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Features

Wanna love nature, look no further, head to the picturesque Ameenpur Lake, to watch the flora and fauna and soak in the beauty of the resident and migratory birds. This Lake, which has been declared a Biodiversity Heritage Site, is all thanks to the efforts of Tejdeep Kaur Menon, IPS, Director General, Telangana Special Protection Force, and her team.

Saving water bodies is the order of the day as day by day water is becoming a scarce commodity and at many places lakes are being encroached upon. Thanks to the untiring efforts of one woman and her staff, the Government of Telangana declared the Ameenpur Lake, Sangareddy District as a ‘Biodiversity Heritage Site’ under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 vide G.O.Ms.No.70, dated 15th November, 2016.

“It is the first such water body declared as a Biodiversity Heritage Site in the country and that too in an urban environment,” said Tejdeep Kaur Menon, IPS, Director General, Telangana Special Protection Force (TSPF). The TS Biodiversity Board has constituted the Biodiversity Heritage Site Management Committee making her the Convener of the panel. Sharing the preservation of Ameenpur Lake, Tejdeep Kaur Menon said that the Telangana State Special Protection Force had adopted the Ameenpur Lake system on August 7, 2015, from the Collector, Medak to maintain the eco-system in its neighbourhood.

The Ameenpur Lake consists to an extent of 93.15 acres and five small lakes Kummari Kunta (11.28 acres), Kotha Kunta (7.39 acres), Setty Kunta (17.18 acres), Bandam Kunta (7.38 acres) and Mallanna Kunta (39.18 acres). The gutsy lady and her team have spent nealy two years to redefine the Lake.  “The Telangana State Special Protection Force with about 150 volunteers joined hands with two youth groups, Hyderabad Birding Pals and Phulkari, the ladies wing of the Punjabi Sabha organised a clean-up campaign at Ameenpur Lake, two-years ago,” recalled Tejdeep Kaur.

The Campaign was supported by the GHMC, Collector and District Magistrate, Medak, District Police, Medak and the Gram Panchayat, Ameenpur. The Ameenpur Lake is abutting the SPF Training Academy located in Ameenpur, Medak.

“The TSPF also adopted Ameenpur village under the Grama Jyothi programme so as to oversee the development of the village by taking appropriate measures in the key sectors of environment, health, education, water, sanitation, social security and natural resource management tasks that are defined in the programme and for which it has created a waste disposal system. It has voluntarily taken up clean up campaigns to bring awareness on the need for conservation of the ecological system,” she said.

The TSPF with the help of residents initiated a garbage disposal system in cooperation with the Sangareddy District authorities. “The TSPF employees volunteered and took up more than 100 clean-up drives to bring awareness among the public on the need for conservation of the ecological system,” she said.

The police official further stated that at the same time, the TSSPF had also taken up protection of the lake with its staff stationed at the TSSPF Training Academy patrolling the perimeter of the lake and the lake bed to prevent any blatant violation of conservation measures and other activity that disturbed the birds that flocked to the lake.

Speaking on the importance of the Lake, Tejdeep Kaur said that the Lake was home to many migratory and resident birds. “There is a huge list of Flora and Fauna that is found in and around the lake,” she said. The senior cop said that tremendous Biodiversity was available at Ameenpur Lake with a variety of herbs, shrubs, creepers, medicinal flora, trees, animals, reptiles, birds, insects, microbes etc.

The DGP pointed out that there are around 222 species of birds (migratory and residents), 250 plant species (including rare and medicinal), 9 fish species, 26 aquatic beetles, 41 butterfly species, 33 species of invertebrates, 12 amphibian species, 33 reptiles species, 9 species of wild animals and millet diversity is available in the area.

“The Ameenpur Lake is one of the few water bodies left in the State of Telangana. They are the most sought free haunt of bird watchers as a variety of avian species, with 222 species with both resident and migrant birds.  Most of the nesting sites for the birds and reptiles are found at TS SPF Training Academy,” she said proudly. She stated that apart from the avi-fauna, the lake is surrounded by wonderful rock formations, and also, there are reports of three caves in a granite rock cropping on the shores of the lake.  “Unlike sandstone and limestone caves, these caves do not have any stalagmites and stalactites but are dark and cool even during summer,” Tejdeep Kaur said.

At the beginning of this year, the Telangana State Special Protection Force, in association with the Andhra Bank, Collector, Sangareddy District, Hyderabad Birding Pals (HBP) and Friends of Flora and Fauna Society (FoFF) organized the Youth for Manohara Ameenpur campaign at Ameenpur village.

“The Youth for Manohara Ameenpur campaign is part of the joint initiative of the Telangana State Special Protection Force, Hyderabad Birding Pals (HBP) and Friends of Flora and Fauna Society (FOFF) in raising the level of consciousness and involving youth, particularly school and college goers, in the efforts to rejuvenate the Ameenpur lake system,” Tejdeep Kaur said. She said that this was done to make them appreciate Nature and by making those living in the neighbourhood of the lake aware of the need to protect it and take up Lake conservation measures.

