Exploring Hyderabad and its monuments through the eyes of young architects

Hyderabad Deccan Illustrated is the book you need to get your hands on if you want to understand the monuments of Hyderabad and the style and architecture they represent
City College illustration | (Pic: Hyderabad Deccan Illustrated)
City College illustration | (Pic: Hyderabad Deccan Illustrated)

How would the city's monuments appear through the eyes of sensitive architects whose vision is steeped in an intimate knowledge of the city? Pick up the book Hyderabad Deccan Illustrated and you'll know. This book is Mehdi Saajid (26) and Sibghat Khan’s (20) labour of love and is resplendent with 50 accurate architectural illustrations that may not be made to scale but have been meticulously drawn after referring to various photographic evidence. Hours and hours were spent pouring over books in Telangana State Central Library and Salar Jung Museum Library to illustrate these structures sans the encroachments, electric poles, wires and everything else that mars the view of these magnificent monuments. "Even those structures that no longer exist, like the very European Afzal Darwaza, demolished in 1954, near the Afzal Gunj Bridge and the now dilapidated Moula Ali Kaman from the Qutb Shahi era, we drew them with the help of reference pictures and took a few artistic liberties based on structures of the same era," says Sibghat Khan. Initially directed towards tourists as a respite from the folklore-y self-help guides, it was a few experts who advised that the duo consider it as serious academic work that can also help the general population. "There are more visual elements than reading material in this book, which takes one beyond the notion of Charminar, the monument most associated with the city," explains Sibghat.

Sibghat pursued his architecture from Aurora's Design Institute while Saajid is studying at NID Gandhinagar. They have been friends for a very long time

Inscriptions! There are several inscriptions that feature in the book that are lesser-known and provide lots of insight into the monument itself. The architect informs us about Mirza Muhammad Amin's tomb and the piece of Kufic calligraphy from Iraq that features on it. "This shows that the art of calligraphy from all over the world found its place in this city," shares Sibghat, who runs The Deccan Archive, a digital archive of the Deccan that is known for its heritage walks. Goshamahal is more than just a bus stop and clock towers like the one in Shalibanda, which were actually part of a bigger devdi (mansion), are more than just standalone structures — there is a lot to be discovered and the book will serve as a faithful friend and guide through it all. Mecca Masjid, touted to be the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, and its seven decades-long construction period, the original plan by the Qutb Shahis and what changes it saw in the hands of the Mughals — all this is also deftly covered in the book.

Mehdi Saajid and Sibghat Khan

"The amalgamation that is Deccan architecture is stunning. There are borrowed elements from Ajanta and Ellora Caves and from the temples of Warangal fused with Qutub Shahi's own style. The first 100 years of the city was aggressively Persian but by the time of the Nizams, our own style emerged, the Osmanian architectural style seen clearly in structures like the Telangana High Court. This style was the pinnacle of our architecture," shares Sibghat. After reading the book, one is guaranteed to be more appreciative of Hyderabad and the story of its making, which is a common thread that runs along all the monuments in the self-published book.  

Sultan Bazar Clock Tower illustration

For now, you can pre-order the book via their website. The shipping starts from September 17. Apart from the 2D illustrations that the book already has, there is a barcode on every page that when scanned brings up the 3D illustration too   

The book cover

Name of the game
- Hyderabad Public School was initially established as Jagirdars College in 1923
- Golkonda was initially a mud fort named Mankhal. The stone fort was initially called Qila Muhammadnagar
- In his book Thoughts on Linguistic States, Dr BR Ambedkar suggests that Hyderabad should be named India's second capital
- The word Chaderghat comes from the word 'chadar' referring to the white sheet of water that covers the area due to the overflow of River Musi
(Source: The Deccan Archive)

For more on them check out thedeccanarchive.in

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