Preserving Hyderabad’s hidden heritage

On World Heritage Day, CE speaks to experts about not-so-famous heritage monuments in the city and the need for their conservation
Preserving Hyderabad’s hidden heritage
| Vinay Madapu, Sri Loganathan Velmurugan

HYDERABAD: Monuments reflect the past — both glorious and deplorable at times but then that is a record — a record of our past. The most immediate and apparent vestige of our past is found in monuments,” said Sajjad Shahid, co-convenor of INTACH, Hyderabad Chapter, while talking about the heritage sites and monuments of Hyderabad on World Heritage Day. The city of Hyderabad is well-known for its rich cultural heritage, which is a tapestry of history, tradition, and variety that has moulded the city’s identity throughout the years.

In various spots across the city, there are sites that are proofs of the cultural identity of the rulers and people who have lived here years ago. All these heritage sites are important to the history of Hyderabad as well as the people who live here. However, with the arrival of new generations, many of these heritage sites are long forgotten. Only some well-decorated heritage sites like Charminar, Golconda Fort, and Hussain Sagar Lake became the face of the city, leaving behind a large part of Hyderabad’s history.

“Every structure, every cultural space has its own importance. It is not necessary that everything should be as large or well-known as Charminar,” said P Anuradha Reddy, convenor of INTACH, Hyderabad Chapter, as she talked about the importance of smaller, lesser-known places of heritage to the overall history of Hyderabad. Toli Masjid, Bansilalpet Stepwell in Secunderabad, Malwala Palace and Sitaram Bagh Temple are just examples of some places whose historical significance is not known to the people of Hyderabad. As a new generation comes to live in a place, the rich heritage of the place — be in a tangible or intangible, gets slowly lost as people adapt to the changing times.

Heritage sites, which once were important, become a common areas and people treat them like any other public place. There have been cases where some of the heritage stepwells and tombs became an area for throwing garbage. However, in the recent years, the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HDMA) has restored some heritage stepwells around the city which over the years collected trash, debris, bushes, etc and visually improved the water quality.

While restoring such places, special care needs to be taken in terms of the material used. Shankar Narayan, an architect says, “The things like original structure, materials originally used, and the general aesthetic of the site is kept in mind during the restoration process. We try and restore it with least amount of disturbance to the original monument.”

To preserve the rich heritage of Hyderabad city, constant efforts are being taken to protect places with historical significance. Monuments are being listed as ‘protected monuments’ and there are projects undertaken to restore these places of cultural heritage. Government, through HDMA and Telangana State Heritage Authority (TSHA), is taking efforts to preserve and maintain these places of heritage.

Meanwhile, people are also slowly rediscovering these hidden treasures of Hyderabad. Organisations like INTACH organise heritage walks for people to see and learn about these heritage sites in Hyderabad as well as across Telangana.

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