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Monuments and Forts of the Deccan Sultanate

Date of Submission: 15/04/2014
Criteria: (ii)(iii)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Karnataka and Andra Pradesh
Ref.: 5887
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Description

The ‘Monuments of the Deccan Sultanate’ is a serial property comprising of four component constitute the most representative, most authentic and best conserved examples of Deccani Sultanate monuments in India. The series demonstrates the exemplary convergence of national and international styles of Islamic architecture and their intersections with the prevalent Hindu architecture of the period southern Indian in present day Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh,

The contributions of Deccan Sultanate to the arts and architecture of India is impressive with iconic Indo Islamic monuments constructed in Gulbarga, Bidar, Bijapur and Hyderabad. These sites emerged as important medieval fortifications and walled cities of the Deccan Sultanates with a vigorous new architectural style of the sultanate that emerged from encounters with the Deccan Hindu heartland of the period. Individually, each of the components of Deccan Sultanate cover important aspects of Sultanate history with Gulbarga evolving as the first capital of Bahmani Kingdoms in mid 14th Century CE including its impressive fortifications, Jami Masjid and royal tombs; Bidar as the next Bahmani capital in mid 15th Century CE; further evolution of the Deccani Sultanate style by Adil Shahi dynasty in the monuments at Bijapur such as the Gol Gumbaj that stands as the 2nd largest dome in world history; and the final diversification and manifestation of the style in the Qutub Shahi monuments of Golconda fort, tombs and the Charminar at Hyderabad.

Bahmani Monuments at Gulbarga, Karnataka                              17°20’26”N, 76°49’53”E

Bahmani and Barid Shahi Monuments at Bidar, Karnataka       17°55’26” N, 77°31’38”E

Adil Shashi Monuments at Bijapur, Karnataka                              16° 49’45”N, 75°44’10”E

Qutb Shahi Monuments at Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh             17° 23’ 00” E, 78° 24’ 04”E

Bahmani Monuments at Gulbarga

The 14th century Bahmani monuments at Gulbarga in Karnataka State primarily comprise of the Gulbarga Fort and Great Mosque in the Fort and the Haft Gumbad complex with seven tombs protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Gulbarga as the first capital of the Bahmani dynasty had a fort. On the northwestern side of the city’s elliptical fort is the oldest township wherein is located the Shah Bazaar Mosque, which served as the Jami Mosque of Gulbarga. The tombs, darghas, and associated water bodies served as conceptual “protective” concentric circles around the fort, enclosing both parts of the city. Constructed on the remains of a Warangal fort built by Raja Gulchand, it was a nara durg with no natural defenses, dependent on the might of its men. Completely overhauled and reconstructed later by Alauddin Bahmani, it is an engineering feat of its time, with a 50 foot-thick double wall, the inner one higher than the outer. It displays an almost impregnable defense system with a 90 foot-wide moat with drawbridges completely surrounding its three miles of fortifications. Fifteen towers and 26 canons ensured it was one of the mightiest of all forts. The colossal western entrance has four gates and four courtyards, each one so fortified that it would be impossible to pass through any unscathed. It is an excellent example of military architecture. Inside are remains of large buildings, temples, and several beautiful courtyards. The large and foreboding Bala Hissar was used as the royal residence and certainly as a last refuge.

Other Monuments in Gulbarga include, the Jami Masjid mosque and the Haft Gumbaz tomb complex. The Jami Masjid built in 1367 is awe-inspiring as it covers 38,000 square feet, and is a unique congregational courtyard for the region as it is covered. The Haft Gumbaz tombs include that of Mujahid Shah, Daud Shah, Ghiyath al-Din Shah and Shams al-Din Shah of the Bahmani dynasty.

Bahmani and Barid Shahi Monuments at Bidar

The Bahmani and Barid Shahi monuments at Bidar dating from late 15th to the early 16thcenturies, comprise of the Bidar Fort, the Madrasa  Mahmud Gawan, the Bahamani tombs at Ashtur and the Barid Shahi tombs.

The irregular, circular fort of Bidar, within which the royal palaces are located, is attached on its southern side to the quadrangular city. The six-mile long fort wall, built with huge stone blocks of reddish laterite stone is strengthened with 37 bastions, and has several gates with barbicans. Within the fort, two large mosques, the Jami Masjid and the Solha Khumba Masjid with sixteen pillars support a lofty dome, are also attributed to him. The significant achievement in Bidar is the sophisticated system of gates and sluices that could be used when required to flood segments of the moat and thus preserve water.

