Tomb complexes in Khuldabad
This article was originally published on www.sahapedia.org, an open online resource on the arts, cultures and heritage of India.
Muslim presence in the Deccan from the late 13th century came to be seen as a consequence of Sultan Alauddin Khilji’s regular invasions in the south. More than the extension of political authority, the aim was to gather as many resources as possible by subjugating the southern kingdoms. These resources in turn would fuel Alauddin’s political expansion in north India. However, from the time of the Tughluq dynasty which ascended the throne of the Sultanate of Delhi in 1321, regular invasions were made across the Vindhyas into the Deccan. Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughluq deputed his son Ulugh Khan to take care of the Deccani possessions for which the Yadava capital of Deogir was made the launching pad (Ghani 2015:216–17).
When Ulugh Khan ascended the throne in 1325 as Muhammad bin Tughluq, he decided to make Deogir the second capital of the Sultanate in 1327. Shifting the capital from Delhi to Deogir—renamed Daulatabad in 1328—meant not only a physical relocation but most importantly making Delhi’s Muslim elite move to the new capital. Among these an important section constituted the Sufi saints of Delhi. Due to the arrival of a large number of intellectuals, religious scholars, Sufis, administrators, poets, warriors and artisans, Muslim society in the Deccan flourished with a new lease of life. To the larger Islamic world, Daulatabad became the second capital with opportunities equal to Delhi.
Fig.1: Masjid-i Chahardih Sad Awliya
Fig. 2: Masjid-i Chahardih Sad Awliya and its surroundings
Sufis in general and Chishti Sufis in particular resented this decision to shift from Delhi to Daulatabad. Many of those who refused to be part of this imperial agenda were either forced to move, or defied orders and fled the country and on some occasions were even killed. Yet the majority had to join the migration down south to Daulatabad. When the Sufi saints arrived in Daulatabad they decided to settle in the adjacent valley, now known as Khuldabad. Their arrival in Khuldabad is commemorated through a mosque popularly known as the Masjid-i Chahardih Sad Awliya (‘mosque of 1400 saints’) (Figs. 1-2). The number of eminent Sufi saints coming down to Khuldabad is traditionally estimated at 1400. Their numerous tombs, brightly whitewashed, dot the Khuldabad landscape standing in contrast to the dense vegetation covering the valley (Figs. 3-4, Ghani 2015:218-19).
Fig. 3: Khuldabad landscape
Fig. 4: Khuldabad landscape
Among the thousands who traveled from Delhi to Daulatabad was a young boy Muhammad Husayni who was traveling with his parents. His father Sayyid Yusuf al Husayni, also known as Shah Raja ‘Qattal’ came from a Sayyid family in Khurasan, thereafter becoming the disciple of Shaikh Nizamuddin Awliya. He came to be known as ‘Qattal’, possibly emphasizing on the severe austerities he undertook to ‘slay’ his worldly desires. He arrived in Khuldabad in 1328 and passed away three years later in 1331. He remains buried in a simple tomb within the compound of his house, close to the mosque of 1400 saints (Figs. 2, 5-7, 8-9).
Fig. 5: Entrance to the shrine of Shah Raja ‘Qattal’
Fig. 6: Shrine of Shah Raja ‘Qattal’
Fig. 7: Shah Raja ‘Qattal’ shrine compound
His son, who returned to Delhi with his family in 1335, went on to train himself under Shaikh Nasiruddin Chirag-i Dehli, maturing as Sayyid Muhammad al-Husayni Gisudaraz. He came to be revered as Bandanawaz, and remains buried in Gulbarga after his demise in 1422, being perhaps the most popular and revered Chishti Sufi of the Deccan. However when Gisudaraz undertook the journey back to Deccan in the wake of the Mongol attack on Delhi in 1398, he decided to stop by Khuldabad, where his father lay at rest. He stayed there for some time and his meditation cell (chilla) can be seen within the compound (Figs. 7, 10; Eaton 2008:33–37).
Fig. 8: Entrance to the shrine compound of Shah Raja ‘Qattal’
Fig. 9: Shrine of Shah Raja ‘Qattal’
Fig. 10: Chilla (meditation cell) of Khwaja Bandanawaz Gesudaraz, Khuldabad
The most illustrious Sufi saint of Khuldabad is Shaykh Burhanuddin Gharib (d. 1337), the disciple of the north-Indian Sufi master Shaykh Nizamuddin Awliya (d. 1325). However it was Shaykh Muntajibuddin (d. 1309), the elder brother of Burhanuddin who was earlier entrusted with the responsibility of the Deccan. He came and settled in Khuldabad on Hoda Hill even before the shift of the capital took place. Hoda Hill is to the north of Khuldabad, on the side of which one finds the meditation cell of Shaykh Muntajibuddin, and further ahead his shrine complex.
