Monument survives due to its private care-taker, Syed Iftekar Ali Khan
It is an epitome of a masterpiece. A breathing testimony of the city's quintessential Mughal and Qutb Shahi architecture, its magnificent façade, ornately carved dome, aesthetic fretwork screens and elaborate stucco decorations – all narrate the stories of a bygone century.
Posterity, though, may not be fortunate enough to get a glimpse of such splendour.
Built over 125 years ago, the ‘Saidanima Tomb', at the fag end of Tank Bund is today, slowly yet markedly, revealing signs of having endured the test of time; of having braved all elements. But, the Department of Archaeology and Museums, responsible for its preservation, is the least bit concerned.
Crumbling with each passing year, the tomb – built during the reign of Mir Mahboob Ali Khan Nizam VI in 1883 – is patiently awaiting any attempt at restoration of its disintegrating walls and pillars.
Plaster peeling off
“The plaster on its walls have been peeling off and part of the work on the domes' inside is nearly falling off. But the government is utterly indifferent,” says Syed Iftekar Ali Khan, inheritor and present care-taker of the tomb.
Although in a better form than most monuments in the city, it owes its being only to a sturdy construction plan and its private caretaker.
“The electricity bills have not been paid for years by the department and hence power supply for the tomb has been cut. Even bare necessities like water for the heritage structure have not been provided for. The watchman too has been appointed by us,” he adds.
The Saidanima Tomb was built by Abdul Haq Diler Jung, a high ranking State official of that time, in memory of his mother Hazrath Saidanima Saheba. In the centre of the tomb is the sarcophagus, which overlies the actual burial crypt of Saidanima below.
With an entirely Qutb Shahi upper portion and a Mughal style ground floor with cusped arches, the tomb stands out as an exemplar of pure, unique design. However, its grace is being greatly compromised today by the State, which ought to be its protector.
Dust carpets the tombs' entire floor and its walls are rid with cobwebs.
There has been negligence even in appointing staff required to perform day to day activities for the monument's upkeep. Even the little maintenance of the tomb that is visible has been undertaken privately by Mr. Khan.
Will the visit of delegates from around the world to the tomb in October, during the ‘Conference of Parties' on Biological Diversity, warrant its maintenance? And the more important question is, will that too just be a one-off effort leading to future abandon?