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The new Secretariat planned on Bison Polo Ground offers nothing new by way of architecture

More than 200 years after James Achilles Kirkpatrick had the Residency building built across the Musi river with Roman columns, seated sphinxes, soaring ceiling, a dome visible from a distance and a flight of stairs, Hyderabad is set to get a similar landmark building to house the Secretariat on Bison Polo Ground.

The initial drawings of the Secretariat show the frontage with Roman columns topped by an enormous cupola that could be either from the White House or Victorial Memorial in Kolkata or even a wedding hall in Toli Chowki.

The Residency building’s dome was visible from across the river for decades. And it inspired members of Hyderabad nobility to replicate the appearance. One of the buildings that matches its grandeur and inspiring structure is the Khurshid Jah Deodi in Shahgunj. The nobility who adopted the style of architecture were trying to move away from the prevailing cultural socio-cultural norms and reliance on Mughal, Persian and Rajasthani idioms. Not always successfully. The Iqbal Ud Dowla deodi has Roman columns blended into the arches with predominant vegetal motifs.

The planned Telangana Secretariat building seems to go back to the times when a British gentleman brought a different architectural form and planted it in Hyderabad.

“The style adopted is very 'kitsch' not original. The entablature, columns, ornamentation do not speak anything related to work environment. Public buildings do not really require huge ornamentation. All they need is to carry a cultural component, which does not stop at surfaces,” says Pingali Praveen, an architect, adding, “The ‘kitsch’ is a very dangerous proposition for public buildings as it has scant regard for time, place, people, culture and history or visual imagery we pass on to the next generation.”

Hyderabad is home to dozens of wedding halls as well as a hospital that take inspiration from Grecian architecture. Here are a few of the buildings that share the same lineage as the planned new secretariat. Lit up at night for weddings, they can transport you to a different world.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 7:30:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/live-it-the-t-way/article19698508.ece

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