Activists fume as GHMC neglects restoration of historic Katora Houz

Hyderabad: Heritage lovers and activists were up in arms against the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) as the civic body continues to delay the restoration process of the 450-year-old wall of the Katora Houz at Golconda Fort.

The old retaining boundary wall of Katora Houz, the magnificent tank of the ancient Golconda Qila (fort) here, collapsed in the heavy rains that caused floods in October. Heritage activists allege that the tardy maintenance has resulted in the collapsed wall of Katora Houz.

Worried residents of Golconda Qila have called upon the Archeological Survey India (ASI) and the state government, the activists’ groups and residents urging the ASI to renovate the tank.

In 2019, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) in collaboration with the Telangana Tourism Development Corporation Limited (TTDCL) and GHMC decided to renovate and develop Katora Houz as a tourist spot. Though the tank was cleaned several times previously, proper development or restoration works have not been taken by any of the state authority, as Katora Houz waits for a new life.

Speaking to, Anuradha Reddy, convener of the INTACH Hyderabad Chapter said that it is the responsibility of ASI to preserve, renovate and maintain the heritage tank. “The four-acre lake will be soon illegally grabbed. Some of them are parking their vehicles in front of it and dumping waste into it already,” she lamented.

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Dilapidated walls running to 350 metres on the Katora Houz caved in during the city witnessed heavy rains with floods.

“In November, a proposal has been sent to the Director-General office of ASI after the approval from the higher authorities the restoration works will be taken up,” said Naveen Kumar of ASI, Hyderabad.    

The shallow four-acre lake has stone and limestone mortar flooring.

It is said that the Katora Houz was once filled with rose water for Ibrahim Qutb Shah, who visited the place and enjoyed its ambience. However, in stark contrast now, thanks to the apathy of the citizens and the officialdom, one-kilometre radius of the lake is filled with murky water and are also covered with water hyacinth and weed.

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During the Qutb Shahi period, the Katora Houz used to get water from dedicated underground pipes connected to the Talaab-e-Durg, now known as Durgam Cheruvu. Now, sewage from nearby localities is also discharged into the tank and with its boundary walls collapse the tank is turning into a dumping yard with people urinating near it, which is supposed to be a protected heritage structure. It is said that the lake also came to the rescue of people inside the Golconda Fort in 1687, when Abul Hassan, the last Qutb Shahi king was fighting a war with the forces of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb before they managed to get into the fort.

The Katora Houz (Persian: well) is part of a network to store and transport water inside the massive fortress. It was one of the water bodies that helped the last Qutb Shahi king, Abul Hasan, survive an eight-month siege enforced by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1687.

Over the past few years, sewage from the surrounding areas is being let into the lake through a 609-mm pipeline.

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