Thanks to the rapid pace of urbanisation, the city’s rockscapes are endangered But thankfully, there are still some citizens who care enough for themNeha Alluri firstname.lastname@example.org
The Deccan Plateau, stretching over the entire Indian peninsula, is made of grey granite, one of the oldest and hardest rock formations in the world. Steaming lava cools, crystallises and pushes against the earth’s crust to form some magnificent rocks.
Hyderabad, however, is losing its prehistoric rocks as it grows into an urban city. As one of India’s booming IT hubs, it has towering software companies and shiny new buildings. Thanks to its growing economy, most of its rocks have disappeared. But there are still some Hyderabadis who are trying to preserve some of these rocks.
Entrepreneur Navall Girri is one of them. He tells us about his property in Banjara Hills that is now a luxury apartment. The most striking parts of the building are the huge boulders that jut out from the walls of the parking lot and the massive ones that sit so stunningly in his garden. “The property has so many beautiful rocks and old trees that we didn’t want to bring it down. We also wanted to maintain the unevenness of the land. So we racked our brains to come up with a plan that wouldn’t tamper with the trees or the land, something original, unlike the ones that already exist in Hyderabad,” he said.
The Girris finally decided to opt for a younger artist— one that would be flexible and ready to experiment. Vivek Vijayshankar, a Bengaluru-based, was a promising choice. “We were really looking for something different, but practical,” Girri explained.
“I am a conscious, old-school Hyderabadi,” he said, chuckling. “So I wanted to keep the most treasured part of Hyderabad from being destroyed,” he added.
The Girris have left most of the rocks on their property untouched, only building around them. “Hyderabad is the city of rocks, and only then the city of pearls,” said Girri, grinning. “It wasn’t just us. Vijayshankar agreed too. He felt the rocks should be a part of the plan as well. But it was definitely not easy to build. It took a lot of planning and effort,” he said.
Besides the Girris, Narendra Luther, a retired IAS officer, also has a house in Banjara Hills that is built around a massive 25 feet-high rock. Even with several boulders in the compound, his house was built without destroying a single one. Luther is the president of the Society to Save Rocks — an organisation that aims to preserve rock formations in the Deccan Plateau. Having started in 1992, it has grown to include 300 members today. Among others, it won the Heritage Award in 2003 and the National Tourism Award in 2003 for being the best NGO in Tourism.
Though geologists estimate that the rock formations in Hyderabad are around 2,500 million years old, landowners and developers have turned a blind eye. Some may argue that development is inevitable but our own Hyderabadis have given us food for thought. Be it for the aesthetic appeal or for the environment, let’s hope the city has some of its rocks left in a decade from now.
Notable rock formations in the city
1. Hillocks around Durgam Cheruvu, a lake between Jubilee Hills and Hi-tec
2. Rock Park, Old Bombay Road, Gachibowli
3. Bear’s Nose, Cyber Towers, HITEC city
4. The Mushroom Rock, University of Hyderabad, Gachibowli
5. Cliff Rock, Road no.46, Jubilee Hills