Express News Service
HYDERABAD: The fire accident that destroyed much of the historic Secunderabad Club in the early hours of Sunday also engulfed the precious artifacts that were the club’s pride and heritage.
What used to attract the attention of visitors entering the clubhouse was the wooden panels on the Colonnade wall. The panel was decorated with the largest regimental coat of arms in the country. Those were the regimental shields that represented the troops involved in the Secunderabad Cantonment over the decades. All that power and pride went up in flames along with the wooden panels built on the walls and also around the columns of the Colonnade.
An 1892 snooker table and two other sister tables, added later, were considered the ‘gems’ of the snooker and billiards room. The ancient billiard balls were still in good condition, albeit somewhat faded.
There was a wooden staircase that led to the ballroom above the billiard room. The wooden staircase was supported by a 18.6-meter-long single wooden pillar, which formerly supported a 28-meter-long wooden support beam that ran all the way up to the ballroom. Both the pillar and the support beam were made of one piece of wood. The entire staircase, along with the iconic pillar and support beam, were destroyed in the accident.
Antique furniture, wood floors, wall panels and ceilings that used to give the club a hillstation-esque look were also burned down. Fortunately, the fire was unable to spread to a wider area, as there were still open spaces between different parts of the club. Although much of the heritage structure was damaged, the stone bricks used to construct the building were still intact, leaving room for restoration.
Founded in 1878 during the British Raj, the club used to have the city’s tallest flagpole. Mir Turab Ali Khan, Salar Jung I, who served as Prime Minister of the Nizam, stayed here during his hunting trips.
Restore building, demand members
dr. P. Anuradha Reddy, President of INTACH Hyderabad Chapter, which has been a member of the club, expressed shock at the incident and stated that INTACH would fully support any restoration effort undertaken to bring the heritage building back to its former glory.
M Vadakumar, Chairman of Deccan Heritage Trust, asked the club’s management committee to restore the Grade II listed building and immediately save the trees affected by the fire.
Arvind Kumar, Special Chief Secretary of the MAUD Department, has asked the Director General of the Fire Service to verify whether appropriate fire protection measures had been taken and whether a certificate of no objection to fire had been obtained from the relevant authority and whether a fire safety audit had been carried out . in situ.
Received ‘heritage’ tag in 2017
INTACH and HUDA had jointly awarded the Secunderabad Club the ‘Heritage Award’ in 1999 for the antique collections, heritage structures and well-preserved artifacts on the club’s grounds. The club was awarded the status of ‘protected heritage’ by the HUDA in 2017.
Waiting time of 19 years to become a member
Obtaining Secunderabad Club membership has not been easy for many of its privileged members. While anyone can apply for membership if they meet the criteria, the current waiting period is 19 years. The club has been delayed in granting new memberships due to a large membership base. Memberships are left by the members for generations, just like family heirlooms. The club will remain closed to members until further notice
‘Favorite’ bar also stripped?
The fire damaged offices and other facilities on three floors and the bar on the ground floor of the building was gutted. The staircase connecting the ground floor and the first floor, said to be carved from a single piece of wood, has also been reduced to ashes. The billiards area and other indoor sports areas on the first floor have also burned down. Imported furniture made of teak wood was also destroyed in the fire
Difficult to find the origin of the fire
Because it is a wooden structure, the origin and exact cause of the fire at the historic club is difficult to determine, firefighters said. Usually the cause of fire can be found immediately and the cause can also be found during the probe. Officials say seven fire trucks, two each from two fire stations in Paradise, Secunderabad, one each from Gandhi Hospital, Moula Ali and the secretariat are on the scene urgently
Many facilities for members
The club has several popular sports facilities, including a cricket ground and a swimming pool that functions all year round. It has five star accommodation with heritage suites. It has well laid out bars, dining rooms, air-conditioned banquet halls and several lawns for large gatherings and celebrations. The club also has several sports facilities for members, including a gymnasium, tennis, basketball and squash courts and a swimming pool