Special Reports

Qutub Shahi legacy of Hyderabad

By Azmathulla Shariff

The remnants of Qutub Shahi heritage of Golkonda fort and Qutub Shahi tombs that lie to the southwest overlooking the city of Hyderabad remained ignored by successive governments. These heritage sites attract visitors despite the fact that it is shabbily maintained. These magnificent Qutub Sahi tombs remind us of the great patronage for Persian craftsmanship, Islamic art and confluence of unparalleled Indo-Islamic architectural heritage of Deccan by the Qutub Shahi kings. The remnants of Golconda heritage is as protected monument under the Archeological Survey of India, while the seven Qutub Shahi tombs are at the mercy of the Andhra Pradesh Government under Department of Archeology and Museums. Incidentally, both are ticketed monuments of this historic city, gaining immense potential in Deccan as hot spots of tourism and this continue to generate solid revenue to the respective departments. The maintenance of both these monuments is too shabby. The remnants of Golkonda fort starts from a little distance closer to the Qutub Shahi tombs and is located amidst mindless encroachments clearly violating the bylaws governing protected monumental heritage sites.

The entry to the famous Golkonda fort starts from the clasping portico at ground level followed by other remnants as we move further and further up the mound crossing zanana hall (women corridor), armory, nagina bagh(garden of passion), jhule khana(cradle), Lakkana & Maddana office (record office), Ramdas jail, Ibrahim mosque, Maa Kali temple, durbar hall, kings way, zanana masjid (women mosque), women dining hall,  Rani mahal, judgement hall, Bhagmati palace, Taramati Palace, Masjid all  spread within 40 acre fort area littered by wild growth of vegetation and equally littered by the visitors. Ever since it was declared a protected monument by the ASI no major conservation efforts were made, the heritage conservation authorities do nothing more than carrying out structural repairs only under alarming conditions. Rank vegetation and little conservation have definitely reduced it to a heap of royal rubble. Development of little patches with Mexican grass and ornamental plants at the entrance do not elevate the imÄage unless the entire fort area is taken into account and consider it worth developing. Immediate attention and urgent need to remove wild vegetation that has cropped up in every nook and corner of this fort is required to enhance its appearance. Occasionally meager funds are granted to undertake patch work, which is insufficient considering the enormity of the monumental sites of this stature.

Qutub Shahi tombs the final resting place of Qutub Shahi kings, spread in a  largely vast area with 70 odd structures, became a state protected monument under an agreement between the Nizam trust and Director of Archeology, Andhra Pradesh in 1965. This department wrests control on this heritage site which houses seven tombs belonging to the Qutub Shahi kings besides mosques and other structures of less significance. All these tombs have been created with rich craftsmanship in mortar with intricate work of art in Persian mosaic and tile work which has mostly eroded with time at many places. Only patches of these colorful works are now visible after the chemical wash. What is surprising is that the 82 acres vast area has a presence of several mosques besides other structures while three mosques are inhabited in the nearby localities. Tremendous growth of wild plants and weeds are responsible for undermining the importance of Qutub Shahi legacy.

Meager promotional effort by the administration, lack of public awareness have reduced the importance of these structures. Activities of undesirable elements who scribble the walls with colors or leave engravings in lime mortar plaster has further aggravated in reducing it to the state of neglected monument.

Inadequate staff in maintaining of these monuments is a prime factor which needs to be addressed on priority besides allocation of sufficient funding from both Central and State government agencies to enhance the image of these priceless heritages. The recent grant allocation of 40 million rupees under Central Financial Assistance is a bounty to the Department of Archeology and Museums, Hyderabad. “The department has begun utilizing the grant in the form of laying of two meter wide granite slabs surrounding the platforms of all major mausoleums in an effort to strengthen the foundation of the tombs” says Dr. G.V. Rama Krishna Rao, Deputy Director, Technical, Department of Archeology and Museums, Hyderabad. Former Deputy Director, M. A. Qayum says “It has been a great difficulty in identifying and engaging skilled labour in ancient masonry, the department does its best in accomplishing the task despite technical difficulties”. The departmental staffs claim that the funds will also be utilized in beautifying the area with landscapes besides strengthening and protecting the heritage site. The funding by the Central government should encourage the Andhra Pradesh government which has promised an assistance of 10 million rupees after complete utilization of Central grant. Now it is the turn of the respective departments to do there bit to conserve and beautify the monumental remnants under their control and encourage memorable tourism in Hyderabad

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 December 2010 on page no. 17

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