Hyderabad: Nizam’s mint to be converted into a museum
The 108-year-old Royal Mint established by the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, the first one to introduce machine-made coins among the princely states of the country those days, is going to be converted into a museum to showcase the coinage and currency heritage of the historic city, officials aware of the plan said.
“We are making efforts in creating a permanent museum at the Royal Mint located at Mint Compound, Saifabad, which had produced the first machine-minted coins. We are awaiting the approval from the Centre,” a senior official of the Indian Government, Hyderabad (IMGH), a unit of the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL), under Union ministry of finance, said on condition of anonymity.
As a precursor to the efforts to set up the museum, IGMH is organising an exhibition of the machinery used for minting of coins during the Nizam regime, along with the old coins, currency, dyes, casts and other rare artefacts at the Royal Mint for a week from December 6.
“It will be thrown open to the people as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav programme being held to commemorate 75 years of India’s Independence,” the official said, adding that once the Centre government gives its nod, it would be converted into a permanent museum.
According to Anuradha Reddy, convenor of Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Hyderabad chapter, the museum of Royal Mint has been a long-pending demand of the heritage lovers of Hyderabad.
“The Mint Compound at Saifabad is a treasure of city’s heritage. The machinery used for minting coins was imported from London those days and it should not be allowed to turn into a scrap. We have been requesting the authorities that the sprawling premises be converted into a numismatics and royal mint museum with access to the common man,” she said, adding that INTACH has been extending its cooperation to IGMH in running the week-long exhibition.
According to D Raja Reddy, chairman of Numismatics Society of India, the decision to organise an exhibition of the old coinage and currency of the Nizams besides other rare artefacts of that period and the proposal to convert it into a museum was taken at a meeting of the society held at Salarjung Museum in the last week of October.
“The meeting was held in Hyderabad after a gap of nearly 80 years, where it was decided that the heritage of the Nizam’s era should be showcased at the exhibition,” Dr Reddy said.
Heritage conservationist Mohd Safiullah said it was in 1803 that Nawab Sikandar Jah, the Nizam III, who had first established the mint at Royal Palace at Sultan Shahi in the old city of Hyderabad. However, it was manufacturing hand-made coins, while the British were using machine-minted coins.
In 1893, the Royal Mint of Hyderabad was shifted to a new building at Dar-us-Shafa, during the regime of Mir Mahaboob Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam. He introduced first machine-minted coins, known as Charkhi coins. “In 1903, the sixth Nizam imported the sophisticated machine from London and erected it at the present Mint Compound at Saifabad. It started operating from July 13, 1903,” Safiullah said.
According to Dr Reddy, even after the end of the Nizam rule with Hyderabad state being merged with Indian Union on September 17, 1948, the minting of coins at the Royal Mint, Saifabad, continued in the name of the last Nizam of Hyderabad Mir Osman Ali Khan, till January 26, 1950, when India became a Republic.
The Royal Mint continued to be used for manufacturing coins by the Indian government till ‘1990s along with three other mints – Noida, Kolkata and Mumbai. Apart from coins, it was used for making medals, souvenirs and badges, Safiullah said.
The mint was later shifted to its current location in Cherlapalli on August 20, 1997. Since then, the Mint Compound at Saifabad has been closed. “We hope, it will come alive after being converted into museum,” Anuradha Reddy said.