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Whose Hyderabad is it anyway?

Posted by on June 4, 2011 0 Comment

Hyderabad: Osmania University’s Tarnaka address may now be famous after the `T’ agitation but some in Hyderabad think it’s in the Old City. Many denizens living here for the last decade have never seen the Charminar. Many of those who have, have not climbed up to see the bustling Old City markets through the intricately carved `jharokhas’. Some know Musi river flows through this part of Hyderabad, others have only heard of “some river” during the laser show at Lumbini Park. Well, many Hyderabadis do not know the real Hyderabad, as they work and live in the newer parts of the city and say that the Old City doesn’t beckon them.

The TOI spoke to a cross section of Hyderabad residents settled in the new parts of the city, many who moved to the IT hub a few years ago and asked them how much they knew about the Old City. For some, it was a non-existent part of Hyderabad, for others an “unsafe” or a “congested” place. And for most it was just that part of the city that they had no business going to. Most knew about Falaknuma palace getting converted into a star hotel but only one identified the zoo with the Old City address. Nobody TOI spoke to was aware of the Charminar pedestrianisation project but remembered the suicides from the heritage monument. The recent attack on Akbaruddin Owaisi was also fresh on their minds.

Kondapur-resident and techie G S Chandrasekhar, who has been living in Hyderabad for the last 11 years has never seen the Charminar and realty firm employee Manjesh Kumar who made this city home 5 years ago but has not heard of the Musi. “I have never had a reason to go there. I have seen it on television though,” Chandrasekhar says, adding there is not much to do in the Old City in any case. After all, all it has is a market dedicated to women, he says.

Flawed assumption? Possibly, but there is nobody really around him to check. Even those born and brought up in Hyderabad. Take for instance, Hyderabadi Praveen Mandula who works in Madhapur, who knows Madina restaurant and the high court in the Old City. And that’s about it. The last time he went to Charminar was at the age of 10, almost 21 years ago. “There is no need to explore that part of Hyderabad. Besides, it is polluted and I think its a bit unsafe,” says Mandula.

The tourist attractions are largely what people know about the real Hyderabad. Most people TOI spoke to named Salar Jung Museum, Chowmahalla and the Falaknuma palace as the monuments they knew in the Old City apart from Charminar. Some like Vaibhav Mathur, resident of Kondapur, were even better informed about the edge the Old City market has over the new markets but still do not like to go there. “The place is too crowded to take our cars. We do know there is a better variety available say in pearls and clothes that side, which is not available here. Things are also reasonably priced there but because of the distance and the traffic, it is not really an approachable market,” he says.

It is for this reason why people like M Banerjee, who like visiting Old City during Id, stay away for the “parking hassle” in the area.

A handful of “new” Hyderabadis are taken in by the charm of the Old City. “You get to see the characteristics typical of Hyderabad here,” says Priyanka Roy, who works in Gachibowli. She says she went to the Old City last year and was fascinated by the sights and sounds of this part of Hyderabad. Also familiar with the Old City was Sanjay Pan, Masab Tank resident, who knew about the zoo, eateries in the Old City and also the Musi river that flows through it. If not for work, Pan said, he would have gone to this part of Hyderabad more often.

For Old City traders, TOI’s quick survey only confirmed a reality they live with. “If people come here during lunch time, where will they eat? Our eateries offer good food, but poor ambience,” says Abid Mohiuddin, general secretary of the Old City Traders’ Association, explaining how the market here has not kept pace with time. Mohiuddin says that MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi had called for a meeting with traders and spoken about revamping the Old City area to attract people. “He had assured us that Old City would be turned into `gold’ city,” he says. He could be hopeful of a change now, but says doesn’t blame residents of Hi-Tec city for knowing so little about the Old City. “Has our governor come to Charminar? People come to this city but fail to visit the real Hyderabad,” Mohiuddin says. TOI

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