The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Charminar reopens

Hyderabad, Feb. 7: The Charminar was reopened to the public today after 16 years.

Public entry to the monument built by the Quli Qutub Shah dynasty was stopped in 1987 after four sisters committed suicide there. Before that, as many as 13 people had killed themselves there.

However, tourists will now be allowed to go up to the first floor of the 110-metre tall structure, which had symbolised the birth of a new township after floods and plague hit Golconda in early 1600 AD.

The throwing open of Charminar to the public is likely to boost the income of people living near the monument.

“Earlier, people just strolled around the minarets and did not walk down for curios,” laments Abdul Hashim Ali of Antiques and Curios, a shop near Lad Bazaar.

The Andhra Pradesh government has ambitious plans to promote tourism in Hyderabad. It had earlier planned to build ramps so that people could view the monument from a height. But this plan has been abandoned. “We will set up night bazaars around Charminar to help tourists make purchases in peace,” says Tourism Development Corporation manager Subash Patel.

“Just as there used to be jewels in the king’s court, the Charminar is the jewel of Hyderabad,” said a resident of the area delighted that the old days are back.

“The response (to throwing open the monument to the public) has been more than expected. We got more than 750 visitors in the first one-and-a-half hours,” said Veerabhadra Rao, superintending engineer, Archaeological Survey of India, which maintains the monument.

But the increase in the number of tourists will only make the Charminar more vulnerable. The over-400-year-old monument is already bearing the brunt of heavy noise and air pollution. Its first floor and some minarets have also been damaged and the plaster is peeling off at various points. “The ASI has drawn up a Rs 2.8 lakh project to scientifically undertake the renovation work,” says Rao.

The government also has plans to keep traffic away from the monument and remove encroachments in the area.

“We have plans to redesign the landscape around the monument and allow only pedestrians for about 2 km,” says Patel.

After cracks developed in the Charminar, the ASI had suggested that the area around the monument be made vehicle-free. But this became very difficult to implement as the monument was at the centre of activity in the old city.

“We are still urging the state government to make the area vehicle-free. Otherwise, in two decades, there may be no Charminar,” says a senior official of the ASI.

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