|Afzal Khanen of Bijapur. .wikipedia.org/|
|Saat kabbar map of Bijapur|
Have you ever heard of a brave Muslim army chief sending his 63 wives to the grave fearing his own death in the ensuing battle? Yes, such a tragic and outlandish event took place in the city of Bijapur, now in Karnataka state centuries back. In this city, ''Saat Kabar'', an isolated (5 km from Bijapur) and eerie place away from the city, silently witnessed 63 young wives mercilessly murdered by a possessive husband Afzal Khan, an army chief of ruler Adil Shahi II (1571- 12 September 1627), a Sunni Muslim who remained tolerant toward Hindus and also Christians) This place has the graves of those women and the cold-blooded setting gives us an eerie feeling.
|Ruler Ali Adil Shah II, appointed Afzal Khan as the general of Bijapur.wikipedia|
It seems tourists coming to this city try to avoid the tombs of army chief's wives because of bloodletting and gory details of their tragic end. The tombs, far removed away from the urban area, lie in the midst of under growth of creepers,wild bushes, plants, etc and appear sort of crumbled. Devoid of any path to the grave, the other side looks like mini forest - sheer wilderness. One gets the impression poisonous snakes, etc may be roosting there. People who have been to this place say that the auto drivers are reluctant to take the tourists to this area just because of unearthly silence.
|saat kabar-tombs of women killed by Afzal Khan, Bijapur tripadvisor.co.nz|
|saat kabar-tombs of women killed by Afzal Khan.tripadvisor.co|
To get to know the tragic story we have to go back to the 17th Century, when Chatrapathi Shivaji, ruler and valiant Maratha warrior was at loggerheads with the Bijapur sultanate. When Shivaji Maharaj waged a war against Adil Shah II, the responsibility fell on his army chief Afzal Khan (died 10 November 1659), an equally talented warrior to lead the army. His unique skills and commanding ability and war strategies led to his popularity and rose in the ranks of hierarchy. Legend has it that he was awarded a famous sword known as the ''Adili'', studded with diamonds. He had a popular elephant Howdah named Dhal-Gaj and headed a personal force of 10,000 soldiers.
It was Afzal Khan's wont to consult the astrologers before war campaigns and this time astrologers told him that it was an unpropitious time and he might die in the ensuing battle. Upon this prediction, grief-stricken, he was now more concerned about his 63 women in the harem than about his own fate. Being jealous and possessive, he decided to kill all his wives to avoid remarriage or ill treatment by the enemies. Invariably, the victorious Hindu rulers, as per Hindu Dharma, would treat the wives of enemies well and value their modesty. It is mentioned that Afzl Khan's wives were taken to an isolated place where they were pushed into a an abandoned well. The one who managed to escape, was recaptured and killed. All the women were interred in this burial ground before Afzal went to war. The women in the harem met this tragic fate on account of army chief's madness and obsession with them.
|saat kabar-tombs of women killed by Afzal Khanm army chief, Bijapur hindu.co,|
The ambiance at the Saat Kabar is not a desirable one, quite eerie. In the ominous silence here, one could hear the whispering sound of last cries and waling of dying women in pain whose fate changed overnight by a mad man. Any visitor to this place will be in a hurry to leave this place and take refuge in a civilized world.
Now a monument of national importance, under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958, it is under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI); the upkeep of this place is very poor. Anti-social elements wonder around as one could see graffiti on the tomb stones. The government should put up barricade around this place, repair and restore it. Former Karnataka Tourism Minister Roshan Baig says Bijapur's monuments will get due importance in a plan the Government is drawing up to promote tourism in the state. People keep their fingers crossed because they are yet to know when the promise will become a reality. Now, a new ministry is in power and will they look into the aspiration of the local people and make Bijapur a nice tourist destination?