The Madrasa of Mahmud Gawana occupies a rectangular structure covering 68 by 60 meters and encloses a central quadrangle. The main entrance, which is no longer extant, was to the east and led to the quadrangle with a dodecagonal cistern at its middle. The 12 tombs of Bahmani rulers in Ashtur were erected from 1436 to 1535. The tomb of Ahmad Shah I has a dome is most impressive rising over 30m high. The interior of the square tombs have beautifully colored and gilded paintings on the ceilings. Ali Barid's tomb has a 25m high dome and stands in the middle of a symmetrical four square garden.

Adil Shahi Monuments at Bijapur

The Adil Shahi monuments at Bijapur date from late 15th to the late 17th centuries. These are an ensemble of 80 small and big monuments including the fortifications, gates, water systems and tanks, several mosques and tombs and palatial structures.  Bijapur lies within two concentric circles of fortifications. The outer city walls, extending more than six miles with extensive moats reinforced with 100 bastions it was built to accommodate heavy artillery. Its entrance gateways are accessed over heavily arched bridges, of which only two survive.

The most remarkable monuments within the fort include: the Gol Gumbaz and other structures within its protected area, Ibrahim Rouza, Jehan Begum Tomb, Ainapur, Ain-ul-Mulk’s tomb, Ali II Rouza (Bara Kaman), Chand Bavdi, Gagan Mahal, Sangeeth & Nari Mahals, Navraspur, Jami Mosque, Asar Mahal, Ali 1 Rouza, Dakhani Idgah, Hyder Burz, Water Towers, Karimuddin’s Mosque, Mecca Masjid, Ramalinga Tank, Gummata Bavdi, Well at Ibrahimpur, Mahal in Field. The Jami Masjid is one of the finest mosques in India. Its courtyard measures to an enormous 9,000 square feet, later extended to 11,000 square feet and designed to accommodate 5,000 people. Without doubt, the Gol Gumbad is the second largest dome in the world and the tomb of Muhammad Adil Shah. Its square base supports a dome some 150 feet high with a diameter of more than 100 feet covering a great hall of immense proportions. Many of the monuments and palace buildings have intricate murals and ornamentation.

Qutb Shahi Monuments at Hyderabad

Golconda Fort, Qutb Shahi Tombs and Charminar are the landmarks that symbolize the Qutb Shahi Dynasty. Golconda is a fortified citadel and an early capital city of the Qutb Shahi dynasty. It is an ensemble of military structures, ramparts, gates, bastions, armoury; religious structures such as mosques, temples; residential structures such as palaces; water systems such as canals, fountains and landscaped gardens. The tombs of Qutb Shahis are a mausoleum complex, a royal necropolis of 30 tombs of the royal family and also a mortuary bath and mosques. The tombs belong to the rulers of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty spanning the 130-year period from 1543 to 1672.

The iconic Charminar is a ceremonial Gateway built to celebrate the foundation of Hyderabad in 1591 A.D. Within its stone fortifications that is over seven kilometres long, the Golconda Fort envelopes a medieval Islamic settlement. The historic structures range from military and defensive structures, mortuary baths, silos, mosques, gardens, residential quarters, pavilions and royal courts, showcasing the entire range of structures that catered to life in a medieval fortified town in India. Within the citadel or Bala Hisar are the Silah KhanaNagina bagh, Ambar Khana, Akkanna-Madanna  Offices, Ramdas Jail, Darbar hall, Baradari, Hammams, Mahalsand royal courts.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The ‘Monuments of the Deccan Sultanate’ constitute the representative examples of Deccan Sultanate monuments in India. The series demonstrates the exemplary convergence of national and international styles of Islamic architecture and their intersections with the prevalent Hindu architecture of the period southern Indian in present day Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Criterion (ii): Between the 14th and the 17th century, the Deccan plateau of south-central India was home to a series of important and highly cultured Muslim courts. Subtly blending influences from Iran, West Asia, southern India, and sometimes Europe, as well as southern and northern India, the arts produced under these Deccan sultanates are markedly different from those of the rest of India and especially from those created under the Mughal patronage. Following the conquest of the powerful Vijaynagara empire in 1565 these Sultanate kingdoms emerged as the new force. They developed a unique mélange of Sultanate architectural idioms as a result of their cultural exchange. There was considerable movement of craftsmen and artists between the Muslim and Hindu domains, that contributed to shared cultural and architectural traditions. Such interaction embraced the borrowing of building techniques, architectural forms, and decorations that contributed to the development of a unique Deccani Architectural style. Further influences from Islamic traditions of Western and Central Asia as well as East Africa.

