Mar 14, 2015

Mortuary House, Qutb Shahi Tomb Complex

During my first few visits to Hyderabad, I got a chance to Golconda fort but for some reason Qutb Shahi tomb complex remained close on those days. Last week of August 2014 I got my chance to enter the tombs complex known for seven massive tombs. However the complex houses several smaller tombs also. Within the complex is a mosque, a fresh water well and a mortuary house. To my knowledge, this is the only ancient mortuary building I've heard of.

October 25, 2014
This is the mortuary house of Qutb Shahis tomb complex.

A small marble tablet has the following inscription on it: This bath was built by Sultan Quili I, while erecting his own tomb, for the performance of ritual bath of the royal dead. It is one of the best specimens of the contemporary Persian and Turkish baths. It contains a number of cisterns for both hot and cold water, connected with pipes for regular supply of water. The 12 faceted shrouding platform is decorated with black basalt.

The building's length is in east-west orientation with two sections. This is the eastern end. This hall looks like a visitors' waiting room. The raised platforms are where people sat. At the centre, on the floor is a small pit, probably filled with burning charcoal on which incense would be sprinkled at regular intervals.

The roof of this hall has a dome with arched vents.. this would ensure sufficient light and fresh air.

Note the icon over each of the crests. A single doorway connects the waiting hall to the shrouding hall.

The shrouding hall has several tanks for storing hot and cold water. Water to these tanks are supplied via a complex system of pipes embedded in these walls.

A small water tank next to an exit. Note the two 2" holes in the wall above the tank - those are the pipe ends from which water falls into the tank. Qutb Shahi kings had employed the services of best engineers available during their times.
Now we are looking at the main part of this building.. the 12 faceted marble shrouding platform. A small channel runs around the perimeter of the platform.. probably to drain water flowing down the platform. That way hall's floor remains dry.

Flanking the platforms are more water tanks. The western wall of the hall is a pair of converging stairways with niches under them. A narrow and low doorway at the top... no idea what's inside it.

West to East view of the mortuary house.

One of the grilled windows.

Outside in the building corridor were two inverted dome-shaped metallic objects. They resembled the tombs' domes. They could either be scale models of the domes or metallic vessels to heat water.

For a royal tomb complex this is indeed a fitting mortuary house.



Nirdesh Singh said...

Hi Siddeshwar,

Now I think the blog needs a name change - JourneysAcrossKarnatakaTelangana!

I was in the Qutb Shahi complex some months ago. I thought there were 7 tombs so i spent quite some time in the first 3 or 4 tombs. But then i realised to my horror that there were like more than 50 structures here. I had a flight to catch so I literally flew through the complex shooting. I will need to sit down sometime to figure out the photos!

Okay, Mr KK Muhammad, retired from ASI is looking after the conservation of the complex as part of Aga Khan Trust which undertook the conservation work of Humayun Tomb. Mr Muhammad was responsible for the restoration of Bateshwar Temple Complex in Morena MP. He is a great person. If you get a chance, do meet him. I have spoken to him on the phone once when he commented on my Bateshwar post.

The mortuary is really interesting structure here. A song from Booby Jasoos was shot here (I think).



siddeshwar said...

Hi Nirdesh,

Qutb Shahi tomb complex is a splendid place to spend time, so far I've been there 5 times. Like you I was under the impression of 7 tombs but there's so much to see. My latest visit was last week.. half the complex was cordoned off for restoration work. I would love to meet Mr. K K Muhammad.

The original title is Journeys across across Karnataka and beyond. At some point of time "and beyond" became silent.


mustangally said...

Adding "... and beyond" is quite fitting to your blog title! Wonderful, glorious photos, Siddeshwar. They bring India closer to someone who misses it very much.

siddeshwar said...

Thank you, Alexis :)

P.N. Subramanian said...

Wonderful post. I am still at a loss to understand the need for hot wster for the Dead.