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Rain damages Charminar minaret

R Akhileshwari, Hyderabad, August 30, DH News Service:

Experts have been urging the government to take up structural repairs urgently

Even as fear grips the 419-year-old Charminar after its stucco floral decorations made from limestone fell off on Sunday evening, archeologists are asserting that there is no danger of it collapsing like the Kalahasti temple gopuram.

 
With the city being lashed by unprecedented rain for the past two weeks, the showers apparently impacted the monument that is synonymous with Hyderabad and is as old as Hyderabad itself.

A spell of heavy rain on Sunday loosened the limestone trellis work from one of the four minarets and came crashing down. Fortunately nobody was injured since the debris fell on the covering of a temple within the precincts of Charminar.

As citizens and environmentalists urged the government to implement measures to protect the monument and improve its maintenance, experts said there was no danger to the structural stability of the edifice.


However, for the past several years, following similar instances, experts, including the city-based National Geophysical Research Institute, have been emphasising on the need to restrict traffic around the monument and to take up structural repairs urgently.

A senior official of the Archeological Survey of India, which maintains the monument, said the damage to the minaret was not too serious and that it would take at least a week to repair it. A team of ASI officials which inspected the damage said there was no danger to the structural stability of the monument.

This is not the first time that the state of Charminar has rung alarm bells.
In 2001, after a downpour, a huge chunk of stucco fell from the 54-metre minar facing the historic Mecca masjid. In 2005, several air cracks were noticed in the structure which, according to ASI officials, was not very serious as they were attributed to nothing more serious than seepage of rainwater and dampness. Besides, the damage to the steps leading to the second floor was said to be due to the movement of visitors.

The monument had been closed for several years to tourists and was thrown open to the public only in 2003. Inspections by the ASI showed that the basic structure was not affected.

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