Telangana region and in particular Hyderabad, has witnessed the influx of different religions and cultures. One of the prominent influences in the Deccan region has been Islamic Architecture. The Shia sect of Islam is known for its unique set of customs and practices. There are lakhs of Shia Muslims in Hyderabad, who have been part of the city since many centuries. An important element of their culture is the mourning festival of Muharram.
Shias all over the world commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussien. Al-Ḥusayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (also known as Imam Hussein) was a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, and son of Ali ibn Abi Talib (the first Shia Imam) and Muhammad’s daughter, Fatimah. He is an important figure in Islam as he was a member of the Bayṫ (Household) of Muhammad, and Ahl al-Kisā’ (People of the Cloak). He is the third Shia Imam. He was killed in the Battle of Karbala, in present day Iraq in the year 680. He is a highly revered Imam for Shias all over the world.
Badshahi Ashurkhana is a structure that serves as the mourning place for Shia Muslims during the occasion of Muharram. Located near Charminar, this was constructed in the memory of martyrdom of Imam Hussain. It is a heritage site which is among the first structures built by the Qutb Shahis in their new city of Hyderabad in the year 1594. It was built by Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah, three years after building Charminar.
The walls of Ashurkhana glow with intricate and brightly-coloured tile mosaics. Ashurkhana has two areas, namely Niyaz Khana which means the offering place and Naqaar Khana, the drums place. The magnificent structure of Badshahi Ashurkhana serves as a testimony to how Hyderabad’s ethos has been shaped, for hundreds of years under the influence of different religions and various dynasties. Every element of this Ashurkhana is known for its architectural brilliance, marked by distinct Qutub Shahi style of construction. It is also one of the historic Imambaras in India, where the faithful converge during Muharram, and participate in ceremonic rituals.