Sunday, January 22, 2012

Anuradha Goyal
Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hyderabad Hues XIII - Nizamia Observatory, Ameerpet


More than a century old space observatory, right in the middle of the city is one of the hidden gems of this city. Not many people know about it, though it falls in the walkers path and many people pass by it every morning and evening. This is the main building of the observatory that is now being used as a school for mentally handicapped. This campus is a part of Osmania University. 


This is one of the two observation decks or towers, now in the state of complete ruins. You can see the wooden panels have fallen over time. The interior is locked and you can not enter it. We could not even find someone who may have the key. This was a private observatory founded by Nawab Zafar Jung that was later taken over by the government and is now managed by Osmania University elsewhere where it was shifted in 1960s.


This is the other tower, more or less in the same state. These two towers are not too far from each other and are surrounded by trees now, though am not sure if it was so during the time when these were active spaces. This observatory for years worked on an ambitious programme of photographing and charting a large segment of the sky.


The lone sign that tells what it was...The observatory is believed to have cataloged more than a lakh stars and exposed thousands of photos. 


This is another structure with what seemed to us as observatory equipment. The outer part of this building has kind of Greek pillars, which could be a part of the observatory or a pavilion in the garden, as we could see a central fountain like structure as well. 


This is inside part of the pavilioned structure and could it have been a sun dial or something like that. 


This is how the art grows, this faded painting on the outer wall of pavilioned structure. Probably some people thought it was a temple of sorts or may be it was. 


This is the backyard of the main building, with barrack like rooms. From here the stairs lead you some 60 feet down where again there is a big building on the right hand side, and the rest is jungle. 


This structure has rooms that are more like junkyard today. You can see a lot of peacocks in the jungle around and some nice wild flowers. When you stand there you get no signs of being in the middle of the bustling city with S P Road only stone's throw away distance. 

I chanced upon this article through a Google search about Nizamia Observatory, that talks about Hyderabad's contribution to scientific advances in India:


THE NIZAMIA OBSERVATORY

By M. Burhan Hussain

Till the end of 19th century British India had only two observatories; one at Ootacamund and the other at Nanital. In 1908, Nawab Zafar Jung studied astronomy in England and he returned to Hyderabad along with two telescopes and an expert, whom he promised a net salary of Osmania Sikkah Rupees 1500.00 per month. He offered the telescopes to the Nizam, who ordered the installation of the telescopes at Begumpet, where they remained for the next 50 years. Mr. Chatwood, B. Sc. FRAS was appointed as its Director in 1908 and he was succeeded by M.R.J. Petcock, B.A.FRAS in 1924, who was succeeded by the famous astronomer Rao Saheb T.P. Bhaskaran, M.A. FRAS, F.N.I. in 1929. Mr. Chatwood and Mr. Pocock published two volumes of results that were completed in 1918. The whole work of the ‘Carte due Ciet’ Hyderabad Section was completed under the direction of Mr. T.P. Huascaran, who had published the remaining volumes of the astrographic catalogue and this brought the work to a successful conclusion.

In 1923, the equatorial telescope by G. Rubb was erected and a seismograph, Milne-Shaw pattern, was installed for the study of earthquakes and a second machine was added in 1929. A special underground chamber was constructed to house these delicate instruments.

In 1928, at the request of the International Astronomical Union, the section of the sky originally allotted to the observatory at Potsdam(Germany) was undertaken by the Nizamia Observatory. The work of measurement and reduction was completed and three volumes were published by the International Astronomical Union

A blank comparator for rapid comparison of astronomical photos was added to the equipment in 1938.

The proper notion of about 200 stars exceeding a sixth of a second per year was determined on the suggestion of Government of British India. In 1929, a pilot balloon station for observing upper air conditions was attached to the observatory. The flights were arranged in cooperation with Meteorological Department of the Government of British India.

The observatory published ‘Astrographic Catalogue – Hyderabad Section’ in four volumes in cooperation of the International Astronomical Union.

