A 110-year-old heritage structure in the heart of Hyderabad, which had once served as a choultry for tourists coming from far off places, is all set to be demolished to pave way for a modern multi-storeyed guest house.
The heritage structure, Tipu Khan Sarai, popularly known as Nampally Sarai, located right in front of Nampally railway station closer to the state assembly building, is now being converted into a transit dorm, exclusively for women travellers coming to city from various parts of the state.
A senior official of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) familiar with the development said Nampally Sarai, which was completely in a dilapidated condition, would be demolished.
“The GHMC, in coordination with the Hyderabad police department, has proposed to construct of a five-storeyed 400-room rest house for women under the Safe City project sanctioned by the Central government,” he said. The plan is expected to be finalized at the GHMC standing council meeting to be held on December 18.
Hyderabad was among the eight cities in the country chosen by the Centre in 2018 for taking up various initiatives for the safety and security of women in public places, the other cities being Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Lucknow and Mumbai.
An amount of ₹282 crore had been sanctioned for the construction of two transit dorms in the city, one at Nampally Sarai and other at Secunderabad, to provide women travellers a safe place to stay when in Hyderabad, the official said.
Heritage conservationists, however, are crying foul over the proposed demolition of Nampally Sarai, which was given the heritage structure status in 2012. “It is very unfortunate that such a wonderful structure, is being razed after being neglected for decades by the successive governments. The present Telangana government, too, is showing more interest in demolishing the heritage structures rather than preserving the same,” said Hyderabad heritage activist Sajjad Shahid.
Convenor of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Hyderabad chapter Anuradha Reddy said before taking up any such demolition of the heritage structure, the authorities have to consult the INTACH. “But the government has not taken any suggestions from us,” she said.
She said there had been no maintenance of the building and nobody cared when a part of the building collapsed due to heavy rains in October 2019. In fact, the building was handed over to the Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited authorities for construction of an overhead station, linking it with Nampally railway station, but later, the proposal was dropped due to protests.
Built in a sprawling area of more than an acre of land in 1910 by Nawab Tipu Khan, a high ranking official working for Mir Mahabub Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam, the Nampally Sarai, originally called Sulah Sarai (a peaceful resting place) was used as a rest house for travellers to Hyderabad.
“It was providing free stay and sumptuous food for all the guests for three days. It used to cater to people of all walks of life, irrespective of caste or creed. Even those travelling to Haj, Nampalli Sarai used to provide accommodation,” Anuradha Reddy said.
In 1948, after the Nizams merged Hyderabad with Indian Union, the Nampally Sarai was used as a state guest house by the Andhra Pradesh government. But subsequently, it was abandoned and since then, has been in a state of neglect, she said.
Principal secretary (urban development) Arvind Kumar, who has been showing keen interest in restoring the heritage structures in the city, could not be reached for a comment.