Tejdeep Kaur said that during the clean-up campaign in June 2015, they observed a drastic reduction in the avi-fauna in the lake and after thorough analysis they felt that it was due to some activities that were threatening the Lake and its biodiversity. “The activities included Fishing and marketing, land encroachment, fencing, construction of buildings and colonies, construction in FLT area including of construction of religious structures, bore-well tapping, driving of water tankers, tractors and other heavy vehicles, trespassing by locals, parking of vehicles, throwing stones at the birds to name a few,” she said.

The senior police official said that immersion of idols during Ganesh Chaturthi, washing of vehicles, letting sewerage from the surrounding colonies into the lakes, littering of plastic, glass, thermacol, aluminum cans, fishing nets and garbage dumping and burning were posing a threat not only to the lakes, but to the entire bio-diversity abutting the lake, which provided a haven to most of the birds and reptiles. Tejdeep said that emergence of factories, housing colonies and other encroachments, including mines, in the lake conservancy zone has posed environmental threats in the area around the lake. “There are several issues like the unauthorized occupation of the lake bed where layouts have sprung up, the flow of domestic wastage and industrial effluents besides the killing of birds as game or for exotic meat of which there is evidence in the lake environs that have to be addressed,” she stated.

After sustained efforts to protect the Lake, Telangana State Pollution Control Board came forward to sample and test waters after it was discovered pollutants from nearby chemical and beverage industries besides sewage from upstream colonies had already percolated into the lake. “While some discharged effluents and residential colonies let out their sewage others were drawing water from the lake illegally for processing and use.  The Pollution Control Board is now working on putting up a sewage treatment plant with funds provided by the industries in the vicinity of the lake,” Tejdeep said. Under the able leadership of Tejdeep Kaur, the TSPF planned and executed a Vanamahotsav – a massive tree planting festival in which with the support of the Sarpanch dug pits and placed 4,000 saplings in the open areas of the lake bed and around the lake.  “We planted bird nesting and feeding trees.

As the lake has served as an irrigation tank in the past, the State Irrigation and Mines Minister T. Harish Rao was invited to flag off the Vanamahotsav,” she said.  The TSPF Chief stated that her Force had consulted and coordinated its effort with several Departments and other entities to protect the lake so that the species that flock to the lake come there in larger numbers. Andhra Bank has conducted health camps in eye and dental, for students of government schools, in Ameenpur mandal and adjacent areas as part of CSR. Apart from this, the TSSPF and Round Table India organised a camp for elders and children of Ameenpur. Painting, essay writing, quiz and singing competitions for school children on Nature related themes as part of the programme.

Tejdeep summed up saying that the Ameenpur example shows that there are several challenges. “The most vital are Commission Sewage Treatment Plants, to make the water drinkable; Create a permanent and lasting waste disposal system; Firm up the Full Tank Level; Create a habitat for the nesting and breeding of the birds; Set up watch towers from where school goers as well as adults can sight the birds; and, Open a Biodiversity Museum,” she explained.

Tejdeep Kaur conferred Earth Hero Award

The Sanctuary Asia declared Tejdeep Kaur Menon, IPS, Director General, TS SPF and the Telangana State Special Protection Force (TSSPF) as ‘Earth Hero’ and presented its coveted The Sanctuary Wildlife Awards - Wind Under The Wings Award, in Mumbai in December 2016. The award is given for distinguished work in spearheading exceptional initiatives to clean, rejuvenate and protect urban water bodies.

Villagers sensitized against idol immersion

During the Ganesh immersion, all efforts are made to sensitise not to immerse in the tank and a small mini tank bund is created for this purpose. “During the Ganesh Chaturthi and Dussera Festival as soon as the idols are immersed they are removed by the volunteers of the Force,” Tejdeep Kaur said.

She said that meetings were held with the villagers and leaders sensitising them to prevent polluting the waters of the lake. “Pamphlets are distributed to all colonies, houses and apartments abutting the lake, and propaganda is carried out with the local police. A 24-hour vigil is kept around the lake and immersion is prevented,” she said. Tejdeep further said that the other activities are prevention of mining and sand quartz in the area involving Director of Mines staff and with local police.

 

Osmania University is multi-faculty and multi-disciplinary university, offering rich and varied courses in the faculties of Arts, Sciences, Social Sciences, Law, Education, Engineering, Technology, Commerce, Management, Informatics, Pharmacy and Oriental Languages benefitting thousands of students. The iconic Varsity kicks off its three-day centenary celebrations on April 26, 2017.

The Osmania University, one of the oldest iconic institutions in the State of Telangana will be holding its three-day centenary celebrations from April 26, for which President of India Pranab Mukherjee is expected to lead the celebrations. The other dignitaries to grace the occasion include E. S. L. Narasimhan, Governor of Telangana state, K. Chandrasekar Rao, State Chief Minister, Kadiyam Srihari, Deputy CM and Higher Education Minister, K. Keshava Rao, MP (Rajya Sabha),  Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for HRD, Prof. Ved Prakash, Chairman, UGC, and K. T. Rama Rao, State Minister for IT & Municipal Administration.

OU Beginnings

The University spread over 1300 acres has been named after its founder, Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad, who through a farman (order), established the University on 26th April, 1917.  “It is the seventh oldest in the country and third oldest in South India. Though the need for the University for the Hyderabad State was felt, both by the intelligentsia and people, the initiative came from a civil servant, Sir Akbar Hydari, who was then the Home Secretary to the State Government.

