Hyderabad: Restoration of Baadshahi Ashurkhana’s Naqar Khana begins

Hyderabad: Restoration works have finally begun to fix the Naqar Khana (drum house) of the historic Baadhshahi Ashurkhana, the second oldest monument of the city. While debris was being cleared for days over the last few months, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which is also restoring the Qutb Shahi tombs complex, has finally begun working on the monument’s Naqar Khana itself.

The drum house in the 16th century Baadhshahi Ashurkhana’s premises has been in bad shape from many years due to neglect and lack of repairs. It was only recently that Principal Secretary (MA&UD) Arvind Kumar announced that the restoration work at the Baadhshahi Ashurkhana would be undertaken in partnership with the AKTC in Hyderabad. Apart from the Naqar Khana itself, the Ashurkhana, which was originally fully designed with Persian mosiac tiles by Hyderabad’s founder, will also be slowly restored.

Apart from a general lack of upkeep, the Naqar Khana was also riddled with ingrown vegetations, which has resulted in its roof crumbling. While the Baadshahi Ashurkhana’s main structure is intact, its compund in the past was also encroached upon by hawkers, who were finally The structural stability of the drum house had been compromised due to lack of repairs, which is finally being addressed.

Once it is restored, it will be one of the few Qutb Shahi era heritage sites in Hyderabad which will have its Naqar Khana restored.

Complaint against encroachment

Moreover, the caretakers of the Baadhshahi Ashurkhana had also written to the Heritage department earlier on May 19, requesting officials to erect a boundary wall with a fence to protect the Naqar Khana from getting damaged. Department director Shailaja Ramaiyer had directed the AKTC to take up the work and also prepared an estimate of Rs 5 lakh for the same.

The caretaker, Mir Abbas Moosavi, had earlier written to the Heritage department during the monsoons, complaining that the Mohammed Cap Mart showroom behind the Naqar Khana had illegally constructed a wall abutting the historical drum house. Mr Moosavi in his letter stated that the showroom had also fixed iron sheets on top of his building on the eastern side of the Naqar Khana, which he said would result in rain water falling on the drum house.

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The Heritage Department, based on his complaint, on July 14 this year wrote to Mohammed Cap Mart to remove the iron sheets it had put up on its building.

Significance of the Badshahi Ashurkhana

The Baadhshahi Ashurkhana is the second structure built in Hyderabad after the city was founded by Mohd Quli Qutb Shah (fourth king of the Golconda dynasty) in 1591. The monument, which is a Shia Muslim mourning place, primarily used during Muharram, goes back to 1592. It is a very important heritage site given that it was built by the founding king himself, and as it still continues to be in use.

The Badhshahi Ashurkhana’s wall. (Image: Siasat)

Like other Ashurkhanas, this one too saw bad days for nearly a century after the Qutb Shahi dynasty fell to Aurangzeb’s army in 1687. The Qutb Shahi kings of Hyderabad were Shia Muslims. And it wasn’t until Nizam Ali (the second monarch of the Asaf Jahi dynasty) came to power that the Badshahi Ashurkhana was given an annual grant.

An Ashurkhana is where Shia Muslims mourn during Ashura, the 10th of Muharram. The place is dedicated to Imam Hussain, a grandson of prophet Muhammad who was killed in the battle of Karbala. Hussain was the son of Imam Ali, the prophets son-in-law (and cousin).