Prestigious UNESCO Award for Chowmahalla Palace

Prestigious UNESCO Award for Chowmahalla Palace
Chowmahalla Palace, the seat of power of Nizams, has bagged the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Merit Award for Culture Heritage Conservation.

"Chowmahalla Palace is the only palace in Andhra Pradesh and in the country which has got this prestigious award," Palace Director G Kishan Rao told reporters here today.

The award presentation ceremony is likely to take place here in November, Rao said, adding it is a proud occasion and achievement for Hyderabad.

"The winners were announced last week in Bangkok. Other winners are Fu'long Taoist Temple in Sichuan, China and the Old Houses in the World Heritage Fort of Galle in Sri Lanka," he said.

Chowmahalla Palace has undergone massive restoration work after Princess Esra, wife of Prince Mukarram Jah Bahadur, Nizam of Hyderabad initiated a project for the royal palaces in August 2000.

The restoration project for Chowmahalla Palace involved tasks ranging from stabilising the existing structural components to reconstitution of collapsed and dilapidated sections of the complex, restoration of external and internal spaces and of decorative elements and finishes, Rao said.

The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards recognises the efforts of private individuals and organisations that have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region.

Quoting the award of merit citation, Rao said, "the restoration of Chowmahalla Palace has rescued an extraordinary complex from years of abandonment.

"The project has restored a cultural oasis in the heart of Hyderabad giving impetus to reviving local building materials and traditional ways of construction."

Chowmahalla Palace, the royal seat of Asaf Jah dynasty rulers from 1724 to 1948, now has become much sought tourism destination in Hyderabad and over 1,000 tourists visit the palace daily, he said.

In Urdu, Chow means four and Mahalat (plural of Mahel) means palaces, hence the name Chowmahallat or four palaces.

Speaking on the occasion, Senior Counsel to the Nizam's Vijay Shankardass told reporters that 'Sacred Relics Trust' adjoining the Chowmahalla Palace that houses sacred religious texts and is locked up for all these years will soon be opened to the public.

To a query on Nizam's cash stashed in foreign banks, Shankardass, said stalemate over bringing it back to India still contunes. It is not an easy task, he added.
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