What I like about Hyderabad are its people. They are one friendly lot who were very open-minded to accept a foreigner like me. One can always argue about the food being too hot here though, but I’ve learned to live with it. I live with it because I call this city home where my children grew up. I love Hyderabad but I would love it more if its people cared more about its rocks, government included.
It breaks my heart to see them disappear gradually from our surroundings with every urban development project. Funny how they are not an environmental concern given that once lost, we cannot possibly ever grow them back! And it bothers me that there are many who do not realise how stunning these granite structures really are and how lucky we are to call them our typical natural landscape that is only unique to the Deccan.
Observe them carefully and you will notice that these peculiar rocks have a funny way to balance themselves on each other. But, if you read them carefully, they have the potential to tell you the story of the earth’s history. That’s how ancient these rocks are. Some were formed millions of years ago when the earth’s crust first cooled, making them our historical and geographical heritage. But, today, they are under threat by us. To be specific, they are under threat by urbanisation. It is ironical how development has become a major obstacle for us to preserve these rocks. This city has grown enormously in the last four decades.
Learning to co-exist with nature
When I first came here, it was a small provincial area with a population of one million but, today, it has become this major IT hub with over 8 million people who are in desperate need of more lung space. But, no city can help itself from growing and we cannot stop it either. What we really can do is to learn to co-exist with these natural marvels. We have to learn to design our houses and residential areas with them in mind and include them in our public spaces. The government should build green areas around these massive rock structures that are sustaining the flora and fauna around them. There is also an urgent need to brand them as potential tourist and picnic destination for adventure lovers and environment-enthusiasts who can spend a day in the open.
Oasis in desert
Rocky hills in places like Khajaguda, Maula Ali, Durgam Cheruvu and Gachibowli are like oasis in the desert. When you climb to the top, you suddenly come across this vast open area that can be overwhelming for city dwellers. I am personally very fond of Khajaguda as it is very beautiful. There is a lot of natural landscape around it and there is this lake in the front which makes it just so peaceful. I simply like to sit on the top and look down at the city which continues to grow. It is very impressive. That’s why, we have been trying to preserve this granite outcrop for over two decades now. It is now a heritage precinct but with no physical demarcation to prevent it from encroachments.
We at Society to Save Rocks have been doing our bit to spread as much awareness as possible among the younger generation who often find themselves in awe of these rocks and their legacy. Our weekly rock walks have helped us build a community of over 300 ‘rock protectors’ who are genuinely concerned about the future of these rocks.
But, we alone cannot convince people to care more about our natural heritage. Government, though, can and with the Telangana Tourism Department extending their support to our 7th Hyderabad Rockathon, we are both hopeful and positive about their involvement. If there is a will and if the government really wants to do it, they can save these structures.
(As told to Gaura Naithani)