Fig.11: Entrance to the shrine complex of Shaykh Muntajibuddin
Fig.12: Inside the shrine complex of Shaykh Muntajibuddin
It contains a large open courtyard from where a flight of steps takes the visitor to a smaller enclosure containing the tomb of the saint. Interestingly the dominant color theme of the complex is golden together with the standard green color usually found in Sufi shrines. The use of the golden shade is perhaps reflective of the epithet of the Muntajibuddin, revered as Zar Zari Zar Baksh, ‘the giver of gold’ (Figs. 11-14; Ghani 2015:218-19; Ernst 2004:235).
Fig.13. Courtyard in the shrine complex of Shaykh Muntajibuddin
Fig. 14: Shrine of Shaykh Muntajibuddin
Legends abound as to how the saint came to be known as Zar Zari Zar Baksh. While most attest to his spiritual powers, one legend originates from the local surroundings of Khuldabad (known as Rauza or garden at that time). When Shaykh Muntajibuddin settled in Khuldabad, one day he sent out his attendant to fetch water for his ablutions. The attendant was refused access to the well. However Sona Bai, the daughter of the local Hindu chieftain, was passing by at that time along with her companions. On hearing that the saint was looking for water for ablutions, Sona Bai remarked that the saint could have water as soon as the well turned to gold. When the servant went back with this message Shaykh Muntajibuddin replied ‘So be it’. The Shaykh gave his handkerchief and instructed the servant to drop it into the well after taking out some water. When the servant did as instructed Sona Bai watched in amazement as the water turned into flowing gold. On realizing the powers of the saint, Sona Bai together with her entire family visited the Shaykh and converted to Islam, later becoming an adept mystic. Her tomb lies under a jasmine tree between those of Zar Zari Zar Baksh and his mother Bibi Hajira (Figs. 15-16; Ernst 2004a:237).
Fig. 15: Sona Bai’s tomb
Fig. 16: View of Sona Bai’s tomb in the complex
After the demise of Shaykh Muntajibuddin, one day in his assembly in Delhi Shaykh Nizamuddin told Shaykh Burhanuddin, ‘I have appointed you in place of your brother and it is binding upon you to leave for Khuldabad.’ Shaykh Burhanuddin was most reluctant to leave the company of his master (pir) and the assembly (majlis), pleading that he would miss his pir and the majlis. Shaykh Nizamuddin comforted him by saying that he can take all those sitting in the majlis along with him. Shaykh Burhanuddin left for Deccan only after the demise of his master in 1325, accompanied by a retinue of 700-800 companions. Some traditions place the number at 1400. On entering Khuldabad from the southern side, Shaykh Burhanuddin’s tomb lies on the left of the main road which continues upto the tomb of Zar Zari Zar Baksh before branching out. The two ends of the road are marked by two imposing gateways to the town of Khuldabad. Across the street is the tomb of Shaykh Zaynuddin Shirazi (d. 1369), the chief disciple of Gharib.
Fig. 17: FaÇade of Shaykh Burhanuddin’s shrine complex
Fig. 18: Courtyard in Shaykh Burhanuddin’s shrine complex
Fig. 19: Shaykh Burhanuddin’s shrine
Currently both the shrine complexes are surrounded by dense construction of buildings and shops. After the demise of the saint in 1337, the construction of Shaykh Burhanuddin’s tomb was started by his personal attendant Kaka Shad Bakht. Perhaps as a remembrance of his masters’ deep attachment towards Shaykh Nizamuddin Awliya, Shad Bakhsh went to Delhi where he got a craftsman to make a wooden model of Shaykh Nizamuddin’s tomb, which was brought back to Khuldabad to serve as a model for Shaykh Burhanuddin’s shrine completed in 1343-44, and was in existence till very recently (Figs. 17-19; Ernst 2004a:141).
