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Back to life

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A month ago, I had an opportunity to visit the Qutb Shahi tombs site and had a (brief) look at the restoration activities and to say that it is a mega project would be an understatement.

The entire restoration project is divided into three phases and each phase is planned such that the visitors can move about freely in the rest of the site.

The three years of restoration work has infused life into the weather beaten mausoleums at the Quli Qutb Shahi tombs complex near Golconda fort. The sparkling white domes of the renovated structures are a contrast to the older monuments that patiently await their turn for a makeover.

Although the Quli Qutb Shah tombs’ complex is commonly referred to as ‘Saat Gumbaz’ or ‘Seven tombs’, it encompasses a total of 75 structures comprising 40 mausoleums, 23 mosques, six baolis (step-wells), a hamam (mortuary bath), an Idgah, pavilions, garden structures and enclosure walls spread across an expanse of 108 acres.

The tombs (close to the main entrance) that are scheduled for phase II and III seem to wait for their turn to get a facelift – Originally the Badi Baoli and Fatima Sultana’s tomb was planned as a part of phase II but due to collapse of a wall in the Baoli due to rain and the plinth of Fatima’s tomb – they were included in Phase I

The complex is an example of rare architectural splendor and was selected for conservation by the Government of Telangana. The objective was to restore the grandeur of the site and develop it as an urban archaeological park called Quli Qutb Shah Archaeological Park.  The aim was to showcase and ensure long term preservation as well as enhance understanding of the monuments that stand within its boundaries.

The main aim of the project is to ensure long term preservation of the monuments which is achieved by using traditional materials and craftsmen. Only traditional building materials like lime mortar and stone are used.

Badi Baoli – the 400-year-old step well that collapsed in 2013 now collects enough water to fulfil the needs of the restoration activities at the site


The revival of Badi Baoli, one of the six step wells within the complex, is probably as remarkable as the 400-year-old quadrangular structure used for water storage. In a span of three years, starting from a collapsed condition in 2013, it has become completely functional and collected about 33 lakh liters of water during the monsoon of 2016, which is now used within the site for the restoration activities.

The terrace of the Hamam or mortuary bath is now devoid of any vegetation.
The Idgah which stands to the south of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah’s tomb, is one of the earliest structures constructed by Sultan Quli Qutb Shah
The tomb of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of Hyderabad is the most grand and stands on a pavilion
The ceiling of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah after the restoration works are complete.
On the external walls of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah’s tomb, portions of the original intricate glazed tile work are still visible.
The Southern Gate, connected to the Golconda fort through an underground passage, was used as a processional pathway to bring the body to the tomb site for burial ceremonies

It is common belief that a body was brought to the tomb complex for burial from Golconda through an underground passage. An archival photograph suggested the possibility of a processional path way connecting the Golconda Fort with the tomb complex.

Excavations were conducted at a depression found south of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah’s tomb that revealed an arched gateway. This gate over which a mosque stands, would have been the processional path that was preferred for entry to the tombs during burial ceremonies.

The finer details of patterns in the stucco plaster on Sultan Qutb-ul-Mulk’s tomb (the first Qutb Shahi King) have been restored.
The tombs that are scheduled under the first phase of the restoration.
Among the tombs that are restored, the tomb of the second Qutb Shahi king, Jamshed Qutb Shah stands tall and is unique with its octagonal base.

The restoration project also envisages landscaping in about 15 acres as part of the Qutb Shah Heritage Park. Activities like tree and bird mapping have been conducted and various species of both have been identified. These studies will help improve the bio-diversity of the Qutb Shah Heritage Park as well as aid in creating an ecological zone with introduction of suitable tree species and development of a bird habitat typical of the region.

You could read the entire piece that was published in the Wow!Hyderabad Magazine Apr 2017 issue

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Architecture · Daily Life · Heritage · Monument

Machli Kaman

Each kaman had a different name and at least two of them had folk tales to narrate. The northern arch (the first one after crossing Madina cafe) is the Machli Kaman or the “arch with a fish”, so called, as in olden times, a big fish made of bamboo and a paper aeroplane, were hung in the centre on every new lunar year day, as a symbol of good fortune and prosperity.

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Architecture · Daily Life · Monument

Charkaman – Introduction

The text below is an excerpt from an article published in the Hindu titled Glory of the Gates – The following posts will talk about the four arches that stand in front of the Charminar.
When the fifth Qutb Shahi poet-king, Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah conceived the plan for the new city of Bhagyanagar – later Hyderabad – a few miles from the overcrowded Golconda Fort town, he wanted it to be “a replica of paradise, unequalled in the world”.

Among the chroniclers of the time, some described it as mythical, some saw in it a poetic metaphor – the Sultan being the first Urdu poet to boast of a diwan – and yet others, that he really meant it. After all, sultans dream big and this section of chroniclers vouch that he came close to achieving it at least in creating that aura. The piazza, gardens, fountains, boulevards, palaces, sarais all set to a grand scale lent the city a breathtaking image in the late 16th Century, leaving a lasting impression on foreign travellers and traders who visited the city. For Abul Kasim Ferishta (1570-1623), who came after seeing the great Mughal cities of Agra and Lahore, there was “no city as grand and as impressive as Hyderabad”. French traders and travellers like Tavernier and Thevenot had similar impressions.

The city’s plan itself looked mythical. In tune with the Sultan’s imagination, the city was planned on a “grid-iron” pattern in the form of a giant double cross with two main intersecting roads, 60 feet wide running north-south and east-west. The intersection of two main roads, marked the city centre where Charminar was built in 1591, the city’s enduring landmark. Giving shape to the Sultan’s dream plan was his trusted poet – prime minister, Mir Momin Ashtrabadi, who introduced elements of his native Iranian city of Isfahan.

After the completion of Charminar, about 250 feet to its north, the great piazza of four lofty arches known as Char Kaman was built in 1592, in perfect symmetrical scale. These arches are separated from their centre by 375 feet and the space between two arches facing each other is 750 feet. The dimension of each of these arches is simply gigantic. Each of them is 60 feet high, 36 feet wide at the base and six feet in thickness. So imposing are they that in the past a huge caparisoned elephant carrying a canopy could easily pass through them. The effort that might have gone into their building was stupendous. The Char Kaman and the Charminar formed part of a “conscious urban design scheme of the Qutb Shahis. One cannot be separated from the other”.

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Architecture · Heritage · Monument


The residents and caretakers of a heritage monument usually make the visit memorable. The herd here seem to have made this monument their home. This fella seemed to be very curious with a camera and followed me till he was sure I wasn’t doing anything strange!

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Architecture · Heritage

King Kothi Palace

King Kothi Palace is the palace where the erstwhile ruler, the Seventh Nizam, Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII, of Hyderabad state moved in at the age of 13 and lived until he died in 1967.

The palace has two main divisions – the east wing was used by the Nizam for official and ceremonial purposes and the west wing, also called Mubarak Mansion (known as Nazri Bagh) was the Nizam’s residential palace.

The East wing now houses the State Government Hospital,  while many elements of the palace can still be seen. The arch that is seen in the image appears identical to the ones in the photograph shot by Raja Deen Dayal ages ago. Of course, the grandeur and opulence is ostensibly absent or may feel out-of-place in a hospital.

All the images on this blog are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, blog or repost in ANY way. If you wish to use them please get in touch with me through email.