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Qtub Shahi Dynasty of Golconda
Flag of Qutb Shahi dynasty
Flag of the Qutb Shahis
Golconda map published in 1733 Germany[1]
Golconda map published in 1733 Germany[1]
CapitalGolconda (1519–1591)
Hyderabad (1591–1687)
Common languagesPersian (official)[2]
Telugu(official and court language )[3]
Deccani Urdu
Shia Islam
Qutb Shah 
• 1512–1543
Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk
• 1543–1550
Jamsheed Quli Qutb Shah
• 1550–1550
Subhan Quli Qutb Shah
• 1550–1580
Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah
• 1580-1612
Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah
• 1612-1626
Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah
• 1626–1672
Abdullah Qutb Shah
• 1672-1686
Abul Hasan Qutb Shah
• Established
• Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Bahmani Sultanate
Gajapati Empire
Vijaynagar Empire
Hyderabad Subah
Today part ofIndia

The Qutb Shahi dynasty (Persian: Qotb-Šâhiyân; Urdu: Qutb Shāhī Khāndān) was a Persianate[4] Shia Islamic dynasty of Turkoman origin[5][6] that ruled the Sultanate of Golkonda (Persian: Saltanat-e Golkonde; Urdu: Saltanat-e Golkunḍa) in southern India.[7][8][9][10] After the collapse of the Bahmani Sultanate, the Qutb Shahi dynasty was established in 1512 AD by Sultan-Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk, better known in English, though less correctly referred to, as "Quli Qutb Shah".

In 1636, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan forced the Qutb Shahis to recognize Mughal suzerainty and pay periodic tributes. The dynasty came to an end in 1687 during the reign of its seventh sultan Abul Hasan Qutb Shah, when the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb arrested and jailed Abul Hasan for the rest of his life in Daulatabad, incorporating Golconda into the Mughal empire.[11][12][13] The kingdom extended from the parts of modern-day states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana.[14] The Golconda sultanate was constantly in conflict with the Adil Shahis and Nizam Shahis.[13]

The Qutb Shahis were patrons of Persianate Shia culture.[12][8] The official and court language of the Golconda sultanate during the first 90 years of its existence (c. 1512 – 1600) was also Persian. In the early 17th century, however, the Telugu language was elevated to the status of the Persian language, while towards the end of the Qut Shahis' rule, it was the primary court language with Persian used occasionally in official documents. According to Indologist Richard Eaton, as Qutb Shahis adopted Telugu, they started seeing their polity as the Telugu-speaking state, with the elites of the sultanate viewing their rulers as "Telugu Sultans".[15]


The dynasty's founder, Sultan Quli Khawas Khan Hamdani was born in Hamadan Province, Iran. He belonged to the Qara Qoyunlu, an Iranian Turkmen Muslim tribe and therefore a descendant of Qara Yusuf.[16][17] In the 16th century, he migrated to Delhi with his uncle, Allah-Quli, some of his relatives and friends. Later he migrated south, to the Deccan and served the Bahmani sultan, Mahmood Shah Bahmani II, who was of Deccani Muslim ethnicity.[18][19] He declared the independence of Golconda, after the disintegration of the Bahmani Kingdom into the five Deccan sultanates.[19] 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.[19] Jamsheed died in 1550 from cancer.[20] Jamsheed's young son reigned for a year, at which time the nobility brought back and installed Ibrahim Quli as sultan.[20]

The early Qutb Shahi sultans prohibited Hindus from observing their religious festivals, states Annemarie Schimmel – a scholar of Islamic studies. During the reign of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (1580–1611), who was a more tolerant ruler, the Hindus were allowed to observe their religious festivals like Diwali and Holi in the open.[21] Later Sultans such as Tana Shah, appointed Brahmin Hindus such as Madanna and Akkanna as ministers in charge of tax collection and exchequer. However, this led to significant factionalism between the Muslim elites and the rising power of the Brahmin Hindus. The Muslim faction reached out to Aurangzeb, who sent a regiment led by his son to attack Golconda. They beheaded Madanna and Akkanna, along with plundering the property and killing many more Hindus in administrative positions of the Qutb Shahi dynasty. Shortly thereafter, the last Sultan of the dynasty was jailed in Daulatabad by Aurangzeb, and the Qutb Shahi dynasty came to an end.

