Here's how Hyderabad's step-wells preserve the city's cultural framework
Ratish Nanda from the Aga Khan Trust tells us how step-wells are revitalising the city’s love of travel and tourism by conserving its architectural significance
The conservation of the Qutub Shahi step-wells, according to Indian conservation architect and Projects Director of Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Ratish Nanda, has been an endeavour to build a model approach that could be repeated throughout Hyderabad and indeed, Telangana. He believes that there are still at least 100 step-wells in Hyderabad.
Along with their conservation, which should go beyond cleaning up collected trash, the area might be enhanced to add gardens, cafés, exhibitions, and other tourist attractions for both locals of Hyderabad and visitors to the city. “Across the world, we at the Aga Khan Trust for Culture undertake conservation projects that help improve the quality of life in historic cities. In the Indian context, it is especially important that heritage assets are seen as a means to achieve multiple development objectives and a sustainable resource,” he says.
The conservation effort is made possible by hiring master craftsmen, such as stone carvers, masons, and tile makers, who use traditional materials, tools, and building craft techniques to replicate the work done 400 years ago, Nanda further adds in his opening to us about the artisans and workers who assisted him in the restoration projects.
We ask him about what he thinks a monument tells us about its personality. He believes that every construction is unique. The focus of any conservation effort should be on the actions that must be performed to guarantee that the significance of the structures is preserved. “Our efforts have been focused on removing 20th-century cement from the Qutub Shahi Heritage Park and restoring beautiful stucco patterns using original materials like lime mortar and glazed tiles,” he shares. Additionally, since the surroundings are thought to be just as important as the structures themselves, the conservation effort on the same is combined with the landscape restoration of the tomb gardens.