Khursheed Jah Devdi in Hussaini Alam is a beautiful two-story structure in the old city, where Paigah royals once lived. Considered one of the best examples of Palladian architecture by heritage experts, the mansion has big pillars and European design floors, which were decorated with carpets. But today, its doors and windows are broken, flooring damaged and walls crumbling. The 150-year-old heritage monument is in ruins, thanks to the ignorance and neglect of authorities.
“After 1948, there was a huge political change in Hyderabad. The state government officials did not care about the history behind these beautiful monuments. When the Paigahs shifted from Old City to Begumpet as it became hard for them to maintain the building, it came into the hands of government, who have ignored the beauty of the architecture,” says Anuradha Reddy, Convenor, Intach, Hyderabad.
There is little clarity today on who is responsible for the maintenance of the monument. It was reported that the municipality banned its use and department of archaeology listed it as heritage building, but the concerned officials do not take up any repairs. The building was considered a Grade-3 heritage structure by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority. However, in 2015, the Telangana government dropped Regulation 13 of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority, removing the legal protection for the over 150 listed heritage buildings, including Khursheed Jah Devdi.
“The present government had made many promises during the election to protect the heritage of the state. But after the scrapping of Regulation 13, people can damage the heritage and get away by paying a small fine. This was a bad decision by the government,” says heritage expert Mohammad Safiullah.
While locals use the front part of Khursheed Jah Devdi as a playground, the back was attached to an educational institution until recently. “The school has been vacated as the condition of the building is worsening. The structure can fall at any time,” says Anuradha. Despite this, she says, the monument is frequently used for film shoots. Filmmakers modify the structure as they want, including breaking down doors and painting on walls. They also take heavy equipment to the first floor, which could further damage the already fragile structure.
“There was a shoot going on a few days ago. They broke two doors to suit the movie sets, causing serious damage to the structure,” says Noorjahan, whose family has been staying on the ground floor as caretakers of the building for over 60 years. While activists have approached GMHC to stop such shoots, they say they’re not in charge. “We don’t know who gives them permission. The monument has been ruined because of this,” says Anuradha.
Khursheed Jah Devdi has the potential to become one of the finest tourist places in Hyderabad and add to the state economy - only if the crisis facing heritage monuments doesn’t dismantle it first.