Monday, January 26, 2015

Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad

Hyderabad trip part - 4
The Salar Jung Museum of Hyderabad is a repository of the artistic achievements of diverse European, Asian and Far Eastern countries of the world. The major portion of this collection was acquired by Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan popularly known as Salar Jung III. The zeal for acquiring art objects continued as a family tradition for three generations of Salar Jungs.
 In 1914, Salar Jung III, after having relinquished the post of Prime Minister to H.E.H., the Nizam VII, Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan, devoted rest of his entire life in collecting and enriching the treasures of art and literature till he lived. The precious and rare art objects collected by him for a period of over forty years, find place in the portals of the Salar Jung Museum, as rare to very rare pieces of art.

 After the demise of Salar Jung-III, the vast collection of precious art objects and his Library which were housed in "Dewan-Deodi" the ancestral palace of the Salar Jungs, the desirability of organizing a Museum out of the Nawab's collection dawned quite soon and Sri M.K. Velodi, the then Chief Civil Administrator of the Hyderabad State approached Dr.James Cousins a well known art critic, to organize the various objects of art and curios which were lying scattered in different palaces of Salar Jung III to form a Museum.

 With a view to perpetuate the name of Salar Jung as a world renowned art connoisseur, the Salar Jung Museum was brought in to existence and was opened to the public by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India on 16th December, 1951.

 However, the administration of the Museum continued to be vested in the Salar Jung Estate Committee till 1958. Thereafter, the heirs of Salar Jung Bahadur graciously agreed to donate the entire collection to the Government of India through a Compromise Deed based on a High Court Decree on 26th December l958.
 The Museum continued to be administered directly by the Government of India till 1961. Through an Act of Parliament (Act of 26 of 1961) the Salar Jung Museum with its Library was declared to be an Institution of National Importance. The administration was entrusted to an Autonomous Board of Trustees with the Governor of Andhra Pradesh as its Ex-officio Chairman and ten other members representing the Government of India, the State of Andhra Pradesh, Osmania University and one from the family of Salar Jungs.
 The Museum has a magnificent global collection of art objects and antiques not only of Indian origin, but mostly from countries Western, a sizable collection hails from Middle Eastern and Far Eastern origins. Apart from these, there is a Children's section, a rich reference library which contains reference books, large collection of rare manuscripts etc. Thus, this Museum has become popular, not only as a place of interest but also as an institution for education.

 Out of the several rare objects, one of the important and interesting object collected by Salar Jung I was “Vellied Rebecca” an enchanting marble statue which was acquired by him from Rome in 1876 during his visit to Italy.  The western collection are from England, Ireland, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany.  A set of Ivory chairs said to have been presented by Louis XVI of France to Tippu Sultan of Mysore deserve special mention.  A jade book-stand “Rehal” having the name of ‘Shamsuddin Altamish’, an archer’s ring inscribed with the legend Sahib-e-Quran-e-Sani, title of the Mughal Emperor, Shahjahan are masterpieces.
 A dagger and a fruit knife made in jade decorated with precious stones are said to belong to Jehangir and Noorjehan respectively.  A good number of Indian Miniature Paintings in early style of Western India of 14th and 15th Centuries representing Krishna Leela themes are also form part of the Museum’s Collection.
 There are good numbers of Arabic and Persian Manuscripts dated to 19th century and Shah-nama by Furadausi are also among the valuable collection of the Museum. A rare manuscript entitled ‘Lilawati” on mathematics and an ancient medical encyclopaedia transcribed in India is in the collection. Oil and water paintings form an important part of the European collections. 

Ref : Salar Jung Museum official website

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Charminar and Nizams Museum

Charminar is most famous Historical place of Hyderabad in Telangana.  Charminar is included in top 10 historical places of India. It's English name is a translation of two words 'Char' and 'Minar' which is four towers. Now Let us talk about Some History of Charminar.
 The fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah built the Charminar in1591 century. After Shifting His capital from Golkunda to Hyderabad He built this awesome structure of Charminar. Because of Charminar this landmark became a global icon of Hyderabad.
 Charminar is constructed in Islamic architecture. We can say that it is a signature of Islamic architecture. Pulverised marble, limestone, mortar and granite are used in structure of Charminar. It has a square structure of 20 * 20 meter size.

