An architect’s view of DEODIS in Hyderabad

An architect’s view of DEODIS in Hyderabad

Figure 1. Entry gate of Malwala Palace. (Source: MIT archives)

‘Hyderabad, known to be a gateway to southern India, today has a reputation of being called an information-technology (I.T.) hub. Looking at the present day scenario, it is hard to imagine the grandeur that the old city of Hyderabad once had over a century ago.The historic buildings act as a reminder of past which links the present and informs the future generation of its lost heritage. Most of the heritage structures were abandoned and left to deteriorate after the Indian Independence Act of 1948’, says Dr Ramesh, Ar. Nikita Jaiswal and Ar.Tanya Srivastava in An architect’s view of DEODIS in Hyderabad (a domestic architectural marvel)

ABSTRACT

The Asaf Jahi dynasty, founded in the 1724 by Nizam-ul-mulk Asaf Jah* (*A Mughal Subedar)  under the Mughal emperors and later it became an independent state in 1724.The princely state of Hyderabad had always been a prominent state for expedition from various rulers of Deccan. As the premier state of deccan and largest princely state not by population but by area, Hyderabad presented a unique case for India. After the death of Aurangzeb, the idea of still following the Mughals seemed unreasonable to the Nizam’s state and Hyderabad declared itself as the Independent State which led to establishment of Nizam’s Dominion.

The Nizam’s rule which flourished in 19th and early 20th century was successful with the diligence of the loyal Nawab’s and his Diwans. The Diwan’s are the high-ranking ministers (Prime Minister) palaces who had a noteworthy place in the Nizam’s court. The vernacular domestic abode of these prime minister came to be known as Deodi+ (+Deodis are the residential complex of the noblemen of Hyderabad in 19th to 20th century).

Deodis fills a gap in the history of the city and afford us a glimpse of the opulence, grandeur and cultural effervescence of Asaf Jahi Hyderabad.

“The Urdu dictionary, Farhang-E-Asafia gives the meaning of the word deodi as a residence of a Nawab or a Raja, or the chief of a dargah with a grand main entrance, big halls (Courtyard), open spaces (courtyard) and separate apartment for men (mardana) and women (zenana).”

Deodis are the traditional fortified mansion where the Jagirdars of Hyderabad lived. Jagirdars were the nizams officials who enjoyed the land gifted to them by the Nizam and lived off the land. Dozens of deodis with grand halls and serene courtyard held the secrets of distinct nobility. The nobles who lived in the deodis during the Asaf Jahi rule made a major contribution to the cultural life of the city.

The general impression which one gathers in architectural patterns of the larger deodis are the features of Indo- Saracenic architecture. The use of local material and structural technology were the primary means of sustainability. The basic structure of deodis which existed in the rural Marathawada, Karnataka and Telangana were enlarged and made more elaborate in Hyderabad.

The Deodis from their initial setting acted as an important seat for various social gathering and judicial practices too. Unfortunately, the deodis which once greeted the royals, aristocrats and commoners were neglected and are presently in a dilapidated condition.

SYNOPSIS

NEED

Hyderabad, known to be a gateway to southern India, today has a reputation of being called an information-technology (I.T.) hub. Looking at the present day scenario, it is hard to imagine the grandeur that the old city of Hyderabad once had over a century ago.The historic buildings act as a reminder of past which links the present and informs the future generation of its lost heritage. Most of the heritage structures were abandoned and left to deteriorate after the Indian Independence Act of 1948.

AIM

The aim of this research revolves around the historical and majorly on the architectural aspects of Deodis of Hyderabad.

OBJECTIVE

  • To provide a brief historical background of the Jagirdar’s Palaces (Deodis) in 19th to early 20th century.
  • To research on Deodis in and around the city of Hyderabad and the architectural role they played in the community.
  • To focus on the built fabric with other tangible characteristics related to the Deodis.
  • To document Deodis which differ in architectural form and style.

SCOPE

The scope of the study is to analyse the architectural elements of the Deodi and their usage in correlation to their past and the circumstances that led to their deterioration. The study will only be related to the structures (Deodi or Palaces) in Hyderabad.