The association of monumental, tripartite palaces structures with water, first seen in Bidar and then imitated in later capitals, is evidence of the influence of local traditions. By moving his capital to Bidar, Ahmad Shah tried to distance his rule from different Muslim factions that seem to have prevailed in Gulbarga. This distance from the past, and his intention to create a new identity from his kingdom, was further expressed in his choice of new architectural power-symbols, reflecting the political pragmatism the Deccani sultans, being as they were a Muslim elite ruling a Hindu majority.

The Qutb Shahi monuments provide a unique testimony to the vibrant cosmopolitanism that characterized the medieval period in India and in the Deccan region in particular. Given that the founder of the dynasty and key nobles were immigrants from Iran, their integration with the Deccani Muslims, and the local Telugu-speaking Hindu elite was reflected in the innovative and inspired blending of Persianate and Indic cultures that flowed from the successful integration of this multi-ethnic society.

Criterion (iii): The Monuments of the Deccan Sultanante are outstanding examples of military architecture, with an impregnable defense mechanism, unique water supply and distribution system, as well as unique sewage disposal mechanisms and extraordinary acoustical system unparalleled in the architectural history of the Deccan and the military architecture of South Asia. The fortifications of the Bahmanis and their successors can be classified according to their location into frontier, territorial and metropolitan forts. Forts were more or less permanent military camps, while walled cities were intended for the protection and prestige. Thus, they came to erect impressive stone forts and palaces and to promote ceremonials that could project them as agents of divine power in the imagination of their subjects. Five types of courtly structures are recorded at these localities, suggesting a conscious gradation of importance in early Bahmani ceremonial practices. Private complexes of the ruler and his representatives are marked with edifices distinguished by tripartite plans and facades.

The monuments and citadels provide a unique testimony to the social, economic, cultural, political and technological landscape of the period as well as unique expressions of the religious and artistic flowering of the Islamic Sultanate in Southern India. The monuments were also accompanied by the development syncretic forms of art, architecture, language, literature, music, cuisine and costume reflected subtly but perceptibly in the miniature paintings architecture and the Shi'a culture of the period.

The close associations of Bahmani hammams with the rectangular, transverse-arched halls that have already been noted indicate that these bath houses may have had more formal functions. Later in Bidar and Bijapur, another device, generally termed the “Persian wheel”, was introduced and applied at some water bodies. A third device was also invented during the 17tf century at Bijapur. This device was invented to bring water under high pressure to fountains. During the second half of the 16th century another innovation was introduced in the Deccan to supply water to a palace or city over long distances.

Bijapur and their palaces or gardens were partly provided with water from reservoirs or springs located some kilometers away.  Until the 15th century water bodies were set within architectural frames made of dressed stone. Water specialists coming from Iran and other regions introduced novel techniques with an almost scientific approach to geological and physical realities. These specialists already had experience in obtaining more water from renewable sources. The use of lime mortar allowed them to build waterproof dams and to transport water over long distances.

Unique in its architectural typology, the Charminar remains an acknowledged masterpiece of Islamic architecture. Qutb Shahi architecture began with Bahmani moorings and evolved a sophisticated architectural aesthetic within the Deccani paradigm, symbolising the zenith of Islamic Sultanate architecture in South India. Charminar's most compelling quality is the originality of its unprecedented design that was to stylistically exercise a profound impact on the subsequent development of Deccani architecture. Functionally, it does not conform to any of the familiar building types from the Indo-Islamic world, but serves as a monumental marker for the central node in Hyderabad's four-quartered design. Charminar is the archetype of the chaubara or "four-fold house" marking the intersection of four cardinal avenues, affording a series of impressive vistas. It is a singular monument as it embodies a singular design and ideas not seen in earlier structures.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

conservation works for the monuments have been carried out for over 100 years and thus they are in good state of preservation and maintain high level of integrity. This character has been scrupulously maintained by the custodian of the site, the Archaeological Survey of India.

