The Gulzar Houz fountain is one of the landmarks in the Old city area of Hyderabad. Located a stone’s throw away from the Charminar, this 428-year-old fountain reflects an important part of Hyderabad’s history. Built in the Qutb Shahi period, it has been modified and modernised so many times over the years that historians say there is nothing Qutb Shahi about the fountain any more.
“Life in that part of Hyderabad revolved around it,” says Mohammed Safiullah, history and member of the Nizam’s Trust. “I have not seen the fountain in working condition for so many years now. Not that it cannot be brought back to working condition. With too much pedestrian traffic in the area, it has become a dumping place for garbage. This is despite the mesh that was installed.”
The mesh only made it look the fountain ugly and grotesque and the liberal dabs of paint the authorities of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) keep endowing the fountain with, does not make it look good either.
Fountains, palaces and gardens were considered part of the Hyderabad landscape, impressing many a visitor. This included Princess Esra who was bowled over the sight of the landscape and the fountains when she came to Hyderabad after her marriage to Prince Mukarram Jah in 1959.
There are other fountains from a bygone era still present in Hyderabad. They are present in the Qutb Shahi tombs, Golconda fort and the place where the Victoria Maternity Hospital once stood. The fountain on the ground floor of the Charminar, historians say, is perhaps the oldest public fountain in the city.