16th CE to 18th CE Deccan Sultanates Historical Sites Maratha Narmada to Krishna People Period Polity Region West of Kalyana

The necropolis at Khuldabad

Around 50 km from the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, on the way to the caves at Ellora, and very close to the fort at Daulatabad, you will find a modest set of sultantate period tombs in a state of disrepair. The most famous denizen of this necropolis is Malik Ambar (1548-1626), the Ethiopian slave who rose to become the ruler of the sultanate of Ahmednagar, and whom the Mughal emperor Jahangir famously fantasised about slaying, as shown in this painting. There is a lot of material available on Malik Ambar, who was also the founder of the city of Aurangabad. See for example, the chapter in Richard Eaton’s book, Social History of the Deccan, available on this site under Resources. The guerilla tactics developed by him to fight the Mughal army made their way to Shivaji via the latter’s grandfather (Maloji) and father (Shahji).

Malik Ambar’s tomb is the only one in this set of tombs in Khuldabad, that can be identified easily today. This is the first set of three photos below. There are several other structures in the vicinity such as the tomb of Malik Ambar’s wife, Karima Bibi, other Ahmednagar notables, as well as a guest house. However, none of the structures, including Malik Ambar’s tomb, have any signboards or other means to identify them. One hopes that, similar to the restoration efforts ongoing at the Golconda tombs, someday soon, this site will also receive its due attention.

From top to bottom: Malik Ambar’s tomb, door details from the tomb, unidentified tombs in disrepair, a guest house complex.

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