“Sir Hydari, in a memorandum to the Education Minister in early 1917, emphasised the need to establish a University of Hyderabad with ‘Urdu’ as the medium of instruction as it is the language of the widest currency in India, official language of the State, and it is a language which is understood by a vast majority of the population of the State,” recalls Prof. Haripuram Venkateshwerlu, Special Officer, OU Centenary Celebrations. The Special Officer said that Sir Hydari believed that higher education must have its foundations deep in national consciousness.

Prof. Venkateshwerlu said that the University has a vast sprawling campus set in the picturesque and idyllic surroundings with buildings of great architectural elegance and variety to enhance its beauty. “The availability of latest facilities makes it a very modern University. “The Alumni have distinguished themselves in several walks of life and include former Prime Minister, Chief Ministers, Ministers, Parliamentarians, Legislators, eminent scholars, educationists, diplomats, administrators, lawyers, doctors, engineers, scientists, writers, sportsmen and men of arts and culture,” he said.

According to the Special Officer the development of the University may be divided into four phases, viz.

First Phase (1917 to 1947): The first phase was characterised by Urdu as the m

edium of instruction in all branches of higher education, including Medicine and Engineering. During this time, efforts were made to establish a number of teaching departments as well as to structure academic program

mes. The Departments of Chemistry, Civil Engineering, English, History, Mathematics, and Physics were started at this time. The first 30 years saw the initiation of several new disciplines, like Sociology (1937-38), Geography (1942), Zoology (1924), Botany (1930), Geology (1936), Education and Law (1923), Engineering (1929), Medicine (1926-27) and Agriculture and Veterinary Science (1948).

UG, PG, Ph.D Prog. Started: This phase also saw the introduction of Under-Graduate Programmes (1925), Post-Graduate Programmes (1925) and Ph.D. Programmes (1938) in several of the faculties. Further, some of the premier institutions that were earlier established in the State (namely, the Nizamiah Observatory, the Nizam College, Medical College, Teachers Training College, and the Law School) were transferred to the University at that time.

As the University was established without much infrastructure, the University Departments and Offices were initially located at different places in the city. It was only in 1934 that the University was shifted to the present campus. The inauguration of the new Campus, along with the inauguration of the Arts College in 1938, is one of the historic events in the annals of the University. Thus, in the first phase, efforts were mainly directed towards developing academic programmes and the necessary infrastructure.

Second Phase (1948 to 1968):  The year 1948 was historic for two reasons. In the first place, the princely State of Hyderabad became a part of new Independent India. Urdu was replaced by English as the medium of instruction. The new Departments created during this phase, included Hindi (1948-49), Political Science (1947-48), Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (1949), Journalism (1954), Chemical Engineering (1951), Public Administration (1956), Library Science (1959), Electronics & Communication Engineering (1959), Statistics (1966), Genetics (1966), and Geophysics (1967).

In order to give an impetus to the learning of foreign languages, the University started Diploma programmes in French and German (1954-55) and Italian (1957-58). As the number of Social Science Departments increased, the Faculty of Social Sciences was carved out from the Faculty of Arts in 1964-65, in order to give them a better identity.

Library Commissioned: The University Main Library, with a floor area of 62,000 sq.ft. was commissioned in 1963. The Law College, Department of Geophysics, the Administrative Building and other buildings to house colleges, hostels and various University Services were constructed manifesting University’s growth. Women’s education also got an impetus when the Women’s College, which was earlier operating from temporary buildings, moved to its present location in 1948. To meet the ever-increasing demands of higher education of the region, the University permitted a number of affiliated colleges to be started under private management.

Third Phase (1969 to 1993):  The period between the Golden Jubilee (1968) and the Platinum Jubilee (1993) can be considered to be the Third Phase. During this phase, the University also witnessed considerable growth in research and development activity. With financial support from National and International agencies several inter-disciplinary Research Centres were established.  The Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies (1970), Institute of Genetics (1978), Research and Training Unit for Navigational Electronics (1982), Centre for Area Studies (1983), Audio-Visual Research Centre (1983) and English Language Teaching Centre (1988) are a few examples. New Departments to be created during the period include the Department of Biochemistry (1972), Microbiology (1974) and Applied Geochemistry (1991). To strengthen its infrastructure, the University established the University Computer Centre (1975).

Distance Education Centre Set-up: In order to make higher education accessible to the deprived and disadvantaged, the Centre for Distance Education was established in 1977.  It now offers Under Graduate and Post-Graduate courses in Arts, Social Sciences, Commerce, Management and Sciences, apart from job-oriented programmes. The Academic Staff College was started in 1987 with the support of the University Grants Commission (UGC), to train and orient college and university teachers both in pedagogy and in areas of specialization.

Keeping in view the imperatives of rural development, particularly human resources development and rural industrialization, the University embarked upon the strategy of decentralization of higher education, by establishing Post-Graduate Centres in the districts.

Fourth Phase (1994 onwards): The University introduced several community-relevant courses as part of its development plan for the year 1996-2001 in areas of Environmental Sciences, Biotechnology, Genetic Engineering, Tourism and Hotel Management, Computer Applications, Rural Engineering and Health Technology, etc.

New P.G Centers were established at Districts of Mahabub Nagar and Nalgonda. Later these were elevated to the status of New Universities along with the P.G Center at Bhiknur, Nizamabad District in the years of 2006- 08.

