The ‘Tajmahal of MP’ – the Hoshang Shah’s tomb at the hill fort complex of Mandu in Dhar district – is back to its dazzling days, thanks to a technology developed by the Archaeological Survey of India.
The chemical wing of the ASI’s MP Circle has used a ‘composite polishing technique’ to restore the original sheen of the 15th century tomb.
The breakthrough restoration technology, developed by the chemical wing and used for the first time in the country, has also given the monument an additional surface strength to bear the vagaries of nature.
The dazzle of the marble tomb — on which Mughal architects are supposed to have partially based the design of the world-famous Tajmahal — was eclipsed by centuries-old layers of grime and biological growths till a few months ago.
When the restoration work was taken up, the conventional techniques of chemical cleaning left the chemical wing team — based in Indore — disappointed.
Since the marble used for constructing the mausoleum was somewhat porous, the grime and biological growth had been ingrained deep in the structure, said superintending archaeological chemist Dr R K Chaturvedi and assistant superintending archaeological chemist Shrikant Misra, the team leaders hwo were in Bhopal on a tour. When the usual restoration techniques like clay pack did not work, laboratory-level experiments were carried out to find the solution, they told the Hindustan Times.
“We decided to use Oxalic acid. The acid not only helped cleaned the ingrained grime but also formed a very thin protective layer of Calcium Oxalate on the monument – a formation that is far stronger than Calcium Carbonate (the original composition of the marble),’’ Dr Chaturvedi said.
Misra added that the film is very thin and invisible and would protect the monument for a longer period. Superintending archaeologist of ASI, MP Circle, K K Mohammad said the breakthrough was one of the finest achievements of the chemical wing.
Hoshang Shah’s tomb is considered one of the finest pieces of architecture in Central India and its neglect was painful, he said. Landscaping work in the hill fort complex of Mandu – mainly around the tomb – carried out under the guidance of chief horticulturist of ASI Dr Harbir Singh of Agra has lent an additional beauty to the monument, he added.
Inspiration for Tajmahal
Hoshang Shah Ghouri ruled Malwa from 1405 AD to 1435 AD. During his reign the capital of Malwa was shifted to Mandu permanently.
His mausoleum is a tribute to the finest of architecture and it is well established that Ustad Hamid – who was instrumental in building of Tajmahal in Agra — visited the marble tomb before taking up the construction. He probably took some tips from the architecture. An inscription on the Hoshang Shahh’s tomb bears testimony to this. The pillar and brackets show imprints of Hindu architecture.