Hyderabad: A huge crack in the north-eastern part of the historic Charminar monument in Hyderabad, has the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) worried. ASI has proposed to get the Indian Institute of Technology Madras to examine the damage and ascertain whether it has affected the structural integrity of the monument.

The easily noticeable cracks are also suspected to be the result of water-logging due to rainfall some years ago on the north-eastern side’s upper section, ASI officials who maintain the Charminar said on condition of anonymity. However, the extent of the damage and whether it has affected the monument’s core is what needs to be examined, said one of them.

Charminar was built in 1591 by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth king of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, who founded the city after deciding to move out of the Golconda Fort, which the dynasty’s first ruler Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk had constructed in 1518. Incidentally, 2018 marks 500 years since the Deccan sultanate was established.

The 427-year-old edifice, stands at a staggering 160 feet from ground level, with its famous four minarets (after which it is named) on the upper portion being 80 feet in height. Its corners measure 60 feet in length and 42 feet in width, while its four arches in each direction are in 24/30 feet, and contain small cisterns in between.

Milan Kumar Chauley, superintending archaeologist, ASI, said that the proposal for the study of the damage by IIT Madras has been sent (to the head office in New Delhi). “We have submitted estimates (of cost) and are waiting for a response" he said in an interview.

He added that the ASI is also planning to conduct a study on whether it is feasible to let thousands of visitors enter the monument every day. “The Charminar was not built to handle so many people at once," Chauley said.

While no one can say when exactly the cracks appeared, ASI officials said that it has been there for the past couple of years.

Another concern that the ASI has raised, is the Charminar Pedestrianisation Project (CPP) work undertaken by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, to beautify the edifice. Chauley had written a letter to the GHMC commissioner a few months ago stating that the drainage pipelines being laid under the CPP are in close proximity to the monument, and endanger its foundation.

“The new drainage on the eastern side can result in water seepage below, and will make the limestone mortar structure brittle if water leaks into its foundations (as the Charminar is about eight feet below ground level)," Chauley explained. CPP was initiated about two decades ago to beautify the monument’s surrounding area.

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