In the first of our series on Secunderabad, the once popular suburb, we take a look at what forced it into the background and why it resisted the IT boom and continues to retain its charm.
Hyderabad may be known for its rich Nizami culture, biryani, Charminar, Laad Bazaar, elaborate structures, its labyrinth network of bylanes and the works. But Secunderabad, it’s more sedate and proper twin, has always been a stark contrast. Originally home to the British troops, back in the 19th century, it still has traces of its colonial past with its large community of army and Anglo Indian families. In fact, even today when you venture towards this part of town you’re bound to be struck by its somewhat quaint and quieter culture that welcomes you with open arms and grows on you.
Not too long ago, Secunderabad was where all the action was. Home to one of Hyderabad’s oldest clubs and numerous gardens, it was where some of the best New Year bashes, Dandiya dos and May Queen Balls took place. It had some of the best schools, cinemas and shopping centres. But as the IT boom took over a large part of Hyderabad and the City began to expand its limits with hordes of migrants making a beeline to the newer and swankier side of town, this ‘proper’ twin faded into the background, with just the old timers continuing to swear by its charm.
Although it still has some pretty good schools and hospitals to its credit, the area leaves much to be desired in terms of entertainment options. While its old world charm and open areas still lure people into making it their home, when it comes to letting their hair down or going to a fine dining restaurant, people would rather head towards Banjara or Jubilee Hills.
“The basic infrastructure is missing in Secunderabad. Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills and the areas towards Madhapur have a lot more new constructions, wider roads and entertainment options. Secunderabad is more business oriented than entertainment oriented. So every time we want to party or eat out, driving towards one of these areas is inevitable. They have a wide variety to choose from,” says Gurishab Singh, a businessman who has lived in Secunderabad for 26 years.
The fact that most new places cater to the IT crowd and consequently choose areas closer to the IT hub also draws people to this side of town. “Earlier when the City hadn’t developed much, Secunderabad met most of our entertainment needs. We had good theatres like Sangeet and Anand to go to for our dose of entertainment or Alligator for a round of bowling or snooker. But ever since the IT boom, most of the action has shifted towards Hitech City. Most good establishments would rather set up there, because it’s where the demand is. Besides, when you head out for a movie with friends, you don’t just watch a movie. There’s some window shopping to do, coffee to catch up on etc. Even the gaming centres there offer you multiple options like a pub in the premises etc,” says Siddharth Shetty, a finance professional. Be it getting a new hairdo, watching a movie, hitting a night club or even shopping, Hyderabad is where most of the action is.
“Although I’ve lived in Secunderabad all my life, if I had to get a hair cut or catch up with friends, I’d pick a place in Banjara Hills or Jubilee Hills as they have the more upmarket and popular salons and restaurants,” says Angelica Jayant, an analyst, adding, “while Secunderabad continues to be a haven for people who like having their space and stay away from the City’s commotion, it wouldn’t hurt to have a mall or two this side of town.”
But no matter what it lacks, Secunderabad continues to remain most people’s preferred residential destination. “In terms of residing, I couldn’t dream of living anywhere else. Secunderabad is peaceful, has less traffic and provides the space to walk on the street without the fear of being run over. The area has its own culture and charm that I wouldn’t want to give up on,” says Siddharth.