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 aarticle through a Google search about Nizamia Observatory, that talks about Hyderabad's contribution to scientific advances in India:

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.



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