A new lease of life for Qutb Shahi tombs

HYDERABAD, TELANGANA, 30-03-2015: Conservation & Restoration works taken up at Qutub Shahi Tombs by the Department and Aga Khan Trust for culture in Hyderabad Tuesday. Photo: K. Ramesh Babu   | Photo Credit: K_RAMESH BABU

The contrast is striking. On one side are blackened domes with vegetal growth sprouting and on the other, lime-mortar finished graceful structures rising in the sky. Visitors to the Qutb Shahi Heritage Park can’t help draw in their breath at the transformation taking place. The 16 century mausoleums are getting a second lease of life.

Correcting the criminal neglect suffered by the tombs during the last two centuries is no easy task. But the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), world’s leading conservation body, has almost succeeded in doing the impossible. The conservation works going on at the south western side of the royal necropolis bear this out. Most of the 30 monuments in this dense zone are nearly restored – along with their elaborate and intricate architecture.

Presspersons, who were taken around what is popularly called ‘seven tombs’ on Tuesday, saw the restoration works being carried out by a multi-disciplinary team of conservation architects, engineers and historians. “The first phase of the project will be completed by 2016 end and the entire mission in the next ten years,” Ratish Nanda, project director, AKTC, exudes confidence.

B.P. Acharya, Principal Secretary, Planning, is happy at the significant progress made during the last 16 months. “By 2018, we want to pose it for UNESCO’s world heritage site tag,” he said.

The AKTC team has rebuilt the entire western wall of the Badi Baoli which collapsed in October 2013. This risky job involved the reconstruction of 600 cubic metres of stone masonry. An alternative drain is created to take out water so as to safeguard against future damage. The decorative stucco plaster work is restored on the Jamshed Quli Qutb Shah’s tomb and so are the missing plinth stones.

During the course of work, engineers stumbled upon the enclosure wall of the Sultan Quli Qutb ul Mulk’s tomb and managed to unearth the nine-feet wall on all four sides. “This clearly indicates the presence of a garden enclosure around the tomb,” Mr. Nanda said.

In most monuments, the AKTC team is finding ‘inappropriate use’ of modern material like cement. Now all this is being chipped off to restore the original features with traditional materials like lime, stone and wood. In many places, peeling out of cement revealed shining Persian tiles. As the work progresses, the budget keeps changing. It may exceed the Rs. 100 crore initially earmarked.

After Humayun’s Tomb, this is the second not-for-profit project taken up by AKTC. But the scale of challenges posed by the 72 monuments in the Qutb Shahi Heritage Park, spread over 108 acres, are immense.

However, one thing is for certain. When the conservation work is over, the hoary monuments are sure to survive for another 500 years.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 10:28:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/a-new-lease-of-life-for-qutb-shahi-tombs/article7054545.ece

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