The properties at Bidar, Gulbarga and the principal monuments of Bijapur maintain their physical integrity and their layouts remain unaltered. Gol Gumbaz,at Bijapur, still dominates the city as it has done for four hundred years and it can be seen from surrounding land. Maintaining views is crucial to sustain and retain visual dominance. The construction material used for all monuments is primarily stone and lime with stucco and retained with minimal intervention for restoration in matching materials. Original paintings are intact. Apart from a number of minor structural repairs and regular maintenance that has been documented since the early nineteenth century, the buildings still exhibit their original structural fabric and design. In terms of their physical structure, the buildings utilize the traditional materials of mortared stone and carved stucco.

All four components of the serial nomination are protected under ASI and State Archaeology and function as tourist destinations at present. A number of Mosques and Madrasas continue to function as religious places for the local community. A number of mosques at Bijapur, Gulbarga and Bidar retain their original spiritual significance and related ceremonial use. The National law [Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment & Validation) Act, 2010] legally permits the continuation of customary religious practices prevalent at the time of protection which helps in maintaining their historic use and function.All four components of the serial nomination are intact in their original historic location within the integral geographical setting of the Deccan Plateau in southern India.

At the regional level, the most representative monuments of the Deccani Sultanate, the monuments at Gulbarga, Bidar, Bijapur and Golconda are part of the nominated serial property. Two more comparable Deccani period sultanate developments are the Nizam Shahi Ahmednagar in Maharashtra and Berar in Karnataka also belong to the series. However, these have been excluded in the proposed serial property since the existing monuments, forts, palaces and mosques of the Nizam Shahis at Ahmednagar no longer retain their original character while Bidar and Bijapur are more representative ones as compared to the Idam Shahi monuments at Berar in Karnataka.

Comparison with other similar properties

Contemporary Sultanate settlements to the Deccan Series, at national level, include the monumental contributions by the Central Delhi Sultanate with five Muslim dynasties (Slave 1206-1290; Khalji 1290-1320; Tughluq, 1320-1414; Sayyid 1414-45; Lodi 1451-1526) and provincial sultanates such as the Bengal Sultanate (1336-1576),  the Jaunpur Sultanate (1394-1479), the Malwa Sultanate (1401-1531), the Gujarat Sultanate (1396-1583) and the Kashmir Sultanate (1346-1589). Amongst the monuments belonging to these Sultanates, the most comparable on World Heritage List are the Qutb Minar in Delhi and the Champaner-Pavgadh  in Gujrat.  Amongst the notable Mughal period monuments at national level are; The Red Fort and the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Fatehpur Sikri at Agra and Red Fort at Delhi that bear an exceptional and complementary testimony to a civilization which has disappeared, that of the Mughal Emperors. The Red Fort is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity. The planning of the palace is based on Islamic prototypes, but each pavilion reveals architectural elements typical of Mughal building, reflecting a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions.

International Level:

Comparable Islamic monuments on World Heritage List and Tentative List associated with dynastic developments of medieval period including:The city of Balkh, Afghanistan with a secondary fortified area, the Balu Hisar; cities of the Merv oasis, their fortifications and their urban layouts in Turkmenistan; Berat and Gjirokastra in Albania are inscribed as rare examples of an architectural character typical of the Ottoman period; the citadel of Aleppo in Syria the citadel contains the remains of mosques, palace and bath buildings; Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil in Iran; Soltaniyeh in Iran: The mausoleum of Oljaytu was constructed in 1302–12 in the city of Soltaniyeh, the capital of the Ilkhanid dynasty founded by the Mongols; Tchogha Zanbil in Iran with the ruins of the holy city of the Kingdom of Elam; the Ensemble of Historical Sassanian Cities in Fars Province (Bishabpur, Firouzabad, Sarvestan) in Iran; At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah, Saudi Arabia with the remains of many palaces and an urban ensemble built on the edge of the ad-Dir’iyah oasis; Bahla, Oman as a fortified oasis settlement of the medieval Islamic period; Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat in Bangladesh; and Thatta, Pakistan containing numerous mausolea and tomb.

The above spectrum of World Heritage Sites recognizing the evolution, development and provincial/regional fusions of Islamic architecture and planning in various parts of the world establish the need for inclusion of the most representative and extant Islamic monuments of the Deccan Sultanate from southern India on the World Heritage List. In South Asia, Islamic architecture of the 14-18th centuries are so dominated by Moghul architecture that other provincial interpretations, such as the Deccan Sultanate serial proposed, provide an important counter narrative.