Khultabad is not heard by many, mainly because of its location under the shadow of the world heritage site Ellora. However, for serious art lovers and explorers of Sufi mysticism, Khultabad is a must visit site.
In terms of spirituality, Khultabad is popularly referred to as the valley of saints or the abode of eternity, because in the 14th century, several Sufi saints chose to reside here. Today for many Muslim devotees, Khultabad is as sacred as Ajmer Sharif and Hazrat Nizamuddhin. Even Hindus from the countryside far and wide visit the shrines in large numbers.
Buranuddhin Gharib, a Sufi saint and a student of Hazrat Nizamuddhin had come here from Delhi with 1400 followers to settle. It was part of the large scale immigration programme initiated by the controversial Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughluq for making Daulatabad as a vibrant Islamic city.
The dargah of Burhanuddhin has a large quadrangular courtyard having open fronted building on all sides and a nagarkhana at the east. To the right of Burhanuddin’s Tomb is the tomb of Nizam Ul-Mulk-Asaf Jah 1, the founder of Hyderabad City.
The other well-known shrine of Sufi order is the tomb of Zar Zari Zar Baksha, one of the earliest Sufis of the Chisthi order. He was sent to Deccan by Nizammudhin Auliya in the 14th century with 700 disciples. Zar Zari Zar Baksh had come to Daultabad and is said to have converted a Hindu princess at Khultabad.
The tomb of Zar Zari Zar Baksh is located amidst ruins of a number of later tombs, the most prominent being that of Malik Ambar.
The end of 16th century was a turning point in Decacni history. After the fall of Bahamani Empire, 5 independent kingdoms rose into prominence in Deccan. One of these was Ahmednagar.
Malik Ambar (1549-1626) was an Ethiopian who had come to India as a slave. But his bravery and strategy making skill turned his fortune making him an important political figure. He owned an army of 1500 men in Deccan and these were hired by many local kings at the time of need. He eventually rose to the stature of Prime Minister of Ahmednagar Sultanate. He was also the founder of Aurangabad.
Malik Ambar’s mausoleum is constructed on a high square platform and is square in plan. Each of its façade is pierced with three horseshoe shaped arches. The central arch is adorned with beautiful jail work and by geometrical motifs. There are also stylized flower petals hanging on inner side. The bracketed cornice and eaves are still intact. The dome is huge, hemispherical and bulbous. Kiosks are provided on each corner.
The tomb stands near the crest of hill. From here the view of Deccani landscape in the early morning and late evening is spectacular. A few meter south-west of Malik’s tomb is the tomb of his grandson. It consists of an octagonal dome on a square plinth. There are also a few more tombs built by the nobles of the Nizamshahi Kings of Ahmednagar.
Khultabad may not be as famous as other Indo-Islamic centers of Deccan and North India, but its charm lies in its humble appearance, isolation and simplicity of Islamic design. A visit to Khultabad no-doubt is going to be a memorable experience.