Fig. 20: Naqqarkhana in Burhanuddin’s shrine complex
While entrusting Shaykh Burhanuddin with the responsibility of the Deccan, Shaykh Nizamuddin ordered him to follow the principle of ‘No refusing, no asking, no saving’. Shaykh Burhanuddin adhered to this during his stay in the Deccan and even trained his disciples in the same. Centuries later when the attendants of his shrine found themselves in great distress, almost to the point of starvation, they appealed to the Shaykh for support. After receiving consolation in a dream, the following day they found that four to five tolas of pure silver had sprouted from the ground right in front of the saint’s tomb. The silver was used for the upkeep of the shrine and its attendants. Even today visitors to the tomb are shown remnants of that silver in front of the tomb (Ernst 2004a:192, 204, 214).
Fig. 21: View of the Nagarkhana gate. Main gateway to the Khuldabad valley of Sufi shrines
Fig. 22: View of the Nagarkhana gate. Main gateway to the Khuldabad valley of Sufi shrines
The Sufi shrines of Khuldabad, particularly the tombs of Shaykh Burhanuddin and Shaykh Zaynuddin Shirazi, have been remodeled number of times. After Shaykh Burhanuddin’s tomb was modeled on his master’s shrine in Delhi, a mosque was added to it by the Bahamani sultan in 1458. Numerous other alternations in architecture have taken place in these shrines following local decorative styles and solid-style Tughluq constructions. The most prominent of which, done by the first Nizams, in the main gateway to the city and in the tombs of Muntajibuddin, Burhanuddin and Zaynuddin, is the construction of special galleries (naqqar khanas) for the performance of court music (Figs. 20–22). These were also known as tabla khana (drum house), naqqar or naqqara khana (kettledrum house), and naubat khana (military band house). These structures had musicians who performed on special large drums. The naubat drums were used during the annual urs festival of Shaykh Muntajibuddin Zar Zari Zar Baksh in the 1960s. However the large drums currently visible in the courtyard of Shaykh Burhanuddin and Shaykh Zaynuddin are not in regular use and maintenance (Ernst 2004a:225; Ernst 2004b:114).
Fig. 23: Entrance to the shrine complex of Shaykh Zaynuddin Shirazi
When Shaykh Zaynuddin Shirazi died in 1369, he was buried across the street, where his tomb lies opposite to his master, Shaykh Burhanuddin (Fig. 23). Since he was the 22nd descendent of the Chishti lineage, he was popularly known as the ‘22nd master’ (bais khwaja) (Ernst 2004a:138). On his deathbed Shaykh Zainuddin was requested by his senior disciples to write a will and appoint his successor. He remained silent and did not nominate anyone, unlike his master, nor did he permit anyone to extend their hand and be initiated. In the period after Shaykh Zaynuddin the leadership of the Chishtia order passed on to Shaykh Husayni Gisudaraz in Gulbarga.
Fig. 24: Chamber housing the robe of Prophet Muhammad
The tomb complex of Shaykh Zaynuddin Shirazi is interesting for other reasons as well. One of these is the chamber located just behind the tomb which houses the robe of Prophet Muhammad (Pairhan-i Mubarak Muhammad Mustafa) which he wore on the night of his heavenly ascension (Fig. 24). When Shaykh Nizamuddin instructed Shaykh Burhanuddin to move towards Deccan, the latter was given a cloak which has passed through the Chishti lineage over generations from the master to the disciple. This cloak (khirqa-i piran-i tariqat ma khiraqa-i amana-i digar) was to be handed over to Shaykh Zaynuddin after his initiation into the Chishti order. It is taken out during the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad for public viewing (Ernst 2004a:208-9).
Fig. 26: Enclosure with the tomb of Khwan Bibi
A visit to the tomb of Shaykh Zaynuddin Shirazi brings to light the feminine dimension of Sufism in Khuldabad. As one enters the small compound containing the tomb of Shaykh Zaynuddin, on the immediate right is a small enclosure containing the tomb of Khwan Bibi, the adopted daughter of Shirazi (Fig. 26). From her childhood the saint had great affection for her. As a result she was nurtured under his careful guardianship. She was a great devotee and an ascetic having mastered the internal and external sciences of mysticism under the careful eyes of Shirazi. Thus she was given the courtesy title of Maulana (Ernst 2004a:144, 237).
Fig. 27: Gallery leading to Shaykh Zaynuddin Shirazi’s shrine (centre) and Aurangzib’s tomb (left)
Fig. 28: Mughal emperor Aurangzib’s tomb
The royal dimension to the tomb complex of Shaykh Zaynuddin Shirazi is made notable through the tomb of the Mughal emperor Aurangzib (d. 1707, also spelled Aurangzeb; Figs. 27-28). During his lifetime, and numerous campaigns in the Deccan, he often visited the Khuldabad shrines. His will explicitly spelt out his wish of being laid to rest there—‘they should carry this sinner drenched in sins to the neighborhood of the holy Chishti tomb of the revered leader, Sayyid and Shaykh Zaynuddin Husayn Shirazi, since without the protection of that court (of the saints), which is the refuge of forgiveness, there is no refuge for those drowned in the ocean of sin’ (Ernst 2004a:223-24).
