A Timely Move To Preserve Hyderabad’s Glorious Past

The State Wakf Tribunal order to the Department of Archaeology and
Museums on October 29 to start the repair and conservation works
at the Qutb Shahi Tomb Complex is a welcome move as it would help
in saving a part of our heritage that needs to be preserved for
posterity.

What makes Hyderabad different from other cities in India is its
history, culture and architecture, a melting pot of various
architectural styles, as it were.

We find native Indian style reflected in temples and matts here
besides the Moghal style of architecture which has also been
expressed in its various glorious forms. When the Qutb Shahs took
over the reins of the city, they built beautiful structures and
monuments. They focused on reconstructing, renovating and
expanding the Golconda Fort to suit the changing needs of the
royal occupants.

The Asaf Jahi period that followed was marked with two different
styles. During early period of this era, there was growth of
European style which is evident in monuments such as Residency
(Koti), Falaknuma Palace and the relics of the Devdhis of Paigah
nobles in Shah Gunj near Charminar.

The last phase of the Asaf Jahi rule witnessed the emergence of a
new approach that is evident in the Arts College building that
showcases how Indo-Saracen styles evolved into a differently
beautiful form. However, this period is more popular for the
Osmanian style of architecture. The buildings constructed in this
style, include the Adalat-e-Aaliya or the high court, Osmania
General Hospital and the Town Hall or the Legislative Building.

Although we have so many magnificent buildings and precincts,
Charminar, Golconda Fort and Qutb Shahi Tombs Complex stand out.
The necropolis created by the Qutb Shahs is different in many ways
from the other royal cemeteries in South Asia. For instance, all
but the last Sultan of the dynasty are buried in the same complex
with each one of them having a tomb devoted to his grave. The tomb
complex comprising about 70 structures represent a splendid phase
in the evolution of Indo-Persian-Deccani architecture.

Elaborating on the tomb complex in his book, ‘Farkhunda Buniyad
Hyderabad’, Satguru Pershad recalls how the necropolis was treated
during the era of Qutb Shahs. “Two furlong from the Banjari Gate
(of Golconda Fort) Bagh-e-Safa or Langar Faiz-e-Asar is located.
This beautiful garden is fenced with a wall. Only the tomb of
Abdullah Qutb Shah, an incomplete tomb and the tomb of Fatima
Khanam are located outside the compound wall. During the times of
Qutb Shahs, these tombs were covered with silk sheets and offering
of flowers was made daily.

There used to be shamiana (tents) of golden poles. The graves were
lit with lamps round the clock. The books of the sultans and the
Quran copies were kept near the graves. The floor of the tombs was
covered with expensive carpets. The royal graves had a golden
crescent hanging over them. Every day at around 4 pm, the poor and
the mendicants were given food in the complex. Not everybody was
allowed to enter the complex. The complex was considered sacred.”

Moghal emperor during the siege of Golconda in 1687 CE used the
complex garden for mounting a cannon attack on the fort which went
unanswered because the sultan did not want to damage the sacred
necropolis. The fourth Nizam Nasirud Daulah ordered restoration of
the complex that had fallen on bad times. The necropolis later
became part of Sarf-e-Khaas or the private estate of the Nizam.
Salar Jung, the first, ordered the construction of the wall around
the complex and repair of the tombs. The Department of Archeaology
and Museums was entrusted with the upkeep of the palace in 1914.

With the Wakf Tribunal order in hand, the DAM and Aga Khan Trust
for Culture who have entered into an MoU a few months ago have
started the ground work at the complex.

Ratesh Nanda of the AKTC told INN Live that the trust is not keen
on any income from the Qutb Shahi Tombs complex after the
restoration works are completed. “We are not asking the department
to transfer any land in the name of the trust. We have a record of
restoring such places at other places. We want the Qutb Shahi
tombs to become a world-class heritage precinct,” he said.

In view of the previous attempts to derail the works, it is the
responsibility of the government and the civil society to ensure
that there are no more hurdles vis-a-vis the conservation works of
the tombs complex.#KhabarLive