A Photo walk with HWS at Koti Womens College Hyderabad
Every single day Hyderabad keeps on surprising me with its jewels spread across the city. A few days ago Chandrasekhar Anna invited us to a photo walk to, Osmania University College for Women or Koti Womens College as it is informally called by Hyderabadis. ( Grammer and Punctuation Nazis please excuse). After a bit of research I got some idea what we had in store behind the formidable gates and barbed wired walls of the college and was looking forward to visit the Koti Womens College, one of the most prestigious and oldest colleges for women in India.
I am not sure if it was lure to go to a women’s college without being branded as an eve teaser or the once in a blue moon opportunity to photograph a jewel of Hyderabad or plain simply the sumptuous breakfast promised after the photo walk, that ensured a full house of photographers for this photo walk.We were welcomed by Ms. Anuradha Reddy, Convenor INTACH and Smt B. T. Seetha, Principal of the college; both of them distinguished alumni of the Koti Womens College itself.
Both of them were kind enough to walk with us and show various parts of the huge campus, though now and then we were reminded that we are in a girl’s college. But can you blame us for forgetting where we were considering the history, story of intrigue, spies, dungeons, lost pathways, secret rooms, tunnels, moats with fold-able bridges and a graveyard on the campus all inviting us to explore?
Once inside the campus, you struggle to overcome your awe of the massive 40 feet high Corinthian pillars, soon you realize that the struggle is futile and it is better to surrender. Once you surrender the triple ceiling Durbar hall invites you to its still colourful ceiling, and you can hear the sound of music that played to numerous ball room dancers that these walls have hosted.
The college began its life as the residence of the British Resident in the Deccan region on the the land was provided by the Nizam in 1803. There was a tussle between the Nizam and the firangs about the location and the expense of the building. Both wanted to be as far away from each other yet with the ability to keep an eye on the other. Hence this place was chose across the Musi (It used to be a pristine river exactly at the same place where the biggest drain in Hyderabad by the same name carries the collective burden of the cost of civilization and development in twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad)
Once you cross the Durbar Hall as the grand hall is called you are greeted with an old Oil Painting of the Nizam Osman Ali Khan himself looking at you. Just across it in the middle of the double staircase somebody has strategically placed a statue of Mahatma Gandhi made as if to remind us that the era of the Nizams is over, though the legacy in form of the footsteps they have left continue to be the icons of old Hyderabad. The funny thing is the idol of Mohan (first name of Bapu), has a plaque that claims it was made by Mohan art studio; duh!
Soon we were lost in the countless corridors, gardens, graveyards, secret wells and totally forgot about the time. Only when we heard the announcement about the breakfast that I realized what time it was. The breakfast was good but the building is better, I told myself and quickly went back to click some more pictures. Soon we were in the back side of the building with its impressive Empress gate, from where begum Khair –Ur-Nissa entered in her Rang Mahal (Palace of Colors).
Alas only the façade of this Rajputana Style building remains. But they say old lovers never die they become legends in folk lore. The story of the Begum is told even today in its various versions in Hyderabad. As if to remind visitors that the building was once full of colors, a bougainvillea has adapted the Rang Mahal and was making the day bright magenta in otherwise dilapidated surroundings, where an old lawn roller made by Richardson company lies as a testimony that once these gardens were as maintained as the queen in the Zenana of the palace.
Unfortunately cycle of time and nature has taken its toll on the building, and most of it lies in a very bad shape, apparently the affection and pride of generations of Hyderabad women who have passed from Koti Womens College is not enough to bring back the Koti Womens college building to its previous glory. INTACH is trying to work with various government and other agencies and college Principal Smt B. T. Seetha to see what can be done for restoration of Koti Womens College.
I must thank Chandrasekhar Anna, Ms. Anuradha Reddy from INTACH and College Principal, Seetha Mam, who made this possible and also showed us the historical Koti Womens College personally. You can imagine how lucky we are, as normally for trespassers the college has a cannon on campus to take care of unwanted elements, so RSRs (Road Side Romeos), try entering the college at your own risk.
How about liking Facebook page of Desi Traveler, to get more pictures and content that post exclusively on Facebook?
I promise that I will not sell, rent, gift or donate your email to anybody .