One sees and yet fails to see them. To the casual tourist they are not out of place but part of the heritage – the graffiti on the wall, the inappropriate signage, the vegetation protruding out of the stucco work. But to the trained eye they stand out like porcupine quills.

Yes, the rundown look is the bane of most monuments. But when an international agency is poring over them with microscopes, you can't take chances with the appearance. That's the big dilemma facing the State administration. It simply can't brush under the carpet, warts and all.

The three Qutb Shahi monuments posed for UNESCO nomination have a host of issues that can seriously hamper their selection for world heritage status. Hyderabad's popular icon, Charminar, the royal necropolis, Qutb Shahi Tombs, and the Golconda Fort are beset with problems which need immediate attention. The city will be in a good position to qualify for the UNESCO nomination if it can attend to the glaring glitches before August - in time for evaluation by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Mission. The authorities have identified a series of works requiring coordinated action from the GHMC, ASI, Department of Archaeology and Museums. “We will take up removal of encroachments and other repair work during March/April by involving all departments and local legislators”, says P. Chenna Reddy, director, Department of Archaeology and Museums.

According to conservation archaeologists there are several things at these historical structures which are an ‘eyesore' to the visual integrity of the precinct. For instance, at the foot of Charminar there is Bhagyalakshmi temple and a dargah which are extending beyond the shrine limit.

The canopy atop the temple and sintex water tanks below do not gel with the monument. Authorities feel the ASI should talk to the temple management on the matter. Till recently, a washbasin could be seen attached to the Charminar jali with water flowing all over. Now it has been removed. The signage within the monument lacks design consistency and the ticket office at the entrance looks out of place.

While the fountain at Gulzar Houz is full of trash, the Charkaman arch comes handy for display of advertisements. A transformer close to Nanakram Bhagwandas College arch mars the imposing Patherghatti arcade.

Encroachments all over

The same story of neglect and disfigurement continues at Golconda Fort. One can see a large number of new settlements coming up within the 100 metres prohibited area of the monument. There is also unbridled commercial activity at the entrance of the fort. The status of the golf course needs to be clarified. Inside the fort, the amenities for visitors in terms of water stations, food stalls, toilets leave a lot to be desired. The design of these facilities requires upgradation. The signage present same design inconsistency and so are the dustbins. Authorities have taken note of the Kali temple inside the fort as it is extending beyond the shrine.

The situation is no better at the 16{+t}{+h} century Qutb Shahi Tombs. New additions like fountains, grills and landscape are considered inappropriate. While the old signage is good enough the new information sign design lacks consistency. Conservationists feel the canteen needs to be better designed along international standards. Graffiti on the walls of the veranda and tombs presents an ugly look

These sore points need to be addressed at the earliest and in a manner that meets the ICOMOS approval. What the UNESCO looks at is proven effort by the government to restore and preserve the original architecture. After all, the state of the city and its heritage is a reflection of its people.

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