HYDERABAD: Situated to the north west of Mausoleum of Muhammad Qutb Shah -- the founder of Hyderabad and patron of Charminar -- in the Qutb Shahi tombs complex at Golconda, stand a pair of tombs dedicated to two women, Premamati and Premamati . Legends have it that these two women were dancers and singers in the court of the Shahi king, Sultan Abdullah Qutb Shah. But make no mistake, they were no ordinary citizens of the era.
The gravestone of Premamati reads, “From all eternity Pemmati was a flower of Paradise”. These words are said to have been inscribed on Premamati’s tomb by Abdullah Qutb Shah himself, which use ‘Pemmati’ to refer to Premamati, instead of her original name. While Taramati is said to have commissioned a mosque built within the Golconda Fort.
According to H K Sherwani, author of History of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty, the fact that the graves of these two women find a place in the royal necropolis with ‘shapely’ domes, speaks of their high status in the social and political circles of the time. It is also symbolic of the fact that even in the medieval times, it was possible to move up the socio-political ladder through merit.
However, today these tombs no longer serve to commemorate the incredible lives of these politically-empowered women of the Qutb dynasty. They stand hidden behind two inches of cement from the shoddy restoration works of the last century, or marred by graffitis in poor taste. And so they are now in the crosshairs of the second phase of conservation works being taken up by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). The AKTC is carrying out the works in association with the State government which is motivated by the `70 lakh funds it received from the US government for the project.
“Right now we are working on Premamati Tomb. We are now removing the layers of cement which would give an idea about the extent of the damage. We will also repair the holes that were drilled on the domes of the tomb during previous repair works. We will be taking the layer beneath the cement as the final level, which was made of lime plaster, and will continue the repair works on that,” Prashant Banerjee, the Conservation Programme Officer of AKTC, told Express.
Apart from poor restoration and years of mishandling by visitors, the conservators are faced with persistent water seepage, algae and missing/broken stucco details.“The insides of the dome are ornamentally designed, but now covered in algae. They will be cleared first using a brush. Signs of rainwater ingress can be seen in the soffit of the internal dome. Removal of cement concrete and subsequent replacement with lime concrete will help in drying of imbibed moisture,” continued Banerjee.
Works expected to conclude by Sept
Officials said that they expect the restoration work to start on Taramati Tomb in the next two weeks, and that the works would conclude by September