Hyderabad: Hyderabad can have a new tourist attraction in the historic Errum Manzil Palace. The recent High Court judgement setting aside the government’s decision to demolish the ancient heritage structure has made it a distinct possibility. Tourists have a lot to look forward to in this 150-room palace, spread over 36 acres. Its architectural importance is all the more important as it combines Deccani, Rajasthani and European Baroque design while boasting of unique stucco ornamentation.

Mir Asghar Husain, whose great grandfather Nawab Fakhrul Mulk built the Errum Manzil, wants the government to enter into a partnership with civil society for the preservation of the palace.  The magnificent edifice can be utilised for education or some creative purpose. A training institute for heritage preservation can be set up here or a museum showcasing Hyderabad’s famed ‘Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb’ can be opened here. “The museum can display books, pictures, handicrafts and calligraphy of Deccan and Telangana,” Husain said.

On the occasion of World Tourism Day, Husain said that Errum Manzil is a potential revenue earner for the government if adequately developed. A walk-and-talk type of tourist circuit linking the Administrative Staff College of India, Aiwan-e-Urdu, Punjagutta, and Dilkhusha guest house on the Raj Bhavan road should be promoted for the benefit of tourists visiting the city. In Fakhrul Mulk’s scheme of the things, service to the State and public came first while service to family figured last. In keeping with these noble principles, Husain wants the government to use Errum Manzil for the benefit of the people.

Terming the High Court judgement as landmark, he said it is now the government’s responsibility to preserve Errum Manzil. The World Heritage Convention, 1972, also imposed a duty on the State to protect and conserve the cultural heritage of the country. Further, it made it binding on the State to integrate the protection of heritage into comprehensive planning programmes.

The Telangana Heritage (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Maintenance) Act, 2017 calls for conservation, preservation, restoration and maintenance of tangible and intangible heritage of Telangana. Though two years have passed since the Act came into force, not a single step has been taken to implement it, Husain deplored.

Speaking about his ancestral palace, he said it reflected the pluralistic ideology and lifestyle of Fakhrul Mulk. The latter was known for celebrating Hindu and Muslim festivals alike. “Errum Manzil is an important milestone in the history of Nizam dynasty and symbolised the very spirit and ethos for which Hyderabad is known. It is also a part of colonial past as it saw the strengthening of relations between the Nizam and the British,” Husain remarked.

As the city observes yet another World Tourism Day, the immense tourism potential and the little attention paid to promote it stares in the face. Monuments like Mahboob Mansion, MJ Market, Nampally Sarai and Paigah Palace cry for attention. Even the crowd pullers — Charminar and Golconda Fort — leave much to be desired. “Hyderabad has world-class heritage and yet no world heritage tag,” laments city-based historian, Mohd Safiullah.

In Hyderabad, you don’t stumble upon heritage. It’s there just waiting to be explored and protected. Will the authorities rise to the occasion?

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. Currently he is working on his third book - Poets and Writers of Deccan.

Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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