HYDERABAD: Once a minister in Nizam’s court and a ‘shaukeen-mijaaz’, legend goes that he wore clothes European that were laundered in Paris, ate only European food, threw lavish parties, ‘Umrah-e-Uzaam’ nawab Fakhr-ul-mulk hadn’t wished to live longer to see his small kingdom being swept away by the winds of development, corruption and encroachment. The remnants of the more-than-century-old monument, peeping out from a corner at SR Nagar, tells the story of grandeur and splendour the Nawab was once known for.
Now a private property, as claimed by the great grandson of the aristocrat, the monument has tombs of Fakhr-ul-mulk, his wife, their five sons and other numerous descendants. “Until 1970, we received jaagir from the government to maintain the tomb. But when it stopped, shops and houses started cropping up on the property,” said Mir Sarfaraz Hussain, the great grand son of the nawab and a retired commissioner of commercial tax.
Recently the ‘zannana’ or female entrance of the tomb was obstructed when a mulgi was set up along boundary wall of the structure. “We even approached the GHMC commissoner but nothing has come of it,” rues the Sarfaraz Hussain.
Not just encroachment, but in last 100 years, the industrial development and urbanisation tanned down its shine. The structure has endured traffic pollution for decades. With the metro rail passing through the area, the existential troubles have only increased for the the nawab’s tomb. “When the area fell under HMR plan, they negotiated with the encroachers and paid them. If taken away, we fear the beauty of the tomb be lost as it will be further sandwiched in the dust of developing the transport system,” points out the Mir Amanath Hussain, the great great grand of Fakhr-ul-Mulk and adds that the matter is pending in the court at the moment.
Erected on two acres out of the total four acres and 27 guntas estate, the tomb is a pagan symbol of tomb architecture in Hyderabad. It is also marked as the last major monument to be constructed in the Qutub Shahi revival style of architecture. Constructed with stone, lime stone and sand, it is quite modest but imposing at the same time.
The tomb that was awarded the Intach Heritage award in 2011 for being instrumental in the evolution of tomb architecture in Hyderabad, with its creaking iron gate, wild overgrowth, broken fountain, rumbling pool, unkept pathway -- are all the tell-tale signs of sheer negligence. It’s ironic that the sixth generation of the family hardly has any knowledge of their glorious past or of the majestic stone structure in which they are associated with.
“Yearly we spend a lot of money on the upkeeping of the tomb but as you can see its not enough. What’s more is that no one takes interest in the upkeep of the place,” rues Sarfaraz Hussain and adds “when family is apathetic towards our ancestors, there is no surprise if the administration takes no heed of our pleas.” While fighting many legal battles, the retired government employee is also battling his relatives to set up a private committee to look after the upkeep of the structure.
M Vedakumar, a former core committee member of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and the President of Forum for Better Hyderabad opines that retaining the rights of the heritage structure and its precinct by the private parties is justified. “The Government should, however, take into account the condition of the structure and provide assistance for its maintenance,” he said.
He feels that there is a need for a heritage cell to look into all the matter pertaining to the upkeeping of heritage structures. And rightly so, for one doesn’t know how many of the 156 heritage sites will exist for our grandchildren to see.