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US sponsors excavation project at Qutub Shahi Tombs

Hyderabad: The US is sponsoring an excavation project at the famous Qutub Shahi Tombs here with a grant of $101,612, it was announced here on Friday.

Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which is undertaking restoration and conservation project of the royal necropolis, received the grant from US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP).

The excavation began in September last year and has already made some discoveries from beneath the ground at the 16th-17th century necropolis.

US’ Deputy Ambassador to India Michael Pelletier on Friday visited the tombs for to see first-hand some of the discoveries and was briefed by AKTC project director Ratish Nanda about the ongoing efforts. The project is to conclude in December this year.

Impressed by the discoveries made at the site, Pelletier congratulated AKTC team for their passion and dedication in preserving the Hyderabad’s rich cultural heritage and bringing it to the attention of the public.

The discoveries include 16th century enclosure wall of first Qutub Shahi ruler Sultan Quli’s tomb. The wall was found nine feet under the ground.

The excavation project at Qutb Shahi Tombs is the second AFCP grant that the city of Hyderabad has received. In 2009, it had supported the refurbishment of the garden tomb of MahLaqa Bai at Moula Ali with a grant of $106,200.

The US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) was set up in 2001 to support for the preservation of cultural heritage in various countries. It has supported projects to preserve over 800 cultural projects in 125 countries around the world.

AKTC had commenced the restoration project at Qutub Shahi Tombe in 2013. Though it had initially put the project cost at Rs.100 crore, officials said it may exceed the figure.

An official of the Telangana government said about Rs.200 crore will be spent in two to three years. The state government plans to propose the tombs along with Golconda Fort as the UNESCO world heritage site in 2018.

The tombs complex is spread over 104 acres area with 72 monuments – 20 major including seven tombs and 52 minor monuments.