 Charminar contains four arches each of them opens in four streets. And because of these four grand arches it is named Charminar. If you want to reach to upper floor then there are 149 winding steps for reach to upper floor.
 Nizam's Museum
 This museum showcases the gifts that the last Nizam of Hyderabad state, Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII received on his silver jubilee celebrations. The museum is a repository mainly of souvenirs, gifts and mementos presented by dignitaries to the last Nizam gifts and mementos presented to the last Nizam on the occasion of the silver jubilee celebrations in 1936. Models made of silver of all the landmark buildings in Hyderabad & citations in Urdu about Osman Ali Khan.
 There is a very lengthy two storied room which has a two-storied wardrobe or cupboard (on both sides).The first story contains clothes and the second storey contains perfumes, soaps and accessories like shoes etc. Now, as the steps have become weak, the visitors are not allowed to climb to the second storey of the cupboard, but as the doors are made of glass, one can see the contents from the floor. It seems the Nizam won't wear the dress he wore once again. There is a lift operated manually by pulling ropes in working condition. It is for the King to come from ground floor to first floor to his wardrobe room. After he gets dressed, he goes down by the same lift
 There is a marble bed, a marble writing table, and a marble cupboard which the Nizam used to take it along with him when he went on hunting. They are very heavy and I wondered how tedious a task it would have been to carry it. It seems the Nizam used to stay in hunting sites for months together and hence it was worth carrying. But one should see how the iron nuts and bolts are screwed in to marble stones without cracking it to make the furniture’s.
Collections of the last Nizam gifted to him in a single day (during Silver Jubilee Celebrations in 1937) are on display in this museum. The collection of his Prime minister is in Salar Jung Museum. The collections here range from Paan dhaan, Attar Dhaan, carpets, letters of appreciation and best wishes(Dua) written on a variety of things, bidri works, letter caskets, hukkas(the utensil used for smoking) ,perfume sprayers(not like what we have - they are so beautiful). They are made of gold, silver, gold plated silver, iron, mother of pearl. Even a vessel into which you spit chewed Paan is made of gold, Jade stone vessels (For testing liquids and solid food) to find if poison is present in the food items. It seems the colour of the vessel changes if the substance that is put in to it is toxic. The throne which was used by the Nizam during the silver jubilee celebrations is also kept for display. There are two types (classification based on blade shape) of swords on display - Abbasi(straight blade) and the other one having a curved shape. Actually there are many types of swords in the world. A golden, wooden throne used for the silver jubilee celebrations of the Last Nizam, a gold tiffin box inlaid with diamonds, miniature repilica of the Jubilee Hall, glass inlay painting of Mir Osman Ali Khan. Also, a wooden writing box studded with mother-of-pearl, diamond and gold-studded daggers, caskets, and silver ittardans (perfume containers) presented by the raja of palvancha. Silver coffee cups studded with diamonds and silver filigree elephant with mahout are on display.
There was one painting of the sixth Nizam with his crown. Not an ordinary one. They give you lens to look into it. If you see through the lens, a few spots which look like a mere design for normal eye are in reality the faces of the previous Nizams. That is, the Nizam's ancestors are painted so minutely (Like writing one's name on rice) on his crown. And the Nizam's two sons are painted in his eyes. The curators of the museum or the officials there take care of things very well. The number of visitors is less and they patiently guide you and give a description on all displays. One negative thing is there is no proper restroom in the museum. Princess Durru Shehvar Children's hospital that is in front of Purani Haveli was constructed in the memory of Princess Durru Shehvar who got married in to Nizam's family.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