Golconda, and with the construction of the Char Minar, later Hyderabad, served as capitals of the sultanate,[19] 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.[22] The territory of the Golconda Sultanate was made into a Mughal imperial province, Hyderabad Subah.[23]


Tomb of Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah in Hyderabad.

The Golconda Sultanate was notoriously wealthy. While its primary source of revenue was a land tax,[24] the sultanate greatly profited from its monopoly on diamond production from mines in the southern districts of the kingdom. The sultanate also had control over the Krishna and Godavari deltas, giving it access to craft production in the villages of the area, where goods like textiles were produced. The town of Masulipatnam served as the Golconda Sultanate's primary seaport for the export of diamonds and textiles. The kingdom reached the peak of its financial prosperity in the 1620s and 1630s.[25][26]


Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond first discovered by the Golconda sultanate

The Golconda Sultanate was known for its diamonds which were dubbed the Golconda diamonds. These diamonds were sought after diamonds long before the Qutb Shahi dynasty came to power, and they continued to supply this demand through European traders.[27] Diamonds from mines (especially the Kollur Mine presently in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh) were transported to the city of Hyderabad to be cut, polished, evaluated and sold. Golconda established itself as a diamond trading centre and until the end of the 19th century, the Golconda market was the primary source of the finest and largest diamonds in the world.[28]


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 export consumption. High-quality plain and patterned cloth made of muslin and calico was produced. Plain cloth was available in white or brown colour, in bleached or dyed variety. This cloth was exported to Persia and European countries. The 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.[29] Golconda had a strong trading relationship with Ayutthaya Siam.[30]


Golkonda Painting, 1650-1670 Opaque watercolor and gold on paper Overall

The Qutb Shahis were patrons of Persianate Shia culture.[12][8] Over the first 90 years of their rule (c. 1512 – 1600), they championed Persian culture. Their official edicts and court language were in Persian only.[15] Quli Qutb Mulk's court became a haven for Persian culture and literature.[13] In early 17th-century, with Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (1580–1612) a change began. He began to patronize the Telugu language and culture as well. Edicts began to be issued both in Persian and Telugu. Towards the end of the dynasty, these were primarily in Telugu with a summary in Persian. As they adopted Telugu, they saw their territory as the Telugu-speaking region, states Indologist Richard Eaton, with their elites considering the rulers as "Telugu Sultans".[15]

Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (1580–1612) wrote poems in Dakhini Urdu, Persian and Telugu.[8] Subsequent poets and writers, however, wrote in Urdu, while using vocabulary from Persian, Hindi and Telugu languages.[8] During the reign of Abdullah Qutb Shah in 1634 AD, an ancient Sanskrit text on love and sex Ratirahasya by Kokkoka was translated into Persian and named Lazzat-un-Nisa (Flavors of the Woman).[31]


The Qutb Shahi architecture was Indo-Islamic, a culmination of Indian and Persian architectural styles.[32] Their style was very similar to that of the other Deccan Sultanates. The Qutb Shahi rulers built the Char Minar.[8]

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.[32][33]


The Bahmani Kingdom, Kandesh, and the Five Sultanates

The Qutb Shahi Kingdom was a highly centralized state. The sultan enjoyed absolute executive judicial and military powers. When he was away, a regent carried 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).[citation needed]

For most of their reign, the Qutb Shahi sultanate had a system of jagirs, who would provide troops as well as collect taxes. They were allowed to keep a portion of the taxes and give the sultan the rest. Tax collection was through auction farms, and the highest bidder used to get the Governorship. While the Governors enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle, they had to bear the brunt of severe punishments for default, consequently, they were harsh on the people.[29] Tana Shah – the last Sultan, with advice from his Brahmin ministers responsible for tax collection, introduced a reform whereby all taxes were collected by civil professionals for a region. The soldiers, government workers, court officials and all the Muslim elites were paid allowances from the Sultan's treasury. These reforms brought a large increase in revenues.

