Do we transform a 300-year-old building into a heritage site or do we let it be used as a thunder seat by the neighbourhood? Serish Nanisetti gets the story

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

S.T. Coleridge

A three-storied garden pavilion with waterways, gardens and fruit trees enclosed in a 10-acre area and you can see the Golconda fort on one side, the Musi on the other and the Charminar on the other. This was the creation of Miyan Malik Mishk, the commander of Carnatic forces of Abul Hasan Tana Shah in 1678. A multi-storied structure, “The upper storey was meant for Mishk's zenana as it is enclosed by a wall seven-feet high with another staircase leading to the open roof also enclosed by a low wall which was probably meant for rest and sleep in summer months.” On a Sunday forenoon as we reach the building that is surrounded by shrubs and brambles, a foul smell hits you. One man is coming down the steps with an empty water bottle in hand from the upper storey meant for zenana.

Earlier, the address of the building would be a detour from the Karwan road. Now, it is a detour on the road leading to the Shamshabad Airport. The location is the same but the address has changed. In this changed address is the crux of the problem. As we click photographs, a bunch of seven gentlemen want none of it. “It is a private property you cannot photograph it. Who are you?” they ask in a threatening tone. “But it is a beautiful old building. And people are doing all sorts of things there…” “Yeah then why are you interested,” says one gentleman in white.

One book describes it: “Mishk Mahal as it is called is built in the middle of a vast areas of about 10 acres surrounded by a high wall all around with two gateways, one facing north and the other facing south.” Reach the area and it becomes obvious that this 10 acre land is the bane of the structure. The whole area is transformed into a tarp and blue plastic tented city with the Mishk Mahal as the thunder seat for everyone in the morning. Ironically, for all the stink, the building is called Mushk Mahal by the neighbours. If on one Sunday you could drive around the monument, this week it has been fenced by razor wire obviously by private parties eyeing the land. Huge rocks have been dumped all around the monument in preparation for the encroachment within the walled space. A minister recently even inaugurated a BT road near the temple.

Only years back, the description was: “There is no doubt that the vast enclosure contained myriad water channels (remains of which are still visible) and fruit trees.” Ten years back, The Hindu reporter wrote: “The first floor having stone corniced roof with projected brackets is in a slightly better shape, at least from outside, though the inside walls have been vandalised beyond recognition.”

It was sometime in March-April 1674 that Abul Hasan Qutb Shah issued a farman giving large tracts of land to his Abyssinian guard Miyan Malik Mishk in mauza Attapur. Not much is known about Miyan Mishk beyond his honorific title of Commander of Carnatic Forces, the functional title of Keeper of the Royal Key and his name Malik a corruption of mamluk used by former slaves. And in the absence of any effort at upkeep of this pleasure palace, it will blend into the dust of history.