“Notable persons conferred with Honorary Doctorate was Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (1953) the Father of Indian Constitution and Dr. Manmohan Singh (1994) the Father of Economic Reforms and former Prime Minister,” Prof. Venkateshwerlu said.

As part of celebrations there are plans to invite many Nobel Laureates. Kurt Wuthrich, Professor of Chemistry, addressed the students on Feb. 10, 2017 and Kailash Satyarthi is also expected to address. Other events include discussion on perspective for the next 50 years, share success stories of alumni, seminar on Telangana Culture and Literature, Cultural Programmes in coordination with Department of Culture, VCs’ Conference on Role of Higher Education and Mock Parliament, involving students.

“It is proposed to felicitate 100 reputed alumni that include former VCs and reputed personalities,” the Special Officer said. Apart from the three-day celebrations in April, an international conference on ‘Insurance’ has been planned by the Dept. of Commerce from July 29 - 31, 2017,” he said.

“Two exhibitions, firstly a Photo Exhibition will be organised at the venue showcasing the rare photographs of Osmania University and the progression of Osmania University from 1917 to 2017. Secondly, there are also plans to hold Science Exhibition, ” Prof. Venkateshwerlu said.

Other celebrations include, National Sports and Games Meet in Nov. to Dec. this year. On March 11, the varsity organised a centenary run, where many of them took part.

Flagship Programmes: OU’s other flagship programmes in the Centenary year include establishing a Centre for Telangana Studies, which will be headed by a Centenary Chair and will have the mandate to collect and analyse information pertaining to societal issues and their mitigation from all the 31 districts. Also set up Skill Development Centre to address training human resources - faculty of various universities, Government and private colleges and other institutions effectively. This facility would train the trainers from the State who in turn would improve the skills of the students enrolled in their institutions.

“The University proposes to set up Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Studies to provide a platform for conducting research to prepare inventories of biological resources, understand threats to the habitats and the species and propose mitigation actions. This Centre will act as a liaison between the State Forest Department and citizens,” he said.

The Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam, of Ammapally, located near Shamshabad Village, built by Venghi Kings, was conferred the INTACH Heritage Award in the year 2010. Though the State Endowments Department is doing its best to ensure that prayers and rituals are carried out regularly at the Temple, more needs to be done to protect this ancient temple.

Not many would be familiar with the 800-year-old Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam, of Ammapally, located near Shamshabad Village, nearly 40 kilometers from the city. Our historical scriptures state that many centuries ago Lord Ram, Goddess Sita and Lord Krishna have lived in this part of the country and there are many tales surrounding it too.

The Temple priest Satyanarayana Murthy has been in the service of the Lord for the last 23 years. “Since the day, I began serving the Lord, he has taken care of all my needs,” says the priest. He along with another priest Anveesh Sharma, who too has been here since the last eight years, serves the Lord here. He says that Lord Ram during his 14-year-exile had stayed in this area and the idols here came up after that. “Look closely at the idols, all the idols has been carved from one single stone. Lord Ram has a Kodandam (bow) in his right hand. This kind of Ram is not visible in all the temples. In all, there may be only five temples like this,” says Murthy.

Giving a detailed description of the deities in the sanctum sanctorum, the priest says that Sri Sita Devi, Sri Rama and Sri Lakshmana are unique. “Each of the idols and its Makara Thoranam are beautifully carved from single black rock, the idols are not separate as in the case of other temples. One visits the Lord Rama temple here and he has the darshan of the Dashavataras (10 incarnations) too. The Dashavataras are beautifully sculpted on top of Sri Rama’s idol, in a semi-circle, which is four feet tall and that of Sri Sita Devi and Sri Lakshmana, a little less,” he says.

In the main sanctum sanctorum, you will not see Sri Anjaneya Swamy’s idol at the feet of Sri Rama as seen in many temples and pictures in circulation. This temple is also known as Kodandaramaswamy temple. “That is the specialty of this temple,” says the priest. “Sri Anjaneya Swamy’s idol is at the Dhwaja Sthambam facing Lord Sri Rama. When devotees come and pray here, Lord Sri Rama instructs Sri Anjaneya Swamy to accomplish their wishes. And for this reason, he is always waiting outside the sanctum sanctorum to take instructions from Lord Sri Rama and rush to the help of his devotees,” says Murthy.

Inside the sanctum sanctorum, no coconuts are broken, the devotee himself has to break it outside and then puja is performed by the priests. While doing the aarti, the priest assures that the devotees don’t block Lord Rama’s contact (way) to Sri Anjaneya, so that the Lord can instruct Hanuman accordingly.

There are two Sri Anjaneya idols, one orange-coloured Hanuman and other in black stone. One Hanuman is placed at the foot step of Dhwaja Sthambam and the other Hanuman is placed backside of Dhwaja Sthambam facing the temple tower as if welcoming the devotees.

Earlier, temples were located far off from human habitation, so that people would dedicate a day to prayers. Come important festivals and many throng well-known temples like the Srisailam Temple dedicated to Lord Malikarjunaswamy another name for Lord Shiva for the grand Mahashivratri festival. The Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam, as the name suggests dedicated to Lord Ram, Sri Rama Navami is celebrated in a grand manner here. Every month, on Punaravsu nakshatram (as per the Hindu almanac), kalyanam is celebrated with traditional fervour. This month it falls on March 8.

