Raymond's tomb languishes in neglect

The obelisk, built in memory of French general in Nizam's army, Monsieur Raymond (1755-1798) and the pavilion atop a hillock east of Hyderabad, now in utter neglect, is being restored by State Archaeology Department. Photo: G.Ramakrishna  

Authorities,wake up

The city has added yet another feather to its cap by being chosen to host the prestigious 11 Conference of Parties to the United Nations convention on biological diversity. Authorities are upbeat and justifiably so for the city being chosen over other metros to hold the mega event. Of course, it speaks volumes about the logistics and infrastructure availability in Hyderabad to conduct the event.

Delegates from 194 countries, including some Prime Ministers, are expected to participate in the convention. A good opportunity to showcase the heritage of Hyderabad. But the monuments being shortlisted for the visit of delegates woefully lack amenities and upkeep. Will the authorities take corrective steps between now and October when the international convention is scheduled?

He was the ‘Musa Rahim-Ram' to people

Michael Joachim Marie Raymond popularly known as Monsieur Raymond was a French general in the Nizam's military. Son of a merchant, he travelled to Pondicherry in 1775 to set up a merchant shop but instead landed himself the exciting career of a soldier.

In 1796 he was appointed the Controller of Ordnance. Monsieur Raymond set up many cannon ball factories. Top ka Sancha in Urdu for Gunfoundry is the well known foundry in Hyderabad.

In high esteem

Monsieur Raymond was held in high esteem by the Nizam and he also endeared himself to the locals.

To Muslims he was Musa Rahim and to the Hindus – Musa Ram.

Nowadays, testing one's athletic skills is the only way to have a glimpse of Monsieur Raymond's tomb at Asmangadh. Visit any time of the day, this monument jointly maintained by the Tourism and Archaeology Departments would be found inside the locked gates. Visitors often jump over the iron gates or the spiked compound wall to get a better view of the obelisk erected in memory of the most loved French General in Nizam's military during 18 Century.

Never mind that General Michel Joachim Marie Raymond lent his Indianised name Moosaram to the locality. Never mind that the ammunition factory he set up has become a landmark with the name Gun Foundry. He remains an orphan posthumously, with not even his immediate neighbours aware of the importance of the site. No information about the General is provided for visitors who, if not already aware of its history, will leave clueless about the significance of the place.

The only plaque here with any inscription is the one informing about inauguration of the renovation works in 2009, followed by a list of dignitaries on the occasion. The obelisk has four plaques on all four sides, with nothing inscribed on them. Tree stumps surround the pavilion nearby, indicating the unchecked ravaging of greenery.

The compound wall displays a big hole leading to the adjacent slum Bhoolakshmi Colony from where slum dwellers find their way into the complex for a variety of purposes including defecation, consumption of liquor, and playing cricket. Incidentally the watchman from the same colony who is supposed to guard the structure is always absent along with the key.

Glass pieces and construction debris are strewn all around the other two tombstones, one erected in memory of the General's pets, another for one of his family members. Encroaching into the premises are two temples of varying sizes.

“A month ago, a group of people arrived, chopped off the huge trees inside the compound wall, and carried them away in a truck. When we complained about the large pits they left behind, they returned with construction debris and dumped it in them,” informed a neighbour.

No signage is kept on the main road to indicate the presence of the tomb, though an obscure display is present at the end of the lane leading into the premises.

The very steep approach road is full of pot holes and stones, making it difficult even to walk up.

Nevertheless, the place has visitors, some times foreigners. Unable to find the watchman, they often jump over the gates to have a better view of the tomb, neighbours say. Perhaps the delegates to the ‘Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity' too must prepare their limb joints for the forced exercise!

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 3:42:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/raymonds-tomb-languishes-in-neglect/article3470495.ece

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