Fig. 28a: Bani Begum garden
Fig. 29: Entrance to Shaykh Jalaluddin’s shrine complex
Aurangzib’s wish to lay at rest at the feet of his master Shaykh Zaynuddin Shirazi was fulfilled and his tomb is to the left of the entrance to Zaynuddin Shirazi’s tomb compound. The tomb of the last of the great Mughal emperors is remarkable for its simplicity, being an uncovered dirt grave with saplings growing on it. It is surrounded by a marble platform with elegant grillwork installed by the seventh Nizam in 1922-23, and further beautified by the Viceroy Lord Curzon. Buried nearby are his son Muhammad Azam with wife Awrangi Bibi. Due to support from the Nizam in the form of land endowments, the tomb of Aurangzib ran an open kitchen, and there were continual Quran recitations. The Nizam himself used to visit every year on the occasion of Aurangzib’s death anniversary, walking barefoot towards the tomb. When the Maratha general Shahu was released from court detention he went to Khuldabad to visit Aurangzib’s tomb and distribute money to the poor. Drawing from Aurangzib’s royal epithet khuld makan (‘dwelling in eternity’) the name of the town was changed from Rauza (‘garden of paradise’) to Khuldabad (‘eternal place’; Ernst 2004a:224; Ernst 2004b:114).
Fig. 30: Tree with fruit believed to have fertility powers (Shaykh Jalaluddin’s shrine complex)
In recent times the tombs of Shaykh Muntajibuddin Zar Zari Zar Baksh and Shaykh Burhanuddin Gharib are administered by the Greater Dargah Society (dargah-i hadd-i kalan), while the tombs of Shaykh Zaynuddin Shirazi, Shah Yusuf al-Husayni Raju ‘Qattal’ and some other related shrines are administered by the Lesser Dargah Society (dargah-i hadd-i khurd). These societies were most probably formed under the Nizams.
Women from the family of Shaykh Muntajibuddin and Shaykh Burhanuddin, particularly their five sisters known as the Panch Bibiyan, are buried outside the tomb of Nasiruddin Paon Payk. Like their brothers, Bibi Aisha, Bibi Amina, Bibi Khadija, Bibi Maryam and Bibi Sara are recognized as saintly individuals and the maintenance of their tombs is the responsibility of the administrators of the Burhanuddin Gharib shrine. When the latter was sent to Deccan by Shaykh Nizamuddin Awliya one of the duties he was entrusted with was to look after Bibi Aisha, one of the daughters of Shaykh Fariduddin Ganj-i Shakkar, the master of Shaykh Nizamuddin Awliya. Shaykh Burhanuddin dutifully paid his visit to her every Friday, and even prophesied that her grandson, who later came to known as Alauddin Ziya, would be a great saint. Bibi Aisha and her daughter lies buried just outside Khuldabad, south of Amir Hasan Dihlawi’s tomb, while Alauddin Ziya’s tomb is in Daulatabad, in severe neglect. One of the most prominent gardens of Khuldabad, the Bani Begum garden, contains the tomb of the wife of the Mughal prince Bidar Bakht, elder son of Azam Shah, along with several Mughal nobles (Fig. 28a; Ernst 2004a:229, 237; Ernst 2004b:106-7).
Fig. 31: Fruit of the tree believed to have fertility powers
Fig. 32: Notice board forbidding visitors from touching the tree
Fig. 33: Pariyon ka Talaab
The association of women with saintly tombs in Khuldabad appears also to be entangled with legends of local Sufis. One such legendary Sufi was Shaykh Jalaluddin (d. 1247), better known by his epithet Ganj-i Rawan (‘flowing treasure’) who lies buried to the west of Khuldabad. His tomb is at the end of a village road (Fig. 29). Close to his tomb inside the walled compound is a tree whose fruit is believed to have fertility powers, helping barren women bear children (Fig. 30). Legend has it that a hermaphrodite once mocked the spiritual powers of the saint by eating the fruit. Miraculously the hermaphrodite became pregnant and bore a child, though both died soon after. They are buried in the same courtyard close to the tomb. A board hanging from the tree strictly forbids devotees from touching the tree and picking the fruit. Instead, a notice advises the devotee to get in touch with the shrine attendant to obtain the fruit (Figs. 31-32). The tomb complex overlooks a beautiful pond known as Pariyon ki Talab (‘Fairies’ Tank’) where only women are allowed to visit and take a bath to cure illness (Fig. 33).