7 Tombs of Qutab Shahi Kings

The Qutb Shahi Tombs Complex is one of the most significant historic medieval necropolises with 70 structures within its complex, encompassing 40 mausoleums, 23 mosques, five step-wells/water structures, a mortuary bath, pavilions, garden structures and enclosure walls built during the reign of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty that ruled the Hyderabad region for 170 years in the 16th – 17th centuries.
 There are many tombs and a mosque the description at the entrance of the site museum gives a concise view of the Kings (and a Queen too. Mistress of King - Bhagamathi is also buried near her King) buried in the tombs there. Except for the last Nizam, who was taken as a captive, the rest of Qutb Shahi rulers are buried here. The architecture is a blend of different cultures, with Persian and Turkish dominance. And most of the rulers constructed their own tombs before they died.
 I visited Qutb Shahi tombs where seven generations of the Qutub Shahi Emperors are resting. The tombs are on the way to Golconda fort but are normally given a miss by most of the visitors. But once you visit the Qutub Shahi Tombs you will realize what you have missed. I think it won’t be wrong to say that Qutub Shahi tombs form the Golden Triangle of Hyderabad along with Golconda Fort and Taramati Bardari from the era of  Qutub Shahi Kings.
 The tombs are surrounded by densely populated residential area with the green coverage slowly being gobbled up by growing concrete jungle. You will find a lot of families from nearby areas coming there for picnic and playing in the shadow of the majestic tombs which stand taller than a multi story building.

 Each tomb is unique and though look similar once you start looking at them closely you realize that each one has finer details different from the other. Besides the tombs of the kings you will also find tombs of other members of royal family and some ministers also.

 While looking at the tombs I was wondering looking at all the people playing around, enjoying their snacks if any one of them realizes that we are actually inside a Graveyard, a Royal one but still a graveyard. Such is the beauty of the majestic Qutub Shahi Tombs that you forget you are surrounded by graves, and you simply start enjoying the moment.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Golconda Fort

 The Golconda Fort is one of the most delightful monuments and is located 10kms west of the city.  The outer fort occupies an area of three square kilometers, which is 4.8 kilometers in length.
 It was originally known as Mankal, and built on a hilltop in the year 1143 The grand structure which was constructed by the Kakatiya rulers of Warangal in the early twentieth century was originally just a mud fort. Later it was fortified between 14th and 17th centuries by the Bahmani Sultans and then the ruling Qutub Shahi dynasty. Golconda was the principal capital of the Qutub Shahi kings. The inner fort contains ruins of palaces, mosques and a hill top pavilion, which rises about 130 meters high and gives a bird’s eye view of other buildings.
 Golconda fort is undoubtedly one of most magnificent fortress complexes in India. The history of Golconda Fort goes back to early 13th century, when it was ruled by the Kakatiya’s followed by Qutub Shahi kings, who ruled the region in 16th and 17th century. The fortress rests on a granite hill 120 meters high while huge crenelated ramparts surround this structure.
 It was initially called Shepherd’s Hill, meaning Golla Konda in Telugu while according to legend, on this rocky hill a shepherd boy had come across an idol and the information was conveyed to the ruling Kakatiya king at that time. The king constructed a mud fort around this holy spot and after 200 years, Bahamani rulers took possession of the place. Later the Qutub Shahi kings converted this into massive granite fort extending 5km in circumference. The fort is considered a mute witness to historic events. The Qutub Shahis reign at Golconda ended in 1687 when it was run over by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who intentionally left it in ruins.
 What makes the fort stand out is its system of acoustics. The sounds of the claps made at the entrance of the fort can be clearly heard at the top of the hill. You can also see two pavilions outside the fort built on rock namely, Taramathi Gana Mandir and the Premamathi Nritya Mandir, where the legendary sisters, Taramathi and Premamathi resided. It is said that the two sisters performed on a circular shaped dais at the top of the structure, Kala Mandir. This could be visible from the king’s court from the top of the fort.
 Golconda still boasts of mounted cannons, four drawbridges, eight gateways, and majestic halls, magazines, stables etc. The outermost enclosure is called Fateh Darwaza meaning Victory gate, after Aurangzeb’s army marched successfully through this gate. At Fateh Darwaza one can witness fantastic acoustical effects, which is one among the many famous engineering marvels at Golconda.

 Clapping your hand at a certain point near the dome entrance reverberates which is heard clearly at the hill top pavilion, almost one kilometer away. This served as a warning note to the inhabitants of the fort of any impending danger, Ofcourse it now amuses visitors. The fort gains an impressive place among the architectural marvels and heritage structures of India and is a testimony to Hyderabad’s glorious past.