The temple priest shares that Sri Rama Navami is a five-day festival here. “It is a time of annual Brahmotsavams and kalyanam here. Kalyanam is performed on the fourth day, which falls on Sri Rama Navamai day,” he says. The temple is decorated on that day and the whole place comes alive with many devotees thronging the place to receive the blessings of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita. Some say that like mother talking in favour of the child to the father, the same way Goddess Sita too tells Lord Ram about the difficulties of their devotees, hence the name Sita Ramchandraswami, the goddess name coming first to the Lord. Remember Sita-Ram, Radha-Krishna or Lakshmi-Narasimhaswamy.

Murthy says that when he joined the temple, way back in 1995, there was hardly anyone coming to pay obeisance here. “Today, on any given day, there are nearly 200 visitors, including the locals, coming to pray here,” he says. The senior priest adds that not only Sri Rama Navami, but all festivals are celebrated here with traditional fervor and gaiety. “Even Vijaya Dashmi is celebrated on a grand scale,” he says.  The priest informs that a majority of the pilgrims who visit the temple return for the thanksgiving to the Lord for his kindness and fulfilling of their wishes. “These days many people are coming forward to celebrate their Silver Wedding anniversary here. Some couples come here to marry again in true South Indian style,” he says.  Not to forget that the temple has nadaswaram and dhol players in attendance. Many of them have been in the service of the Lord for nearly 10 years. The musicians have had their training at Srikalahasti, while the priests have trained in Telangana only.

The priest adds that for the fulfillment of vows, devotees tie some offerings in a small bundle to a tree in the courtyard after offering prayers. “The bundles are opened only after the fulfillment of one’s wish,” he says. There were many bundles of various shapes and sizes and bangles tied to the tree in the courtyard.

Giving us a little peak into the history of the temple, Murthy says that Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam was built sometime in the 11th century by the local rulers called Venghi Rajulu. He shares that the ancient temple dating back to 11th century caught the attention of the public after shooting of Mahesh Babu and Sonali Bendre Telugu movie Murari.

In 2010, Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam received the XV INTACH Heritage Award from the Governor Sri E S L Narsimhan on World Heritage Day. Today the temple is managed by the State Endowments Department, who has ensured that prayers and other rituals are carried out as per the Hindu traditions.

More recently, the Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam, Ammapalli, was in the news as Gudi Sambralu (Temple Festivities) was held here. It was organised under the banner of Parampara Foundation, which has deep concerns for heritage and culture.”Parampara is working towards reviving art forms in temples to connect with our rich cultural heritage,” say Dr. Srinagi B Rao and Shashi Reddy. They recently organised a two-day dance festival. On the first day it was Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant and second day it was Ratikant Mahapatra and Kiranmayee.

A visit to Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam will bring peace and contentment to all. This ancient temple is a treat for students of history. It is Sangam of all architectures. There is Rajasthani, Mughal and South Indian. It is firmly believed that only after the construction of this temple the Golconda Fort and Charminar have come up. The first thing one did after alighting form the car at the temple was visit the step well, which was very fascinating and breathtaking.  Today there is a stage in the centre where people can sit on the steps and appreciate the fine arts. The ancient architecture here speaks volumes. On all three different sides there are different kinds of architecture. Surrounded by coconut trees, this step well is of Rajasthan style popular in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Just facing the temple, there is a two-storey building that would have been a resting place for devotees after of before the darshan. Closely examine the Gopuram, it is a seven storey one. The top level of the Gopuram, built in solid stone, reflects the South Indian style. On this layer, the idols and statues in the stone are intricately detailed. The lower floors of the temple gopuram need urgent repairs and the pigeons are also spoiling it. On the front side of the gopuram, one can see Sri Seshashayee Vishnu. What is prominent that strikes you when you look at the temple is its Rajasthani style arches that are generally found in Havelis and palaces of the desert state.

An observation of the Gopuram reveals that the masonry work of the arches may have been added much later, may be during the construction of the step well in the temple compound.

The temple priest says that apart from Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam, in the vicinity there are Sri Mahalingeswara Swamy and Sri Anjaneya Swamy temples along with lawns spread over 9.5 acres land. People are visiting these temples too, especially on Mondays to Sri Mahalingeswara Swamy. It must be noted that there are no electricity lighting inside the sancta sanctorum and one has to see the lord with the traditional lights and the lord mesmerizes everyone with his beauty. Also in the complex was ‘Koti Rama Sthamb’, where people who had written Sri Rama Naamam had been placed.

Students from nearby areas were making use of the open space and greenery to play. Though the Endowments Department is doing its best to protect this ancient heritage structure, private enterprises must come forward to protect these monuments for future generations. To reach the Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam, take the PV Narasimha Rao Expressway and reach Shamshabad Bus Station which is on the right hand side. Take a right turn along the bus station and travel straight along Rallaguda Road, till one reaches the ‘Kamaan of the Temple’ (Temple entrance arch) to the left. Pass through the arch to reach the temple precincts.

Padma Shri Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna’s painstaking work on Perini is bearing fruit, with the Telangana Government instituting a four-year diploma course in Perini in the Music and Dance Schools in the State. Apart from this, the high-energy level dance is being exhibited at major State functions and schools in a bid to popularise Perini.

