Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains/Tombs of the Kings of Golconda

Views in India 0174a.jpg
Tombs of the kings of Golconda.


The name of Golconda is associated in the mind with ideas of Oriental splendour and magnificence, of diamonds growing in its mines, and riches overflowing on every side. Much of these suppositions are now discovered to be fallacies; diamonds are not, and probably never were, found in the district, which is indebted to the hand of art for some of its most interesting features: Golconda, however, has from time immemorial been the depot for diamonds brought from the neighbouring countries. The city flourished for many years under one of those independent Mohammedan sovereignties which were at length subdued by the mistaken policy of Aurungzebe, who in uniting the whole empire in his own person, bequeathed so vast and unwieldy a territory to his descendants, that it was broken to pieces and lost. Conquered at an early period by the followers of the Prophet, the Deccan became the scene of several successive dynasties. It would be impossible in so brief a record to follow the devious fortunes of the numerous adventurer's, who at different periods either held the supreme power, or divided it with other princes, maintaining their independence by the sword.

The tombs represented in the engraving belong to the kings of the Kootub Shahee dynasty, and their relations and principal dependants. The most ancient, that of the founder, was built nearly three hundred years ago; the remainder, at succeeding intervals of a hundred and fifty years, the date of the latest erection. They occur upon a wide plain, about six hundred yards from the fort, and present very splendid specimens of the Saracenic style, which has spread itself all over the civilized world, and from which Europe derived its gothic edifices. The body of the building is quadrangular, and is surmounted by a dome, the basement resting upon a spacious terrace, approached by flights of steps, and surrounded by an arcade, of which each face consists of an equal number of pointed arches, and which terminates in a rich and lofty balustrade, with a minaret at each angle. Above the arcade, the body of the building rises in the larger tombs. About thirty feet, the four faces being ornamented in stucco, and supporting a balustrade, and four minarets smaller and more simple than those on the arcade. From the centre of this part of the building springs the dome, which from its magnitude forms the principal feature of the structure. It swells considerably as it rises, the largest diameter being at about one third of the height, and the general form resembling that of a lemon with the lower part cut off. The lower portion of these edifices are composed of grey granite, very finely wrought; the upper portion coated with stucco, or chunam, some being ornamented by the porcelain tiles so much in use throughout many of the buildings in India. These decorations are in several of the tombs disposed in a kind of Mosaic work, and have retained the brilliance of their colours undiminished. Extracts from the Koran frequently occur as ornaments to the cornices, executed in white letters upon a blue shining ground, all in good preservation, and producing a fine effect.

The body is deposited in a crypt under a stone of plain black granite, and immediately over it, in the principal apartment, a more highly ornamented sarcophagus or tumulus marks the spot. This is of polished black trap, covered with inscriptions from the Koran in relief. In some of the tombs, the dome forms the roof of this principal chamber; but in others it is separated by a ceiling stretching over the whole quadrangle. According to the usual custom in such buildings, there is a Mosque attached to each, and formerly the whole was surrounded by pleasure-grounds, well planted with trees and flowers, and watered by fountains. These have disappeared, together with the carpets that covered the floors, and the rich draperies thrown over the sarcophagi, which indicate the places tenanted by the bodies of the dead. The large tomb to the left of the engraving, is sacred to the memory of a female sovereign, Hyat Begum: the monarch her father, having no son, bequeathed the kingdom to the husband of his daughter, who lies interred in a manner befitting her high rank and her splendid dowry.