Hyderabad: A portion of the historic Asmangadh palace has been demolished by the St. Joseph’s Public school in the city. The incident, which has enraged several heritage activists, took place earlier this week on Monday. The structure that was torn down was essentially an extension of the palace, which is situated at Malakpet.
On Wednesday, when this reporter visited the school, security personnel there did not allow entry and photography inside the premises. However, one could see that the entire structure is completely razed with the help of JCB and machinery. Among the first who alerted everyone about the demolition was heritage activist Mohammed Habib.
A bunch of images clicked by a neighbour in a high-rise began circulating in the morning. “Before and after images of the heritage structure that used to be a primary school demolished this morning by St Joseph’s School authorities,” tweeted Mohammed Habib sharing the images of destruction.
Speaking to siasat.com, Anuradha Reddy, INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) convenor for the Hyderabad chapter, said, “The structure which has been demolished was the additional part of the Asmangadh Palace. It is a significant structure among Hyderabad’s great monuments, and it was also awarded for its upkeep and preservation by INTACH in 2004. It is very sad to see that the school management is demolishing the structure, which is protected under the heritage laws.”
History of Asmangadh Palace
The Asmangadh Palace was built as a hunting lodge by Sir Asman Jah around 1885. ‘Asman’ means sky, and ‘Gadh’ means home. The iconic palace is located atop a hillock, as Asman Jha, who was a former prime minister of the erstwhile Hyderabad state, wanted to build a palace “close to the sky”.
Its design is based on European architecture styles in such as that winds blow inside and keep the palace cool. The palace was also a resting place of the then Nawab. It is also believed that there is a tunnel in the basement of the building that leads to the Golkonda fort, which was built and developed by the Qutb Shahi (1518-1687) kings who also founded Hyderabad (1591).
The palace also gives an insight into the luxurious lifestyle of the Nawabs who were part of Hyderabad’s nobility during the Nizam or Asaf Jahi era (1724-1948). It was leased to the Birlas, who had their archaeological museum in it, after which it was leased to the St. Joseph’s school by the state government.
Prior to this, in recent months, the city has witnessed a bunch of heritage structures getting demolished or damaged. In October, a Nizam-era gate (way), the Bela Kaman, was demolished by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) on account of being weak.
It was built in the 1850s and was razed to the ground after a portion of it had crumbled during torrential rains that lashed Hyderabad on October 13 and 17. In the same month, the Majnu Bastion in Golconda fort’s Naya Qila area had also collapsed due to heavy showers.