Preserving culture to pass it on to generations has been the practice for centuries. Some cultures have survived orally by passing it on in the family or through the study of written texts. The Telangana Government is doing its best by preserving the dance art form Perini that flourished during the rule of Kakatiyas. In the 1970s, Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna recreated Perini after a careful study of Nandhikeshava’s Bharatanavam and Jayapa Senani’s Nritta Ratnavali. Thanks to Padma Shri Nataraja Ramakrishna’s hard work of restructuring this dance form, a four-year diploma course in Perini has been launched in the six Music and Dance Schools in Hyderabad, Warangal, Nizamabad and Manthani. As Nataraja Ramakrishna conceived it as a bare-bodied male dance, the syllabus has to be duly incorporated to suit the women learners. The Telugu University will conduct the exams and also look into the syllabus. Currently, Perini is taught as a lesson in Telugu subject in Class IV, as Social subject in Class VIII and in Hindi subject in Class X.

On the second Telangana Formation Day, 250 students, male and female, performed Perini thanks to the efforts of Department of Culture Director Mamidi Harikrishna. As part of the International Kite Festival held in Hyderabad under the able guidance of Guru Kalakrishna, his troupe performed the dance Perini at People’s Plaza, while D Prakash and Raj Kumar along with their team performed at Agha Khan Academy, Ravirala (V). In 2015, the Telangana government honoured Kalakrishna and in 2016, Prakash Dumpeti for their outstanding contribution in the field of dance.

Kalakrishna, renowned Kuchipudi and Andhra Natyam exponent, popular for his portrayal of Satyabhama and disciple of Guru Nataraja Ramakrishna, Kalakrishna learnt the nuances of Andhra Natyam and Perini from his Guruji only. Enlightening on the dance form Perini, Kalakrishna says that it has its own recognition and reputation among several dance forms of the country.

“This dance form has a performing method which consists of Gargharamu, Vishamamu, Bhavanashrayamu, Kaivaramu, and Geetamu – all performed in a collective and synchronised process either solo or by a team,” he says. Kalakrishna says that the published texts state that Perini dance is to be performed only by male artistes, and there are evidences which inform that there were female performers as well.

He says that Guru Ramakrishna visualised it as a male dance. “Nandhikeshava’s Bharatanavam also consists of a graphical explanation about the Perini dance form. The characteristic features of Perini, costumes, music instruments, behavioural regulation on the stage for performers and the Panchangas,” says Kalakrishna.

Delving into the history, Kalakrishna says that Jayapa named the five constituting elements of Perini as –Nritya, Vikata, Kaivara, Garghara and Geeta. He left out Vishama and Bhavashraya from the purview of these Panchangas. He adds that while researching, Nataraja Ramakrishna garu observed that during the time of Srikrishnadevarayalu of Vijayanagara and Nayak kings of Tanjavore, Perini dance was initially practiced and performed by male artists, and gradually accommodated female performers as well. Writing in his famous text, ‘History of Dances in South India: Perini Shiv Tandava’, Guruji visualised how the Shaivite tradition based Perini gradually transformed into Vaishnavite tradition based dance.  According to Kalakrishna, Guruji felt that the reasons for this could be plenty.  “It could be neglect by successive rulers, failing to attract the public. Guruji based his research and recreation of Perini work in Kakatiya Empire, their art and literature, their temples as main resources and sources,” he said.

Kalakrishna Garu says that over the years, whoever has been performing Perini have been doing it on recorded music that has been done by Guruji. Apart from appointing teachers to teach students Perini, the Telangana Government should appoint gurus and other accompanying artists so that more research can be conducted in this dance form. “For every guru appointed, there should be one accompanying artist like vocalist, mridangam and so on,” he says. All this is a necessity so that the text can be built for this dance form for future presentations. Exhibitions of this art form among the people will help in popularizing Perini dance.

The Kuchipudi exponent recalls that he played nattuvangam when the Perini team had gone to Africa to perform in 1987. As he was very close to Nataraja Ramakrishna, his guru trained him in Perini. “To give life to Perini, it was included as part of the Andhra Natyam course in 1995,” Kalakrishna says. In 1985, workshops and lecture demonstrations were held to propagate Perini. Kalakrishna says that Nataraja Ramakrishna curated a 45-minute long performance primarily focusing on Garghara. “The performance received applause from everyone and he continued training dancers in the country as well as abroad for four decades,” Kalakrishna says.

Prakash D, who has learnt Perini from Guru Nataraja Ramakrishna and Kalakrishna, says that Perini flourished greatly during the reign of Emperors Ganapati Deva, Rudrama Devi and Prataparudra of Kakatiya Dynasty from the 10th to 13th Century A.D. “In those days, this dance was performed to inspire and invigorate Prerana warriors,” says Prakash. Perini Prakash as he is popularly known, sharing an interesting aspect states that music is the backbone of this art form. “The use of conch, drums, bells and rhythmic syllables change the atmosphere, enabling dancers to reach high energy levels,” he says. Prakash says that Perini Lasyam was an ancient temple dance tradition performed in aramas, temples and courts of kings by women. “This Lasya tradition existed since the 2nd century A.D. Perini Lasyam has exquisite foot work, captivating expressions, splendid and graceful body movement. This dance had its Golden Era during the period of Chalukyas and Kakatiyas,” says Prakash.