According to Moreland, in the earlier system, the Persian-origin Muslims were paid the highest, then the other Indian Muslims. In early 17th century, the Persian origin Muslims became rich by lending money on high interest (usury) of 4-5% per mensem much to the despair of Hindus.[29]

The Sultanate had 66 forts, and each fort was administered by a Nayak.[34] In the second half of the 17th century, the Qutb Shahi Sultan hired many Hindu Nayaks. According to Kruijtzer, these were mainly Brahmins. According to another account, these were mainly from the Kamma, Velama, Kapu, and Raju warrior castes.[35] They served as civil revenue officers. After the Mughals dismissed the Qutb Shahi dynasty in 1687, these Hindu Nayaks were also dismissed and replaced with Muslim military commanders.[36][35][37]

Administrative divisions[edit]

The sultanate in 1670 comprised 21 sarkars (provinces) which in turn were divided into 355 parganas (districts).

Administrative divisions of Golconda sultanate[39][40]
S.No. Name of
Number of
1 Muhammadnagar
2 Medak 16
3 Melangūr 3
4 Elangandel 21
5 Warangal 16
6 Khammamēṭ 11
7 Dēvarkoṇḍa 13
8 Pangal 5
9 Mustafanagar
10 Bhoṇgīr 11
11 Akarkara 6
12 Kovilkoṇdā 13
13 Ghanpura 8
14 Murtaza Nagar
with three tarafs
15 Machilipatnam 8
16 Ellore 12
17 Rajahmundry 24
18 Chicacole
(Srikakulam) with 3 tarafs
19 Kaulas 5
20 Nizampatnam Mahal 1
21 Karnatak including Arcot taraf
(It had 16 sarkars)


The Qutb Shahi dynasty, like many Deccan Islamic dynasties, was a Shia Muslim dynasty with roots in Persia (modern Iran). Initially, they were very strict and they persecuted the Hindus who constituted the vast majority of the population. Open practice of Hindu festivals was forbidden in the Golconda Sultanate. It was Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah who first reversed this policy, and allowed Hindus to practice their festivals and religion in the open.[41][42]

In the final decades of their rule, the Qutb Shahi dynasty rulers patronized Shia, Sufi, and Sunni Islamic traditions, as well as Hindu traditions. Before their end, Tana Shah advised by Madanna and Akkanna –his Brahmin ministers, began the tradition of sending pearls to the Bhadrachalam Temple of Rama on Rama Navami.[43]


The eight sultans in the dynasty were:

Personal Name Titular Name Reign Notes
From Until
Sultan Quli
سلطان قلی
Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk 1512 1543
Jamsheed Quli Qutb Shah 1543 1550
Subhan Quli Qutb Shah 1550 1550
Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah Wali 1550 1580
Muhammad Ali
محمد علی
Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah 1580 1612
Sultan Muhammad
محمد سلطان
Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah 1612 1626
Abdullah Qutb Shah 1626 1672
Abul Hasan
ابُل حسن
Tana Shah 1672 1686


The tombs of the Qutb Shahi sultans lie about one kilometre 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.[33]

Family tree[edit]

