ASI officials conduct damage assessment of heritage landmark
Relentless rain over the past week in Hyderabad caused immense damage to the 500-year-old Golconda Fort. On Saturday, a team of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials inspected the damaged portions of the fort which have been cordoned off to prevent further damage.
“The steps and rocks of the kingsway, the wall near the Jagadambika temple, the rear wall and a structure near the second well have suffered damage. We are regulating the movement of tourists so that they don’t come to any harm. Luckily, visitors or tourists were not present at the locations where the damage took place,” said an ASI official at the site office.
The kingsway with wide steps is the path the Qutb Shahi royalty that ruled over the Golconda Kingdom used to ride up on horses to the top of the fortress known as Bala Hissar (high fortress). Nearly five metres of rock wall gave way, exposing soil on the path to the temple.
The ASI is the custodian of the inner fort which is built with Cyclopean masonry. A few days earlier, a portion of the Majnu Burj (bastion) had collapsed in rain in another part of the fort.
The Golconda Fort was built and modified by successive generations by Qutb Shahis who ruled for 160 years from the fort. It is considered an impregnable fortress with multiple rock curtains and has never been conquered, except by treachery.
“The rain has been unprecedented. But we cannot gloss over the fact that there is not enough budget with ASI for upkeep,” said Anuradha Reddy of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, adding: “The staff taking care of the fort is limited. The fort is a vast expanse of land and multiple structures which need constant monitoring. They also need highly trained technical personnel.”
The ASI comes under Ministry of Culture which has been asked to curtail budget to 60% as part of economic austerity measures by the Centre.
In the damaged portion of Majnu Burj bastion, an eight-metre long brass cannon is perched precariously as ASI officials try to get approvals for repair of the structure. “While the big rocks have been dislodged due to human intervention, I found that the rocks are still bonded by the original limestone masonry,” says Ms. Reddy.
“The ASI was building a toilet in the rear part of the temple. These kinds of unnecessary interventions should be stopped. We need to do a detailed survey of soil and rock movement so that further damage is limited,” said heritage activist and civil engineer Sajjad Shahid.
Outside the inner fort, the wall of the Katora Houz has also collapsed as water from the surrounding areas swirled around it on October 15. The Katora Houz was a medieval water storage facility for the fort.
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