Sunday, 3 June 2012

Hyderabad then and now: God answers the prayers of Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah


"Oh God, bestow unto this city peace and prosperity. Let millions of men of
all castes, creeds and religions make it their abode. Like fishes in the
water." Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah while laying the foundation stone for
Charminar in 1591.

God has answered the prayers of Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, the founder
of Hyderabad. From a small habitation of a few dozen people, Hyderabad has
grown into a megapolis with a population of seven million. It has emerged as
one of the fastest growing cities on the earth, attracting people of all
nations,
regions, races and colours.
The city has changed over the past 400 years from something nondescript to
an international hub for aviation and information technology. The geography
and demography of the city has changed with the change in times, but what
has not changed is the famous Hyderabadi Tehzeeb. People still are affable,
loveable, friendly, tolerant and cultured as they were four centuries ago
when
Quli Qutub Shah laid the foundation of Hyderabad.
The city imbibed into its fold people from various parts of the world
including Iran, Yeman and Afghanistan. Hyderabad is today a synthesis of
world cultures and traditions with a tinge of Hyderabadi Tehzeeb. A notable
feature of this great city is that its people have not forgotten the past.
They
still want to assimilate the past with the present and look forward to a
bright
future.
A look at the innumerable historic monuments that dot the city takes one
back in Time to the glory of Hyderabad's past, even as the modern
skyscrapers speak of its present might and power to march ahead hand-in-
hand with fast changing world scenario. The power of assimilation of
Hyderabad and Hyderabadis is unparalleled in the annals of Indian history.
The growth of Hyderabad, has however, taken a toll of its beautiful parks,
orchards, small jungles, private safaris, lakes, minor seasonal streams
and its
historic structures.
For instance, how many of the modern Hyderabadis know that there used to
be a natural stream passing through the Hussainsagar and emptying into the
river Musi. In fact, the Hussainsagar lake was built on this stream that once
served as a natural tributary to the Musi. This stream has now taken the
shape
of a sewage nala carrying all the filth to the once pristine Musi.
The city of Hyderabad was a walled city. The remnants of the wall are still
there but its glory is missing. There used to be huge gate near the Nayapul,
called the Afzal Gate. It was washed away in the famous Musi deluge in
1908. The Nayapul was once known as Afzalpul and after it was washed
away in the floods, a new bridge (Naya, new; Pul, bridge) was constructed.
The famous Diwan Devdi and its extensions are missing now. They have
been demolished long ago. What remains today is its name. Thirty years have
passed since the structure was pulled down. Diwan Devdi used to serve as the
office of the prime minister.
When many places in India had no electricity, Hyderabad had the privilege of
introducing pre-paid electricity meters. The Bachelors' Building near MJ
Market had the facility long before Independence. Hyderabad was connected
by air through the Hakimpet airstrip in those days.
And what about Hyderabad's beautiful gardens and orchards? Hyderabadis
now pass by Basheerbagh, Bagh Lingampally, Moosarambagh and several
other "baghs" without the feel of passing through the greenery. Because what
remains in Hyderabad now are just "baghs" in name. Concrete structures have
come up in all these localities which were once large private gardens and
orchards. The "Lakdi-ka-pul" is there but there's no wooden bridge. The
"Darus Shifa" has no hospital.
Old timers recall how the city was dotted by private jungles under the
control
of nobles. The present day Secunderabad Club was once a hunting lodge or
rest house of the then Hyderabadi ruler. The Moharrum and Bonalu
processions are still there. But the festoons taken out in Bonalu processions
were quite large then. The Bibi-ka-Alam continues to come out on a
caparisoned elephant during Moharrum but the royal processions on
elephants and horses is now missing.
The Naubat Pahad (where Birla Mandir is now located) used to give a
panoramic view of Hyderabad including the picturesque Hussainsagar lake.
The Golconda fort had no encroachments around the hill.
The Musi deluge, though devastating, had laid the foundation stone for the
planned growth of Hyderabad. The then Nawab requisitioned the services of
great engineer-visionary Sir M Visveswarayya, who constructed the
Himayatsagar and Osmansagar reservoirs to solve the drinking water
problem and prevent flash floods in the river Musi.
The Nizam had a fantasy for cars and exclusive dresses. He used to have
trained wild animals, Shikari Cheetahs, to assist the nobles in hunting. The
wardrobe at the Purani Haveli is said to be biggest wardrobe in the world.
The dining table at Falaknuma Palace accommodates around 100 people.
While the last 100 years saw Hyderabad transform from a big village to a
megapolis, the past two decades brought a quantum jump in the progress and
development of this great city. Today Hyderabad can best be described as a
"time machine" where one can have a peep into the glorious past and
simultaneously look into the bright future.

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