Restoration focus shifts to Ma Saheba’s tomb

Restoration work in full swing at the tomb of Hayat Bakshi Begum, the daughter of Hyderabad founder Muhammad Quli and mother of the seventh king, Abdullah Qutb Shah.   | Photo Credit: SERISH NANISETTI

One of the grandest tombs in the Qutb Shahi tombs complex, where Hayat Bakshi Begum lies buried, is being restored. The focus has shifted to this tomb as part of the ongoing conservation efforts carried out by the State Government and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

“It is actually a double dome and is enormous. We removed 20-foot deep roots from the dome. To ensure there is no water seepage, dozens of artisans had to work simultaneously to plaster it. We have a very experienced team and master craftsmen on the job,” says Ratish Nanda, CEO of AKTC.

Aesthetics and acoustics

“There is a 30-foot gap between the two domes. While the outer dome is bulbous, which can be seen from afar, the inner dome is flatter. This was done by the designers so that the internal architecture is not compromised and for reasons of aesthetics and acoustics,” informs Mr. Nanda.

While the rest of the heritage complex is open, Hayat Bakshi’s tomb has been cordoned off, and visitors can see the progress from a small gap. The 20th-century interventions to the wazoo (water tank for cleansing), the plinth and the flooring are being restored according to the original design. The small masjid on the left of the wazoo, which is called Aurangzeb’s masjid, is in the final stages of being restored.

Inside the tomb, the sepulchral silence is broken by workers who cart head-loads of building rubble. Other workers stand nearly 50 feet above the ground on the scaffolding where the air is musty. “The medallion is about 18 feet in diameter. It had stucco work looking like petals, but we didn’t know the colour, so we just restored the shape without adding any colour. Where there was colour it is now highlighted,” says Prashant Banerjee of AKTC about the medallion which appears like an oversized thali.

Revered figure

Hayat Bakshi Begum was a key figure in the history of the Golconda/Hyderabad kingdom. She was the daughter of Muhammad Quli, who founded the city of Hyderabad, wife of sixth king Sultan Muhammad and the mother of Abdullah Qutb Shah, the seventh king. When Mughal emperor Aurangzeb invaded Hyderabad in 1656, it was Hayat Bakshi Begum, the ‘Queen Mother’ or Ma Saheba, who brokered a truce and saved the kingdom. The size of the dome gives a hint about the role played by the royal figure.

“The landscape setting had been severely altered in the 20th century. We needed to do a lot of research and clear earth to determine the original settings and levels. It is time-consuming and expensive, and we can do it, thanks to funding by the Tata Trusts,” informs Mr. Nanda. “Beneath the layers of lime applied on the door frame over the years, we discovered a black coloured border in the middle. Once the work is complete, the original black border will be visible between the two layers of stucco. While carrying out the work, we also discovered that this tomb had four doorways, but the ones on the west and the south have been walled up. We have left the lining on the two sides to show that,” he says.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2021 12:51:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/restoration-focus-shifts-to-ma-sahebas-tomb/article29122187.ece

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