Hyderabad: IF walls were to speak, the decrepitating walls and crumbling cornices of the once magnificent Erum Manzil would be singing praises to the Telangana High Court for saving it from going into oblivion and to be reincarnated as the new State Assembly Building.
The Vastu obsessed Chief Minister of Telangana, K.Chandra Shekar Rao(KCR) whose impulses are often governed by superstition, rather than by logic and imperatives was after the property not to restore its old glory, but to raze it to the ground and build a new Vastu compliant wing of the State Legislative Assembly.
Before Erum Manzil, there were several other properties and open lands of the city in the crosshair of the CM’s drive to build a new Secretariat and Assembly complexes that would be lucky and fortunate for his government. He first eyed the TB and Chest Hospital in Erragadda. Snubbed by protests political and non-political, he turned to the Polo Bison Parade ground in Secunderabad. And yet again he had to back out at disavowal of the Central Government, Defence Ministry and NGO’s, till he could lay his hands on the neglected palace of Fakhrul Mulk housing several government offices. According to media reports, groundbreaking ceremonies for the two buildings was performed by KCR, in the presence of Andhra CM and the State Governor on June 27th.
But the High Court accepting PIL petitions filed late than never to prevent the demolition has for the time being foiled the grand plans of the CM. What is ironic is the blatant turn- about of KCR has taken negating by actions, his vociferous praise of the past history of Hyderabad and respect for the Ganga -Jammuni culture of the state. According to press reports his government will contest and pursue the case till the last.
The much-touted Erum Manzil was built about 150 years ago by a titled nobleman, Nawab Safdar Jung Musheer ud Dowla Fakhrul Mulk 11 (second) of the court of Nizam the V1, Mir Mehboob Ali Khan Siddiqui Bayafandi, of the erstwhile state of Hyderabad. Standing on 300 acres of land on a hillock, the 600 room palace housed the staff from chief butler to the washermen. And royalty in huge halls and rooms with high fluted arches and ornate delicate plasterwork.
Historian say, Fakhrul Mulk, who had a passion for building palaces had a bet with another noble from the house of Paighas, Sir Vicar ul Umra,as to who would be first in building an elevated palace. The wager ended in completion of two magnificent structures, Erum Manzil and Vicar Manzil in Begumpet, a short distance of each other. The competition ended in a draw.
Erum Manzil is one of the several grand palaces that once laced the historic city of Hyderabad. Historian and Research Scholar, Dr M.A. Naeem, in his memorable 399 pages Coffee Table book illustrated with a rare collection of 600 pictures of the former rulers,their courts and the grand palaces and Deodis titled,’The splendor of Hyderabad” has made mention of about 25 to 30 palaces,deodis and Mahals of the Nawabs, Rajhas and Jageerdars of the Dominion of Hyderabad.
But only handful are left, and some of them needing immediate attention by the retainers, government and heritage buffs, otherwise they will go the same way as others that are now traceless, not a brick is left of them.
By Mr. Syed Qamar Hasan (Email id: email@example.com)