HYDERABAD: The Badshahi ashoorkhana, built in 1594 by Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah is a mourning place for Shias, mainly during the month of Muharram. It was briefly converted into a bandi khana or jail in 1764 after the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb conquered the kingdom of Hyderabad. Over the years, the monument has been badly neglected. Restoration work began in 2011 on the orders of the Hyderabad High Court. But the work stopped in 2012 and has never been revived since.
The structure consists of the main ashoorkhana, the Naqqar Khana (where ceremonial drums and shenai are played), the Niyaz Khana (food court), Sarai Khana (rest house), Abdar Khana (place to store water), the chabutra (platform) and a guard room. “Around Rs 80 lakh was spent on restoring the Niyaaz Khana, Sarai Khana, and the Maakan-e-Mujawir (house of the mujawir) before the work stopped, because the funds dried up,” said B. Narayana, deputy director, state department of archaeology and museums.
“The budget allotted under the 13th finance commission for restoration of the ashoorkhana has been exhausted. When we receive funds we will take up the work,” Mr Narayana said. In the meantime, the roof of the Naqaar Khana has collapsed and the structure has suffered extensive damage. Last year, the department of archaeology and museums, following a representation made during a Muharram arrangements meeting prepared a detailed project report for the Naqaar Khana and came up with an estimate of Rs 1.37 crore to repair and restore the Naqaar Khana alone.
According to Mir Abbas Ali Moosavi, the ancestral caretaker of the Ashoorkhana, “The main structure has not been touched and is in urgent need of repairs. Officials say they do not have the funds.” The ashoorkhana’s architecture is typical of the Qutb Shahi dynasty. The main building is decorated with exquisite enamel tiles. “Artists from other countries were involved in the construction and decoration of the main hall where prayers and mourning is held. The alam (standards) are installed here during the month of Muharram,” said Mr Moosavi.
The ashoorkhana was granted Rs 14,000 maintenance every month in the beginning of the reign of Mir Akbar Ali Khan Sikander Jah III, and this continued till the time of the last Nizam, said Mr. Moosavi. In 1908, the ashoorkhana bore the brunt of the floods. Water entered upto a level of 10 feet. The ornamental work in the main hall was damaged, but was later repainted. The place is very much in use, and close to 2,000 people attend every Thursday. There is a huge rush in the month of Muharram with around 10,000 people visiting every day to attend the majlis (congregations).