  • Diwan Deodi (literature study)
  • Iqbal-Ud-Daula deodi
  • Khursheed Jah Deodi
  • Nawab Inayath Jung Deodi

METHODOLOGY

 

INTRODUCTION

Indo- Saracenic Architecture

This was a revival architectural style mostly used by architects in India in the later 19th century, especially in public and government buildings in the British Raj, and the palaces of rulers of the princely states. It drew stylistic and decorative elements from native Indo- Islamic architecture, especially Mughal architecture, which the British regarded as the classic Indian style, and less often, Hindu temple architecture. The basic layout and structure of the buildings tended to be close to that used in contemporary buildings in other styles, such as Gothic revival and Neo-Classical, with specific Indian features and decoration added. Built in Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, Deodi represents an idiosyncratic typology of construction and material style.

The deodis were self-contained townships guarded by armed men equipped with weapons who served the jagirdar or noble. Security was a main concern at that period which gave rise to some of the main features of the deodis. The common features of all the deodis are the extravagant main entrance, the high enclosing boundaries, the increasing number of courtyards, large halls with various purposes and separate apartments for men and women. The construction and placement of the deodis did not have any proper planning or forethought, they were placed at random around Charminar often wall to wall. They donot follow any particular orientation but do maintain a square or rectangular plan. The Muslim deodis outnumbered the Hindu counterparts but were otherwise not separated by any locality. The temples and mosques of the families were often made as a part of the deodi itself.

The deodi consisted of several parts which varied according to the user and the time period. A few of these are still used in the existing deodis for their original purpose. Below are the few main features that were found in the deodis.

Common architectural features of the Deodi:

ENTRANCE

The entrance gateways of the Deodi were always a prominent feature. The size of the entrance gate acted as a symbol of power and authority of the owner. The Iron knobs and spikes embedded in the robust wooden gates announced the impregnability of the Deodi. The height of the entrance was designed so that it can provide a clear passage for the elephant that carried the noble and in later times cars. The main gate was opened occasionally, generally a small postern inserted on the left side (sometimes both) in the main gate was used for day to day functioning.. Under European influence, the trend of clock towers on the entrance gate came into practice and cannon shots fired from the Nizam’s palace would indicate the time. Noblemen used the main entrance while the ladies used the separate side entrance called Zenana Darwaza.

JILLU-KHANA

This was an addition the the deodi as per the requirement of the noble. It was a place at the entrance gate where the visitors would alight a horse, elephant or carriage.

NAUBAT-KHANA

A room where drums where musical instruments were stored. Usually a part of the entrance façade on an upper level. This would also be the place fromwhere the musical instruments were played and heard across the Deodi.

ROSHAN-KHANA

This was a place from where the servants would start lighting the lamps for the house. This was also a part of the entrance façade, later on this was converted into an electrical room where the porcelien fuses and the meters were installed.

DALAN AND PESH DALAN

This was a space for the community to gather and meet the noble family, this would be space for large gatherings. The major attraction attached to the courtyard was an open wooden or stone pillared hall with intricately decorated ceiling and multi-foliated arch called Dalan.

DIWAN KHANA

This was a formal reception hall for officials who visit..

TOSHA-KHANA

This was a place where everyday crockery, cutlery and vessels were stored usually located close to the kitchen.

MEZ-KHANA

This was a later addition during the uprise of the British, it was a dining room with a formal table and chairs. This would replace the traditional dining area which was usually a dastarkhan ( cloth laid on the floor during meals) laid around which the family would sit and be served.

DURBAR

This was a formal room where court was held, it was also used for entertaining high profile guests.

SHADI KHANA

As Deodis were for household ad families it often made sense for the nobles to add a marriage hall to the Deodi which could be used for weddings in the family and the community.

COURTYARD

Courtyards in the deodi were arranged in a series, separating the public and private activities of the inmates of the house.

MARDANA

This is the residential section of male members in the deodi. The spatial arrangement and architectural features of the Mardana differed according to their stature and activities. The Mardana was open in comparison to zenana.

