Citizens Initiative for saving water bodies in Hyderabad
THE HUSSAIN SAGAR LAKE
This fine sheet of water is about 11 miles in circumference*, and is the largest body of water near Hyderabad. The lake, and the tanks in the vicinity, are considered to have decidedly beneficial effect on the climate of both Hyderabad and the Cantonment of Secunderabad. The natives prefer to describe the lake as a ‘talo’ [talaab] or tank, but its great extent protests against this appellation, and claims for it the more dignified and poetic name of lake, of which, strangely enough, the local poets have never sung. The scenery around this charming expanse of water appeals strongly to all lovers of the picturesque in Nature, for the eye meets the verdant slopes of velvet softness in the North West, a scraggy weather worn eminence of bare rocks to the South West, wooded sloping pastures to the East, and a valley, skirted afar off by picturesque rose-tinted hills, and a great outburst of granite, to the South; all of which are intensified in effect by the gold-tipped minarets of the city, in the distance. A direct highway runs along the bund, or huge dam, for about two miles, and unites the Cantonment of Secunderabad with Hyderabad. It is mostly along this pleasant and well-metalled drive or promenade that residents, both European and Native, seek relaxation after the day’s work, either driving, riding, bicycling, or walking in the cool of the evening, and enjoying the refreshing breeze that floats so appreciably across the lake; and the rich dresses of Nawabs and the elegant and well-appointed vehicles in which they take [spend] their evenings, are by no means the least noticeable or least pleasant features of the evening drive.
The bund was constructed by Ebrahim Kutub Shah during the 16th Century, at a cost of Rs. 254,636 and the Nizam’s Public Works Department has been recently vigorously engaged in changing its antiquated appearance into one of beauty and attraction. The Bund is liberally lighted at night time, and the traveller who arrives at Hyderabad after nightfall cannot fail to be struck by the brilliant manifestation of civilization, which present themselves by the gay appearances of this promenade. Along the east of the well-kept road stretches a splendid bridle path, which has lately been banked and properly laid, and this has imparted to it a most refreshingly modern appearance.
The lake is principally fed by a canal, about 36 miles in length, which runs from the Musi river higher up than Hyderabad. There are several pleasure boats, both sailing and rowing, upon this charming sheet of water. The ground below, on the east of the bund, is irrigated and cultivated, where it is not monopolized by the dhobis. The Hyderabad Spinning and Weaving Mills, the Hyderabad Flour and Oil Mill, and the Ice Factory are located below the bund, and this combination of buildings, forming, as it were, a small township, with residential quarters, bright verdure, and shady trees, presents a very pretty picture. The main water supply of Hyderabad, Chudderghat and Residency limits, is drawn from the reservoir by a pumping engine, the water passing through most elaborate and scientifically arranged filter-beds, near the Government Workshops. Two monster sluices have been constructed in the bund, on the tops of which a pleasant afternoon may be spent by those who desire recreation.
The following story regarding the construction of the bund is given in the appendices to “Our Faithful Ally”: - “His Highness, having been disappointed, and his expectations unrealized, with respect to the filling of the tank, directed a noble man of his Court of the name of Khaja Nek Nam Khan to cause a channel to be made from the river Musi to the Hussain Sagar Lake, in order to fill it. Nek Nam Khan accordingly cut a small channel, paying the expenses out of his own private funds, and succeeded in bringing the water into the Hussain Sagar Lake. When the Amir has thus far succeeded, he intended to enlarge the channel, and make it a complete work, but, unfortunately, he died. One day His Highness went on a pleasure excursion to Hussain Sagar Lake, and enquired of the spectators what its name was. They replied that it was called ‘Hussain Sagar Cherroo’. His Highness, indignant that his own name was not given to the tank, resolved that another tank should be sunk. He, accordingly on leaving, proceeded to Ebrahim Patam, where he marked out the outlines of a tank in order that it should bear his own name.”
About a mile east of the bund, and half way to Secunderabad, on the lower road, is a large musjid, which was erected about the same time that the bund was built, but it is now closed and is in a ruined state. One of the minarets, which can be seen from the bund, leans over to one side in a most dangerous manner, like the leaning tower of Pisa, but it has been in this condition for the past 60 years. Close by is a new suburb called Hughes’ town, a salubrious quarter, and one in which house rent is very moderate.
The Nizam’s Railway bifurcates at the Hussain Sagar Junction, on the west of the Lake, one branch running into Hyderabad and the other to the military cantonment of Secunderabad. These two branches are connected by a loop line, thus forming a triangle, which enables trains to proceed direct from Wadi and Secunderabad, when required but, under ordinary circumstances, all trains run into Hyderabad first. On the southern bank of the Lake stands the Saifabad Palace of H. H. the Nizam, a large and extensive structure surrounded by a high wall, and ornamented by an artistic iron gateway opening on to the Saifabad Road.
* If the lake is to be taken as circular, the area could be calculated and would amount to 95/8 square miles = 2493 hectares = 6160 acres; if it be deemed to be a pentagon with equal sides, its area would be apptly. 8.3 sq. miles = 2157 hectares = 5329 acres, if deemed to be in rectangular shape with 2:1 ratio of the sides, the area would amount to 121/18 = apptly. 7 square miles = 1813 hectares = 4480 acres; and if it be deemed to be in the shape of a square, the area would amount to 121/16 = apptly. 8 square miles = 2072 hectares = 5120 acres. Now taking the average of these four figures, it would be quite safe to put the area of the lake as per this averment, at about 2134 hectares = 5272 acres. In any case it is evident that the lake has been reduced to more than 1/3rd its previous water-spread, since now the water-spread is given at a maximum of 1740-1755 acres only. Actually due to recent ‘developments’ like Necklace Road, NTR Gardens, I-Max Theatre, and the proposed Necklace Road Railway Station, etc., the lake area (water-spread) may not be more than 500 hectares, that is over these years the lake is reduced to nearly 1/4th of its original size. The area of the lake as per the map-2 enclosed, which was drawn when many of these ‘developments’ have not taken place is 594 hectares = 1468 acres.