The dancer says that after formation of Telangana State, Perini has been regaining its lost glory. Kalakrishna says Gargharamu is an important constitutive element of Perini. “The movement generated in gajjelu (bells) through moving the feet, shoulders, and the chest is the basis for today’s classical as well as traditional and folk dance,” he says. Kalakrishna garu says that Garghara is either along with the tala or without it, the movement of foot work in a systematic process generating anklets sounds systematically.

On the other hand, Raj Kumar says Perini was performed to invoke Lord Shiva, and was called Prerana or Perini Tandavam. “This dance belongs to the majestic Tandavam Style, which has a very quick tempo and speed depicting ‘Veera’ and ‘Raudra’ rasa of king of dance Nataraja. Raj Kumar says that the State government response to Perini dance is good as they want to protect the culture and pass it on to the children.

Raj Kumar, who has been conducting camps for school students, says that Perini is a high energy dance. “The children in schools are very keen to learn this art form,” he says. Student of Kalakrishna and Prakash, Kumar says that more girls are keen to learn Perini than boys.

In 2006, at Kaktiya Utsav, Perini workshop was held, where many dancers – male and female, came to learn dance. “Guru Nataraja Ramakrishna by painstaking studying the sculptures in the Ramappa Temple and other texts has recreated the Perini Art form and it is our duty to protect it and not let it fall into neglect again,” Raj Kumar says.

The Perini dancer believes that during the Kakatiya rule, women performed in the garba gudi of temples from morning till night – the lasyam style. “The men performed the Tandavam style and somewhere after sometime it may have stopped,” he opines.

Raj Kumar, a Perini dancer is confident that he can survive on the art form. “I can teach, and perform this attractive dance,” he says. Raj Kumar has the credit of performing 101 days of Perini in the State. In a book published by the State Akademi, Natraja Ramakrishna revealed that Jayapa mentioned Prerana dance, virile in nature and performed before Lord Shiva invoking the God, the ashta dikpalas, etc. He mentions that while undergoing study in Sri Kalahasti, Ramakrishna came across some jatis. The Prerana jatis were also published in Bharatarnava. In his research, Ramakrishna states that he studied the Agama texts, especially detailing the traditions of dance therein and restructured the dance form Perini.

His disciples say that the invocative dance is awe inspiring and spectacular. “Guruji took pains to choreograph an all-night Perini performance at Ramappa Temple, where many of the dance forms mentioned by Jayapa must have been performed.” The AP Sangeet Natak Academy set up a training camp, on January 1, 1973, which ran for four months. At the camp, along with female performers, Shaivite tradition based centric Perini was taught to male performers. Another camp was organized in the second half of 1973, which lasted for six months and culminated in presenting Perini at the Republic Day in 1974. Many Perini dancers believe that Perini is the dance of the warriors. They say that the dance derives its name from Prerana, which means inspiration.

“The warriors performed this dance before the idol of Lord Nataraja, as a mode of worship, before leaving for the battlefield to invoke Lord Shiva to attain high frenzy needed for the war. The dance begins with Gargara and concludes with a Shiva Panchamukha Shabda Nartanam in praise of Lord Shiva,” they say. Many in the audience get goose bumps by watching the high frenzy dance.

The Perini dancers with ash smeared on their body dance to the beat of the drums, vigorously and in frenzy. This goes on, till the Perini dancers feel the power of Lord Shiva in them and derive inspiration. Perini dance is said to be both spiritual and artistic.

A person is known by the company he keeps and the same way, a city is known by its residents. Apart from the teeming professionals – Doctors, Engineers, Chartered Accountants, Company Secretaries, Bankers, and many others who keep the city moving with their work there are many other unknown workers who also lend a helping hand in building and maintaining the city.

The city of Hyderabad never sleeps. The residents keep it running with their work and business. If we can sit for a few minutes, close our eyes and concentrate, events of the day move in front of our eyes like a film.

Even before the rise of the sun, one can see the city limping to life. There is the chatter of people surrounding the milk crates that function temporarily in the colony every day in the morning for a couple of hours.

A little distance away, one can find the roadside newspaper hawker selling the day’s newspaper hot from the press. Some of them have the luxury of getting their milk and paper delivered at home. Milk vans of various brands can be seen buzzing past in the colonies.

Another activity that begins early morning is cleaning of the roads as early as 4 AM. As it is difficult to arrive for work at that time, some workers can be seen sleeping near public places of their work space. No matter with what diligence, the workforce does their work for Swachh Bharat, unless the residents are conscious nothing much can be achieved. There are people who to save a couple of rupees throw their garbage on the road or close to transformer blocks.

With the first light come the daily suppliers – the fruit wallahs and vegetable wallahs. Some of them are very finicky and want to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. For them these small carts are an attraction. The lady of the house knows at what time she can expect her able assistant.

Some of the fruit and vegetable carts can be seen parked outside parks where many of them turn up for an early morning game of tennis or badminton with folks, jog or a walk. Some of them do stretching while others sit on the benches and enjoy the first rays of the sun and soak in the beauty of the greenery and the chirping of the birds. The morning joggers can be seen at KBR Park, Indira Park and colony parks. Those exiting the park can be seen hovering near the pushcarts to purchase the day’s fresh fruits and vegetables.

