Afzal Khan was the most powerful General in the court of the Bijapur, a small city in the Southern Indian state of Karnataka and the capital of the medieval Adil Shah dynasty (1489 to 1686). He was responsible for many victories for Adil Shah Dynasty. In 1658, Sultan Ali Adil Shah II of Bijapur was preparing to launch a military campaign against Shivaji, the indefatigable Maratha ruler. Being constantly under pressure from Aurangzeb on one side and Shivaji from the other, Adil Shah depended on his generals to stall the enemies and counted General Afzal Khan among his most trusted warriors.
Prior to the campaign, Khan contacted astrologers who predicted doom—his death at the hands of Maratha soldiers. At that time, Afzal Khan had 63 wives in his harem. Fearing that his wives would remarry after his death, the anxious general chose to kill all of them. Some say they were pushed into a deep well, while others say that all the 63 unfortunate wives were slain by Afzal. The astrologers proved correct; for, Khan indeed die at the hands of Shivaji at Pratapgarh.
However, his wives lie buried just 5 km from Bijapur-Satth Kabar. Ironically, the tomb built by the general for himself, who wanted to be close to his wives in life and in death, stands adjacent to the one-acre burial ground surrounded by jowar fields. The site has now been declared to be of national importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958, and is under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Today, the tombstones are scarred by graffiti; people often come to the shady spot for rest.
Satth Kabar (Sixty Graves) bears the memory of a very tragic incident in the history of Muslim women.
“People need to hear the heartrending stories that cry out from these graves”, says the 65-year-old man who lives in a nearby house.
“Qabrain Hi Jaanti Hain Ke Is Shehre-e-Jabar Mein Log,
Mar Kar Hue Dafan Hain Ya Zinda Gadein Hain Log…”