It is on its last leg. It is just a matter of time when it will bite the dust. Perhaps, a good torrential rain is enough to ring the curtain down on history.
In its 93 years of existence, Nampally Sarai has definitely not seen such apathy. The powers-that-be of course are busy with more important things, concerned citizens have cried themselves hoarse and the common man is too occupied with keeping the wolf away.
Looks like the authorities are waiting to perform the last rites of the heritage structure which has seen better days. There are no pangs of remorse for the inaction. The historic ‘sarai' is a classic example of bureaucratic negligence. That it figures least on the official agenda is to stress the obvious.
Much sought after once, the ‘sarai' today presents an agonising sight. Brick by brick it is falling with the cracks widening by the day. Any attempt to repair it might only hasten the inevitable, officials say.
JNTU engineers who studied the structural stability of the building suggested total reconstruction of the eastern wing and minor repairs of the western block under supervision of conservation architects. They feel the building is conservable.
In January 2007, the government announced a Rs.1.1 crore restoration package. It was proposed to take up repair and reconstruction of the collapsed portion for adaptive reuse and to make other site-related interventions. But nothing has been done, and in the meanwhile, the ‘sarai' has further deteriorated.
Considered the gateway of old city, the Nampally ‘sarai' was built by the sixth Nizam, Mir Mahboob Ali Pasha, in 1919 in memory of the First World War treaty. Spread on an area of 5,828 square yards, this guest house was the first choice of visitors to the city in view of its central location. But poor maintenance and negligence led to gradual deterioration of the two-storied building.
The balcony of the eastern portion collapsed in 1998 due to prolonged exposure of the iron rafters in the roof to weathering. This made the civic body sit up and take notice but it failed to take concrete steps.
The Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR), which now owns the hoary ‘sarai', is wary to touch it because of the sensitivities involved.
In fact, it has no plans as of now though there are demands to convert the open space into a parking lot and to develop and maintain it as a ‘sarai'.
“If anybody comes forward to restore it we will be too happy to bear 50 per cent of cost,” says N.V.S. Reddy, Managing Director, HMR. Sadly no one has come forward to pick up the gauntlet. There is no response either from the conservation architects or heritage lovers.