Palaces lost in time

Exploring two monuments which used to be counted among the many architectural jewels in the city

By Author  |  Published: 14th Jan 2018  12:40 amUpdated: 14th Jan 2018  12:55 am

Asmaan Garh palace was located to the north-east of Saidabad, atop a hillock, and a beautiful milestone on the Vijaywada-Malakpet highway. It was constructed by Nawab Mohammed Mazharuddin Khan, Basheer-ud-Daula, Sir Asmaan Jah Bahadur, and is currently being used by a missionary, to run the St Joseph’s School. This is probably what has saved the palace from complete destruction.

It served as a resting place in between hunting for the Nizam and his courtiers.  Like many other properties, seeing Nizam’s fascination with the castle, Asman Jah ultimately gave the palace to him. It remained unoccupied for quite some time until the Birla family leased it for their Archaeological Museum. Four decades later, the building is now occupied by St. Joseph’s Public School.

Asmaan Jah also constructed the Basheer Bagh palace at a cost of Rs. 4 lakhs with lush and expansive gardens. Impressed with the beauty of the garden and the palace, Shahpurji Pestonji constructed ‘Shahpur wadi’, where present day Adarsh Nagar, Medicity hospital, LIC building and the British Library are located. Pestonji was the secretary to Asmaan Jah’s brother, Khurshid Jah.

Zafar Garh

This is a palace located near the Deccan Medical College and the Owaisi hospital. It was here that the first observatory in the city was established in 1901 after Nizam Mir Mehboob Ali Khan granted permission for its establishment. Zafarjung declared that the observatory be renamed as The Nizamia Observatory. The 15 feet long Grubb Refractor and a powerful telescope were installed here. The telescope is said to be the largest instrument of its kind in Southeast Asia.

In 1909, after the death of Zafar Jung, the observatory was shifted to Begumpet and currently it functions from Rangpur, 55kms from Hyderabad, on Nagarjunsagar Road which is now known as the Japal Rangput Laboratory. Although he Osmania University allots a certain amount towards maintenance, the telescopes at this observatory have to be manually operated and according to officials have been languishing for quite a few years now.