Qutb Shahi Tombs gets makeover

The 40 mausoleums, 23 mosques, seven Baolis (step wells), tanks, gardens and other structures within the premises are being conserved and restored. -Photo: Anand Dharmana

Hyderabad: The Qutb Shahi Tombs, the 16th Century necropolis and one of Hyderabad’s most known heritage tourism spots, is all set for a new chapter. The combined efforts of Aga Khan Foundation, Heritage Telangana and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture will soon see the 106 acre premises donning the mantle of a one-of-its kind heritage park.

The 40 mausoleums, 23 mosques, seven Baolis (step wells), tanks, gardens and other structures within the premises are being conserved and restored. The first phase of the massive renovation programme was completed in 2018, with the efforts into the final stages now.

According to Ratish Nanda of Aga Khan Trust for Culture, almost 60 per cent of the works have been completed so far.

“In 2021, conservation works are being undertaken on over a dozen monuments including five baolis with the support of the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Conservation while the mausoleum of Muhammed Qutb Shah is being supported by Indigo Airlines. These works will be completed by 2024,” says Nanda.

Qutb Shahi Tombs gets makeover
Photo: Anand Dharmana

Landscape architect M Shaheer has been spearheading the project since its inception in 2013 and the conservation activities have been implemented by master craftsmen working with stone and lime. The project lays emphasis on a craft-led approach, reviving traditional building crafts and utilising traditional materials in the conservation. For instance, the dome on the tomb of Quli Qutb Shah has been stripped off of the cement layers to expose the original details and has been replastered with lime, with attention to the original detailing.

The 106-acre premises have been divided into three zones – the core archeological area, a visitor facility area and a biodiversity zone. The biodiversity zone has dense vegetation and since 2014, all the trees have been mapped and new plantations are being done in a planned manner.

Once completed, it will add a major boost to the tourism in the city, as Nanda adds, “Conservation of all these monuments, coupled with landscape restoration of their setting and creating adequate visitor facilities will help secure World Heritage designation for the site and with that attract millions of annual visitors to Hyderabad.”

Qutb Shahi Tombs gets makeover
Photo: Anand Dharmana

‘Park will draw visitors from all over world’

Not just heritage buffs, but the State government too is eagerly waiting for the massive renovation project for the Qutb Shahi Tombs to be completed.

IT and Industries Minister KT Rama Rao tweeted earlier this week: “Come 2024, the Qutb Shahi Heritage Park will be drawing visitors from all over the world to see outstanding conservation efforts, thanks to Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC).”

The park is the outcome of an MoU for a 10-year, integrated conservation and landscape restoration project of the Tomb complex signed in 2013 by the then Andhra Pradesh State Department of Archaeology and Museums, the Quli Qutb Shah Urban Development Authority, AKTC and Aga Khan Foundation.

The idea is to develop the premises as an urban archaeological park to showcase and ensure long-term preservation and to enhance understanding of the 80 tombs that stand within its boundaries.

According to the Aga Khan Development Network, the conservation works are being done by master craftsmen using traditional tools, building techniques and traditional materials respecting the intention of the original builders.

Qutb Shahi Tombs gets makeover
Photo: Anand Dharmana

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