Restoring Hyderabad’s heritage, minaret by minaret

The Moazzam Jahi Market in March 2018 (Photo : Arvind Kumar)

In March last year, Prinicipal secretary Municipal Administration and Urban Development, Arvind Kumar announced that on the advice of the then Municipal Administration minister KT Rama Rao, he was adopting the Moazzam Jahi market, one of the heritage structures of Hyderabad, for restoration. Kumar also created an email id, asking citizens to write to mjmarket.restoration@gmail.com and if they wanted, be a part of `Team MJ Market Restoration’.

Moazzam Jahi Market was built in 1935 during the reign of the last Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan and was named after his son, Moazzam Jah. 

The main minar after restoration (Photo : Musharraf Ali Faruqui)

Since the area was huge and home to about one hundred shops, work was started only in the main complex. The challenge was to restore the ceiling that because of shabby restoration that had been undertaken in the past. 

“That had added an extra 45 cm of thickness to the roof, translating to 100 tonnes in terms of dead weight. The roof was in dilapidated condition and ran the risk of collapsing any time, endangering the lives of the shopkeepers and customers,” says Shrinivas Sulge of Hericon India, the conservation firm in charge of the restoration process at MJ Market. 

How the roof looked before restoration

The aim was to restore the structure while retaining its original look and avoiding use of artificial colours and paints. 

“It is an original limestone structure supported by wood and iron steel rods. Because of the weight of the ceiling, the structure had become weak. During the monsoon, it also leaked. This meant only small time traders operated from the market, the bigger names were not interested in setting up shop here,” says Musharraf Ali Faruqui, Additional Commissioner, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). 

The conservationists used the oldest techniques to carry out the restoration work for the project. The total cost of the project is Rs 16.95 crore. 

“There was no cement used, only lime. For the gold fenials on top of the minarets, we used the Hyderabadi warq gold. It was a tough task for the workers because of the height involved,” says Sulge. 

When the project was started, Rama Rao said he would compare the before and after pictures. The optics suggest that MoazzamJahi market now looks a new old.

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