Golconda Fort and Charminar Closed

Amid the ongoing rise of COVID-19 cases, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has shut down the historic Golconda fort and Charminar.

Hyderabad: Amid the ongoing rise of COVID-19 cases, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has shut down the historic Golconda fort and Charminar. A circular from the ASI on Thursday said that all monuments/museums protected by the central government under the agency have been shut with immediate effect until May 15.

The Central government on Thursday issued orders to shut down all Centrally protected monuments, sites, and museums in the country in view of the rising COVID-19 cases across the country. The Salar Jung Museum, Golconda Fort and the Charminar are the three sites which will be out of bounds for citizens.

While the ASI has closed its monuments for visitors, there is no intimation about other heritage buildings or historical monuments that fall under the state government, like the Qutb Shahi tombs, which are currently still open. The Charminar and Golconda fort were also shut last year as well due to the lockdown imposed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Both, along with other places, had reopened only in September 2020.

According to an Archaeological Survey of India order, the initial period of closure is till May 15.

After the monuments reopened, there were not many visitors for the first few months, but things had slowly staggered to normalcy by February this year, as hundreds of people were visiting both the Charminar and the Golconda fort. In Telangana, the state government has not imposed any kind of lockdown so far, but has shut down schools and colleges in wake of the pandemic.

This is for the third time that the national monuments and museums are being shut down due to COVID-19. Visitors and tourists did not have access to Golconda Fort and Charminar for six months between March and September 2020.

It is unclear as of now if the state government will also shut down historical monuments. As of Thursday, all public spaces are open, and there not been any intimation on this front. Moreover, it may be noted that apart from chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, state health minister Eatala Rajender had also said that another lockdown will not be implemented.

History

The Charminar is Hyderabad’s foundational monument. Built in 1591, it was constructed to mark the city’s establishment by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, the fourth ruler of the Qutb Shahi (or Golconda) dynasty. Prior to the Charminar being built, the Golconda fort was a walled city, from where the first three kings Qutb Shahi kings had ruled.

After Hyderabad was founded, the fort was eventually turned into a military barrack. However, the fort was also the place from where the final Qutb Shahi-Mughal war was also fought in 1687, after Aurangzeb attacked the Golconda kingdom. He succeeded after an eight month long battle, after which the entire Qutb Shahi area was brought under Mughal territory.

The Nizams (Asaf Jahi dynasty), who ruled next, were high-ranking Mughal soldiers. The first Nizam, Mir Qamruddin Khan, attained the position in 1724 and ruled from Aurangabad, which was the capital of the Deccan (Nizam territory).

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