Buses of educational institutions start plying as early as 6.30 AM to ferry the children to schools and colleges, primarily engineering colleges as many of them are on the outskirts of the city or a little further down like Chilkur. Lucky are those who study in the neighbourhood schools and colleges as they save time and energy and can concentrate on other extra-curricular activities. The chatter of school children with their friends or fellow mates is pleasing to the ears. Some parents too exchange notes of what is happening in their ward’s class with other parents.

In the City of Pearls, everyone has made a place for himself. The Aam Adami is eking out a living. If ever you get to stop at a traffic signal, apart from the beggars, who seek alms, there are small time traders, who sell every ware from balloons, Santa caps, and small toys to car accessories. Some of these attract the young child like a plastic kungfu panda, Bheem’s gada, or a little dog shaking her head.

Passing through the Old City or Secunderabad, one can see a line of clothes stores hanging their dresses on the roads to attract the customers. Bargaining too happens, till the customer is fully satisfied in purchasing them. Food attracts the young and old alike. If it is the onset of summer, cut raw mangoes with spice is lapped up, the same holds true for Guavas too. Find a Chaat Bandi, and a crowd would be surrounding it, slurping paani puri, aaloo chaat, raagda patti or anything tangy and spicy. Students running for early morning competitive classes hang around the Idli and Dosa bandis to have a nutritious filling as these start from 7 AM.

Even those returning home from night shifts stop at midnight bandis to savour hot, hot biryanis. Some of them flock to carts that have made a name for themselves like Ram ki Bandi to savour hot, hot Dosas to celebrate special days.

Walk up to Charminar and a whole new life greets you. There are rows and rows of shops selling bangles, items that are closer to women like mehendi, kajal and clothes. Women from rich to poor can be seen making some quick purchases and bargains. Turnaround and you can find myriad colours of bangles on the carts. They are not glass or laq but metal bangles and fancy earrings and young girls and women are crowding around the pushcart and turning things upside down before they get what they want.

A true Hyderabadi loves his paan, and on any occasion paan plays an important part. In some marriages, paan dan is given as gift too. Buying paan at Charminar works out to be cheaper than anywhere in the city. The paanwalla here does brisk business. Though the business starts in the Charminar only after 11 AM, prayer time is strictly followed here. Those shopping here can hear the prayers from the mosque. The scene where all pray together is a treat for the eyes. Some of them coming out of the mosque can be seen sharing their earnings with the have nots.

Shoppers can be seen taking a break by having a cuppa of Irani chai with some Osmania biscuits or small samosas. Business can be discussed over a cuppa of chai at the Irani restaurants. The city runs with its people, who undertake a lot of activities. There are labourers huddled in one corner waiting for work or the others who can be seen working at construction sites or at the Metro works helping in building a new Hyderabad. Workers here are working 24x7 in shifts to take the city into the 21st century.

Come marriage season, the folks visit the nearest temples with nadaswaram to seek the blessings of the Lord or Goddess. At a street corner, you can find the bandwallahs practicing to play at the wedding in the evening.

The city temperatures are not so high, thanks to the horticulture staff. The citizens can breathe some fresh and clean air. With the change of seasons, the horticulture staff too rotates the flowering plants. The bright yellows, whites and reds surrounded with greenery are a visual feast to the eyes.

The government is doing its best to give wholesome meal to those who can’t afford it or don’t have time to cook. The Rs. 5 meal has caught on with the public. Long queues can be seen for these meals at the counter near the Nampally Station or Clock Tower, Begumpet. It is a boon for the daily labourers as it is difficult to get anything as less as Rs 5.

The city has acquired two new landmarks recently. One the tallest flag, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao hoisted on the State’s second formation day in 2015. The flag stands tall at 88 metres on the banks of Hussain Sagar Lake in Sanjeevaiah Park. The gigantic flag measures 108 by 72 feet. It is two feet short of being the tallest flag. The flag weighs over 65 kilos and it was unfurled with the help of motorised mechanism. According to the CM, the flag will instill nationalism among the citizens and will be symbol of pride. On any given day, one can see citizens freezing pictures here.

Another landmark is the ‘Love Hyderabad’ sculpture at Tank Bund, which was inaugurated by IT minister KT Rama Rao in November. Speaking during the inauguration, KTR said that the sculpture will be an added attraction to the City and the Tourists, whoever visits the Tank Bund will take a selfie at this spot and it will be a great landmark at the Tank Bund in the coming days. Morning or evening, the roads of the city are bursting with traffic.

There are people on the two-wheelers and four-wheelers trying to break rules or overtaking from the left to reach their destination on time. It is mostly a bumper to bumper ride. It is essential to keep cool while driving through the busy traffic. Every citizen must follow the traffic signals for their own and co-passengers safety.

Queues can be witnessed at petrol bunks at peak times and there are times when people have lost their cool. Apart from the public transport buses and MMTS, many people depend on the shared autos to reach their destination. In Rs. 10 – Rs. 15, one can travel long distances.

Come what may, just like the cycle wheel that goes round and round, Life goes on and on and the city of Nizams and Nawabs lives on in it is people.

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Accounting for more than 98% of the country's production of barites, mineral rich Andhra Pradesh (India) has almost a monopoly on ‘Chrysotile Asbestos’

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