ZENANA

The purdah system was still prevalent in the commoners as well as royal families of Hyderabad. The dedicated living section for female members of the noble family was termed as Zenana. This had its own courtyard complimented with fountains, flowering bushes and gardens. All around the courtyard were the rooms which were connected through a veranda. The Zenana had more closed corridors and intricately designed living spaces with a difference in material and detailing than Mardana.

GUEST HOUSES

As the nobles of the deodi entertained quite a lot they had guesthouses made within the compound. These would be separate structures that would have their own living suite, kitchen, diwan area and courtyards.

CHABUTRA

This was a raised platform often found in the courtyard of the Deodi used for sitting.

BARADARI

Baradari also Bara Dari is a building or pavilion with 12 doors designed to allow free flow of air. The structure has three doorways on every side of the square-shaped structure. Because of their outstanding acoustic features, these buildings were particularly well-suited for cultural performances by the noble courtesans of India. They were also well-suited for live performances and private concerts by various musicians and poets in front of the ruling kings of the time. They were also valued for their fresh air during hot summers of Hyderabad.

BAGGI KHANA

This was a shed dedicated to horse carriages, later also called the Motor-Khana when cars were introduced. It was a metal or wood structure with a trussed roof.

BAWARCHI-KHANA

The main kitchen of the household. It would have a large bhatti or oven with the flooring and walls finished with lime mortar

CHAMAN

These were the well manicured symmetrical garden found all around the Deodi

KACHERI

This was a feature added to deodis which was used as a study or office space.

AINA-KHANA

Formal room for entertaining which was decorated with Mirror and coloured Glass on the walls and ceiling in various patterns, even the furniture was gilded to suit the space.

CHINI-KHANA

this was a room that was made to store and display the expensive crockery and cutlery that was used for guest, often made of ceramic and many times silver.

KHAZANA

As the Deodis were mostly owned by upper class members of the community the need for a strong room was normal. These rooms would house all the ornaments of the family. It was usually a room made in lime mortar and brick with a heavy metal door with several locking mechanisms.

FARRASH-KHANA

This was a room where the imported carpets and artifacts were stored. As the carpets were expensive and risked getting mildew this room was given a lot of natural ventilation.

PLACE OF WORSHIP

A temple of mosque was also present in several of the deodis for usage of the family as well as the community. They were often built by artisans from local districts.

Apart from the main family the deodi also house a large horde of servants to keep it in running condition. All these servants and their families would live in rooms in the same compound as the deodi. Some servants of higher stature would live closer to the family so that they could be reached immediately through a network of bells.

As the nobles prospered the magnitude of the deodis was scaled up, many other parts were added as per usage mostly for entertainment. The materials used also changes over time, larger structures were added to the present structures made entirely of wood called Lakkad-Kot. These were based on the same plan as the baradari and were made to showcase the grandeur of the deodi. The columns were carved intricately with indo-islamic carvings and the entire space was designed to be acoustically well suited. Other smaller rooms like dressing rooms, walk-in wardrobes, armouries, grain storage etc, were also added according to the user.

CASE 1 – NAWAB INAYATH JUNG BAHADUR DEODI.

LocationBuilt byPresent conditionArchitectural characteristics
DarushshifaNawab InayathJung Bahadur in mid-19th century

Present owner: Syed Ashraf Hussain (Great-Grandson of Nawab InayathJung Bahadur)

Diwan area is present, but the mardana and zenana have been demolished.Courtyard, thick walls, trifoliate wooden cusped arches,

Brackets in Burma-teak, Persian tile mosaic decoration on walls,

Jack arch ceiling,

Flat roof with parapet and sloped cornices,

Cuddapah stone flooring, stucco pilaster,

Intricate wooden and metal doors and windows.

Current use : Ashoorkhana for the community ( a mourning place for muslims during the time of Muharram)

Site area : 2,500-sq. m. approx. at time of construction Architectural style : Indo-Saracenic.

