Saturday, 14 September 2019

The cenotaph of Bijapur army chief Afzal Khan and his death - a brief note

Afzal Khan's Cenotaph, Bijapur nspirock.com
Afzal Khan's Cenotaph, Bijapur sinspirock.com
The city of Bijapur in Karnataka has lots of protected historical monuments - about 69  mostly related to Indo-Muslim architecture and they throw light on the kaleidoscopic view of the blend of different culture. Though the structures are more of Islamic content, the matrix is Hindu style. This blend makes them more interesting . There are numerous mosques, mahals and mausoleums. There is no doubt none gets more attention of the visitors than the famous Gol Gumbaz, the massive dome that has special acoustics that may pick up a whisper in one place and you can hear it in the other part of the structure. A nice piece of Adilshahi art and architecture.
 
Among numerous monuments, the one that draws our attention is
Afzal Khan's cenotaph. Being the army chief under the ruler Adil Shah II, before going to war against the Marathas on orders from his ruler, he committed the most heinous crime. Fearing death as predicted by the court astrologers, he killed all his 63 wives by pushing them in to a deep well in a place called 'saat kabar'  and interred in this burial ground before going to war,The tomb stone are about 5 km from the city. Both this 
cenotaph and the near-by mosque are built in the style of design prevalent during the reign of Adil Shah dynasty.

 Situated about two and half miles  from Shahpur entrance. in Bijapur,  Afzal Khan's Cenotaph is fairly being maintained by the ASI and  the construction work was initiated by himself.  The work on the structure, which is  believed to be Afzal's own burial place,  went on for a long time. Unfortunately, after his death in the war against the Marathas, his body was never buried here. He died in a far away place. The cenotaph has a mosque in it's complex which is a  two-story building and no embellishment. However, the pineapples lining the base of the roof of the mosque is an excellent art work.
Afzal Khan's Cenotaph, Bijapur  
Bijapur army chief. Afzal Khan,en.wikipedia.og

Shivaji attacking taall Afzal khan, wikipedia.
 Above image: The famous  encounter of Afzal Khan and Shivaji Maharaj-  Ali Adil Shah II (1571-12 September 1627) the ruler of Bijapur  appointed Afzal Khan as the general of Bijapur army purely on merit as he happened to be a great and courageous warrior who was quick to know the strength and weakness of enemies. Afzal Khan was a loyal employee of the royal  family  Being a man of Afghan descent,  he was much taller and stronger than Shivaji. In the war against the mighty  Maratha forces in 1659, after some deliberations, at last, a peace meeting was arranged at Pratapgad, a place well-known to Shivaji. It was agreed that the leaders - Afzal and Shivaji would be unarmed. As Afzal Khan was a dangerous man, Shivaji was cautious. He wore armour under his clothes and a steel helmet under his turban. He also wore  a weapon called bagh nakh ("tiger claws"), consisting of an iron finger-grip with four razor claws, which he concealed within his clenched fist. Further, he also carried a stiletto-like thin dagger called the bichu or bichuwa (scorpion knife). As per custom, Afzal  embraced Shivaji and he then suddenly tightened his clasp, held  Shivaji's neck in his left arm and struck him with a katar.  Shivaji's  armor  saved him; infuriated Shivaji, wiggled out of the tight grip and attacked Afzal  with 'wagh nakh', disemboweling him. He then stabbed Afzal  with his bichawa, and ran out of the tent towards his men. In the ensuing melee an confusion,  Sambhaji Kavji eventually killed Afzal Khan by decapitating him. Later the Maratha forces hiding in some near-by places defeated the Bijapur army. That though  being outnumbered and outgunned by Afzal Khan’s men, Shivaji led his army to victory over the troops of the Bijapur Sultanate is an important event in Maratha history.  Being a just person, Shivaji had Afzal Khan buried with full military honors,  befitting his stature and reputation at the foot of the Pratapgad fort. The town closest to Pratapgarh fort today is Mahabaleshwar. Situated on a plateau, the colonial-era hill-station has various ‘points’ that overlook the valley below. Afzal died on 10 November 1659 due to severe injuries. An annual urs is held at Afzal Khan's mausoleum............................................

The cenotaph is made of  bricks with eleven rows of tombs which added up to 64 burials of Afzal Khan's wives. As mentioned before the prophecy of court  astrologers  about his imminent death in the ensuing battle, chose him to do away with his 63 wives. he pushed them into  a well one by one  and near the tombs  the old well. 

Many people avoid Afzal Khan's  cenotaph as one has to recall  horrible memories of such a  brutal act of Afzal Khan.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afzal_Khan_(general)

https://www.astrolika.com/monuments/afzal-khan-cenotaph.html