The Nizamia observatory also maintained records of earthquakes and rainfall in the Nizam’s state.

“HYDERABAD – 400 YEARS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY”

How less we know about our own cities and its contribution to various fields.

14 comments:

Arun Kottolli said...

Hyderabad observatory was built on the lines of Greenwich observatory in London. In its days, the observatory hosted a library and a study center. The staff members were given quarters so that they work at night - observing the sky.

The current state of the building really shows the sad state of affairs on how we protect our history & monumnets

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a l mohan said...

many thanks for the post on nizamia observatory.many of us are ignorant of it till now .unfortunate that osmania university which has a dept of astronomy has not cared to protect it.i wish you bring the matter to the notice of the concerned as it is unlikely that they see your blog.pr

nitavee said...

my goodness what a stark contrast betwn d Greenwich n d Nizam's sure is a statement on d state of preserving our heritage......

venky said...

The observatory stands example of hyderabad dynastys excellent contribution to science and technology. The best of those times. If only we cared much about our history we wont be posting pics like this and feeling sad about it. I grew up in Osmania university in quarters of employees. The nizamia observatory which shifted to Osmania university is not active nor social in terms of allowing common people to enter it and take pleasure of their glorious history. I have tried 100s of times as I myself am an amateur night watcher who use a single shot color camera attached to Takahashy TOA 150mm to take spectacular pictures of deep space messiers. Sorry state of affairs i must say on part of OU and on part of the responsible people.

ES said...

I have been to the Osmania Univ, but never noticed this one. But then, I was there only for a couple of hours...

What you say is true - We are not informed of the contributions of the Indian scientific fraternity to the world. We need more exposure to such things so that students can be inspired by such people.

Sudeep Bhutada said...

Hello Anuradha,

Thanks a ton for all this information and especially the pictures. It takes me a trip down to nostalgia lane of my School days from 1986 to 1994. Our school "Vidyodaya High School" was just outside this observatory campus. Back then the place use to be deserted and a lot of stories of the place being haunted use to do rounds in our school. We guys use to challenge each other to enter the observatory and climb the stairs up. Once bunch of us did take up the challenge and climbed upto 1st floor and were proceeding further up when one of the guy whispered "I saw something moving there". The next moment we all started screaming "run ... run" and ran all the way out upto the main road (distance of about 500 yards) and believe me or not that was the best sprint we ever did!! All the pix posted by you really takes me back to those good old days.

Thanks a lot!!!

Sudeep Bhutada

Sudeep Bhutada said...

Hello Anuradha,

Thanks a ton for all this information and especially the pictures. It takes me a trip down to nostalgia lane of my School days from 1986 to 1994. Our school "Vidyodaya High School" was just outside this observatory campus. Back then the place use to be deserted and a lot of stories of the place being haunted use to do rounds in our school. We guys use to challenge each other to enter the observatory and climb the stairs up. Once bunch of us did take up the challenge and climbed upto 1st floor and were proceeding further up when one of the guy whispered "I saw something moving there". The next moment we all started screaming "run ... run" and ran all the way out upto the main road (distance of about 500 yards) and believe me or not that was the best sprint we ever did!! All the pix posted by you really takes me back to those good old days.

Thanks a lot!!!

Sudeep Bhutada

Praveen Nagunoori said...

Reminds me of my schooldays. This observatory is behind my school Vidyaniketan High school (1980-89).
We used to play cricket and roam around these obesrvatory after school. Thank you for the pics, sorry state of affairs in India shows the plight of such important sites.
Hyd is loosing its charm :(

Praveen Nagunoori said...

Reminds me of my schooldays. This observatory is behind my school Vidyaniketan High school (1980-89).
We used to play cricket and roam around these obesrvatory after school. Thank you for the pics, sorry state of affairs in India shows the plight of such important sites.
Hyd is loosing its charm :(

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