Hyderabad: Established by the British in 1878, Secunderabad Club is one of the oldest clubs in the country. The main club house, which caught fire in the early hours of Sunday, was given heritage status by Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (HMDA) in 1999. Several articles of historic value are believed to have been destroyed in the fire.
Mohammed Saifiullah, a city historian, said it is a pity to see the well-maintained building gutted in fire. However, there is no reason why it cannot be restored with equipment like smoke alarms to prevent further such incidents, he said.
Shafiullah said Salar Jung Bahadur II gifted the land to the British. “Built by the British, the Indo-European architectural monument is integral to Cantonment buildings. It originally belonged to former Prime Minister of Hyderabad state, Salar Jung, who later gifted it to the British, which subsequently was turned into a club.”
However, another historian, Capt. L. Pandu Rangareddy, who is a past member of the club, said there was no basis to say the structure belonged to Salar Jung. He maintained that “The building was originally used as an army transit camp for the convenience of British officers during Sikandar Jah’s rule, when Nizams had a subsidiary alliance with the British.”
Capt. Rangareddy added that the building was later used to station officers of the Imperial Civil Services. Later, IAS officers were allotted the building and they were followed by civilians, he added.
Shafiullah explained that as a heritage enthusiast, he would like to see the structure restored to its past glory as the concrete parts are still intact.
“This would be a better proposition to razing it to the ground and rebuilding it,” he said.
However, a senior club member, who did not wish to be named, said that restoring the monument to its original glory ‘is next to impossible’. He added that there were no blueprints of the structure and that digitization of records had commenced only two decades back.
The Secunderabad Club is home to a library with a huge collection of over 55,000 books, which includes a rare series of vintage lithographic bird paintings. To the relief of its members, the main library was unaffected by the fire incident. Capt. Rangareddy termed the library as ‘one of the best in the city.’...