36 restored Nizam-era Qurans complete with precious gold and gem stone ink are on display at Chowmahalla
Today Chowmahalla palace will be teeming with visitors and lovers of history to see the unveiling of numerous Qurans some of which date back to early 1400 A.D. Princess Esra, of the erstwhile royal family, who has been an important part of the revival and restoration of the Qurans says, “It was a Herculean task but worth the sweat and effort. These valuable Qurans couldn’t have been let to rot in the state they were found. Once we discovered the collection we took notice of the work it needed and set out with a serious pace,” she revealed .
Esra adds, “It’s only for the sake of culture and heritage. When I came here as a bride I was shown night pictures of the lanes and areas and I was in awe of the silenceand solitude . My mother used to tell me ‘you will know once you get there,’ and after I came to Hyderabad I realised what it meant to be a part of the royal family,” she smiled. In awe of the grandeur and the luxury as well as the love that people had for the royal family, she felt humbled. “When I returned after years to see the dilapidated state of the things I had touched and felt, including the Qurans, I was grief-stricken; I couldn’t let them rot away. I am sure even the Nizams themselves didn’t know how many of the precious holy book of scriptures they owned. When the final discovery was made, the total number of the Qurans, of all sizes, stood at 36. There are some very tiny ones as well,” she says.
Esra also speaks with pride of another cloth Quran that was found; the entire Quranwritten on cloth. The cloth’s dimensions stood at 9.5 feet x 5 feet. The Qurans are of immense value not only because of their heritage but also the quality of ink used in them. “Besides gold and silver ink, inks made from powdered gems and semi precious stones were also used. In some Qurans mother-of -pearl has also been used as ink,” informs G. Kishan Rao, director of Chowmahalla Palace.
Since no royal item is permitted to go outside the Palace, specialists from The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) have been approached. “They worked continuously for two years to revive the precious books, with Esra’s continual monitoring. The restored Qurans will be displayed in the room opposite the Council Hall in the palace,” informs Kishan Rao.
The Qurans will be unveiled by Esra and Muffakham Jah’s son at Chowmahalla Palace today.