Businessman, art collector and gallery owner Prashant Lahoti has a collection of photographs and maps that transport us to the lost landscape of the twin cities. “Lashkar” a book on the history and growth of Secunderabad by Narindar Luther has been published by him.
Pritam and Venkatesh Chakravarthy: Rock-forms and Gestalt
Pritham and Venkatesh Chakravarthy are well known artist-scholars from Chennai working in theatre and film. “There used to be beautiful spaces where you could sit on rocks and look at the lakes. When you stand on top of any rock you feel a little taller and higher and can even aspire to enlightenment!” says Pritham.
Dr Oudesh Rani Bawa’s is passionately informed about myriad aspects of Hyderabad’s geography, its rock rich-lake filled landscape, its history, its celebrated tehzeeb, the growth of its cosmopolitan communities, its secular traditions, and, most of all, its unique Dakkhani language.
Having grown up Hyderabadi and being an Urdu-Persian scholar, historian and an archaeologist, his deep attachment to the city and culture of Hyderabad comes as no surprise. “I just love stone,” he states with simple eloquence. He recites poetry composed around stone, by some of the most talented poets: Shakeel Badaiiyun, Ashraf ul Iman, Josh, Ghalib, Sikandar Ali, Wajd.
India was the source of the earliest and most valuable diamonds and Golconda diamonds from the basin of the river Krishna were world famous... for example the Kohinoor (now in the British crown collection). While the rocks that are left around us in Hyderabad are not diamonds per se, they are treasures in more ways than one. As the old Dakhani lines say: Voh Kohinoor, voh heere ab na ho toh kya gham, Jawaharate adab se bhara hua hai dakhan.
Diyanat Ali was born at a time when the rocks were an integral part of one’s playground. He founded the “Greater Hyderabad Adventure Club,” so he could share his passion of the rocks with the millenniums.
A poet and a professor Hoshang Merchant quotes the old Hyderabadi saying “ Gandipet ka paani piye toh iddharich marna!” (Once you’ve drunk of the waters of Gandipet Lake you have to die here!). The rocks en-route to the University where he taught inspired him to write the poem “Golkonda Rocks.”
Aparajita Roy Sinha laments the changing environs of Hyderabad since the time she moved here. “I was entranced. On stormy days one could see the storm clouds coming in over the rocks. Coming home from school, my children would get rid of their bags and shoes and run onto the rocks. They learned to live with snakes, wild rabbits etc. It was a magical childhood.”
Lenny Emanuel pays a pictorial ode to rocks by capturing some of the beautiful stone buildings in the city. His enthusiasm for the city came across not in words, but, in the photographs that he has shot over the years.
There is a lovely little rock park in front of Lakshmi Devi Raj’s home. Beautiful rocks in the park form a miniature showcase for the landscape of our region. In the 1990’s, when Mrs. Raj came to live here, the park was a dump yard. She initiated a neighbourhood program to recover the park.
Dr Anand Raj Varma: What is in a Name!
Dr Varma has written the book ‘Hyderabad: Mohalle, Galli aur Koonche’, introduced us to some interesting rock spaces… up from the old Jahanuma Palace, is Biryani-Shah Tekri, which legend has it, lived up to its name by the fact that anyone could always avail of hot biryani there. In fact the story goes that there is a huge indentation on the rock from the vessel that the biryani got made in.
In referencing the rocky landscape in Hyderabadi art, poetry, textiles, jewellery, Professor Katti’s paintings, are a rare find. Mrs. Katti describes the top floor of their old family home, in Tilak Nagar, having a hexagon shaped room made of stones, as the space that Mr Katti painted in. Mrs. Katti says, “We Hyderabadis who live among the rocks have a love for them. We never thought that people would play with nature for their own selfish reasons. Rocks and Hyderabad go together.”
The Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art in Hyderabad has an invaluable art collection. The museum is a lifetime work of love and knowledge on the part of Mittal sahab (a PadmaShri awardee himself for this) and his late wife Kamla.
We learn of the care with which Mrs. Mehdi’s new home is being constructed, to ensure that no rocks are broken. Pillars have been set in between rocks, an apparently difficult process because of the uneven ground. But her determination to keep the rocks, childhood companions and markers of home in Hyderabad, outweighs the challenges.
Mukherjee found that moving to Hyderabad whose beautiful rocky terrain is a natural host to diverse wildlife. Rock treks with kids and friends were common, as were peacock sightings. Snakes like the rock python, cobras, vine and rat snakes were common among the rocks.
Mr. Sajjad Shahid remembers his grandmother’s stories of a special breed of goats whose droppings had diamonds. A state license was required to pick up the droppings! Researching her story, he found similar references in the book Relations of Golconda by Methwold, and, in Tavernier’s writings. He deduced that it referred to the famed bezoar stones of Golconda.....