Walking past the lanes of Mir Alam mandi towards Purani havelli, a lime painted palladian façade captures the attention. Known as an icon of the community, Hussainia Deodi-e-Nawab Inayath Jung Bahadur is the oldest Deodi situated near Darulshifa in Hyderabad.

Nawab Inayath Jung Bahadur was the grandson of Nawab Ruknud Dowlah Mosa Khan, Prime minister of Hyderabad Deccan. He was a very well-known noble of the Nizam’s Kingdom. Nawab Inayath Jung provided this deodi for serving as an Ashoorkhana for the entire community to come together.

The structure is partially hidden behind a 2m high boundary wall, which is a new addition made in brick masonry. The wall has two wide set gates with a central pedestal to support a Doric capital.

The entire structure is divided into two parts, one was private residential unit while the other was a unit for the guests and community. Both the parts were connected through a passage which was accessed through the main entrance porch. The porch has three semi-circular arches on the east side which rest on columns with Doric styled capitals. On either side of the porch are basket arches to support the structure. The entire porch is finished with lime plaster. There are also pilasters made in lime stucco along the entrance doors to add to the grandeur.

The entrance façade boasts six panelled doors made of Teak imported from the forests of Burma (present Myanmar). The two central doors under the arched portico lead into the Dalan (verandah), while the one on the right directs you to the dalan through a passage the symmetrically opposite one goes through the Diwan-Khana into the dalan. On either side of the portico there are a set of two similar doors. One of these doors on either side rest on the curve of the façade. The doors on the right lead to the a store room and the electrical room. Whereas the doors on the left lead to the private areas through a narrow passage and the Diwan-Khana respectively. These six panel doors are of a standard size of 1.5m and a standard height of 2.4m in maintained throughout the structure.

The Diwan-Khana was a formal meeting area to receive guests. It was a square in plan and had six entrances two entrance doors from outside, two doors towards the dalan and one each on the other two sides. the flooring in this area was done with Tandoor stone which was sourced locally from a district nearby with the same name, and the walls were finished with lime plaster. Paintings and artwork usually adorned the walls. The roof to the area has been constructed with the Jack-Arch Method with brick and mortar. There were wooden purlins to support the structure, which also acted as an architectural element and support for elements like chandeliers, drapes etc.

On either side of these doors there are two larger entrances made of 4-leaf doors which are 2.5m wide. The one on the left led to the garage, which would house two cars and the one on the right led to the Courtyard and the Grandfather’s studio (which is now used as the toilet for the Ashoorkhana).

The grandfather’s studio was a room dedicated to the eldest person of the family or the head of the household which would be used as a home office. This consisted of a formal seating space, desk, a library and a toilet. The space had an entrance directly from outside for guests to come and meet the noble. It also opened directly into the Courtyard which would provide natural light and ventilation.

The two other doors lead to the store room and electrical room respectively. The store room has a narrow staircase that leads to the terrace which was used to access the windows on the higher levels for natural ventilation. The electrical room housed the porcelain fuses and metres for the entire complex. The flooring in both these areas was locally sourced Tandoor stone in 300mm x 300mm size and the walls and ceiling were finished with lime plaster.

Out of all these doors at present only the door that leads to the private areas and the Courtyard are in current use. They have recessed panels with frames of 100mm made with Burma teak and given a natural finish.

The roof to the entire entrance block has been constructed with the Jack-Arch Method with brick and lime mortar. There were wooden purlins to support the structure, which also acted as an architectural element and support for elements like chandeliers, drapes etc.

The wide passage on the right leads the visitors towards the Courtyard, would accommodate around 500 devotees during Muharram (a period of mourning). This Courtyard was an open to sky space for large gatherings. The flooring of this courtyard was done in the locally sourced Cudappah stone of 300mm x 300mm size and a thickness of 25mm.

