HYDERABAD: Two hundred acre of residential land, 160 acre of race course, numerous top Arab racing horses and a stable of quality that gave international ones a run for its money. In the middle, a majestic palace constructed in the classical European and Mughal style, furnished with luxurious furniture. This was the Mahbub Mansion, a palace named after the Asaf Jah VI, Mahbub Ali Khan, who lived here occasionally. Now it is a token of apathy that would make the late Nizam turn in his grave.
The 116-year-old palace at Malakpet is the stuff of nightmares for conservation architects and historians. There are no more ceilings. Only timber beams which used to support it remain. There is no flooring, but there is a litter of empty liquor bottles with garbage strewn around. Parts of the floor of the two-storeyed palace have crumbled down. The numerous wooden doors and windows have been removed or stolen. Majestic turrets have systematically broken down with time and last but not the least, there is also a major encroachment problem.
During the late 1970s, the 200 acres of Mahbub Mansion was reorganised by the Marri Chenna Reddy government and set up as the present day wholesale market of Mahbub Mansion and converted into residential areas. Mahbub Ali Khan’s race course was also utilised as the present day Hyderabad Race Club at Malakpet. However, with increasing population the area around the mansion has faced considerable problems due to encroachment.
Videos from 10 years ago on YouTube show that the illegal houses had crept up along the walls of the mansion. However, after complaints were made those encroachments were demolished. Now there is a steel fencing on three sides of the ruins. However, one of the sides is closed by the walls of residential/commercial buildings. “Four years ago, when I visited the place, the encroachments on the unfenced side were at a considerable distance from the mansion. Now it’s much closer,” Anuradha Naik, a conservation architect said.
Apart from this, the property also poses as a danger for locals who trespass onto the property by hopping over the fence. Children play cricket inside the ruins, adults drink at night, and lovers look for a private moment. Meanwhile, timber beams dangle dangerously from dilapidated ceilings. Raised platforms with hollow chambers underneath look precariously weak. On top of that, children and teenagers regularly climb the walls of the ruins to retrieve their lodged cricket ball or just for the heck of it.