2020 in review: The year that was

A dent in city’s heritage in 2020

Lost sheen: Secretariat building being razed in Hyderabad. (Right) Moazzam Jahi Market started leaking during the torrential downpour following its re-inauguration.   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

2020: The year of gloom and doom left a trail of destruction on the centuries old built and natural heritage of Hyderabad. If the dip in tourist and visitor numbers robbed the palaces, museums and tourist sites of the usual buzz and the ticket money and hobbled the tourism industry, the October rain did the rest.

An indifferent upkeep with the city lacking even the most basic of Heritage Conservation Committee made matters worse.

Bright spots

One of the bright spots was the visible transformation of the Moazzam Jahi Market after ₹15 crore was spent on the old market built in 1935 as part of a City Improvement Board effort. But the joy of hearing the chimes of the clock and seeing the domed structure covered in rice lights was short-lived as it began to leak during the torrential downpour that followed the re-inauguration.

Another bright spot was the discovery that the dome of Abdullah Qutb Shah was a ribbed structure. Restored in the course of the year, the ribbed dome now, can be seen shining like a jewel from atop the Golconda Fort.

Extensive damage

Some of the most extensive damage due to record-breaking rain happened to 500-year-old Golconda Fort, where one of its bastions, the Majnu Burj, collapsed leaving the magnificent 17th century cannon hanging precariously in the air.

The destruction didn’t end with that. After the October 14 rain, many stretches of the upper reaches of the Golconda Fort collapsed. The Kingsway, which has seen hundreds of monsoons, gave way turning into a pile of large stones. The innermost wall of the fort which was never breached has turned into a pile of stones as the rainwater washed away earth under the walls.

Even secular structures built during the last phase of the Nizam Osman Ali Khan’s reign suffered damage due to a complete absence of upkeep. The Osmania Arts College building began leaking at multiple places on the first floor leading to damage to furniture and classrooms. It didn’t help matters that the classrooms were locked due to the lockdown.

The Osmania General Hospital too suffered damage, but of a different nature. As drainage water flooded the building, images showing flooded wards became viral. But only later, it was discovered that the water was not from leaking ceiling or walls but due to the changed landscape and blocked drainage near the hospital.

Abandoned portions

But the damage was done. Sections of the hospital are still abandoned and are not in use. In Old City, the Bela Kaman was brought down by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) officials after residents raised an alarm about the structural stability of the arch. But one of the most galling blows to Hyderabad’s heritage was the razing of the G-Block in the Secretariat Complex.

Called Sarvahita, it was an old palace repurposed as a secretariat complex by the Nizams. It formed the kernel where the Secretariat came up over a period of time. With the destruction, the bureaucratic link between the Nizam’s rule and Independent India’s has been snapped.

It was on December 25, 1905, that a 40-year-old Nizam Mahubub Ali Pasha laid the stone for the Town Hall, which is now the Telangana Assembly building. The building still remains the legislature for the State which the administration wanted to shift to another location.

For a city that takes pride in its heritage, 2020 was an absolute disaster.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 6:30:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/a-dent-in-citys-heritage-in-2020/article33413855.ece

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