The heritage high, hype and hyperbole of Ramappa Temple

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In 2021, the 800-year-old Ramappa Temple was finally part of an elite group of World Heritage sites, including that of UNESCO.

It has been an exceptional year for Telangana heritage as the 800-year-old Ramappa Temple has become the elite group of UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites. Corresponding to this development was the label of the world’s best tourist village for Pochampally on the outskirts of Hyderabad. There has been some movement on documenting the Qutb Shahi heritage of Hyderabad to advocate for the heritage city label with UNESCO.

But beyond these landmark developments, it was a trough year for Hyderabad’s 500-year legacy. The questions that tormented heritage observers were more banal: will the Osmania General Hospital be demolished? Will the Nampally Serai be demolished? Will the Mahbub Manor be razed?

These were some of the questions raised by the citizens of Hyderabad in 2021 as heritage was relegated to the fringes of political thought. The speech was launched by Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, who entered OGH, sat down and said: “Lives are more important than heritage”, alluding to the demolition of the oldest Hyderabad hospital building which has now been abandoned, citing fears about its stability. .

This forced civic groups to step in and prove the structural stability of the building as well as the possibility of building a new hospital on the land behind the heritage site.

ray of hope

In the gloom, there was a glimmer of hope since some ‘baolis’ (step wells) of the city came back to life thanks to the intervention of the Ministry of Municipal Administration and State Urbanism.

While place names like Doodhbowli, Badibowli, and Rethibowli have been part of the city’s topography, they have all but disappeared. This Hyderabad Design Forum effort has given an element of hope. While the Bansilalpet Stairwell is being cleaned prior to restoration, the Bapughat Stairwell has been restored and looks brand new. Another well which has been cleaned and restored is in Gachibowli.

Read also | Ramappa Temple: A wonder in black basalt

Inside the inner core of the city, the Kali Kaman Arch is restored by the civic body by clearing it of encroachments. “We have a plan to restore the other three arches if we can clear the encroachments. One of the arches has a kitchen and a puja room inside, ”said an official, who is part of the restoration effort. “Any conservation / restoration or development on or near a heritage site classified as HMDA must have an authorization from the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC). But, we still do not have an HCC with the qualification mandated for the members, ”explains historian Sajjad Shahid rejecting the notion of scientific conservation effort on the arches.

Another fear

It was a year of another scare as the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) threatened to pull out of its conservation efforts at the Qutb Shahi tomb complex due to a series of disputes aimed at shutting down the center. interpretation that enhances the experience at heritage sites. But, thanks to the intervention of state government officials, the AKTC is continuing its efforts at the site and the city has even hosted a jazz concert and a Sufi event on site.

Another ray of hope has been the High Court of Telangana, which has tried to monitor the Ramappa temple to ensure that it meets the standards set by the United Nations body for a comprehensive conservation management plan. . It is the judiciary that has been tasked with providing a semblance of protection for Hyderabad’s heritage from the endless need for real estate.

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