Heritage structure housing Islamia High School cries for immediate attention

Hyderabad: “This 121-year-old middle school examination certificate, issued in 1902, which is in my collection actually belongs an ancestral relative, who had completed schooling from Islamia High School in Secunderabad,” recalls architect-historian Asif Ali Khan with a sense of pride. Incidentally, he is also the great-grandson of Babu Khan, one of the donors of Islamia school.

Retracing the history of the institute’s heritage structure, Khan says, “late 1800s was a period when educational reforms were happening in erstwhile Hyderabad state. This was the time when Salarjung I was the prime minister under Nizam VI. Many educational institutes were established in this period and Islamia High School is one of them.”

Constructed in 1882, the school, which stands as a symbol of colonial architecture, is situated opposite Monda market in Secunderabad. However, given the vagaries of time, although the structure still survives, it is in a decrepit state. It is a pale shadow of the awe-inspiring image it commanded as an institution of learning. It was held in high esteem, thanks to the passionate patronization by several distinguished personalities of successive eras.

“Back in 1859, the state of Hyderabad opened a Persian and a vernacular school in every taluk and Persian, English and vernacular schools at district headquarters. The monthly fee in taluk and district schools was one anna and two annas respectively,” another city-based historian pointed out.

Going by its architectural description, the Islamia school building has a prominent entrance with a richly ornamented ‘elliptical arch’, a moulded scroll, name of the school and year of construction (1882) embossed bearing an insignia of ‘star and crescent moon’ in stucco finish with semicircular arches on either side. A short curved staircase leads directly to classrooms, which showcases the British architectural influence.

A marble plaque affixed at the entrance door bears names of prominent donors, who had funded the building’s construction. Seth Ram Gopal, Babu Khan, Alladin were among the donors.

The marble plaque depicts that permission was granted by the then British resident to construct the school in the British army cantonment.

Another heritage lover Bhanu Prathap reveals “My 94-year-old grandfather studied in Islamia High School. He profoundly recalls his Urdu and Telugu teachers and classmates. One of them was the father of veteran politician Damodar Raja Narasimha.”

Md. Jaffar Hussain, working as a junior assistant at Islamia school for the past 25 years, says, “The school runs classes from 6 to 10 for boys. Though the strength is around 125, around 50 children turn up on a daily basis. Shortage of teaching staff is also a major concern. Marginalised children from neighbouring areas like Parsigutta, Bhoiguda, Patigadda, Rasoolpura attend the school.”

Ekamber, a former student, discloses that he studied in the school in 1977. “It was back in 1977 that I wrote my SSC examinations in this beautiful building, which was also our centre.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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