Friday, 9 September 2011

Banjara Bhavan: Demolition of Rock House - Kohestan - is an affront on Hyderabadi character

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 16: The State government is squarely responsible for
the loss of heritage structures and historic lakes that had once stood
as the symbol of "Hyderabadi character", regrets Ismat Mehdi,
daughter-in-law of Nawab Mehdi Nawaz Jung.

Reacting sharply to the partial demolition of the Banjara Bhavan,
built entirely of rock on the Banjara Hills, Ismat Mehdi said civil
society and the government should have the inclination to protect
heritage buildings. "Hyderabad has now become just another city. It
has lost its character, its originality. Many heritage buildings have
been demolished. The historic lakes have either disappeared or shrunk.
The composite culture which Hyderabad had been known all over is fast
losing out," she said. The Banjara Bhavan was sold by the Mehdis in
1982.

The buildings that have been constructed after demolishing heritage
structures lack aesthetics, grace and charm. "Not only heritage
structures and historic lakes, even the city roads have lost their
Hyderabadi character. Hyderabad was perhaps the only city in the
country those days with all the roads laid in concrete. There was not
even a single tar road," Ismat Mehdi adds.

Stating that the Banjara Bhavan, which Nobel laureate Ravindranath
Tagore described as "Kohistan" (place or house of rocks) in one of his
poems, she said there were "rocks, rocks and rocks all round" and
sitting in the lawns one could see motor vehicles moving on the bund
of the Hussainsagar and aeroplanes taking off and landing in the now
defunct Begumpet airport.

"It was a beautiful house with large halls, all reflecting the
Hyderabadi character. Nawab Mehdi Nawaz Jung built the house after
borrowing money from friends. Like him, the rock house also stood as
the symbol of Hyderabad culture," Ismat Mehdi said recalling her stay
there.

The title Nawab was either inherited or earned and Mehdi Nawaz Jung
had earned it.

Recalling the composite culture of Hyderabad, she said both
Sanjeevareddynagar and Mehdipatnam were named the same day. While
Neelam Sanjeevareddy inaugurated Mehdipatnam, named after Mehdi Nawaz
Jung, the latter opened the area named after Sanjeevareddy.

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