residence: many artifacts in Koti disappeared after police action, letters reveal | Hyderabad News

Hyderabad: After the Police Action in 1948, it was free for everyone with a few ministers, military officials and their spouses, senior government officials and departments buying or taking away many heritage and historical items including Imperial furniture, rare paintings, art, artifacts, cutlery and even a billiard table from the British Residency in Koti.
Documents available at the National Archives of India (NAI) relating to correspondence between Hyderabad officials and the Center in 1950 indicate that after the fall of Hyderabad in September, hundreds of items of heritage value were removed or purchased by civilian and military persons and government services 1948.
The correspondence took place around the first Republic Day (January 26, 1950) when the ousted Nizam was sworn in as the Raj Pramukh (Governor) of Hyderabad State.
Correspondence also shows that rather than insisting on the return of the valuable items, the Center instructed the State of Hyderabad to identify all items, make an inventory, determine a monetary amount for each item, and amount to be recovered from individuals or departments. The objects were listed under the furniture category without taking into account their imperial/heritage value. The emphasis was more on the monetary value and the monetization of the objects. The value came out at 58,642. But in today’s world heritage market, some of these items listed as furniture would be priced no less than 50 lakh each, heritage experts say.
Heritage experts said that while the center made money from the intrinsic value of British residence objects, it left only the lime and mortar structure for posterity. The government inventory shows how even small items such as finger bowls, incense sticks, copper lamp holders and whiskey counters have found their way into the homes of at least two ministers and senior officials.
The NAI’s documents show that there was a varied collection of objects, including paintings by Ajanta and Ellora and a full-size billiard table by John Roberts and Co, which were taken by an army officer.
There were paintings of 33 residents and the Nizams. A large collection of paintings by Ajanta and Ellora also adorned the walls of the residence. The Center had given the paintings to Women’s College when it opened in the Residency building. Ajanta’s paintings were donated to the state museum.
The British government left the residence at Koti in Hyderabad after independence. But it remained under Nizam control until Operation Polo in September 1948 when Princely Hyderabad was merged with the Indian Union. Later, Residency came under the control of Military Administrator (1948-1949), Interim State Government of Hyderabad (1950-1952) and later elected Government of Hyderabad State (1952). The Residence Building is now being renovated. But most of the objects that once made up this building built more than 200 years ago and the royalty associated with it will be forever missed.


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