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US aid for tomb restoration

Special Correspondent

Hyderabad: Mahalaqa Bai, the 18 {+t} {+h} century poetess-courtesan, is getting a new lease of life. Her tomb and the adjacent garden at the foothills of Moula Ali are getting refurbished. Anyone dropping here now will wonder whether it was the same ruins people chose to avoid.

Thanks to generous funding by the US Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation, a fine piece of architecture is being retrieved from getting lost. In collaboration with the Muslim Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation (MESCO) and the Centre for Deccan Studies, the monument is in advanced stage of restoration. And so is the colourful life and cultural legacy of Maha Laqa Bai whom the Nizam II gave the title of ‘Madam Moon cheek'.

With the Rs. 50 lakh US grant, more than 50 per cent restoration work is complete and the entire site would be ready for opening in January, said Juliet Wurr, acting Counsel General, US Consulate, Hyderabad. She told presspersons that US supported cultural preservation in south and central Asia. The whole idea took birth when Scott Kugle, professor, Emory University, Atlanta, decided to visit Maha Laqa's tomb to write a book on her. The state of neglect moved him and he discussed the idea of restoring it with MESCO and CDS and the US agreed to fund the project.

HCIC took up the work in February. As part of the project, 17 panels describing the history and significance of Mahalaqa Bai was unveiled and the same would be housed at her tomb once the restoration was complete.

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