Qara Yusuf
c. 1356-1420
Sultan of Qara Qoyunlu
Qara Iskander
Sultan of Qara Qoyunlu
Jahan Shah
Sultan of Qara Qoyunlu
Alvand Mirza
Mirza Yusuf
Sultan of Qara Qoyunlu
Pir Quli BegKhadija Khatun
Uways Quli Beg
Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk
Sultan of Golconda
Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah Wali
Sultan of Golconda
Jamsheed Quli Qutb Shah
Sultan of Golconda
Mirza Muhammad Amin5.
Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah
Sultan of Golconda
Subhan Quli Qutb Shah
Sultan of Golconda
Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah
Sultan of Golconda
Hayat Bakshi Begum
Abdullah Qutb Shah
Sultan of Golconda
Abul Hasan Qutb Shah
Sultan of Golconda
Badshah Bibi
Khuda Banda

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For a map of their territory see: Schwartzberg, Joseph E. (1978). A Historical atlas of South Asia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 147, map XIV.4 (l). ISBN 0226742210.
  2. ^ Brian Spooner and William L. Hanaway, Literacy in the Persianate World: Writing and the Social Order, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 317.
  3. ^ Alam, Muzaffar (1998). "The Pursuit of Persian: Language in Mughal Politics". Modern Asian Studies. 32 (2): 317–349. doi:10.1017/s0026749x98002947. S2CID 146630389. Ibrahim Qutb Shah encouraged the growth of Telugu and his successor Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah patronized and himself wrote poetry in Telugu and Dakhni. Abdullah Qutb Shah instituted a special office to prepare the royal edicts in Telugu (dabiri-ye foramina-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.
  4. ^ 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."
  5. ^ Syed, Muzaffar Husain (2011). Concise History of Islam. Vij Books India Private Limited. p. 258. ISBN 978-9-382-57347-0. The Qutb Shahi dynasty was the ruling family of the sultanate of Golkonda in southern India. They were Shia Muslims and belonged to a Turkmen tribe.
  6. ^ Siddiq, Mohd Suleman. "The Da’irat-ul-Ma’arif: A Unique Language Institute of Hyderabad." In Languages and Literary Cultures in Hyderabad, pp. 203-216. Routledge, 2017.
  7. ^ Farooqui, Salma Ahmed (2011). A comprehensive history of medieval India : twelfth to the mid-eighteenth century. India. pp. 177–179. ISBN 978-81-317-3202-1. OCLC 991819668.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  8. ^ a b c d e f Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals, Part II, (Har-Anand, 2009), 210.
  9. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie; Attwood, Corinne; Waghmar, Burzine K.; Robinson, Francis (2004). The empire of the great Mughals : history, art and culture. London. ISBN 1-86189-185-7. OCLC 61751123.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link).
  10. ^ Peacock, Andrew CS, and Richard Piran McClary. Turkish History and Culture in India: Identity, Art and Transregional Connections. Brill, 2020.
  11. ^ Keelan Overton (2020). Iran and the Deccan: Persianate Art, Culture, and Talent in Circulation, 1400–1700. Indiana University Press. p. 82. ISBN 9780253048943. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  12. ^ a b c Farooqui Salma Ahmed (2011). A Comprehensive History of Medieval India: From Twelfth to the Mid-Eighteenth Century. Pearson Education India. pp. 177–179. ISBN 9788131732021.
  13. ^ a b c C.E. Bosworth, The New Islamic Dynasties, (Columbia University Press, 1996), 328.
  14. ^ a b Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. p. 118. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
  15. ^ a b c Richard M. Eaton (2005), A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives, Vol. 1, Cambridge University Press, 142-143
  16. ^ Minorsky, V. (1955). "The Qara-qoyunlu and the Qutb-shāhs (Turkmenica, 10)". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 17 (1). Cambridge University Press: 50–73. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00106342. JSTOR 609229. S2CID 162273460. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  17. ^ Khan, Masud Husain (1996). Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah. Sahitya Akademi. p. 2. ISBN 9788126002337. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  18. ^ Yaaminey Mubayi (2022). Water and Historic Settlements:The Making of a Cultural Landscape. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781000641639.
