As the four-laning of Hyderabad- Vijayawada National Highway 9 gets underway, there is fear that historically significant 26 archaeological monuments en route may be wiped out permanently with virtually no plan in place to preserve them.

Beginning with ‘kos minars', Qutub Shahi landmarks believed to be equivalent of milestones, Chalukyan and 13{+t}{+h} century Kakatiya period quaint temples, 17th century mosques, fine examples of Islamic architecture to ruins of wells, a treasure trove of history unfolding on either side of the existing highway and having the potential to offer a ‘highway tourism package' that links past with the present, could be no more.

When contacted P. Chenna Reddy, Director of Archaeology and Museums confirmed that they have listed out 26 monuments, both protected (under law) and unprotected facing threat from widening of the highway, a few days before Chief Minister K. Rosaiah performed the ‘bhumi puja' on Sunday.

Prof. Reddy told The Hindu that they were in the process of preparing a comprehensive report based on their visit to each of these monuments lying perilously close to the highway.

The report would be handed over to the national highway authorities as well as the roads and buildings department. But with no blueprint ready yet even as expansion work picks up, saving these monuments appears a tough task. “We know we have to protect them at any cost. We are keeping our fingers crossed till we get a response from the concerned departments,” he said.

Each of these monuments has historical significance and a story to tell. Daniel Havart, a Dutch traveller who visited the region in mid-17{+t}{+h} century, described the “kos minars” (Hayatnagar and Toopranpet) as similar to minarets of mosques and appearing in pairs on either side of the then highway unlike those of the Mughals in North India.

A number of temples, some of them in ruins, dot the existing highway. The first one at risk is the 13th century Shiva temple of Kakatiya period just before Chityal, having ‘garba gruha', ‘arthamandapa', ‘maha mandapa' and a four-pillared ‘Nandi mandapa'.

A part of the temple is buried under the existing road, waiting to be excavated.

Not just temples but mosques too are in peril.

The Golconda king Abdullah Qutub Shah (1626-72) who took this highway route to reach Machilipatnam, had this penchant for building mosques en route.