Deteriorating heritage of Hyderabad

By Mohammed Mirza for

The concept of heritage sites living in neglect may not be new to us, but seeing neglect at such a scale all across the city is depressing.

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The heritage of the erstwhile rulers of Hyderabad who were rulers of the largest princely state in British India has been deteriorating year after year. A city that was known for its palaces, mansion, devdis and other royal estates has already lost many of them. Seeing the state that some of their last remaining structures are under, it won’t be surprising to see most of them disappear in the near future.

British author William Dalrymple who time and time again cites how fascinated he is by Hyderabad has covered the horrid condition the palace of Sir William Kirkpatrick, Koti Women’s Collegeis currently in. It is in this condition, despite a government run women’s college operating in it. He covered the palace significantly in his book, White Mughals, and managed to raise 1 million Sterling Pounds for its conservation.

This is why we need awareness and I would like to highlight here 3 foremost examples of neglect that will hopefully bring light on these places and raise awareness about them. These are not the only ones, but this is where I feel help is needed at its earliest.

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Mahboob Mansion, Malakpet

The mansion was named after AsafJah VI, who lived here occasionally. Constructed towards the end of the 19th Century, the structure is a fabulous mix of European and Mughal architectural styles. Today this architectural gem is in ruins and encroachments have slowly started to make their way onto the mansion lands. Garbage, rot and filth dot the palace today. Non-existent fencing has made it a playground for children and at night one dares not enter the place, as stories of it being haunted do the rounds in the neighborhood.Much of its walls have turned black, windows and doors are non-existing and it won’t be surprising to soon see the nearby encroachments starting to demolish parts of the structure to pave way for illegal constructions.

NizamiaTibbia College

Dating back to 1810 A.D. when a female Afghan scholar set its foundation blocks, this medical college and hospital is one of the biggest hubs of Unani medicine in South India. It achieved this largely due to the efforts of the 7thNizam of Hyderabad who invested heavily in it.

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Today, students study in the dilapidated structure and even patients are operated in it! Located right next to a major landmark of the city, Charminar, one can see the horrid condition the state-run college cum hospital is under. The large cracks in its walls and some portions were the plaster has weathered away reveal the inner foundations of the structure.

MushkMahal, Attapur

The structure pre-dates the Nizams. It is attributed to the Abysynnian commander of the QutbShahi King, Tana Shah. Once a getaway for the royals, today it standscovered in wild thorny plants some which spring out of its walls and it carries a roof that hangs ready to fall at the next seasonal storm.

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The palaces of Chowmahalla and Falaknuma have luckily been saved after years of neglect, but can the remaining heritage sites be saved before it’s too late or will there be anything left to save by the time we realize their importance. It is only through awareness that pressure can be brought upon the archaeological departments who currently are just standing by as mute spectators watching Hyderabad’s heritage slowly diminishing away.