Monumental effort

The Qutb Shahi Heritage Park in Hyderabad is a unique necropolis complex built during the reign of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, which ruled the Hyderabad region in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 2013, the Tata Trusts partnered the Aga Khan Trust for Culture to restore the major tombs and structures at the site. The results — as these before-and-after images reveal — have been striking.

The tomb of Jamsheed Quli Qutb Shah, the second ruler of the dynasty, is a graceful octagonal structure that stands at the western edge of the park. Conservation work on this monument included cleaning of the dome, replastering the structure with lime mortar and restoring its plinth, all of which took two years to complete.
The clear water in the ‘after’ image reflects the arches and corridors of the stepwell known as Badi Baoli. To transform it from its dilapidated state took more than four years and plenty of skilled and unskilled labour.
The tomb of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah soars high with exquisite plaster work. The inside façade of the tomb was cleared of debris and cement plaster, the patina was cleaned and plant roots were removed.
The corner minarets of the Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah tomb shine with something like their original lustre. They were cleaned and covered with a final finish of lime putty, restoring the traditional lime mortar layer. Conservation work on the façade included removing cement plaster and ensuring that no further water damage takes place.
Restoration work on the imposing Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk tomb took nearly two years. The monument has exquisite stucco work — petals below the dome and the merlons on the parapet and minarets — which was redone using traditional techniques (with references sourced from archival images dating back to the 1860s).