  19. ^ a b c d George Michell, Mark Zebrowski, Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates, (Cambridge University Press, 1999), 17.
  20. ^ a b Masʻūd Ḥusain Khān, Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah, Volume 216, (Sahitya Akademi, 1996), 2.
  21. ^ Annemarie Schimmel, Classical Urdu Literature from the Beginning to Iqbāl, (Otto Harrassowitz, 1975), 143; Quote: "[Muhammad Quli ... was an enlightened and tolerant ruler...] Hindus enjoyed good positions at court and were again allowed to celebrate some of their religious festivals, such as Holi and Diwali, prohibited by the previous Muslim kings" – Annemarie Schimmel
  22. ^ Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals, Part II, (Har-Anand, 2009), 331.
  23. ^ Richards, J. F. (1975). "The Hyderabad Karnatik, 1687-1707". Modern Asian Studies. 9 (2): 241–260. doi:10.1017/S0026749X00004996. ISSN 0026-749X. JSTOR 311962. S2CID 142989123.
  24. ^ Eaton, R. M. (24 April 2012), "Ḳuṭb Shāhī", Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Brill, retrieved 26 December 2021
  25. ^ Eaton, Richard Maxwell (2005). A social history of the Deccan, 1300-1761 : eight Indian lives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 157. ISBN 0-521-25484-1. OCLC 58431679.
  26. ^ Kanakarathnam, N. (2014). "Maritime Trade and Growth of Urban Infrastructure in Port Cities of Colonial Andhra: A Study of Masulipatnam". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 75: 691. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 44158449.
  27. ^ The Market for Golconda Diamonds Has Mushroomed, New York Times
  28. ^ "Delving into the rich and often bloody history of Golconda Fort". The Hindu. 5 November 2016. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  29. ^ a b c Moreland, W.H. (1931). Relation of Golconda in the Early Seventeenth Century. Halyukt Society. pp. 78, 89.
  30. ^ Marcinkowski, Christoph. "Persians and Shi'ites in Thailand: From the Ayutthaya Period to the Present" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 December 2023. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ a b Salma Ahmed Farooqui, A Comprehensive History of Medieval India: From Twelfth to the Mid-Eighteenth Century, (Dorling Kindersley Pvt. Ltd, 2011), 181.
  33. ^ a b 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 1 February 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  34. ^ Narendra Luther (1991). Prince;Poet;Lover;Builder: Mohd. Quli Qutb Shah - The founder of Hyderabad. Publications Division Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. ISBN 9788123023151. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  35. ^ a b Chapter III: Economics, Political, Economic, and Social Background of Deccan 17th-18th Century, p.57 Deccan under late 17th-century Qutb Shahi
  36. ^ Proceedings of Seminar on Industries and Crafts in Andhra Desa, 17th and 18th Centuries, A.D. Department of History, Osmania University. 1996. p. 57.
  37. ^ Reddy, Pedarapu Chenna (1 January 2006). Readings In Society And Religion Of Medieval South India. Research India Press. p. 163. ISBN 9788189131043.
  38. ^ Schwartzberg, Joseph E. (1978). A Historical Atlas of South Asia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 39, 147. ISBN 0226742210.
  39. ^ Nayeem, M. A. (2016). "MARITIME TRADE AND GROWTH OF URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE IN PORT CITIES OF COLONIAL ANDHRA: A STUDY OF MASULIPATNAM". The Heritage of the Qutb Shahis of Golconda and Hyderabad, Volume 1. Hyderabad Publishers. p. 22. ISBN 9788185492230.
  40. ^ a b Haroon Khan Sherwani (1974). "History of the Qutb Shāhī Dynasty". Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. p. 655.
  41. ^ Annemarie Schimmel, Classical Urdu Literature from the Beginning to Iqbāl, (Otto Harrassowitz, 1975), pp. 141-152
  42. ^ 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.
  43. ^ 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.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • 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

External links[edit]