The Courtyard was adjacent to the Dalan which was a colonnade with fluted wooden columns connected with intricate tri-foliated (Shah-Jahani) arches with a doric styled capital. Each arcade is marked with clear glass inverted bell-shaped chandeliers running on horizontal wooden beams in between the columns. The flooring and walls in the Dalan was finished in Araish (unique form of Lime Plaster to produce a glossy, smooth and crack-free surface). The Alams ( religious relics ) were placed along the south side of the Dalan during the time of Muharram and the space was used as an Ashoorkhana for the family as well as the community .`

To the extreme northeast of the Courtyard were a small Hauz ( cistern to wash feet ) and toilet for the visitors.

Past the Courtyard, is a wooden door with intricately carved floral motifs that attracts your attention, through it we reach the Zenana Hall which is a double-story structure with a wooden staircase. The upper level was meant for the royal women of the family and the lower level for the rest of the women. The flooring of these halls has been done in Tandoor stone which was sourced locally. The walls have been adorned with stucco work and finished with Araish. The Zenana has doors that open into the Pesh-Dalan. The upper level too has doors with glass inserts to overlook activities in the Pesh-Dalan.

The lower level of the Zenana has three doors with similar carving and glass panel inserts that open into the Pesh-Dalan. This was a double-height private hall for the family and guests of high esteem. It was the most ornate space in the entire Deodi. The plan of the space was rectangular chamber with three entrances from the Zenana , three from the Dalan , one leading towards the staircase towards the Zenana on the upper level and the last towards the private living quarters.

The Pesh-Dalan has columns towards the east and west directions and arches that span across the space for support. These columns were clad with mirror and gilded with metals. The capitol of the column and the arches are clad with mosaic made with Persian tile. The doorways had frames adorned with Persian tile and Mirror. The door shutters had glass inserts for natural light to pass through. The central doors on the east and west side had semicircular arches on top with stained glass panels. Stucco work was done along the arches, capitals and walls to add to the look and was finished with Araish.

RESIDENTIAL UNIT

Planned in a traditional sense the residential area was a rectangular structure with a central courtyard surrounded by rooms.

The central courtyard was open to sky and had a cistern which was used by the family members for day to day activities. This was 900mm below the floor level of the corridor. There were trees planted along the water body to provide shade during the day. This entire layout helps with cooling the space during the hot summer months and retain heat during winters. There was a dalan present on the east and west sides of the courtyard for family gatherings.

There were rooms that were named based on the usage of the space. A common Kitchen – Bawarchi Khana located towards the south-east of the structure had an adjacent store room for grains – Tosha-khana, a room where all the cutlery was displayed – China-Khana and a dining room – Mez-khana. A Dalan was also adjacent to the kitchen for usage as a dining space when there are guests. The servants rooms were located close to the kitchen at the entrance of the unit.

The north and south sides mostly comprised of rooms for the family members. The rooms had attached toilets and dressing areas. Towards the north-east was the eldest sons room with an attached toilet. There were separate living quarters for the head of the family, which included a private dalan.

Towards the north-west there was also a recreational room which housed the radio and television, this was also where the newspaper was kept and was meant only for family members.

Others rooms like boiler room for heating water, changing room and servants rooms were also present.

The entire Deodi was made with mud brick and lime masonry and had a wall thickness’ of 600mm for internal walls and 900mm for external walls. The walls were finished with Araish for the dalans and lime plaster for the rest of the rooms. Ceramic Tiles were used in the toilets on floor and on the walls upto a height of 900mm.

The roof was constructed in a Jack-Arch method with brick and lime mortar. These appear like elongated vaults the joists act as the design element and support elements like chandeliers, fans, curtains etc,.

The doors, windows and ventilators were made Teak wood from Burma (present Myanmar). The frames were 100mm thick, with a 25mm thick shutter. The windows and ventilators were also made with the same wood and had Belgium Glass inserts in a variety of colours.

SITE PLANNING STRATEGIES

CONCLUSION

The Deodi was made to support a community like lifestyle, where the inhabiting family had their own private space but also encouraged the community to be part of the household and mingle with them. The space planning was done to combat the harsh weather of Hyderabad. The materials used were practical as well as aesthetically pleasing.

