Text of the Archaeological Survey of India‘s information boards at Haft Gumbaz, Kalaburagi (Gulbarga), Karnatak.
Tombs and mausoleums represent a large portion of Islamic architecture in India. The culmination of this rich funerary tradition is, of course the Taj Mahal in Agra. Perhaps because it is among the most well known monuments of the sub-continent, it is easy [to] take for granted the grand manner in which deceased rulers and holy men have been honoured, a practice that seems difficult to reconcile with a religion that has a history of discouraging veneration of humans through monuments. The earliest Islamic tomb in the subcontinent was that of Iltutmish of the Mamluk Dynasty, built in 1236 AD. The interior of his tomb is decorated with inscriptions, from thirty chapters of the Koran, about the power and unity of God, and duties of the devout believer. [This] practice of Koranic inscription continued through the tomb-building tradition in India and is mostly associated with the promise of Paradise to the true believer. This promise is also reflected in certain architectural elements, which represent aspects of Paradise which is visible in many tombs of the Deccan, through floral motifs, in the painting of the domes, and carving of masonry starting with the Bahamani style. The second possible reason for the growth of the funerary culture in India is the need for leaders, who came from abroad, bringing new traditions, languages, and religion, to establish a lasting relationship with the […] people they ruled.
This first occurred in India through the sufi saints of the Chisti order, who were the first religious leaders to be buried in the subcontinent.
The sufi saints became the medium for discourse between locals and their new rulers.
This legitimised new sultanates simultaneously, as Muslim and Indian spaces.
In 1422 AD, Gaisu Daraz (Bande Nawaz) of the Sayyid family (descendants of the Prophet) was buried in Gulbarga, which transformed the Deccan from a land of infidels open for conquest by Muslim invaders, to an Islamic sultanate, under the Bahamani Dynasty.
The Bahamani rulers were buried near his tomb, to receive his eternal benediction, but at the same time, created an eternal bond with Gulbarga, validating and bearing testament to their rule.
The Haft Gumbaz, meaning “seven domes” is a mausoleum of the Bahamani royal family, located on the outskirts of Gulbarga.
Individual ambitions, not only of the kings, but of their ministers and commanders account for the rich funerary tradition among Deccan sultanates.
While the ministers often overthrew, blinded, and assassinated weaker rulers they did not declare themselves “shah” or “sultan” but continued to pay tribute to an overthrown king.
Perhaps their desire to maintain social order accounts for these grand tombs, dedicated even to short reigning or puppet rulers.
Four of the Haft Gumbaz tombs are identifiable as those of Mujahid Shah Bahamani, Daud Shah Bahamni, Shams-ai-din, and Ghyas-al-din Bahamani, and Firuz Shah Bahamani.
The earlier tombs show predominant Tughlaqi influence, while the latest and most elaborate tomb, that of Firuz Shah, shows traces typical of what became the Bahamani style of architecture, the first Islamic style of the Deccan that deviated completely from Tughlaqi precedents.