Hyderabad: he Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI’s) proposal to study a huge crack in the historic Charminar monument in Hyderabad has hit a roadblock.
Officials had last year planned to get the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) to study the damage, but an internal inspection which was supposed to be done prior to it is yet to start, leaving the proposal in cold storage.
Moreover, since then, the 428-year-old monument, which is Hyderabad’s foundational building, had suffered damage on 1 May when a chunk of lime-mortar (with which the structure is built) from its south-west minaret fell down. While nobody was injured, the lime-plaster comprising eight flower petals, sized about 2.5 metres/0.8 metres, fell off the minaret. Repair was undertaken and ASI officials then said the damage took place due to erosion of the monument over time.
“IIT-M had asked for a huge sum of money, which we cannot afford to give due to financial constraints. One of our senior officials (from Delhi) had to conduct a detailed inspection and give a report, but that has not commenced. While we have stabilized the crack inside the monument, we still don’t know the cause of it," said an ASI official from Hyderabad, who did not want to be quoted.
He added that the ASI has since written to another institute to study the crack, but there’s been no response so far.
“Internally, the monument is fine, as structures built with lime-mortar last for 700 to 800 years easily. That is why ancient or historic structures are still standing in India. But externally, the Charminar is weak, mainly because of pollution. When it rains, both combine and it is like acid rain, which damages the monument," he explained.
The easily noticeable crack is also suspected to be the result of water-logging due to rainfall some years ago, two ASI officials who help look after 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, one of the officials said.
The Charminar was built in 1591 by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth king of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, who founded the city of Hyderabad after deciding to move out of the Golconda Fort, which the dynasty’s first ruler Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk had built in 1518. The 428-year-old edifice stands at a staggering 160 feet from ground level, with its famous four minarets (after which it is named) standing 80 feet tall.
Another concern that the ASI had raised was over the Charminar Pedestrianisation Project (CPP) work undertaken by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) to beautify the edifice. Milan Kumar Chauley, superintending archaeologist, ASI, had written a letter to the GHMC commissioner, Dana Kishore, last year stating that the drainage pipelines being laid under the CPP are in close proximity to the monument, and endanger its foundation.
The GHMC had then denied any damage had taken place. The CPP project was initiated about two decades ago to beautify the areas surrounding the monument.
“All the damage that the Charminar has accumulated has not been taken care of. Construction close by in the restricted area (100 metres) and work by GHMC has also continued unabated," said Hyderabad-based heritage activist Sajjad Shahid.