- The Monumental Inscription on the Makki Darwaza
The Makki Darwaza is one of the gates of Qila Mohammadnagar, the walled capital city of the kingdom of Golconda. As with other monumental gates, it is strongly protected with double anti-siege gates and all sorts of fortifications. The name Makki darwaza is due to the fact that it faces the direction of Mecca, and anyone embarking on a pilgrimage there would leave through this gate. One of the best views of the King’s house on top of the hill can be had from the top of Makki darwaza.
The distinguishing feature of this gate is that it has an elaborate and beautifully carved inscription in Naskh script in Tughra style. Spanning three walls, the monumental inscription is 46 feet of grace and beauty – a testament to the skill of the master calligrapher, Muhammad of Isfahan, who designed and executed it in 1559 CE.
The inscription says that the gate was built during the reign of Ibrahim Qutb Shah. The king is given a series of grandiose titles – “the greatest of sovereigns, the noblest of kings, invincible hero on sea and land, the opener of the gates of benevolence to all creatures, the elevator of the edifice of the law prescribed by the Chief of Apostles, the builder of state and religion, the shadow of God in the world” and instead of being mentioned by name, he is referred to as the namesake of the Friend of God.
Then comes the name of the person who actually had the gate built – Kamaluddin Hussain, who had been given the title Mustafa Khan. This refers to Syed Kamaluddin of Ardastan, who was appointed the Peshwa to Ibrahim Qutb Shah and given the title of Khan e Azam, Mustafa Khan. He went on to play an important role in the Battle of Talikota in 1565 CE, but that was still 5 years in the future when this inscription was written. It is quite possible that the inscription itself was composed by one of Mustafa Khan’s beneficiaries, since it calls him “the pillar of his powerful empire, and the prop of his bright kingdom, the collector of books and the disperser of armies” – ‘his’ here referring to the king, who has been mentioned just before.
The inscription ends with the calligrapher signing off with the date.
Inscription details and translation from The Landmarks of the Deccan by Syed Ali Asgar Bilgrami