Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Hussain Sagar: Lake Lustre

HITECH (Hyderabad Information Technology Engineering Consultancy) City: Info Hi-Way

Hussain Sagar bridges not only culturally disparate Hyderabad and Secunderabad, known as twin cities all over the country, but constitutes a continuum between history and contemporainty. It was a quiet and placid lake of 24 kilometres built by Hazrat Husain Shah Wali on a tributary of the Musi during the time of that great builder Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah in 1562 to meet the water and irrigation needs of the city. This was much before the historic Charminar overshadowed every other landmark in the city. It is now popularly known as Tank Bund, a truncated version of its original expanse, and has acquired trappings and environs that enhance its appeal to tourists as well as the denizens of the twin cities.

The simple bund that at one time connected the British and Nizam areas of the two cities is today a complex of parks, temples, statuary, sites of entertainment and the capital’s administrative hub, enriching and at the same time ecologically damaging the environs of the shrunken tank. The aesthetically built Secretariat buildings, the NTR memorial, the Lumbini park, the Hyderabad Boat Club, a flyover nearing completion add to the attraction of the southern side of the Tank Bund, while the Secunderabad Sailing Club, the Sanjeeviah Park and the Hazrat Saidani Ma Saheba tomb on the northern side enhance its allure for the tourist. Parallel to the tank bund is what is now known as the lower Tank Bund road, which, though built to reduce traffic congestion, has now become the axis of print media activity.

From the southern side, the lower Tank Bund road is heralded by the famous and very popular Katta Maisamma temple and close to it is the sprawling green lung, the Indira Gandhi Park. A new artery known as the Necklace Road links Lumbini park in Hyderabad with the Sanjeeviah park in Secunderabad. But the centre of attraction literally and figuratively is the monolith Buddha statue in the middle of the ancient lake.

The lake, its size and purity are threatened by the ecologically inimical activity of immersion of Ganesha and Durga idols every year and industrial waste, not to mention encroachments blessed by political patronage. This, according to an expert, results in continuous increase of sedimentation and injection of sulphate that endangers marine life. Irrespective of what party is in power, governments lack the political will to check or control these immersions. Yet Hussain Sagar is the most popular boulevard and very scenic, its magnetism increased by a three-kilometre-long row of flowerbeds and lush green lawns running from north to south. On the west is a long protective and ornamental railing parallel to a row of wrought iron benches for romance-prone couples to forget time and mundane world.

Dotting the lawns and flowerbeds on the eastern side are an array of statues to commemorate the services of a host of luminaries who are an inseparable part of the history of the state. These bronze statues range from those of pioneers of Telugu classical poetry like Nannaya Bhattaraka, the great saint composer Thyagaraja, the thirteenth century Kakatiya warrior queen Rudrama Devi, the illustrious founder of Hyderabad Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah, the bard Vemana of the sixteenth century to Arthur Cotton who harnessed the life-giving waters of the Krishna and Godavari rivers and made Andhra Pradesh the rice bowl of the south, and progressive writers and poets like Sri Sri and Maqdoom Mohiuddin.

The lake is surrounded by four major spans of greenery, Indira Park in the east, Sanjiviah Park in the north, Lumbini Park in the south and a green belt area sandwiched between the Raj Bhavan road and the Necklace Road. Indira Park, named after former prime minister Indira Gandhi, is the earliest of these four parks and also a favourite site among the city people. It is also the most sought after locale for shooting Telugu and Hindi films. It boasts of a large nursery, which provides free saplings to persons who wish to add to the city’s greenery. The famous and ancient temple of Katta Maisamma, meaning goddess of the dam, is very close to this park and attracts lakhs of devotees every year.

Both Lumbini and Sanjeeviah are new parks. The entire Hussain Sagar complex comprising parks, statuary, recreation spots etc. was the handiwork of India’s most renowned architect Charles Correa who visualized the Buddha Poornima project with aesthetic ingredients. Lumbini, though referred to as an amusement park, is in reality the versification of nature. The park is named after the birthplace of Buddha whose monolithic statue dominates the lake and everything around it. The park has Japanese style rockery, ancient trees, formal gardens, cacti and imaginatively laid out pathways for strollers. A floral clock greets the visitors at the entrance itself. Then there is a musical colour fountain spouting water and playing to the tunes of popular film hits. Sanjeeviah park, being on the less populated northern side attracts fewer people which is why couples seeking privacy throng the site.

The lake radiates in the night the reflection of the Shri Venkateswara temple built by the Birlas on a hillock close to the Secretariat. The temple is a quarter century old and built of white marble and represents several schools of architecture, though the South Indian school is prominent in the construction of the rajagopuram. Utkal styles of temple architecture marks the tower over the main shrine called the Jagadananda vimanam. The towers over the temples for the Lord’s consorts Padmavathi and Andal are again in the South Indian style. The temple has a 42-feet high flagstaff and the main idol of the Lord is 11 feet tall.

The piece de resistance of the entire land and waterscape of Hussain Sagar is the 18-metre high and 350-tonne monolith of Gautama Buddha in the middle of the lake standing on what is known as the Rock of Gibralter. Two beautifully decorated floating decks shuttle between the statue and the Lumbini Park every day several times and are equipped to stage cultural and musical shows. Another boating point is likely to come up at the Sanjeeviah Park also. This apart, there are facilities for paddling. The boat rides are the most exciting experience of the tourists because they cover the most scenic spots around the lake like the Secretariat, the Raj Bhavan, Sanjeeviah Park, the Lumbini park, Shri Vennkateswara temple and the majestic Buddha statue.

The two-year-old Necklace Road and the Tank Bund are great spectacles in the night and turn into rendezvous for relaxation and romance. The Necklace Road is now much sought after by trade and industry for holding consumer melas and by the government to stage frequent cultural shows and programmes open to public. Laser film shows on aqua screen are an additional attraction. Two impressive gateways flank the Tank Bund, replicating the great Kakatiya and Vijayanagar architectural styles.

Flanked by the Hyderabad Boat Club in the south and the Secunderabad, Sailing Club in the north, Hussain Sagar becomes the annual venue for sailing events and regattas every year. One can see several rowboats and yachts gracefully navigating in the lake. But all this recreation and commercial activity is already telling on the purity and size of the lake. This will keep off the annual migratory birds from coming to the lake and the gardens around and deprive it of its pristine grandeur.

How to reach :
5, 6, 8, 20, 113, 190

Timings :
Any Time

Ticketing :
No Tickets required

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