Rain, festivals stall work at Khila Shahpur fort

The mud, bricks and granite wall of Khila Shahpur fort is a challenge for the restoration effort.  

One year after a portion of a mud wall of Khila Shahpur collapsed in heavy rain, the Telangana Department of Archaeology and Museums has taken up restoration work on the site.

The mud fortress that sprawls over nearly 10,000 square metres presents a challenge as parts of it have crumbled in the absence of maintenance. “Our team is working on the part that was affected due to last year’s rain. It will take some time before we can carry out the complete work,” said a worker at the site.

The present round of restoration began in July but is now stalled due to rain and festival holidays. The total cost of the restoration work has been pegged at ₹1.26 crore.

A granite base has been laid on the southern side where the outer portion of the wall had collapsed. From inside, the fort wall appears to be undamaged and largely intact but a closer observation reveals the extent of damage. On the northern side above the secret passageway, the old mud wall has collapsed revealing the inner granite core.

The fort wall is a complex amalgam of rocks, bricks and a plaster of mud as it was built, rebuilt over a period of time during the rollicking career of Sarvayi Papadu. Khila Shahpur was the nerve centre of operations of Papadu during his career in notoriety of robbing passing royal caravans and distributing the loot after the Mughal conquest of the Golconda kingdom.

According to historian Richard M. Eaton, Papadu acquired sufficient heft that he presented to Mughal ruler Bahadur Shah with a ₹14,00,000 cash purse besides other goodies and received a robe of honour.

“He was not a brigand. He fought unjust laws. He brought together people from other communities, including Muslims, while fighting unjust rulers,” says Balin Rajaiah, who heads the Goud community in the village.

A part of the restoration effort would involve rehabilitating people who lost their homes during the wall collapse. “After they complete the restoration, we should be rehabilitated away from this place where we can live without fear of another wall collapse,” said a resident who saw large boulders of the wall and mud roll into his house.

Once the fort is restored to how it looked during the lifetime of the hero of the village, a slice of medieval fortification technology will appear real to a different generation.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 2:03:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/rain-festivals-stall-work-at-khila-shahpur-fort/article37116820.ece

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