Absorbing love story of Rani Bhagmati who married the Sultan of Golconda

Hindu queen Bhagmati. The Flowers of Indus Valley
Hindu queen Bhagmati and the Sultan. Sulekha.com
  Be they kings or ordinary citizens, romance is part of their lives and marriage will give them responsibility and purpose in their lives. A romance between people of same status does not get any attraction, not  so in the case of a ruler and an ordinary woman from a poor family. In the past  when monarchy was in vogue, it  had been a tradition to choose a prince or princess from  the royal families of equal status. In some cases, the tradition was broken and there were instances where a prince or princess had chosen his or her partner from the commoners, in the midst of protests and risk of life. In rare cases, royal members allowed their children to choose partners,  from ordinary families. As for Muslim rulers of India, centuries ago,  only a few of them fell in love with Hindu women, married them and lived ever happily. A well known example is Mogul ruler Akbar, who happened to be a secular emperor and who married a Rajput princess. In the southern region of the Deccan, the romance of the Sultan of Qutb Shahi Dynasty and a beautiful Hindu woman of an ordinary family is an interesting one and it has become a subject of drama and folklore in Andhra region (now Telengana).

Rani Bhagmati, the Hindu  queen of  Muslim ruler Quli Qutb Shah, the Golconda Sultan of  the erstwhile Qutb Shahi Dynasty was popular for her beauty, excellence in fine arts  and wisdom.
It is believed that Quli Qutb Shah, founder of   Hyderabad city was so fond of her, he named the city as Bhagyanagar after his charming queen Bhagmati. Upon religious conversion to Islam, her name got changed to  Hydermahal, so was Bhagyanagar  into Hyderabad. This change of name of Hyderabad is confirmed by the works of   many Hindu and Muslim writers from the 16th century A.D and  one being mentioned by viceroy of Akbar, named Faizi. However,  the subject of  the old names of the city shown variously as Bhagnagar or Bhagyanagar related  to Bhagmati  is a debatable one. She was more often tagged as a fairly-tale queen. However,  after the death of Quli Qutb Shah's death, we do not hear much about her. Though she has become an obscure figure, the Sultan's romantic escapade with her is immortalized in folklore by some writers.  

Among then Hindus, in the bygone days there exited a community whose girls were dedicated to the Hindu temples as  temple dancers, in the service of god. The community was called Devadasi community. Bhagmati it is believed, was born in Chichlam (around Yakutpura) in a Hindu Devadasi family and  as per the tradition of that period, used to perform dance at temples. She was a very good dancer and  had a charming look. It so happened that the king Quli Qutb Shah met her accidentally at the Nagamalleshvara temple and later on a few occasions met her whenever he went on a hunting trip through her place. Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah madly fell in love with her and finally  married Bhagmati with her consent in the year 1589 CE. She came to be called Mishtari or Hydermahal  after marriage. As for the Sultan, he  remained with her as her husband until his death in 1611 CE.

Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah of Golconda (r.1580-1612) controappuntoblog.org
Quli Qutub Shah and Hyder Mahal had a daughter named Hayat Baksh Begum. She  married Qutub Shah's nephew Muhammed Quli who ascended the throne upon the death of Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah.

There are innumerable  portraits and paintings of Bhagmati in the Andhra Pradesh Museum of Art in  Hyderabad and there is a fine painting of the queen  done in the 18th century AD.

Queen Bhagmati died in 1611AD and unfortunately no tomb was built over her last remains. On the other hand,  the mortal remains of  courtesans Taramati and Premamati lie buried at Qutb_Shahi_Tombs. What was the reason for the denial of a burial place for this queen at Qutb_Shahi_Tombs? It was  the Peshwa (prime minister) of Mohammed Quli  who was  responsible for obscuring Bhagmati's character, according to Ziauddin Ahmed Shakeb, an expert on Indian and Islamic art. 


01. Some historians dub that Bhagmati is a fictional character  created  by some writers.  According to Mr. Safiullah of Deccan Heritage Trust: “There is no inscription, miniature or coin of that period mentioning her name. There is no trace of her grave either. Even Chichalam, the place where she was supposedly born, has not been identified yet,” Mr. Safiullah said.

02. According to the old records with the Royal families of Qutb_Shahi, Bhagmati was not a fictional  one. Nor was she a dancer or a courtesan in a temple as depicted in many works. She was a beautiful girl of Chichelum village (now in Rein Bazar limits) belonging to a Hindu family.
scene from the ballet. www.thehindu.com
03. Bhagyanagaram is a literary dance drama about Bhagmati's romantic relationship with  the prince of Golconda, Quli Qutb Shah who had an obsession for her. Their romance that transcended the social barrier of religion is a subject of  literature, dance and drama in this part of India. It was staged at  at Ravindra Bharati on the occasion of the 400th year of Bhagmati in January 2011.
The Purana Pul, the oldest bridge on the Musi. A 1908 photo  www.thehindu.com
04. Mohd. Quli Qutb Shah's father is believed to have built the  Puranapul bridge to help his son  cross the river to meet his lady love. But the Heritage enthusiast would like to  remove the myth of not only Bhagmati but also the old bridge.