History continues to be calmly violated at the Paigah Tombs. Encroachment is rampant, with families setting up house in the more dilapidated parts of the tombs, bringing laundry-filled clotheslines with them. Choke back your dismay and ask Rahmatullah, the caretaker and guide, to show you around.
The tombs are more than 200 years old, built in the Asaf Jahi and Rajasthani styles prevalent at that time. They house the graves of the Paigahs, the chief nobility in the court of the Nizam, ranking just below the ruling family in hierarchy. The Indo-Saracenic architecture in lime and mortar and the detailed intricate stuccowork are beautiful, but newer additions, such as the tomb of Vicar-ul-Umara, founder of the Falaknuma Palace
, are lacking in intricacy. But the tombs are in a state of decay. The lovely marble inlay work is missing almost all its semi-precious stones. Vandalism is everywhere.
It is difficult to see where the Rs. 14 lakh allotted by the government for the restoration of the monument has been used. Rahmatullah will lament this as he shows you the Hindu motifs in the architecture - dumroos, snakes and swastikas - with a twinge of secular pride and whispered counsel that this information is not for everyone. But even he doesn't keep the place clean (your bare feet will be filthy by the end of your visit) and won't shoo away the families-in-residence. Sign his old withering visitor's book anyway.
The areas of neglect are glaring, and there is plenty to be outraged at. So remember to take deep breaths and sips of water. And your camera, of course.