Hyderabad: The Nagarjunasagar road has always been different, primarily because it leaves behind a lot of chaotic traffic. The Nagole crossroads is filled with confused people, bus drivers and your usual I-am-in-a-desperate-hurry-to-hit-the-highway drivers. It is much more confusing now because a couple of flyovers are being built.
The Sagar road, too, has become crowded, thanks to the number of colleges in and around Ibrahimpatnam. Even then, this road has its charm and freedom. And there are definitely more places to eat now.
As you drive towards the Katta or the bund over what used to be the Pedda Cheruvu, there are two roads now. You take the lower road to go into town and then take a U-turn and return to the main Katta. Dargah Talab Katta, Ibrahimpatnam, dating back to the Qutb Shahis, stands to the right and is apparently crowded during the Urs, this time falling on April 16. The Ibrahimpatnam Cheruvu used to cover about 1,300 acres. This lake had dried up for the first time in 1993 and again in 2000. Locals say that it has been this dry for the past 15 years.
The lake was among the last to be planned and built by Ibrahim Qutb Shah during his 30-year reign between 1550 and 1580 AD. It is a three-storied structure with steps leading to the lake bed.
There is also a staircase from the inside with what look like rooms. The top storey on the level of the main road, was probably used as a place to catch the breeze and watch the waters. On one side of the wall are several niches, probably used to keep lit lamps. Stucco work in the Qutb Shahi style is all over the place, and birds and animals are used as wall brackets.
Now the place is used as an open bar and the walls are full of lovers’ graffiti.
According to Dr Haseeb Jafferi, a descendant of the fourth Nizam Salabath Jung, this was probably used as a summer house. “During the hot months, the temperatures would soar and the water levels would drop. Each floor would come to sight when the water level descended,” said Dr Jafferi, a corporate trainer who runs Sufi Trails, taking interested people on walks to lesser known heritage sites.
It is said that though Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah built the Hussainsagar, it is named after his son-in-law Hazrath Hussain Shahwalli. He then built this lake and a water harvesting scheme and named it after himself. But Ibrahimsagar slowly came to be known as Pedda Cheruvu.
As you drive from Ibrahimpatnam to Hyderabad, at Turkayamjal, you can see a couple more of these sluice gates. While one looks completed, the other remains broken and this is the Ma Sahiba lake, later corrupted to Masab lake. This is different from the practically non-existent Masab Tank, which also got its name from the powerful queen Hayat Baksh Begum wife of Ibrahim Quli. This small town named after a Qutb Shahi king is now home to the India’s seventh elite counter-terrorist force, the National Security Guard (NSG). South India’s first gold refinery plant will come up at Kongara Kalan in Ibrahimpatnam mandal of Ranga Reddy district. With an old but much oil-painted Narasimha temple, the town is also home to Mallanna, another name for Lord Shiva, thus making this a Harihara Kshetra.
The drive beyond Mallepally gets interesting with mango orchards on either side till you approach Yacharam, where on top of two dark mountains is a freshly white-washed old temple of Lord Venkateswara. There is a steep walk up the hill, marked by white painted rocks. Known as Nallagutta or black hillock, this is made of volcanic rock.
Then you drive into Mall, a busy hub, where to the right is a monolithic rock with a temple of Anantha Padmanabhaswamy.
With the pungent odour of red chillies in your nose, you can have lunch here and make another u-turn to return to Yacharam. Take a left at the Dr B.R. Ambedkar statue and drive 3 km to come to Nandi Wanaparthy.
Near the centre of the village, on the left, is a temple that is in shambles. This is amidst farm land and after a slight turn you come to another group of temples that are painted garishly.
An old Lord Venketaswara temple has been totally refurbished. The priest and some worshippers are very proud that they have rebuilt a temple, with no regret that history and with it a certain past have been wiped away. The villagers are assured that the actual Nandi is still there. What an incredible temple this is. Being whitewashed for Sivarathri, the two peepul trees lend a beautiful shade even as Kakatiya designs shimmer through the new coat of paint.
In typical Kakatiyan style, the temple is neat and small with a beautiful Nandi. A Shiva Linga stands in front for worship, mounted over a granite platform.
The sanctum sanctorum has Goddess Parvati draped in a sari and her face glowing in turmeric splendour.
The rustle of the breeze through the peepul tree hypnotises you, with a road on one side and open grounds and an old and open well on the other.
Then the return journey to Hyderabad starts....