The Man With Two Graves
Great achievement always requires great sacrifice, and conquering Golkonda is no mean feat. It was the 14th day of Rabi-ul-awwal in 1098 Hijri, (28 January 1687) just two days after the Mawlid (Birthday of Prophet Muhammad) celebrations. After conquering Bijapur, the war-hungry Mughal army of the Alamgir, (conqueror of the worlds, the title Aurangzeb conferred upon himself) swiftly moved to Golkonda, the impregnable fortress that the Alamgir eyed of since being a teen prince. The Mughal army was riding with high morale as Bijapur was swiftly taken by them. The Mughals anticipated a similar result at the Siege of Golkonda (1687) too. The siege began in the end of January and the Qutb Shahi forces and more importantly the fortifications of Golkonda repelled every Mughal attack bringing down the morale of the troops.
An important piece of history from the initial stages of the siege lies forgotten on the banks of the Esi river now, right in front of the Himayat Sagar reservoir floodgates. Dargah Qalich Khan lies hidden from sight on the edge of a service road, with no sign boards addressing the place either. A tall Qutb Shahi masjid stands next to the 330 year old burial ground with ornate Chaukhandis. When asked for directions, the locals of the Kismatpur village point towards a narrow lane that leads to one Masjid-e-Ayesha, a new large mosque built over a small ornate Qutb Shahi mosque. Standing infront of Masjid-e-Ayesha you can see old faithful Tamarind trees with gigantic spreads, with Chaukhandis and their minarets towering in the tree shade, painting the landscape in an eye-pleasing contrast of dark green and white. Behind the Chaukhandis is the tall Qutb Shahi mosque that can be seen from the Outer Ring Road. This tall mosque has no name of its own, it is simply called Qutb Shahi Masjid.
Khwaja Abid, upon whom Shah Jahan conferred the title of Qalich Khan, was the father of the Mughal Commander-in-chief Ghaziuddin Khan. In the initial attack on the Qutb Shahi forces, Ghaziuddin Khan sent his father, Qalich Khan, to begin an assault on the retreating Qutb Shahi soldiers. The move backfired (quite literally) as a shrapnel from a Qutb Shahi camel-mounted gun blew the right shoulder of Qalich Khan, an injury that would later prove to be fatal. Qalich Khan was moved back to army camps as the physicians tended to his wounds as Qalich Khan sipped on some coffee. He died a few days later and was buried with royal tributes. The severed arm of Qalich Khan was later found in the battlefield, which was identified with the ring on his finger, and the severed arm was buried in a separate grave at the very same spot it was found, a few kilometers away from his actual burial. Aurangzeb had lost one of his most trusted generals early in the siege and it would take him eight more months to finally capture Golkonda, however not the way he would have wanted to. Golkonda fort would not give in to any military attack thus the Mughals bribed the gatekeeper of the fort to leave a small door open in late September. Thus Golkonda was captured, not by sword but by coin, by treason. As fate would have it, the grandson of Qalich Khan, Chin Qalich Khan would become the first Asaf Jah of the Deccan in 1725.
There are four Chaukhandis in the burial ground with the largest one belonging to Qalich Khan, who has the only marked grave in all the four Chaukhandis. Qalich Khan is buried with two other unidentified people and all the graves in the Chaukhandis are covered with a green qilaf. The epitaph of Qalich Khan mentions his origin from the Afghan lands, his journey to the two Holy Mosques in Arabia, the year of his death (1098 AH), his militaristic achievements and his holistic virtues and the year the tombs were renovated by Nizam VII Mir Osman Ali Khan. Goats eat away the rose petals offered by visitors.
A very courteous gentleman, Mirza Inayat Baig, the caretaker of the entire campus, says his family has been looking after the place since the Qutb Shahi period, and later the tombs as well. Despite inheriting the responsibility of the mosque and the tombs, Inayat Baig appeared to be clueless about the historical significance of the place. Out of curiosity, Inayat Baig enquired the purpose of photographing the tombs, ‘Design dekhre kya?’. He says the family of Nawab Shaukat Jung are also buried on a plinth behind Qalich Khan among other notables buried here.
The design of the Chaukhandis is in sync with other Qutb Shahi and Early Asaf Jahi, with traces of similar jalis and floral stucco patterns, like the flame of Ibrahim Qutb Shah and the Asaf Jahi crown elements on the arches.
Upon discussing the events of Siege of Golkonda with Inayat Baig, he remembers his elders telling about the severed arm of Qalich Khan which is now lying in a residential area. He says each year on 14th Rabi Ul Awwal the Nizam family visits for the yearly Urs celebrations and says events take place at the Asaf Jahi era Samakhana in the centre of the compound. Presently a maulvi teaches local kids Arabic inside the Samakhana every day. He says the tombstone of Qalich Khan was placed during the time of Osman Ali Khan as a replacement to the original one that was destroyed overtime. The last time the tombs were properly restored was more than 80 years ago and Inayat Baig hopes to get it restored with the help of authorities.
The other grave of Qalich Khan is now being considered as a shrine of some other saint due to lack of knowledge among the locals. Interestingly, Kismatpur translates to the 'Village of Fate'.