13 Nov 2015

The Legend of Bhagmati, Queen of Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah

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Today I am presenting you the story of Bhagmati, queen of Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah. Some time ago I read an article on thehindu.com titled "Did Bhagmati really exist?". According to the heritage enthusiast Mohd. Safiullah (and some other historians also), there is no substantial evidence to prove that Bhagmati ever existed!

Who was Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah?

Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah (1580-1611) was the fifth ruler of the Qutub Shahi Dynasty of Golconda, which is one of the five Deccan Sultanates. He is better known as the founder of Hyderabad (in Telangana, India).

The Legend of Hyderabad: Bhagmati was a Hindu dancing girl belonged to the village of Chichlam. When he was a Prince, Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah fell in love with her; and Ibrahim Qutub Shah, the Prince's father, was unwilling of their relationship. However, after seeing the Prince's mad love for Bhagmati, the father finally arranged their marriage in 1589. Few years later after his accession to the throne of Golconda (in 1591), Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah founded a new city and named it Bhagnagar after her name. He bestowed on her the title of Hyder Mahal. Bhagnagar was then renamed as Hyderabad.

The History: It is also mentioned in some of the historical records that soon after his accession to the throne, the Sultan married the daughter of Shah Nizam Isfahany, who had long held the office of Amir Joomla under the late King Ibrahim Qutub Shah. Let's us go through the history of foundation of Hyderabad given by various historians:

KhafĂ­ Khan: Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah was very fond of his wife Bhagmati. At her request he built a city two kilometers distant from the Golconda fortress and gave the name of Bhagnagar. Some time after the death of Bhagmati, the name was changed to Hyderabad. That woman had established many brothels and drinking shops in that place, and the rulers had always been addicted to pleasure and to all sorts of debauchery. 

Ferishta: In the beginning of the reign of Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, he became enamoured of a public singer named Bhagmati, to whom he assigned one thousand cavalry as an escort for her attendance. In 1589, the King determined to remove the seat of his government, on account of the confined situation of Golconda, which from many causes, particularly the want of water, became extremely unhealthy. He built a magnificent city at the distance of eight miles on the banks of the river Moosy, which he called Bhagnagar after his favourite mistress Bhagmati. But after her death he ordered it to be called Hyderabad, although for many years it retained its original name.

Tavernier: Bhagnagar is then the town which they commonly call Golconda, and it was commenced by the great grandfather of the King who reigns at present, at the request of one of his wives whom he loved passionately, and whose name was Nagar (Bhagmati). It was previously only a pleasure resort where the King had beautiful gardens, and his wife often telling him that, on account of the river, the spot was suitable for building a palace and a town, he at length caused the foundations to be laid, and desired that it should bear the name of his wife, calling it Bhagnagar, i.e. the Garden of Nagar.

Reference:

History of the Rise of Mahommedan Power in India By Ferishta, trans. by John Briggs
Muntakhabu-l Lubab by KhafĂ­ Khan
Travels in India By Jean Baptiste Tavernier

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