Neighbourhood History

I. History of a Neighbourhood

Do Din focused on two neighborhoods, the Bholakpur scrap market and Mallepally CIB quarters. Both of them are historic neighborhoods. The first was a tanning centre in mid19th century grown around a Qutub Shahi Mosque now popularly referred to as Musheerabad Badi Masjid; gradually became the centre of an industrial belt between Hyderabad and Secunderabad and attracted a lot of migrants throughout the 20th century and finally became one of the main scrap markets in the city. The second was the immediate catchment of the Afzal Sagar tank and was mapped in detail in 1912 municipal survey. It was started by the City Improvement Board and then gradually got built up. The Afzal Sagar tank now remains only in name. Mallepally was the area to which the elite of both Hindu and Muslim religion moved in the 50s. Original residents recount how every famous Urdu writer had passed through Mallepally. It was the cultural elite but not necessarily the affluent families that lived there.

During Do Din, there was an installation by Anuradha Naik on Mallepally in particular, the history of the neighbourhood and the 100 years of change that it has undergone. Situated in the passageway this exhibition became a space for discussion about the inter-relations between city planning and culture exemplified in Mallepally’s history.

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II. Mallepally

In the early 20th Century, Hyderabad was faced with the flooding of the Musi River and subsequently an epidemic of plague, leaving the city with a decreased population. Nizam Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII, who had just come to occupy the throne, conferred with his ministers and city planners to come up with comprehensive plans to improve the sanitation and hygiene of the city and other conditions. The Hyderabad City Improvement Board (CIB) was formed in 1914 A.D. The work carried out during the first 15 years since its formation is to be found in two reports from 1919 A.D. and 1930 A.D.

The board took on several tasks such as slum clearance, constructing and improving traffic roads, constructing drains and other miscellaneous works. Slum land around the Khaiatabad, Habibnagar and Red Hill localities was cleared and people from the area needed to be relocated. Since the lands near Nampally below Afzal Sagar Tank were fallow paddy fields, the CIB reclaimed the land and constructed model houses which then housed those who had been disturbed by the CIB’s operations. This part of Hyderabad came to be called Mallepally.

The houses of Malleplally, as designed by the CIB were classified into four groups according to quality of accommodations, from A to D. Rent for D class was Rs 1.5, for C class it was Rs 3, for B it was Rs 7 and for A it was Rs 12 per month. The houses were of an art deco design with the CIB logo stamped to the front of each house.

The prevalent notion that Hyderabad is an unplanned city is not entirely true. Areas like Mallepally give evidence of careful planning during the Nizam’s rule which was practical and convenient. The neighbourhood is special, however, for more than just its planned structure. Various famous personalities from several walks of life come from Mallepally. Famous poets such as Shaz Tamkanat, Fani Badayuni and Aslam Farshori as well as several famous actors of Indian cinema such as Tabassum Hashmi (Tabu), Shabana Azmi and Nigar Sultana have lived here. Ray Jayanti Prasad, who was the mind behind the MNJ cancer hospital & Radium Institute in Hyderabad and Indian Conference of Social Work, was also from this neighbourhood. A road in Mallepally is named after him.

Mallepally is an area where there are as many as eight playgrounds, an unusually large number. The grounds are named Bharat Ground, Samosa Ground, Moghal Ground, Fani Ground, Hashim Ground, Sadath Ground, Zafar Shah Ground and Football Ground .Probably as a result of the presence of so many playing grounds and also due to the a culture of sports enforced by sports camps held in the summer, many Hyderabadi sports figures are from the Mallepally area. The fields were used mainly for volleyball and football, although cricket also came to be played in a few of them. Indian games like patang flying, marbles and lattoos were also popular in the area. Amongst the greats were 2 international volleyball players, around 20 football players and 4 cricket players. Football thrived in Mallepally, the neighbourhood producing around 5 international players, 4 Olympians and 11 national players over the years.

Mallepally, as mentioned above, was built next to the Afzal Sagar tank which was a largish tank in a shape like that of South America, and was built by the fifth Asafjahi ruler – Afzal Ud Daula. All of it has disappeared in the last 30 years. The area where the tank used to be is now a basti, an entity completely separate from the Mallepally neighbourhood in terms of composition. It initially comprised the Mangod community. It remained isolated from the cultural enrichment of Mallepally.

Change is a constant in any civilisation. The Mallepally of today is only a shadow of what it was even thirty years ago. Most of the buildings of the area have been demolished, tall apartment buildings taking their place. Although some of the houses of the C and D class are still surviving, there are very few B class houses and only two A class houses still remaining in the neighbourhood. The presence of Afzal Sagar tank has been wiped, not only physically but also from the memory of most of the inhabitants of the area who do not even know that the lake ever existed. A large number of people from the area emigrated from India to the western countries. Their houses were demolished, their memories, almost the only sources of information extant gone hundreds of miles away.

Every civilisation either crumbles or is leached away to give birth to a new one. The memories of the old remain mostly buried until they can be dug up by some curious and careful hand.