Hyderabad: Award-winning writer Amitav Ghosh who was in Hyderabad to promote the final installment of his Ibis trilogy, Flood of Fire, set against the backdrop of the British opium trade and colonialism, highlighted the uniqueness of Hyderabad and what its citizens could do to make not just the city but the entire Deccan region more appealing to tourists.
Ghosh, who has visited the city thrice in the last 10 years on business, says he would want to make a trip soon to really “experience” the city.
“Hyderabad has a very distinctive character. It is not like any other city. One of the things I really enjoy in Hyderabad is driving through the streets because, when you look at the people, they are so varied. You see an astonishing variety of faces, appearances... that is because Hyderabad is a great meeting place — really a crossroad of the Subcontinent and indeed of Asia. There are Persian influences, Turkish influences, South Indian influences... I think this gives Hyderabad a very special character,” said the author.
The city also has a certain emotional connect. “It is interesting for me as a Bengali to spend time here because there is such a large section of the Bengali community here — one that goes back a long way, to Sarojini Naidu and her brothers...”
Ghosh also makes a few suggestions on how the city could turn its tourism prospects around. “What Hyderabad really needs is a better public relations (PR). We have seen how Kerala transformed itself into this great tourist destination. Of course, Kerala has many great assets and has made the best of them, but the same could be said of this region too.”
He expressed shock at news of the proposed demolition order hovering over the Osmania General Hospital. “Hyderabad is now so built up in the generic style that it is important to preserve the past and the appearance of the city. It would be a disaster if they (the government) did away with heritage structures? Every scrap from that era should be preserved.
“For example, here in Hyderabad I remember friends taking me to the Golconda Fort, it was so interesting to be shown around. But our forts are not properly signposted. My suggestion? Set up an incredibly interesting trail of just visiting fortifications. I think many, many people would be interested to just do that. Various kinds of forts, not just the Golconda region, but also the Bahamani kingdoms stretching into Maharashtra and Karnataka.
“Unfortunately, people don’t seem to think of these things in creative ways often. Tourism just becomes a sun and sand kind of thing, or just resorts.”