What’s heritage to you and what is heritage to me?

By Deepak Gir

The Charminar (four minarates), constructed in 1591, is a monument located in Hyderabad, Telangana

Hyderabad 24 july (Rahnuma) When I look back over my lifetime I realise that heritage to me is my relationships with everything I have experienced in my life.

Everytime we would drive over Nayapul to head into the old city I would turn to gaze at the Osmania and the High Court. It meant something to me, which I probably didn’t understand. My parents were born and brought up in Hyderabad and so were my grandparents. Genetically I owe much to them. Does the fact that I related as a child more to the sight of the two majestic buildings on the banks of the Musi than to the relatively new Salar Jung museum on the left mean there was some innate connect drawing me to them? I never felt the connect with the museum building. It was important to gaze beyond at the Aza khana Zehra. As we entered the old city the sight of the Patangay brothers sign board, the Dewan Deodi gate, Allauddin building and Pathergatti. Gulzar house the Char Kaman and the Charminar with the Unani hospital and Mecca Masjid. Chowk at the end of Laad Bazaar and the magnficent Moti Darwaza of Khilwat. How many times have I experienced this? A million times !!

Driving past the Errum Manzil I always turned to gaze at it. I always looked inside the wrought iron gates of Hillfort and enjoyed the vista more when we went there to swim. The Tankbund, Naubat pahad, Himayat nagar with its distinct german design homes. And Banjara Hills with its exotic calm character with those magnificent deccan rock landscapes. Quiet homes !

Falaknuma is a palace in Hyderabad, Telangana, India. It originally belonged to the Paigah family, and was later owned by the Nizam of Hyderabad. It is on a hillock and covers a 32-acre (13 ha) area in Falaknuma, 5 kilometres from Charminar.
Falaknuma, a palace in Hyderabad, Telangana, India. It originally belonged to the Paigah family, and was later owned by the Nizam of Hyderabad. It is on a hillock and covers a 32-acre (13 ha) area in Falaknuma, 5 kilometres from Charminar.

What am I talking about? These are my spatial relationships with this city. These are my experiences, deeply embedded in my psyche. Coupled with a staggering range of experiences with people and relationships. I recognise that all this is my heritage. And its not out there. Its inside me. Only to be validated everytime I went over Nayapul or fondly gazed at the imposing Errum Manzil or the Khurshid Jah deodi.

As a child my parents often took permission from Prince Mukkaramjah’s office to take us and guests to see Falaknuma and Chowmahalla and Purani Haveli.

I am drenched with those memories of a countless visits. I remember the silver tree with gem encrusted fruit in the jade room. I remember Mahbub Ali Pasha’s office as it was when he sat at the table in his office in Masarath Mahal. I remember his drawing room and the wallpaper

I remember the movies of the 60’s and 70’s and the songs I grew up to. I remember lazy afternoons at our home in Banjara Hills as the kitchen would buzz to sounds of food being cooked while my beloved grandma sat under the guava tree reading a newspaper as parrots shrieked their heads off in constant calls or the sweet chirp of the bulbuls and the lovely chirp of squirrels. The sparrows were my heritage and now they are not to be seen.

Yes these are my relationships with Hyderabad and more. My people relationships. My spatial relationships.

I must have passed a million times through Fateh Darwaza and its there still. Its part of my psyche, my spatial relationships. Gazing out of car windows following Balahissar as we drove countless times to Gandipet or Vikharabad.

This is what makes me who I am. My memories, my relationships, my values and how I respond to nature and people.

This is my heritage that I hold in my heart. To me heritage is not about forts and palaces that are to be preserved. Its about respecting how the man on the street relates to his city.

This is my identity. What defines my city and my home.

So any move to tear down what constitutes me is to cause me disturbance. I have not given my elected representatives the permission to redefine who I am or what my spatial relationships to my city should be.

I would any day prefer to gaze at all those fabulous homes on RajBhavan than be met with modern structures.

I am not alone.

Look within you and every Hyderabadi will feel this connect. Everyone’s perspective will be different but that relationship they hold in their hearts with spaces in Hyderabad is theirs. Millions of people live in this city. We all have these intimate connects. Even if that connect was gazing out of your car window to rest your sights on a majestic home on a hill.

Our heritage is us. Its our legacy. Charminar, Golconda, Errum Manzil. Its all ours. We are Hyderabad and while many of us may have left Hyderabad the Hyderabad in you will never leave you. Its who you are. You may forge new connects and consider New York or London or Chennai your home. But if you grew up in Hyderabad a huge part of you is Hyderabad and these spatial relationships define you.

No Hyderabadi worth his salt will accept decimation of his beloved city’s historic legacy. I know there are millions out there to whom this city holds special meaning in unique ways.

Lets just become aware of these intimate connects we hold in our hearts and often are not aware of.

Chowmahalla Palace or Chowmahallatuu (4 Palaces), is a palace of the Nizams of Hyderabad state.[1] It was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad while they ruled their state.
Chowmahalla Palace or Chowmahallatuu (4 Palaces), is a palace of the Nizams of Hyderabad state.[1] It was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad while they ruled their state.
– Mr Deepak Gir is a well known Heritage activist and a trustee of Hyderabad Heritage Trust, Educated in the US, Deepak has had a more than three decade career in the automotive industry of which a significant part was the restoration of vintage automobiles. As the second generation involved in the preservation of Hyderabad’s Heritage his innate understanding of Hyderabad’s culture coupled with exposure to how cultural markers the world over are protected, maintained, conserved and presented, allows for a comprehensive approach to revitalising Hyderabad’s cultural heritage.
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