Hyderabad: Historic monuments are in utter neglect

Hyderabad: The erstwhile Hyderabad state was the largest among the Princely states before the Independence.  It has a glorious past of the Asaf Jahi Rule in Deccan.  The iconic monuments constructed during the rule are a living testimony to their magnificent past.

However, due to the apathy and neglect of the archaeological department, these monuments are decaying and are in a dilapidated condition and they need urgent attention.

Chowmahalla Palace is a living example of neglect. On 27 June 2020, a window of the iconic Chowmahalla palace wall near the Khilwat ground had fallen due to incessant rain.  Scaffolding was set up for repairing work.  However, the work has not been started yet. 

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Chowmahalla Palace (Chow Mahallat means “four palaces” in Dakhini Urdu) is the palace of the Nizams in Hyderabad, Telangana, India.  It was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad during their rule. The palace was built by Nizam Salabat Jung. The palace remains the property of Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah, heir of the late Nizam Osman Ali Khan.

Nizam Salabat Jung started its construction in 1750, which was completed by Nizam Afzal ad-Dawlah, Asaf Jah V  in 1869.

The palace is unique for its style and elegance. It is a synthesis of many architectural styles and influences that emerged during its construction. The palace consists of two courtyards as well as the grand Khilwat (the Darbar Hall), fountains and gardens. The palace originally covered 45 acres or 180,000 sq. yards, but only 12 acres or 49,000 sq. yards remain today.

This palace was restored between 2005 and 2010 under the patronage of Princess Esra.  There are four palaces known as Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal.  The clock tower at the main entrance of the Chowmahalla Palace was installed in 1915.

The UNESCO Asia Pacific Merit award for cultural heritage conservation was presented to Chowmahalla Palace on 15 March 2010. UNESCO representative Takahiko Makino formally handed over the plaque and certificate to Princess Esra, former wife and GPA holder of Prince Mukarram Jah Bahadur.

Similar is the case of the iconic Shalibanda Clock Tower and City College buildings which were not repaired for years due to which both these structures have become dilapidated and decrepit. Repairing work of Shalibanda Clock Tower and other historical buildings was started in the past but the work had to be stopped due to paucity of funds. Chowmahalla is a great attraction for foreign tourists and it is high time the authorities take prompt action to safeguard this historical palace and other city monuments.

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