Hyderabad was once known as the 'City of Lakes'. This moniker was the result of major engineering work carried out following Thughyani Sitambar or 'the Great Musi Flood' of 1908, which killed 15,000 people and razed 80,000 homes, leaving one fourth of the population homeless. In response, Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII, the ruling Nizam of the time, implemented a planned, phased flood control system for the city, resulting in 534 artificial lakes.
Osman Sagar (Sandipet), named after the Nizam, was built in 1920 by damming the Musi river 16km upstream from the city. The lake covers 20 square kilometres, making it the second largest lake in the city. As part of the same plan, the Himayat Sagar was built in 1927 on the Esi river - a tributary of the Musi river. With a capacity of 21 square kilometres, it the largest in Hyderabad.
But Hyderabad's history of water conservation goes back much further than this. The Qutub Shahi rulers (1534-1724 A.D.) and the Asaf Jahi rulers (1724-1948) built most of the larger tanks. The largest of these, Hussain Sagar, was built in 1562 by Sultan Ibrahim Kutb Shah, with assistance by the engineer Hazrat Hussain Shah Wali (after which the lake is named). Built across a tributary of the Musi river, the water spread covered an area of greater than 20 square kilometres.
In the following centuries, new tanks were built to meet public demand. In 1624, Saroornagar Lake and Ma Saheba (Masab) tank were built. In 1770, Musa Bam (Husaini Nahr) reservoir was constructed, "when pure and sweet water was scarce in the city" (S.A.A. Briglani). Between 1804 and 1806, the Mir Alam tank was built by French engineers employed by Nizam. The lake, covering approximately 13 square kilometres, was the primary source of drinking water for Hyderabad before Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar were built.
Sadly, in the last century, this extensive water conservation system has been undermined by rapid urban development. Lakes are subject to pollution and building construction continues to encroach into natural drainage channels. This places two pressures on the system at once: decreasing catchments to feed into the systems and substantial increases in water demands.
With IPCIndia taking place in this context, Hyderabad's tank system provides permaculturalists with a complex challenge to find solutions to. Leading up to the conference, IPCIndia will be highlighting similar challenges facing India and asking you what your solutions would be. Keep an eye on this space and keep thinking.
Charminar - historic monument located at the heart of Hyderabad, west-central Telangana state, south-central India. The city, which is the capital of both Telangana and Andhra Pradeshstates, was also the capital of the historic princely state of Hyderabad.
The monument was built in 1591 by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth king of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, reportedly as the first building in Hyderabad, his new capital. Over the years, it has become a signature monument to and an iconic symbol of the city's heritage. According to one legend, the Hyderabad region was reeling from a devastating plague at the time that Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah was shifting his capital from nearby Golconda to the new city. He commemorated the end of the plague by building a mosque, which became known as Charminar because of its four towering and distinctive minarets, one on each of the building's four corners. It formed the centrepiece around which Hyderabad was planned.
Now regarded as one of the supreme architectural achievements of the Qutb Shahi period, the Charminar is a grand architectural composition in Indo-Saracenic style. It is built of granite and lime mortar with stucco ornamentation. The square structure measures 66 feet (20 metres) to a side. Each side faces one of the cardinal directions and has a pointed arch that is 36 feet (11 metres) wide at the base and reaches 66 feet high at its apex. A multisided column rises on each corner of the structure and, atop a lotus-leaf base, continues upward until it culminates in a minaret with a dome-shaped roof 160 feet (49 metres) above the ground. Each minaret is accessed via a spiral staircase on its interior wall and consists of four levels, each of which features a delicately colonnaded covered walkway around the exterior wall. Above the arches of the main structure are two stories. The first was once used as a madrasah (Islamic college) in the Qutb Shahi era, and the second houses a small mosque. In addition to the mosque, the Charminar has 45 other prayer areas. The Charminar's roof and minarets afford panoramic views of Hyderabad, notably the historic Golconda Fort to the west and the bustling Lad Bazaar - adjacent to the Charminar - which is famed for its traditional lacquer bangles studded with coloured glass and stones.