A portion of stucco work on third balcony of south eastern minaret falls down

Hyderabad's best known icon, Charminar, suffered damage as a piece of lime stucco work on one of its minarets fell down on Sunday night owing to heavy rain.

Incessant rain in the last few days has soaked up the 410-year-old monument. On Sunday, a portion of the stucco work got detached from the granite slab on the third balcony of the south eastern minaret and fell on a moving car, sending Ramzan shoppers helter-skelter.

“Foundation stable”

Officials of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) visited the Charminar on Monday morning. They were relieved that there was not much damage. “There are no cracks on the monument and the foundation is stable”, said K. Veerabhadra Rao, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI.

Mr. Rao told TheHindu that restoration would be taken up only after rain subsided as any additional load now would further damage the monument. For this reason, ASI engineers did not climb up the minaret.

The pride of Hyderabad is reduced to a traffic island – rotting amidst traffic, dust and automobile fumes. The Charminar Pedestrianisation Programme, aimed at protecting the monument, is still at the nascent stage.

ASI authorities believe the vibration caused by constant movement of vehicles has contributed to the deterioration of the monument.

Skilled labour is required to repair the stucco work made up of lime-mortar. A 40-metre high scaffolding has to be erected to reach the minaret's third balcony. For this, at least 20 metres of the busy road towards the Unani Hospital side has to be occupied.

Natural challenges

Over the years, the Charminar has braved many natural challenges. During the Mughal period, the south western minaret broke into pieces as lightning struck. It was restored by Subedar Dil Khan Bahadur at a cost of Rs. 60,000.

Again, during the reign of Asaf Jah III, the entire plastering was redone at a cost of Rs. 1 lakh.

More recently, in 2001, two niches on the south-western minaret suffered badly due to negligence in thrusting the scaffolding through them.

News of the damaged minaret led to more people descending at the Charminar on Monday.

In pouring rain, visitors were seen climbing up the monument. However, as a precaution, the authorities allowed only 100 persons to go up the monument at a time.

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