Fig. 34: Yoni in Shaykh Jalaluddin’s shrine complex
Local legend states that when the saint came to Khuldabad he imprisoned a demon or jinn named Azar beneath a stone, which is still to be seen east of his tomb (Fig. 34). Curiously the stone resembles a yoni, used as a base for a Shiva-lingam (Ernst 2004a:233-34; Ernst 2004b:106-7). The stone is still venerated by Hindu pilgrims. One such pilgrim whom I met at the shrine said that he visits the tomb every Monday from Aurangabad, before beginning his week. He first prays at the lingam, before proceeding to the inner courtyard to pay his respects to the saint. From such objects of ritual worship it is understandable that the shrine of Jalaluddin was built on an earlier center for Shiva worship.
Another early saint of the region is Mumin Arif, whose tomb lies at the foot of the hills east of Daulatabad fort. There is scarcely any information available on him, though it is believed he arrived in the Deccan around 1200. His name means ‘believer’ (mumin) and ‘knower’ (arif). Some records state his descent from the eighth Shi’i Imam Ali Riza. In the 18th century Shi’i rituals were performed in his shrine. However today he is known as Mumin Arif Baqi Billah and is connected to the Suhrawardi Sufi order, similar to Ganj-i Rawan. Hence rituals at his tomb have taken a distinct Sufi character, like the Thursday visits and the annual festival. Local legends ascertain his arrival in the Deccan at a time when the region was still ruled by a Hindu raja, and Mumin Arif’s spiritual powers are said to have protected local Muslims against the atrocities of the raja (Ernst 2004a:234; Ernst 2004b:106-7).
Fig. 35: Tomb of Nizam al-Dawla Nasir Jang in Shaykh Burhanuddin Gharib’s shrine complex
Fig. 36: Tomb of Nizam ul Mulk Asaf Jah in Shaykh Burhanuddin Gharib’s tomb complex
Fig. 37: Tomb of the last Qutb Shahi ruler Abu al-Hasan Tana Shah (d. 1699)
The sacred site of Khuldabad provides a perfect example of how individuals of royalty sought sanctification through the process of being laid to rest within the shrine complex or in the vicinity of illustrious Sufi saints. The first Nizam, Nizam ul Mulk Asaf Jah (d. 1748) who was closely attached to the Chishtis, along with his first successor Nizam al-Dawla Nasir Jang (d. 1750) and their wives are buried in separate red sandstone enclosures next to the tomb of Shaykh Burhanuddin Gharib (Fig. 35-36). The third Nizam Muzaffar Jang (d. 1751) is buried south of Burhanuddin’s tomb, along with his uncle Mutawassil Khan, Iwaz Khan (d. 1730-31), Jamaluddin Khan (d. 1746). In the tomb complex of Shaykh Yusuf al-Husayni Raju Qattal are buried Nawab Marhamat Khan, a governor of Aurangabad, Daud Khan (d. 1715), a governor of Burhanpur, and Abu al-Hasan Tana Shah (d. 1699) the last Qutb Shahi ruler of Golconda who was imprisoned in the Daulatabad fort until his death (Fig. 37).
Fig. 38: Khuldabad landscape with a view of Malik Amber’s tomb
Fig. 39: Khuldabad landscape with a view of Malik Amber’s tomb
To the north of this shrine complex lie the tombs of Ahmad Nizam Shah (d. 1508) and Burhan Nizam Shah (d. 1553), the first two rulers of Ahmadnagar. Malik Amber, the great general of Ahmadnagar, along with his wife Siddi Karima, grandson Siddi Abdul Rahman all remain buried in Khuldabad in the vicinity of the mosque of 1400 saints (Figs. 38-40). Abdullah Habib al-Aydarus (d. 1631), a Sufi scholar and a friend of Malik Amber lies buried next to the latter’s tomb (Ernst 2004a:223; Ernst 2004b:114).
