This is my 300th article in this blog. Hence, I decided to write on something very significant; today. A number of interesting topics came to my mind, but ultimately a very important subject that I have surprisingly missed all along stood out. It is about the city in which I have lived most of my life and continue to do so – “Secunderabad”. Perhaps one reason why I did not think of writing on Secunderabad earlier is because it is no longer a quiet and lovely place it was. It has grown into a concrete jungle, over populated, polluted, noisy, dirty, busy, with traffic jams everywhere. However this is the city in which my home is, so I love it despite the growing problems of the city.
I was born in Secunderabad at the King Edward Memorial Hospital. My father and mother were also born in Secunderabad. And my sons are born here. My father, my uncles, my brother and I have all studied at Mahbub College and my sons at St. Patricks, both very popular local schools. Though my wife was born in Hyderabad, her entire education was at Secunderabad, at St. Anthony’s and at Kasturba Gandhi College. And I was employed for over two decades in a Secunderabad based Company – Praga Tools Limited, a Govt. of India Undertaking. In fact Secunderabad has been our home since the time of my great grandparents. This explains in brief my long and ancient relation and attachment with the City.
For all outsiders, Secunderabad and Hyderabad are one and the same, it is just Hyderabad. Otherwise it is the Twin Cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Today there is not much cultural and geographical distinction between the two cities. While Secunderabad City’s area remains more or less the same since it’s naming over 200 years ago, Hyderabad has grown in leaps and bounds in every direction. And Secunderabad with its limited area has become very densely populated. This overcrowding and unchecked commercialization has vastly affected the grand and peaceful lifestyle of Secunderabad.
In the past Secunderabad was considered a calm, quiet and neat place with liberal views in comparison to Hyderabad. It was a cosmopolitan city ever since its formation and with distinct British influence. In addition to the various local communities there were a number of Parsis, Anglo-Indians and British nationals. The differences to distinguish the two Cities were plenty, then. Names of almost all Roads and Lanes in Secunderabad were of British origin and some of them still retain those names. For decades one could see English movies only at Secunderabad. There were three very popular ‘English Movie Theatres’ always full with the local people, Plaza, Tivoli and Dreamland. And at Plaza, till very recent times one could sip beer while watching a movie!
In the year 1806, the then ruler of Hyderabad State, Nizam III, Mir Sikander Jah Bahadur issued an order allocating a huge area to the North of Hussain Sagar Lake for the Cantonment of the British Army. This followed the signing of a subsidiary alliance for military and political cooperation between the Nizam and the British Empire. This area consisted of several existing localities and large unpopulated areas for the occupation of the British Army facilities. This entire area handed over to the British was named as Secunderabad after Sikander Jah, the Nizam. Below this paragraph, I am providing a picture of the Firman (Order) issued by Nizam III, Sikander Jah Bahadur to Capt. Sydenham of the British Empire on 3rd June, 1806. An excerpt from it names it as “Secunderabad” with blessings and prayers. It reads as follows: “May God make this grant auspicious for all the well wishers of the State in general and for your Lordship in particular. By the grace of God this place has now been populated by the Regiments and Cantonment. It is therefore required that it should be given a name. On account of the unity and co-operation that exists between our State and English Government, SECUNDERABAD is proposed as its name and by this name it will be styled in future.”