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.

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 · Landscape · Monument


fort-from the burj-web

Perhaps, some visuals of the Hyderabad of medieval times still endure.

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Culture · Events · Heritage · People

Yellamma Temple Bonalu 2012

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The Sunday following the Bonalu celebrations at Secunderabad at the Ujjaini Mahankali Temple, the rest of Hyderabad celebrates the festival. The more grand and prominent of these occur at Balkampet’s Yellamma temple as well as the Old City’s Laldarwaza.

Here I present a series of visuals at the Balkampet Yellamma temple on Jul 15, when Bonalu was celebrated.  I couldn’t stay long enough to witness the Potharaju and the other processions.

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Events · Heritage · People · Street

Lashkar Bonalu 2012

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After the Bonalu kicks off at Golconda fort it is celebrated in Secunderabad. The Mahankai Bonalu Jathara  is probably the most grand celebration of the Bonalu in the twin cities with the largest turnout. The energy and the spirit of the festival must be experienced to be believed.

The preparations for the festival happen on a grand scale where flowers and pots are decorated. The arrangements are made for separate queues for the devotees.

The text below is from Times of India.

A slice of history, women with colourful pots, a man dancing to the sound of reverberating drum beats and what have you?

The festival’s history can be traced to as recent as the 18th century, unlike most other festivals whose ancestry can be traced back to the hoary past. The story has it that in 1813, Suriti Appaiah, a ‘doli’ bearer in a military battalion, was transferred to Ujjain. Cholera broke out in Hyderabad around that time claiming thousands of lives.

Appaiah and his associates went to the Mahankaal temple in Ujjain and prayed that if people were saved from the epidemic, they would install the idol of Mahankali in Secunderabad. On their return, they installed a wooden idol of the goddess in Secunderabad in July 1815. This was replaced with a stone statue in 1964.

Following brahminical traditions, all hoary Hindu festivals are marked by astrological precision: their timings marked in terms of the sun/moon entering certain constellations in certain months. But Bonalu is a festival of the farming and lower classes and is certainly not brahminical. So the timing of the celebrations are not so rigorous.

Bonalu is celebrated in various parts of the city on different days, all Sundays. On the first Sunday of ‘aashaada’, celebrations are held at the temple at Golconda fort. On the second Sunday, at Ujjain Mahankali in Secunderabad, and the third Sunday, at the Matheswari temple of Lal Darwaza in Old City.
B Narsing Rao, a social activist says: “The celebrations begin at theGolconda, on July 22, followed by Secunderabad on July 29 and at the OldCity on August 5”.
Bonalu involves the worship of Kali and her various forms. She destroys disease and keeps pestilence at arms length. Narsing Rao adds: “Three deities — Maisamma, Pochamma and Elamma, are worshipped. The performances are marked by an element of agression. Potharaju, a masculine power, is believed to weed out all evils. Earlier, they used to sacrifice a he-buffalo. Now, goats or chickens are sacrificed to ward off the ‘evil spirit’. During Bonalu, colourful brass pots, smeared with haldi and kumkum, and decorated with neem leaves are offered to the goddess. The pots usually contain a mixture of raw rice, jaggery, and milk. Sometimes, curd is also used. G Shankar, who lives near the Mahankali temple in Secunderabad, says: “A month before the actual festival begins, there is a ritual called ‘ghatam’, wherein the deity is decked up with flowers and taken to the doorstep of those who cannot come to the temple”.
He adds: “On the first day of Bonalu, ‘phalaru bandulu’, a buffalo cart, laden with fruits is taken around (phalaru means fruits and bandlu, cart). On the second day of the festival, a ritual known as ‘rangam’ is held. Here, a woman stands on a wet clay pot and makes predictions. This is held mostly between8.30 am and 9.30. An hour later, a procession is taken out on an elephant up to Mettuguda. Earlier, Mettuguda was the border of the city. To this day, the tradition continues”.
“There’s a lot of revelry attached to the festivities. Since animal sacrifice is banned at the temples, people mostly do it at home”, says Shankar.
“Bonalu is celebrated in the Old City too. There are three main temples that celebrate the festival: Akkanna Madanna temple in Haribowli, Muthyalu temple in Shah Ali Banda and the Mahankali temple at Lal Darwaza.”
However, of these, celebrations at the 400-year-old Akkanna Madanna temple are the most popular. A bonalu procession is taken around the area on an elephant with the image of goddess Mahankali. Ayub Khan, who has seen Bonalu celebrations for long says that fifty years ago, Muslims too would participate in this festival. “In fact, one year, a Muslim was the potharaju.” Ujjain Mahankali temple’s executive director K Krishnaswamy says: “Every year, lakhs of devotees congregate to pay obeisance to Mahankali. Since some areas in Bidar and Maharashtra were part of the Nizam’s dominions, people from those areas also come here to take part in the celebrations”.Other than these big temples, many villages have their own version of the festival. Gandicheru, a tiny hamlet tucked away near theRamoji Film City, celebrates it by worshiping a small idol of Poshamma mata, decorated with vermillion and turmeric.
Lalithamma, who has been part of this for over 50 years says: “Every year, a family spends around Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 for Bonalu. We start decorating the pots with haldi, kumkum and neem leaves and by evening, we are all set for the procession. This goes on till midnight”, she says. “The purpose behind this ritual”, chips in another veteran Gangamma is that “our children should remain healthy” Source: Times of IndiaHyderabad21 July 2007

Culture · Events · Heritage · People

Bonalu 2012

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The month-long Bonalu festival started last Sunday(Jun 24) at the Golconda Fort. Every Sunday ladies would make offerings to the Goddess and carry it to the temple in decorated pots. They are at times accompanied by strong able bodied men who are smeared with a lot of turmeric, wear a garland of lemons and carry whips made of ropes.

One can read more about the festival on wiki 

Over years the festivals(not just this one) seem to get louder and more ostentatious. There are some occurrences that I have noticed for the first time and shall add them as captions. If you have anything to add please do leave a note as a comment(s).

Over the following weeks, I shall try cover the festival at various parts of the city.[Please watch out for this space]

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.

Culture · People

Bathukamma Panduga

Celebrated by women across Telangana on Durgasthami, this festival is about colours and flowers. Varying sizes of floral mountains are created, placed in the centre and women sing songs and move in circles around them

More about the festival can be read on wiki

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.