Last Thursday, Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao received an SOS from Nawab Shafath Ali Khan, Secretary of the Legal Heirs association of Nawab Fakr-ul-Mulk. It contained a request to the Telangana chief minister not to demolish the Errum Manzil (also spelt as Iram Manzil) palace in order to construct the new Telangana Legislative assembly, arguing that it is part of Hyderabad’s history, culture and heritage.
The Errum Manzil palace which meant `Mansion in Paradise’ in Persian (pic above) was constructed in 1870 and was used to host royal banquets. It must however, be pointed out that the palace is not in the best of condition right now.
For reasons not specified, KCR wants to shift the Assembly out of its present premises. This magnificent milky white structure used to be the Town Hall during the Nizam’s rule. Ironically, even while the CM moves out the Telangana assembly, the plan is to replicate the same facade in the new building which will come up where Errum Manzil stands now. So the question that is bound to be asked is why create a duplicate when the original exists in fine condition. The present Assembly building will be preserved.
Errum Manzil is not the only palace that will face the demolition machine. The Saifabad palace built in 1888 by the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, Mahboob Ali Pasha which is at the centre of the present Secretariat complex, too will pass into history. That is because KCR wants to raze the entire Secretariat premises to the ground to build a new administrative complex.
The Saifabad Palace has a rich history to it, apart from having been a witness to palace intrigue and politics. Historians say the decision to build it was driven by a desire to have his footprint outside the Old city area of Hyderabad as all the other palaces were on the other side of the Charminar.
Nawab Fakr-ul-Mulk was not pleased. He had built Errum Manzil on a hillock and wanted it to be the most grand palace in the newer part of Hyderabad. He wasn’t amused with the idea of having the Nizam as his neighbour. Errum Manzil was a stone’s throw away from Saifabad and this would have meant travelling to the Nizam’s court everyday to pay his respects.
The story goes that when Mahboob Ali Pasha came to inspect the Saifabad Palace, Nawab Fakr-ul-Mulk and another noble in the court of the Nizam, Nawab Afsar-ul-Mulk ensured that a monitor lizard crossed his path. Treating that as a bad omen, the Nizam ordered Saifabad Palace to be locked up. It was only many years later during the reign of his successor, the 7th Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan that it was used by the Dewan as the administrative office of the Kingdom of Hyderabad.
Subsequently, several chief ministers of united Andhra Pradesh up till N T Rama Rao used the Palace, designated as `G’ Block, as their office (pic above). It is a two-storey energy efficient building, built in classical European style. Like Errum Manzil, it too is in dilapidated condition, more due to the government’s neglect. Over the years, it has been used as a dumping ground for old furniture at the Secretariat.
If the CM does not heed the request to save Errum Manzil, the only way the name will continue to be a part of Hyderabad will be through the city Metro Rail. The station close to where the palace now stands has been named Irum Manzil station.
How ironic that the owner of one palace never wanted the other palace to come up. Today both are set to go down at the same time.
The designs to construct a new Secretariat with 12 lakh square feet office space at a cost of Rs 400 crore is on the cards. The foundation stone is likely to be laid on 27 June.