Hyderabad monuments: Can youngsters change the story of neglect?

Hyderabad Desk

Hyderabad: A retired teacher, who, during his childhood was always keen on visiting Golconda fort and Qutub Shahi tombs, laments that his grandchildren don’t feel the same way. “When I was young, I was excited to visit all these places, but my grandchildren would just watch a YouTube video instead of visiting places,” he said, ruing that they didn’t accompany him to a World Heritage Day event in Hyderabad.

A series of events was held in Hyderabad on Thursday, April 18, to mark the World Heritage Day, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the Venice Charter. This year, the World Heritage Day was observed across the world with the theme ‘Disasters and conflicts through the lens of the Venice Charter’.

One of the events held at Salar Jung Museum highlighted how the young generation has a responsibility to restore and protect the architecture.

Chairman of Deccan Heritage Academy Trust (DHAT), Vadakumar, while speaking at the event, said, “Besides preserving the heritage that we inherited, We will have to encourage young artists and architects to create more for the generations to come. There is a need to raise awareness among young people to restore and protect the heritage sites.”

The event also featured an exhibition of old photographs of historical places of Hyderabad by DHAT. Moreover, students of Woxsen University presented detailed features on the construction and blue prints of Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Seven tombs and other monuments.

A painting and blueprints of monuments (right) on display at Salar Jung Museum on Thursday

Many participants raised concerns over the vandalism of historic monuments and discussed ways to prevent it. “Through the exhibitions, we wanted to highlight the importance of our heritage. The psychology of masses is inclined to destroy everything beautiful. The vandalism at these monuments is damaging to our culture,” said the president of the Telangana Art Association. 

“Now that the purpose of education is reduced to earning a degree for job, it’s important that we teach those values to our children. If we preserve art and monuments, the children might ask one day: ‘What is this?’ If there’s no evidence of our culture, we will have no legacy or heritage,” he added. 

He further said, “There are many important sites that remain unnoticed because of the negligence and lack of awareness and recognition that leads to the demolishment of these sites by corporate houses and government projects.”

Defaced walls of Charminar (left) and Golconda Fort

Director of PLEACH India, a non-profit working for preservation of heritage sites, Shivanaga Reddy featured a presentation highlighting the cultural heritage in and around Hyderabad, including more than 26 sites and sculptures. He included examples of Neolithic rock shelter at BNR hills, Iron Hill burial at Hyderabad Central University, Vishnukundin Capital at Keesaragutta, where one of the first Telugu inscription of Telangana and Andha Pradesh were discovered.

“We are not only preserving the historical sites but also the linguistic and phonetic inscriptions,” he said.

During the event, one of the speakers highlighted the impact of climate change on the monuments. Dr Shivaji of IIT-Hyderabad, explained the adverse effect of climate change. He said, “Fluctuating precipitation trends, humidity, drops in aquifer levels, and increased pollution has led to the decay of the monuments sooner than we anticipated.”

Dr Vasanta, a member of ICOMOS, talked about Voice of Heritage programme, which imparted foundational values for the conservation and restoration of monuments and sites.

Another event to mark the occasion was held at State Museum, Public Gardens by the department of heritage, Telangana, in collaboration with INTACH Hyderabad. A number of presentation and speeches were delivers talking about the importance of heritage and ways to prevent it.

Pertinently, on Sunday, April 14, a heritage walk was conducted from Charminar to Chowmahalla Palace.
The participants explored and discussed the heritage of Hyderabad; a group of teachers, specialists, and learners from various schools, youth, amateur archaeologists, conservationists, and artists led by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) participated in the walk. Many artists did impromptu sketches of the monuments that were put on display at the Salar Jung Museum art exhibition.

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