis
Extent of Golconda Sultanate
CapitalGolconda (1519-1591)
Hyderabad (1591-1687)
Common languagesPersian (official)[1]
Deccani Urdu
Shia Islam
Qutb Shah 
Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk
Jamsheed Quli Qutb Shah
Subhan Quli Qutb Shah
Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah
Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah
Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah
Abdullah Qutb Shah
Abul Hasan Qutb Shah
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Bahmani Sultanate
Mughal Empire
Today part ofIndia

Its members were collectively called the Qutub Shahis and were the ruling family of the kingdom of Golkonda, in and near the modern-day states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.[6] The Golconda sultanate was constantly in conflict with the Adil Shahis and Nizam Shahis.[7] In 1636, Shah Jahan forced the Qutb Shahis to recognize Mughal suzerainty,[7] which lasted until 1687 when the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb conquered the Golcondan sultanate.[8]


The dynasty's founder, Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk, migrated to Delhi from Iran, with his uncle, Allah-Quli, some of his relatives and friends in the beginning of the 16th century. Later he migrated south, to the Deccan and served the Bahmani sultan, Mohammad Shah.[9] He conquered Golconda, after the disintegration of the Bahmani Kingdom into the five Deccan sultanates.[9] 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.[9] Jamsheed died in 1550 from cancer.[10] Jamsheed's young son reigned for a year, at which time the nobility brought back and installed Ibrahim Quli as sultan.[10] 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.[11] 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,[9] 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.[12]


The Qutub Shahi rulers were great builders, whose structures included the Char Minar,[13] as well as patrons of learning. Quli Qutb Mulk's court became a haven for Persian culture and literature.[7] Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (1580–1612) wrote poems in Dakhini Urdu, Persian and Telugu and left a huge poetry collection.[13] Subsequent poets and writers, however wrote in Urdu, while using vocabulary from Persian, Hindi and Telugu languages.[13] By 1535, the Qutb Shahis were using Telugu for their revenue and judicial areas within the sultanate.[14]

Initially, the Qutub Shahi rulers patronized Persianate culture, but eventually adopted the regional culture of the Deccan, symbolized by the Telugu language and the newly developed Deccani idiom of Urdu became prominent.[15] Although Telugu was not their mother tongue, the Golconda rulers spoke and wrote Telugu,[13] and patronized Telugu so exclusively they were termed the "Telugu Sultans".[16] 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.[16]

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).[17]


The Qutb Shahi architecture was Indo-Islamic, a culmination of Indian and Persian architectural styles.[18] 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.[18][19]


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).

The Qutb Shahis hired many Hindu Nayaks belonging mainly to the Kamma, Velama, Kapu, and Raju communities.[20] These groups mainly were the regional aristocracy[21], served as revenue officers[22] and military commanders[20], but many of them fell into obscurity following the fall of the Qutb Shahis in 1687.


The Qutb Shahi dynasty has been considered a "composite" of Hindu-Muslim religio-social culture.[23] For instance, the Qutb Shahis began the sacred tradition of sending pearls to the Bhadrachalam Temple of Rama on Rama Navami. [24]


The eight sultans in the dynasty were:

  1. Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk (1512–1543)[6]
  2. Jamsheed Quli Qutb Shah (1543–1550)
  3. Subhan Quli Qutb Shah (1550)
  4. Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah (1550–1580)
  5. Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (1580–1612)
  6. Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah (1612–1626)
  7. Abdullah Qutb Shah (1626–1672)
  8. Abul Hasan Tana Shah (1672–1689)


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.[19]

Qutb Shahi lineage

Qara Yusuf
Ruler of the Qara Qoyunlu
Qara Iskander
Ruler of the Qara Qoyunlu
First Reign
Second Reign
Jahan Shah
Ruler of the Qara Qoyunlu
Alvand Mirza
Mirza Yusuf
Ruler of the Qara Qoyunlu
Pir Quli Beg
Khadija Khatun
Uways Quli Beg
Quli Qutb Mulk
Sultan of Golkonda
Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah Wali
Sultan of Golkonda
Jamsheed Quli Qutb Shah
Sultan of Golkonda
Mirza Muhammad Amin
Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah
Sultan of Golkonda
Subhan Quli Qutb Shah
Sultan of Golkonda
Muhammad Qutb Shah
Sultan of Golkonda
Hayat Balksh Begum
Abdullah Qutb Shah
Sultan of Golkonda
Abul Hasan Qutb Shah
Sultan of Golkonda
Badshah Bibi

