A part of the 19th-century monument fell when heavy rains lashed Hyderabad.

Why did a part of Hyderabads Moula Ali kamaan a protected monument fall off
news Heritage Wednesday, June 05, 2019 - 15:56

A portion of the Moula Ali kamaan (arch), the gateway to the historic Hazrat Ali dargah, was destroyed in the rains that lashed Hyderabad two days ago. A part of the top portion of the kamaan fell and the debris hit a car passing below, but no pedestrians or passengers suffered injuries. The kamaan now stands as a symbol of another 19thcentury monument in the city on the verge of collapse due to neglect, mainly from the state archaeological department, which is in charge of its upkeep.

A month ago, panic prevailed among tourists in the city after a part of one of the minarets of Charminar collapsed. Last year, one of the city’s iconic bus shelters, the Mississippi Hangar, crumbled in just one day.

The kamaan was inspected by a team from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) on Tuesday, and members say that years of neglect and movement of vehicular traffic through the kamaan led to the collapse.

Anuradha Reddy, a member of the team who visited the site, tells TNM that one of the main reasons for a part of the kamaan to fall was the stagnation of rainwater.

“The top portion of the kamaan had a stagnant pool of water as there were frequent rains in the area over the past month. This eventually seeped through the walls and damaged the already weak structure,” Anuradha says.

Also important to note is the number of vehicles that pass through the kamaan every day. Cycles, cars, trucks and every kind of vehicle crosses the kamaan, the vibrations of which are enough for the monument to crack. The kamaan serves as an entrance to the Moula Ali dargah, which was constructed at a time when bullock carts were the main mode of transport. The arch was also used by the Nizams, who took out processions on elephants to visit the shrine.

“Yesterday, when we were at the site, we saw a car struggling to make its way through the kamaan. It finally took the pedestrians to tell the driver that it was impossible for him to make it through the entrance. Vehicular movement was stopped for a little while to clear the debris after the collapse, but traffic was back to normal within 24 hours,” she says.

A part of the kamaan had collapsed after an accident in 2007 when a heavy vehicle rammed into the structure. This created a controversy, as motorists demanded that the kamaan be razed for better accessibility. 

In 2010, the kamaan was declared as a protected monument by the state.

Activists say that it was only in 2011 that the monument was restored using lime and mortar after a High Court directive.

While the neglect on the part of the state archaeology department is evident, pedestrians and the public are also to be blamed, says Anuradha. “The structure has been heavily misused by the public by scribbling and painting the graffiti on the walls. Public neglect is more appalling,” she adds.

An estimate of the damage on the monument is yet to be made. But, Anuradha Reddy raises an important question:

“Telangana is home to 347 monuments of historical importance. If the fate of a structure which is located in the prime of a city is like this, do we even need to talk about the other 346 in various parts of the state?”

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