Fig. 40: Malik Amber’s tomb
The presence of the graves of royalty in such numbers around the Sufi shrines of Khuldabad implies the amount of support these shrine complexes received from various Sultanates of the Deccan, the one with the most resources being the Nizam of Hyderabad. As late as the 1930s, the shrine of Shaykh Muntajibuddin Zar Zari Zar Baksh, known as the greater dargah, supported over 700 attendants, the shrine of Shaykh Burhanuddin Gharib, known as the lesser dargah, supported 400 attendants, and the shrine of Jalaluddin Ganj-i Rawan had 150 attendants. All these resources came from tax-free land grants to the dargahs along with revenues generated from towns and villages. However, after the collapse of the Hyderabad state the tombs of Khuldabad had a severe setback in income (Ernst 2004a:220; Ernst 2004b:107, 109, 114, 117).
Important non-Sufi personalities are also buried in Khuldabad. These were mostly individuals who had accompanied the entourage of either Muntajibuddin or Burhanuddin to the Deccan. Foremost among them was the poet Amir Hasan Sijzi Dihlawi (d. 1336) a leading disciple in the assembly of Shaykh Nizamuddin Awliya, compiling his conversations in Fawaid ul Fuad. When Shaykh Burhanuddin left for the Deccan, Amir Hasan along with many from the assembly of Nizamuddin joined the caravan. His tomb lies to the west of the town off the main road in a more rural environment. While showing me the tomb of the poet, the attendant shared how as per the last wish of Amir Hasan, the original copy of his work Fawaid ul Fuad was buried alongside him. In the same complex is the tomb of Ghulam Azad Bilgrami (d. 1786) whose Persian work, Rawzat al Awliya (‘Garden of the Saints’), is an important hagiographical account of the Sufis of Khuldabad.
Within the shrine complex of Shaykh Burhanuddin Gharib are the tombs of his disciples from the Kashani family. Both parents and their four sons were devoted followers of Burhanuddin. All four brothers—Burhanuddin, Majiduddin, Hammaduddin and Ruknuddin—were employed in the Tughluq administration. However their most significant contribution lies in the compilation of the conversations and teachings of Burhanuddin—Nafais ul Anfas wa Lataif al Alfaz (‘Choice Sayings and Elegant Words’), Ahsan al Aqwal (‘The Best of Sayings’), Gharaib al Karamat wa Ajaib al Mukashafat (‘Rare Miracles and Wondrous Unveilings’), and Shamail al Ataqiya wa Dalail al Anqiya (‘Virtues of the Devout and Proofs of the Pure’). Khwaja Husayn and Khwaja Usman, the father and uncle respectively of Shaykh Zaynuddin Shirazi lie buried in an imposing shrine complex south of the Hoda Hill.
Celebrating death anniversaries (urs) of bygone saints was an extremely popular exercise among Chishti Sufis which continues even today in the shrines of Khuldabad. The most important of these ceremonies take place in the tomb complex of Zar Zari Zar Baksh, attracting thousands of visitors. It begins on 6 Rabi al Awwal and continues for days, through a number of different events like the recitation of poems on the birth of Prophet Muhammad, special prayers, and qawwali music. The urs festival of Shaykh Burhanuddin begins on 8 Safar, and that of Shaykh Zaynuddin on 21 Rabi al Awwal. During the urs of Jalauddin Ganj-i Rawan, beginning on 26 Dhilqada, the 29th is kept especially for women to visit the shrine, offer their prayers, bathe in the Fairies’ Tank for healing, visit the tree near the tomb to collect fruits to generate fertility, before completing the exercise with a visit to the tomb of the hermaphrodite. At the urs of Khwan Bibi beginning on 21 Shaban, women regularly tie bangles and scarf on the gateway to her tomb as pledges accompanying their petitions. In another interesting ritual, visitors to the tomb of Bilgrami, drawing on his fame as a poet and brilliant writer, recite specified verses of poetry while crunching on a sugar cube, a practice that is believed to give rise to eloquent speaking and writing (Ernst 2004b:117, 119).
The transfer of the capital from Delhi to Deccan in the 14th century, and the subsequent establishment of a Sufi settlement in Khuldabad through the presence of mystics, scholars and poets from north India led to the creation of a multi-layered Islamic space in the Deccan. Though primarily recognized as a thriving center of Islamic spirituality, Khuldabad needs to be understood beyond the numerous Sufi shrines, tombs and graveyards that dot its valley. The history of Sufism and its masters were deeply entangled with local traditions of Islam and other faiths, as well as with the royalty, within and beyond Khuldabad. Hence the tombs as they stand before the visitor today carry within a long history of traditions, legends, spiritual authority and royal relations constituting the multi-faceted world of Khuldabad.
This article is written by Kashshaf Gandhi and was originally published on Sahapedia.
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