G. Niranjan, general secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee has questioned the authenticity of the old photo of Charminar published in these columns on Wednesday and claimed that the temple abutting the monument was very old and not just few decades old.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Congress leader claimed that the photo and the news report were “false, fabricated and distorted”. No original Hyderabadi would believe it, he said and added that the writer should have consulted some of the elderly Hyderabadis to ascertain the history of the temple and should have gone inside the premises to see the “original Matha’s Shilakaram” (stone image of the goddess) which was damaged in 1979 after the Kaaba incident. It was then that the present structure came up at the initiative of the Government to protect the temple, he claimed.

Mr. Niranjan said the A. P. High Court in its order of November 5 mentioned that it was not in dispute that the temple was there for a long period. “The authenticity of the photo itself is doubtful”, he alleged.

He went on to claim that Charminar had places of worship of both communities for several centuries and it was sending a message to the entire world about rich secular traditions and “Gangajamni tehzeeb” (composite culture) of Hyderabad.

The Bhagyalaxmi Temple at Charminar, Jagadamba and Mahankali temples at Golconda Fort were examples of religious tolerance even during the period of Muslim rulers. Narrating an “anecdote of shared by a member of the royal family”, he recalled how the Nizam disagreed with the proposal of shifting a temple at the time of the construction of the High Court building. The temple now exists within the court complex.

Also see: A note on the Charminar photograph.