  • Figure 19. Sectional Elevation B-B’ (Source: Author) <br> Figure 20. Sectional Elevation C’-C. (Source: Author)
    Figure 19. Sectional Elevation B-B’ (Source: Author)
    Figure 20. Sectional Elevation C’-C. (Source: Author)
  • Figure 18. Floor Plan of the Residential Unit With Finishes. (Source: Author)
    Figure 18. Floor Plan of the Residential Unit With Finishes. (Source: Author)
  • Figure 15. Image of the Pesh-Dalan showing the mirrored columns and carved doors. (Source: owner)<br> Figure 16. Image showing the carved panel on the door of the dalan. (Source: owner) <br>Figure 17. Image showing the columns and arches in the dalan. (Source: owner)
    Figure 15. Image of the Pesh-Dalan showing the mirrored columns and carved doors. (Source: owner)
    Figure 16. Image showing the carved panel on the door of the dalan. (Source: owner)
    Figure 17. Image showing the columns and arches in the dalan. (Source: owner)
  • Figure 14. Sectional Elevation A-A’. (Source : Author)
    Figure 14. Sectional Elevation A-A’. (Source : Author)
  • Figure 13. Front façade - East Elevation. (Source:Author)
    Figure 13. Front façade - East Elevation. (Source:Author)
  • Figure 12. Floor Plan of the Public area With Finishes. (Source:Author)
    Figure 12. Floor Plan of the Public area With Finishes. (Source:Author)
  • Figure 11.Site plan of the Deodi. (Source:Author)
    Figure 11.Site plan of the Deodi. (Source:Author)
  • Figure 10. View of the renovated front façade (2014). (Source: Owner)
    Figure 10. View of the renovated front façade (2014). (Source: Owner)
  • Figure 9. Aina-Khana at Diwan Deodi. (Source: SalarJung Museum)
    Figure 9. Aina-Khana at Diwan Deodi. (Source: SalarJung Museum)
  • Figure 8. Chini-Khana at Diwan Deodi
    Figure 8. Chini-Khana at Diwan Deodi
  • Figure 7. Two storey Baradari made entirely of wood at Diwan Deodi. (Source: MIT Archives 1920s)
    Figure 7. Two storey Baradari made entirely of wood at Diwan Deodi. (Source: MIT Archives 1920s)
  • Figure 6. Guest house at Diwan Deodi with a view of Musi River. (Source: MIT Archives)
    Figure 6. Guest house at Diwan Deodi with a view of Musi River. (Source: MIT Archives)
  •  Figure 5. Courtyard with fountains at Diwan Deodi. (Source: SalarJung Museum)
    Figure 5. Courtyard with fountains at Diwan Deodi. (Source: SalarJung Museum)
  • Figure 4. Entry gate of Asman Jah Deodi. (Source: Author)
    Figure 4. Entry gate of Asman Jah Deodi. (Source: Author)
  • Figure 3a. Entry gate of Diwan Deodi.  (Source: Author)
    Figure 3a. Entry gate of Diwan Deodi. (Source: Author)
  • Figure 3. Entry gate of Diwan Deodi. (Source: Lala Deen Dayal)
    Figure 3. Entry gate of Diwan Deodi. (Source: Lala Deen Dayal)
  • Figure 2. Entry gate of a Deodi. (Source: MIT archives)
    Figure 2. Entry gate of a Deodi. (Source: MIT archives)
  • Figure 1. Entry gate of Malwala Palace. (Source: MIT archives)
    Figure 1. Entry gate of Malwala Palace. (Source: MIT archives)

The architectural elements to be noted from this deodi would be the doric styled capitals, the jack-arch roofing systems, the extensively carved wooden columns and arches, the intricate detailing on the doors, the use of a combination of glass, mirror and tile in the Pesh-Dalan and the use of locally sourced stone.

credits:

Research Team : Dr. Ramesh Ar. Nikita Jaiswal, Ar. Tanya Srivastava

3 Comments

  1. Great work Tanya and team!

  2. Excellent article. Great efforts by Tanya and her team.

  3. Tanya, you are not only a good architect but a good writer also having a deep knowledge of old monuments. Keep it up.

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