See also


  1. Brian Spooner and William L. Hanaway, Literacy in the Persianate World: Writing and the Social Order, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 317.
  2. Alam, Muzaffar (1998). "The pursuit of Persian: Language in Mughal Politics". Modern Asian Studies. 32 (2): 317–349. doi:10.1017/s0026749x98002947. Ibrahim Qutb Shah encouraged the growth of Telugu and his successor Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah patronized and himself wrote poetry in Telugu and in Dakhni. Abdullah Qutb Shah instituted a special office to prepare the royal edicts in Telugu (dabiri-ye faramin-i Hindavi). While administrative and revenue papers at local levels in the Qutb Shahi Sultanate were prepared largely in Telugu, the royal edicts were often bilingual.'06 The last Qutb Shahi Sultan, Abul Hasan Tana Shah, sometimes issued his orders only in Telugu, with a Persian summary given on the back of the farmans.
  3. Christoph Marcinkowski, Shi'ite Identities: Community and Culture in Changing Social Contexts, 169-170;"The Qutb-Shahi kingdom could be considered 'highly Persianate' with a large number of Persian-speaking merchants, scholars, and artisans present at the royal capital."
  4. Annemarie Schimmel, Classical Urdu Literature from the Beginning to Iqbāl, (Otto Harrasowitz, 1975), 143;"..poets enjoyed the generous favours of the Shia dynasty of the Qutbshahis, who were of Turkmen origin."
  5. Nigam, Mohan Lal; Bhatnagar, Anupama (1997). Romance of Hyderabad Culture. Deva Publications. p. 50.
  6. Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. p. 118. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
  7. C.E. Bosworth, The New Islamic Dynasties, (Columbia University Press, 1996), 328.
  8. "500 years of Deccan history fading away due to neglect".
  9. George Michell, Mark Zebrowski, Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates, (Cambridge University Press, 1999), 17.
  10. Masʻūd Ḥusain K̲h̲ān̲, Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah, Volume 216, (Sahitya Akademi, 1996), 2.
  11. Annemarie Schimmel, Classical Urdu Literature from the Beginning to Iqbāl, (Otto Harrassowitz, 1975), 143.
  12. Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals, Part II, (Har-Anand, 2009), 331.
  13. Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals, Part II, (Har-Anand, 2009), 210.
  14. A Social and Historical Introduction to the Deccan, 1323-1687, Richard M. Eaton, Sultans of the South: Arts of India's Deccan Courts, 1323-1687, ed. Navina Najat Haidar, Marika Sardar, (Metropolitan Museum of Art 2011), 8.
  15. "Opinion A Hyderabadi conundrum". 15 November 2018.
  16. Richard M. Eaton, A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives, Vol. 1, (Cambridge University Press, 2005), 142-143.
  17. Akbar, Syed (5 January 2019). "Lazzat-Un-Nisa: Hyderabad's own Kamasutra back in focus - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  18. Salma Ahmed Farooqui, A Comprehensive History of Medieval India: From Twelfth to the Mid-Eighteenth Century, (Dorling Kindersley Pvt. Ltd, 2011), 181.
  19. Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "The Qutb Shahi Monuments of Hyderabad Golconda Fort, Qutb Shahi Tombs, Charminar - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". whc.unesco.org. Archived from the original on 12 December 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  20. Chapter III: Economics, Political, Economic, and Social Background of Deccan 17th-18th Century, p.57 https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/25652/10/10_chapter%203.pdfhttps://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/25652/10/10_chapter%203.pdf
  21. Reddy, Pedarapu Chenna (1 January 2006). Readings In Society And Religion Of Medieval South India. Research India Press. p. 163. ISBN 9788189131043.
  22. Proceedings of Seminar on Industries and Crafts in Andhra Desa, 17th and 18th Centuries, A.D. Department of History, Osmania University. 1996. p. 57.
  23. Islam in South Asia: Practicing tradition today, Karen G. Ruffle, South Asian Religions: Tradition and Today, ed. Karen Pechilis, Selva J. Raj, (Routledge, 2013), 210.
  24. Sarma, Mukkamala Radhakrishna; Committee, Osmania University Dept of Ancient Indian History, Culture & Archaeology Felicitation; History, Osmania University Dept of (2004). Glimpses of our past--historical researches: festschrift in honour of Prof. Mukkamala Radhakrishna Sarma, former emeritus fellow. Felicitation Committee, Dept. of Ancient Indian History, Culture, and Archaeology & Dept. of History, Osmania University. p. 326.


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
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