US Govt to fund conservation of tombs of Paigah family in Hyderabad

On January 10, the United States government announced financial support worth $250,000 for conserving and restoring six of the Paigah tombs located at Santoshnagar in Hyderabad. These tombs were built in the 18th and 19th centuries. The US Chargé d’Affaires and the US Consul General Jennifer Larson visited the Paigah tombs complex to announce the funding.

Also known as Maqhbara Shams al-Umara, these tombs belong to the family of Paigah that served the Nizam of Hyderabad. Reportedly, the Paigah family was one of the most influential and powerful of the time. The tombs of several generations of the Paigah family are located in the complex. These tombs are made of lime and mortar and marble and are considered one of the city’s major tourist spots.

As per the Telangana government’s website, the Paigah family claimed to be descendants of the second caliph of Islam, Hazrath Omar Bin Al-Khattab. Paigahs were known to be wealthier than the average Maharaja of the country at that time and had privileges, including maintaining their court, palaces and private armies. Paigah is a Persian language word that means ‘footstool’ or the Right-hand man. The website reads, “The tombs are the finest examples of the enthralling Indo-Islamic architecture, which is a blend of both features of Asaf Jahi and Rajputana style.”

In her statement, Ambassador Jones said this was the fifth such project supported by the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP). The US Consulate will fund it in Hyderabad. Furthermore, Aga Khan Trust for Culture is going to implement the project. She said, “This may be my first visit to Hyderabad, but it is not the first time the US government has supported the conservation and restoration of significant historical sites here in the city. We are proud to be part of the Government of Telangana’s efforts to conserve these magnificent monuments, and I’m grateful to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for all of its efforts here and throughout India.”

Chief Executive Officer of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture Ratish Nanda accompanied Ambassador Jones and Consul General Larson while touring the complex. Earlier, Consul General Larson inaugurated another AFCP project at the Qutb Shahi Tombs in Hyderabad. She said, “By working with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the State of Telangana, we can ensure the integrity of these unique cultural sites for generations to come.”

Notably, in 2001, the US Department of State created AFCP. Since its creation, it has funded 1,100 projects in 133 countries. In two decades, $2 million have been invested in India in projects related to the documentation, conservation and restoration of 23 such sites.

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