Ibrahimbagh, Jambagh, Moosarambagh, Basheerbagh, Bagh Lingampally... These are some of the green spaces that Hyderabad once boasted of. What has happened to these baghs?
The list of these places suggests how green the city was, once upon a time. Hyderabad had gardens and parks literally, in each of its nook and corner.
French travelers were so enamored by the lush gardens and parks of Hyderabad that they decided to call it 'Baagnagar'. With time, the city expanded, and urbanization led to the loss of some of these baghs, gardens, and parks it once enjoyed.
Places like Ibrahimbagh, Jambagh, Basheerbagh had lush greenery and many fruit-bearing trees. These green areas were also close to lakes and other water bodies, and some of them even had fountains. But all these baghs have turned into colonies now. Urbanization has impacted each of the baghs with tall, sky-towering buildings replacing these gardens.
"We can't get back these gardens. There is no more space anywhere. It's all buildings everywhere," says Sajjad.
He also points out how the shrinking lakes also have resulted in erasing the parks and gardens in the city as most of these baghs were dependent on the water bodies nearby.
Not just open, green spaces have been lost, but the precious Nawab, Mughal, or even Iranian architecture has been erased. "In addition to these baghs, there were formal gardens like the ones inside the Qutub Shahi Tombs and near the Naya Qila," explains Anuradha Reddy, convenor of INTACH, Hyderabad chapter.
In the recent restoration of Qutub Shahi Tombs by Aga Khan Trust, a formal garden to the north of the tombs was also discovered. Interestingly, this Qutub Shahi tombs complex had rose and pomegranate gardens.
A part of the Sanjeevaiah park was reportedly used for building the Thrill City, a virtual reality amusement park at PV Narasimha Rao Marg.
Sharing a satellite image of the park, senior journalist Serish Nanisetti tweeted, "One of the stunning aspects of #Hyderabad history is how the urbanization has erased gardens and parks. This park has a history dating back to the Qutb Shahi era. It was described by Thevenot. It was the site of an elephant fight commissioned for Abu Hasan."
Across the state, the government is now trying to revive the green spaces with programs like Haritha Haram, vertical gardens near flyovers, etc. But Sajjad says the lost traditional gardens cannot be restored. "There is no comprehensive master plan for the city. The trees that are planted nowadays are hybrid ones. But what we had earlier were traditional gardens. For instance, we have many Gulmohar trees now in Hyderabad, but these are not native to the city and are brought from other places," he says
"Take the entire Hitec city area or Kondapur, there is not even a single GHMC garden. Most of the parks are inside gated communities like My Home projects. So unless you get into a big housing society, you won't have access to one. Earlier, areas would have one by default," says historian Yunus Lasania.