Hyderabad: Active monsoon is good news, but not for the heritage monuments in Telangana. Every time it rains, a piece of the glorious past caves in somewhere. The incessant rains lashing the state for the last few days have set alarm bells ringing for the heritage lovers. The condition of the 450-year old Baadshahi Ashoorkhana in Hyderabad is very scary. The recent rains have caused portions of the already damaged Naqar Khana in its premises to fall bit by bit. The gaping hole in the roof has got widened. The rain-soaked wooden beams and rafters in the roof can crumble anytime.
This Qutb Shahi Ashoorkhana is a Shia-Muslim religious institution situated at the Madina Circle in the heart of the old city. It was built by the founder of Hyderabad, Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, in 1594 – three years after Charminar was constructed. Heavy seepage of water through the roof and walls of half a dozen structures in the complex pose serious danger to this protected monument. The condition of Naqar Khana, particularly, looks very precarious as it is in a rundown state.
Though a protected monument, the Baadshahi Ashoorkhana has been left unattended. Some ancillary structures in the open ground like Naqar Khana, Abadar Khana, and Niyaz Khana have suffered intense damage over the years. Till a few years ago its vast premises doubled up as an auction house on Sundays. Thanks to the intervention of the High Court, all the encroachments were removed and efforts are now on to restore the pristine glory of the Ashoorkhana.
Naqar Khana, meaning the drum house, was the place where drums were beaten ceremonially during Qutb Shahi times in the month of Muharram. During 2008 its roof developed a big hole with the wooden beams tilting dangerously. Since then this part of the Ashoorkhana is seeing the lime mortar plastering coming off during the rainy season. But no repair work is taken up so far despite clear directions from the court to undertake repairs without further delay and to restore the building to its original position.
According to conservationists, the first floor of Naqar Khana requires the removal of the tilted portion of the roof, dismantling of damaged wooden parts, and removal of damaged lime plaster. The Department of Archaeology and Museums estimated the works to cost Rs. 2 crore. During 2012 a sum of Rs. 70 lakh was sanctioned for the Baadshahi Ashoorkhana under the 13th Finance Commission.
"With this money, the main building of the Ashoorkhana and Niyaz Khana was repaired. In 2014, the state government provided an emergency fund of Rs. 14 lakh for the repair and restoration of the damaged chajja (balcony). But no money is provided for the repair of Naqar Khana", said Mir Abbas Ali Moosvi, the hereditary Mutawalli of Baadshahi Ashoorkhana.
The issue was flagged during the recent meeting convened by the government in connection with arrangements for the month of Muharram. The attention of Home Minister Mehmood Ali and the Minorities Welfare Minister Koppula Eshwar was drawn to the urgent need for repair of the Naqar Khana. As usual, the ministers promised to take action at the earliest. "Perhaps they are awaiting the total collapse of the Naqar Khana", said Abbas Moosvi.