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Nizam's treasure chest lies unopened

M. Malleswara Rao

Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation slack on dewatering passage to underground chamber

. — Photo: Special Arrangement

The well-plastered tunnel that leads to the underground chamber discovered on the Home Science College premises near the Secretariat in Hyderabad

HYDERABAD: The treasure chest of the Nizams of Hyderabad, which had been found in an underground chamber of the Home Science College near the Secretariat here, remains unopened, thanks to inaction by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).

The Archaeology Department has twice requested the GHMC to dewater the passage which leads to the chest, but has not got a response.

As the bunker-like chamber containing the chest, which is filled possibly with gold and other valuables, lies close to the Mint Compound here, archaeologists feel that the Nizams may have used it as a secret place to run the administration and maintain the treasury during emergencies or enemy attacks.

Hollow towers

Interestingly, the chamber receives light and air from two pillar-like hollow towers that stand on the ground and have openings at the top. The holes, however, camouflaged by turrets resembling leaves hanging from a tree trunk, cannot be seen easily. The towers — the only structures visible on the surface — stand to be mistaken as being a part of the banyan tree that stands nearby.

The chamber, with its lime-plastered walls and corners, is surprisingly intact, as is the smooth-surfaced mini-tunnel that leads down into it.

The chamber below has remained unperceived despite the surface being thronged by students during the day.People stumbled upon the tunnel when they opened an ancient doorway of a building made by Allwyn of East India Company. P. Chenna Reddy, Director of State Archaeology, who went inside, said the bunker might be an auxiliary unit of the Mint or the starting point of an escape route, connected to the Saifabad Palace, used by the royal family, which ran above ground before the Secretariat came up. Or even a resting-house away from the crowds. Archaeologists would be ale to throw light on this aspect only after a study, said Mr. Reddy.

Slush and water

The passage leading to the chest is filled with slush and stagnated water. After having the chest sealed, Mr. Reddy sought the GHMC's help to dewater the passage.

Mahboob Ali Khan, Nizam VI, dwelled at Purani Haveli near Charminar. When he fell ill and the place got crowded, he shifted his residence to Saifabad Palace near the lake, Hussain Sagar — where the Secretariat stands now.

The old ‘H' and ‘E' blocks of the Secretariat, which were demolished for constructing the new ‘H' and ‘D' blocks in their place respectively, were a part of the palace, along with ‘G' block.

‘G', however, has not been pulled down, following intervention by public-spirited citizens opposed to the demolition of a heritage structure.

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