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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Taj Mahal’s inspiration set to get a facelift

Sravani Sarkar, Hindustan Times  Bhopal, July 08, 2013
First Published: 11:46 IST(8/7/2013) | Last Updated: 11:54 IST(8/7/2013)

Considered as the original inspiration for iconic Taj Mahal and the first complete marble structure to be ever built, the over five centuries old Hoshang Shah’s tomb in Mandu (Dhar district) would be getting an important facelift shortly.

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The Bhopal circle office of Archaeological Survey of India ( ASI) has finalised a restoration and conservation plan for the tomb under a National Cultural Fund (NCF) Project.

The restoration efforts would not only vastly improve the look of the marble tomb -- one of the most important monuments at the hill fort destination of Mandu (230kms west of Bhopal), but also enhance its life by strengthening the structure.

The superintending archaeologist of Bhopal circle of ASI, N Taher, told HT that recently it was noticed that the dowels (iron clamps) in the structure were rusting and causing marble to bulge and exfoliate (flake). Also, iron oxide leak on the marble was noticed.

“There is also ingress of water along the wall posing a threat to the magnificent structure. Thus, there was a decision to restore and conserve the monument,” Taher, who completed four years as SA of Bhopal circle office on Sunday, said.

The main claim to the fame of Hoshang Shah’s tomb (reportedly built in 1440AD) is that it was the first original marble structure to be built in the country and said to be one of the major inspirations for Taj Mahal of Agra.

There is an inscription on the tomb mentioned that in 1659, four of Shahjehan’s architects visited Mandu to study the Hoshang Shah’s tomb before building the Taj and were stunned by its magnificence.

Thus, the ASI has decided to restore the eaves (roof projections) and the battlements on the top of the tomb that have cracked and are precariously balanced in many places. Parts of the eaves have already broken off, leaving ugly gaps in structure.

As a preparatory process, the ASI team inclusive of assistant superintending archaeologist M Joseph and other staff undertook conditional survey to detect each breakage in the structure and their dimensions. Also, detailed financial estimates were prepared.

Now, with the base work completed and the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) assuring funds for the restoration work, the Bhopal circle office is awaiting go ahead from its headquarters to start the restoration-cum-conservation work.

During the project, marble slabs of suitable quality (see box) would be used to restore and replace necessary parts.


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