Architecture · Art · Culture · Heritage · Landscape · Monument · Uncategorized

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.

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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.

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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.

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The terrace of the Hamam or mortuary bath is now devoid of any vegetation.
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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
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The tomb of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of Hyderabad is the most grand and stands on a pavilion
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The ceiling of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah after the restoration works are complete.
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On the external walls of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah’s tomb, portions of the original intricate glazed tile work are still visible.
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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.

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The finer details of patterns in the stucco plaster on Sultan Qutb-ul-Mulk’s tomb (the first Qutb Shahi King) have been restored.
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The tombs that are scheduled under the first phase of the restoration.
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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 · Art · Heritage · Landscape · Monument

Naya Qila

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The platform from which Aurangzeb launched his attack on Golconda.

When the Quli Qutb Shahi dynasty was ruling the Deccan region successfully, Aurangazeb had set his eyes on the Golkonda fort. Buoyed by victories over various kingdoms in 1656, Aurangazeb directed his forces to the surrounding areas of Golkonda. Abdullah Qutb Shah, who ruled Golkonda at the time, shut the gates to the fort. Aurangazeb looked for a place to launch a cannon attack on Golconda. When he found an elevated place, he used as a platform to fire at the fort.

Despite persistent attacks from the Mughal army, Golconda stood firm. Aurangzeb realised the Qutb Shahi stronghold was impregnable and returned without any success. The fort walls, however weakened from  repeated firing. To strengthen the defences and prevent future attacks, Abdullah Qutb Shah made this elevated platform a part of Golconda by building a wall around it. This part of Golconda was called Naya Qila or the “New Fort”.

The Naya Qila Trail was a part of the Hyderabad Heritage Week celebrations (19-29 Nov 2015) and was organised by HydTrails. Ms Anuradha Reddy, of INTACH lead the walk and  explained the various heritage and historic aspects of the site.

The Naya Qila is ahead of the Jamali Darwaza. As we entered the complex amidst the vast expanses of green, to the right side we stopped at a site which had a few smaller structures and some excavations. This is the Naya Qila Talab  – a water tank that was situated within the Naya Qila, and constituted part of the irrigation systems connecting the water bodies inside and outside the Naya Qila area. In the past, Abdullah Qutb Shah had used the lakes to create his own pleasure retreat surrounded by orchards. The services of hydraulics experts were used to create cascading pools which gently flowed creating an enchanting garden called Bagh-e-Naya Qila.

A little over half km walk along the road took us to a huge tree, that is said to be over 400 years  old! Baobab trees are native to the African continent and this tree was brought by the Arab traders who gifted it to the Abdullah Qutb Shah.

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Hathiyan ka jhaad or Elephant sized tree – a baobab tree with a massive girth of 25m

Adjacent to the huge tree stands the Mullah Khiyali Masjid that was built to honour the royal poet of the Qutb Shahi court.

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Mosque Mullah Khiyali

The Naya Qila was designed and constructed by , the royal architect of the Qutb Shahi dynasty – Mustafa Khan; who had also designed and constructed the Makkah Masjid and Toli Masjid.

On our way back we stopped at the  Mosque of Mustafa Khan(seen in the images below) which was built in his memory. Devoid of turrets or minarets, the walls were lined with a series of arches both on the inside and outside and space within was filled with serenity and austerity.

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Mustafa Khan Mosque

An elevated view can perhaps give a better idea of the interiors of the Mustafa Khan mosque.

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Mustafa Khan Mosque

From the top of the Mustafa Khan mosque one can also see the two canons present atop the Manjun burj.

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The contrast – the towers of the past and the present
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The long line of rooms was perhaps the army quarters (an educated guess)

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The panoramic views of the Fort and around can help us understand how how difficult it may have been for builders, given that they did not have the technology or infrastructure that is available to us today. These walls and towers have been witness to wars and rise and fall of dynasties and governments. To some extent, we get a fair idea of how historic events may have unfolded. These make strong cases for one to appreciate and strive to preserve our past..or the future generations may lose out and never have no clue about it.

Personally, before my visit to Naya Qila , I had no idea about the tales and historic structures that stood within these spaces. All I had heard about was the gigantic baobab tree and a mosque that stood beside it. I hope and look forward to a time when these are made available to the general public, since it is a part of our heritage and collective wealth and everyone deserves to at least know about it.

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(lakshmi.prabhala@yahoo.co.in)

Architecture · Daily Life · Heritage · Monument

Kaman-e-Sehar-Batil

The text below is an excerpt from an article published in the Hindu titled Glory of the Gates – http://www.hindu.com/mp/2004/03/10/stories/2004031000490300.htm.

The western arch was the grandest, most significant and has an interesting legend attached to it. Called the “Kaman-e-Sehar-Batil” (the arch of the magic breaker) now corrupted to Kaman Sher-e-Batil and Mitti-Ka-Sher, it was the gateway leading to the fairy tale royal palaces of Dad Mahal, Kudadad Mahal, Lal Mahal, Chandan Mahal, Sajan Mahal, Nadi Mahal and Jinan Mahal on a vast triangular area extending up to the river Musi. Unfortunately none of these palaces exist today.

It was owing to its importance, that Mir Momin had erected a large stone pillar by its side and inscribed on it certain Quranic verses, to ward off evil spirits and neutralise the effect of black magic on the king and the royal family. Built in the “pillar and lintel style”, this lofty arch’s shutters were made of expensive ebony and sandalwood studded with nails of gold and rich in-lay work with precious stones. The inside of the arch was decorated with a screen made of cloth with gold work, maintaining the privacy of the palace complex.

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.

Architecture · Daily Life · Monument

Charkaman – Introduction

The text below is an excerpt from an article published in the Hindu titled Glory of the Gates – http://www.hindu.com/mp/2004/03/10/stories/2004031000490300.htm. 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 · Daily Life · Heritage · Monument · Uncategorized

Khurshid Jah Baradari

The images that were seen in the last few posts were the interiors and details of the Khurshidjah Baradari, known more for the playground and cricket club than its history and heritage.

Although it is called a Baradari, the twelve doors aren’t present. Instead you see eight iconic  imposing pillars supporting the pediment , reminiscent of the Residency.  It is also known as Devdi of Nawab Khurshidjah Bahadur. [ A devdi is  a noble mansion where the noblemen of Hyderabad lived. They comprised of grand halls, serene courtyards, and vast spaces] The courtyard of this monument is said to have a star-shaped fountain, and to the west stands the Ishrat Mahal which was used as a court room.  The mansion was designed by Khurshid Jah’s grandfather, Shams-ul-Umara Amee-c-Kabir and on his death was completed by Khurshid Jah’s father.

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Heritage

Jubilee Hall Throne

Known to be the richest man in the world during his time, H.E.H. Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, Asaf Jah VII, was the last Nizam of the Princely State of Hyderabad, until it was invaded and annexed by India in 1948. He ranks fifth in the list of richest people in the history of the world.

The throne you see in the image was made of gold and wood and was used during the silver jubilee celebrations of the Nizam VII in 1937. He received many gifts, souvenirs, and mementos from various neighbouring rulers as well dignitaries around the world, specifically during the silver jubilee celebration. These artifacts are now housed in the Nizam’s Museum in Purani Haveli, one of the palaces of the Nizams and the official residence of the Nizam VI Mahboob Ali Pasha.

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.