To be a part of the ongoing Krishnakriti Art and Culture Festival 2018, a huge audience came to attend the talk by eminent historian Sajjad Shahid on Munn ki Baat: Mapping the History and Legends of Hyderabad on the third day. Taking into account this year’s festival theme, cartography or mapping, the talk highlighted the significance of maps and how Hyderabad has geographically changed down the years.
Starting with the importance of mapping, Sajjad elaborated, “Mapping on paper is very important. Though throughout history, the significance of oral tales with rich cultural belonging has been immense. But the facts shared through generations may not always be true.”
Making a mention of an extremely interesting incident where he found some discrepancy between a popular tale and the actual maps, Sajjad said, “The Nizam, Osman Ali Khan, used to get out of King Koti to visit his mother at Purani Haveli every day and move through Residency Bazaar. One day, the Nizam’s convoy was going through the route and so was the British resident President’s car. The traffic surgeon had to let the President’s car pass first which the Nizam didn’t like. Therefore, it was said that he asked to make a new road altogether which was known as ‘Shah Rah Usmani’, which is the road from Abids Circle to Moazzam Jahi Market at present. But when I looked at the old maps which were available, I saw that the street already existed much before the said timeline.
The road may have been widened a bit since then, but it surely existed.” Furthermore, according to Sajjad, the actual reason surveying and mapping were taken up and how it all began in Hyderabad is quite different from common belief and popular tales. “It was believed that the whole concept of mapping started just after 1908’s massive floods in order to rebuild the city. But Hyderabadis have another concept. They believe it was started to mark properties post the floods as many people came to the Nizam claiming vast lands to be their property. “With no proper records, the Nizam found it difficult to handle the situation and thus the concept of mapping was started,” narrated Sajjad. Since then, maps tell a lot about the city and how it has evolved, with many heritage structures getting lost in history while making way for new development.