So, this started as a college trip. Hyderabad & conservation & city evolution study & what not; so basically a lot of energy, enthusiasm & of course hormones! [majority of our batch is girls & whiny guys, hence.]
Graduation trips were always tourist kind & we literally took them for granted; [now we feel like slaves.]
So anyways, moving on to the main part of my sob story. So there are always two kinds of people – the nature type & the ‘nature in picture’ type. I’m the second one, where nature-scapes are limited to my desktop backgrounds & I’d probably take a helicopter ride to aerial view my friends trekking. Walking in Amazonian landscapes isn’t really my cup of tea. If someone were to sell their magic carpet, I’d probably be the first one to lease for a life time.
After all this ranting, obviously you understand my love equation with nature & its elements [ by elements I mean animals & if you don’t understand this, read my previous articles of my escapades].
The first day of our trip began with a bus ride, all in their top spirits, howling & singing. Golconda that marks the historicity of the place, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, was our first stop, first bus stop. We actually go down at Qutb Shahi Tombs where as we entered the place we flooded it like like typical firangs, each one with a cap & a camera & clicking away all sorts of out-of-frame crap. Some of us even busy getting our candids taken.
*History*[Solely because I was in the history team, in-charge city evolution building]:
Qutb Shahi Dynasty were basically the ones responsible the initiation of the city building; Golconda & the entire Hyderabad-Secunderabad, that we see today. The fortification of Golconda & the settlements that started building up around the Bala Hissar happened roughly around the 16th century. Golconda was an established diamond trade center since the Kakatiyan times [2nd century] & the trade routes & market spaces were pivotal in designing & shaping the city growth. Qutb Shahs had their mausoleums built at the edge of their territory, which is now the new development area, Sheikpet lying beyond the fort.
With our 23 year old bodies with grumbling 80 year old spirits, we pushed ourselves to walk further & we covered almost 10 km stretch that day. Starting from Golconda, by the time we reached Charminar, our souls had vapourised & we lay down there like dead bodies while some of our “over-enthusiatic” friends scaled Charminar.[ We had covered the entire Pattargatti area, Charkamaan, Musi stretch & Golconda patch; all on foot]
Once we shed all hope of us being productive in exploring the space further, we decided, we ‘good-for-nothing’ fools belonged in the bus. Just as we reached there, all of us grown up idiots decided that we wanted to play ‘COLOUR-COLOUR’, that too in a parking lot full of dull grey palette cars.[ Soooooo intelligent; mind you, all of us are masters students!]
After lots of hopping, howling, skipping, falling & picking up garbage for colours, we gracefully decided to retire to our buses. This was pretty much the end to extreme madness, but the real haunting was yet to come.
We were on a 10-day schedule & the rest of the 9 days that were yet to go, were the actual days that I wrote this piece for.
All of us were to pick up portions/buildings, that we were interested in studying & chase our ambitious projects. I did the same, little did I know I had others things more interested in chasing me!
My genius brain took up the “Fort Wall” to study & I was basically along the dingy creepy part of the settlements for most of the time.
First day, first place: Bansibaba Matt [The fort population is 99% muslim, so this was the only place I could sit & chill]. A very pretty temple, with a 400 year old history, tucked in a corner with a beautiful view. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? No! it wasn’t that sweet. So I went on documenting whatever details I required for my project, interviewing & chilling with the pandit like he was childhood buddy etc etc. So, one of the reasons I was in this temple, was because this was at the edge, sticking to the fort wall, visually.
I was alone, in my chappals [ I screech when things touch my barefoot] & was trying to access the fort wall. The wife of the pandit opened up the directions to me like you have in those tourism commercials [aao padharo type] & I felt like Thor. As soon as I exited the pretty, decent gateway that she showed me, I stepped into piles of garbage. A nasty cat came running & exactly ran from in between my legs. I was already looking part comic, trying to balance my sketchbook, colour pens [ yeah that’s a qualifying criteria to look professional], my bag & myself in chappals. I was literally frozen to death & stood there questioning my sanity & my career choices. I HAVE TO PASS THE SEMESTER! I had come this far, feeling like Bear Grylls, I told myself, this is when you face your fears. I started chanting ‘Ram ram’ & started walking further.
I’m also afraid of heights, so basically it is like, I got lucky to come back alive without a cardiac arrest. All the steps broken & I was damaging them more by literally rock climbing STEPS, yes, rock-climbing steps. I reach up, my legs shivering already [I was literally about to pee my pants; that’s how isolated the place was & I was scared obviously]. Taking baby steps, I moved like the zootopia sloth from one point to another. Now I was legit scared of even being alive, so many noises & sounds from nowhere. I tried tracing the wall a bit further, but couldn’t.
Anyways, that was that & I prepared coming back to my safehouse, the Matt. I was welcomed by tea [ of course, love=tea] & also “ This is area isn’t safe for girls to roam around alone; you might get raped”; courtesy- pandit.
That was the last time I went there.
Having had this eye opening, cardiac seizure kind of experience, I was kind of prepared for the worst, the worst I could imagine. Now I was practising hypothetical fight steps in my head if someone were to attack me.
Next few days, I was out surveying houses along the edge; luckily I had people to interact with & not burj-ghosts. The highlight of this part of the ‘fear-factor’ stunt was how I was mobbed by goats & hens. 85 % of my survey time was running frantically from being chased by goats- goats on rebel streak, goats preparing to eat me up, goats on roofs, on bikes & what not. Hens of course, just managed to scare me away just by their appearance & high pitched cooing.
We also had humans trying the same thing, but they could be escaped from, without running for life.
All of this & more. The city inside has almost saturated to its full potential. People are migrating out. Even going vertical is an option ‘limited’ in scale. When you walk into that fort wall, on the first day, all you see is chaos. Spending about 10 days there, knowing every street by heart, you begin to realise the history, religion, community & practices that dominate the space. Once I got to understand the real city, people & of course animals, not once was I intimidated. There maybe a religious dominance within the area, but what we actually see is an evolved community, DAKKHANI MUSALMAAN community who are Telugu, Hindi, English, Dakkhani, Urdu & Sanskrit knowing Muslims. Patrons of art & poetry, their history can be traced through poetries alone.
These are the things I learnt. What makes a space are people & they are propagators of the intangibility of the space & time.
Golconda will surely be one my most preciously haunting memories of all my trips!