Charminar to shed its protective scaffolding

The scaffolding on the southeast minaret will go as the conservation work on the minarets of Charminar is complete. Serish Nanisetti

The scaffolding on the southeast minaret will go as the conservation work on the minarets of Charminar is complete. Serish Nanisetti  

Conservation work on all the minarets is complete

Tourists and visitors to Charminar may finally get to see the monument’s minarets without the eyesore of the green protective cloth and scaffoldings.

“The conservation work on all of the minarets is completed. I noticed a small mark on the southeast minaret and that work is going on. Once it’s finished, people can have a clear view of all the minarets,” says Milan Kumar Chauley, Superintending Archaeologist of Archaeological Survey of India, Hyderabad.

Recent setback

The conservation work suffered a setback a few months back when a large chunk of the southwest minaret’s overhanging stucco work fell in May. Officials blame pollution and acid rain for some of the damage to the building. On the upper floor, inside a small masjid, the inner portion of the building that is shielded from rain is coated with smooth brownish yellow colour. Outside, where the rainwater splashes it occasionally, the surface is rough.

“Lime absorbs water. When it rains, some of the overhanging portions without support become heavy. To complicate our problem, the building has been restored multiple times with different techniques,” informs Mr. Chauley about the challenges in carrying out the conservation work. Pollution also creates air gaps between layers.

Incidentally, the overhanging decorations, the flowery stucco work, the projected parts have no reinforcements. The Charminar has been undergoing major changes to preserve its uniqueness over the past few centuries.

The earliest reference to its damage and reconstruction of the southwest minaret occur in 1681 and again in 1878. Other parts of the Charminar too have fallen victim to vagaries of time.

To reach the top of the 160-feet high minaret, workers have to climb 150 steep steps. Erecting the scaffolding was also a challenge for the ASI.

While the lower parts of the Charminar experience no wind, on the upper levels the winds blow at a much higher speed than the average five metres per second at the ground level.

“We are used to climbing and working here. Heights and wind hold no fear for us,” says Harish, one of the workers perched almost near the top of the minaret armed with a small trowel.

While the world is used to seeing the Charminar in a brownish-yellow hue, ASI officials now believe that the original colour of the monument was white. At places where vandals have etched their names exposing the inner layers of stucco, the surface has a white colour.

For now, Hyderabad’s iconic monument is set to glow afresh without the scaffolding and green cladding.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 9:00:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/charminar-to-shed-its-protective-scaffolding/article29933633.ece

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