Hyderabad: This 421-year-old historic place, tucked in the southern part of the walled city of Hyderabad is unnoticed by passers-by, though it was Asia’s first Unani and Ayurveda hospital. Darulshifa (House of Cure) was built by Mohd Quli Qutb Shah V., founder of Hyderabad, near present-day Salarjung Museum on the banks of Musi River in 1004 H/1595 AD.
Charminar (1591/1592) was the first building in Hyderabad; Badshahi Ashoorkhana (1594), being the second.
Darulshifa – it has been partly converted into a school and is in dire straits due to neglect —also houses the Alawa e Sartauq, an Ashoorkhana. The Jamia Masjid is located opposite. They all still exist.
The ancient building has lost its charm due to conversion to other purposes including a school; encroachments, lack of maintenance, legal disputes and ravages of nature. Presently, Mirza Asad Ali Baig, the great-grandson of Mutawalli Agha Mohsin Khurasani is the Mujawar of Alawa- e-Sartauq. As Hyderabad celebrates its 425th birthday, Mirza Mohd Ali narrated the historical past of Darulshifa to DC.
“Darulshifa is a combination of three Arabic words i- Dar – Ul – Shifa, Dar means house, Ul means of, Shifa means Health. The Royal Hospital and College provided free treatment, medicine and food to patients,” he explained.
Darulshifa, having two floors with Qutb Shahi architecture, is housed on 6,000 sq yds. The first floor had an in-patient ward, the ground floor had an outpatient ward besides a pharmacy and college. It has a Royal Arch at its entrance; there are in all 104 arches in the building.
Mir Momin Astarbadi, the Prime Minister of Qutb Shah, designed the building keeping in mind the mausoleum of Hazrat Imam Hussain as the Qutb Shahs were great admirers of the Holy Prophet and his family. The king wanted a beautiful and healthy locale for Darulshifa. Momin found an ingenious way to select the site.
“He hung pieces of sheep meat at various locations in the city but found the condition of meat good only at the present Darulshifa site due to fresh air from Musi River. The place was approved,” says Mohd Ali.
Of faith, relics and miracles
Alawa-e-Sartauq Mubarak, an Ashoorkhana in the Darulshifa complex has an interesting story.
Agha Mohsin Khurasani came from Syria to Hyderabad with Tauq, a piece of metal headgear with spikes put around the neck of Imam Zainul Abideen after the ‘Battle of Karbala,’ as the Imam was imprisoned by Yazeed.
He presented the Tauq to Abdullah Qutb Shah along with certified documents who paid his respects to the Holy relic and issued a Firmaan dated Ramzan 5, 1075 Hijri/ 1664 AD stating the holy relic should be preserved in an Alam.
The Alam was raised in Darulshifa as the sick patients could recover rapidly with the blessings of Imam Zainul Abideen. As many miracles were attributed to Alam e Sartauq, it attracted large number of people.
After Aurangazeb’s conquest of the Deccan, a firmaan was issued saying Alams should not be raised in Ashoorkhanas unless the miracles were proven.
Mirza Hashmat Ali Baig, son of Agha Mohsin Khurasani represented to Aurangazeb that the Alam e Sartauq was prepared by order of Abdullah Qutb Shah to preserve the Holy Relic of Tauq and many miracles were attributed to it.
“Auranzeb did not believe it. When the Alam-e-Sartauq Mubarak was kept on elephant back, it cracked. It repeated on another elephant. He then issued firmaan dated 1110 H/ 1700 A.D stating Alam-e-Sartauq should be raised in the same Royal Hospital Darulshifa so that sick patients recover with the blessing of Imam,” says Dr Syeda Zahra Begum....