Glory of Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah tomb uncovered

The colourful tiles that have been exposed show the Qutb Shahi tombs complex in a new light.   | Photo Credit: Serish Nanisetti

In a site-transforming discovery, large panels of coloured glazed tile-work have been uncovered on the tomb of Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah at the foothills of the Golconda Fort.

“This tile-work changes the significance of the site. Historically, we know Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah’s dome had coloured tile-work but we could not find evidence. This find changes everything,” says, Ratish Nanda, CEO of Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which is carrying out the conservation effort on the sprawling necropolis in collaboration with Department of Archaeology and Museums, Telangana.

The tile-work on the shafts and cornices was uncovered after about 40-mm layer of lime mortar was peeled away and has not been seen for decades. The colour of the tiles uncovered are shades of blue, green, white, yellow and red that usually form the haft-rang in medieval architecture.

“There was evidence of tile-work on the dome and horizontal bands. The discovery of chevron-patterned tiles on the shaft of the minaret made us search in other places leading to more tiles being discovered under the masonry,” says Prashant Banerjee of AKTC. The patterns include interlocking rosette that uses a blend of stucco and glazed tiles.

While the medieval funerary complex is covered with stunning lime-mortar stucco work on many tombs, masjids and domes the tiles will show the necropolis in a new light. The only other historical site in Hyderabad that has glazed tiles is the western wall of Badshahi Ashoorkhana completed in 1611.

The tomb of Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah rises to a height of 43 metres (about 14 storeys high) posing a challenge to workers with gusts of wind blowing through day and night.

The Qutb Shahis ruled Golconda-Hyderabad between 1518 till 1687. The funerary complex at the base of the Golconda Fort is the burial ground for all the rulers except the last Abul Hasan who is buried in Khuldabad near Aurangabad. The rulers built their final resting places during their lifetime. Sixth ruler of the dynasty, Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah ruled for a short duration and died in 1625.

“The site appears to be built by giants and finished by jewellers,” says Mr. Nanda, who estimates that restoring the tile-cladding on the whole monument may take up to two years. The conservation effort on Sultan Muhammad’s tomb is backed by IndiGo.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 4:43:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/glory-of-quli-qutb-shah-tomb-uncovered/article34054286.ece

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