Cultural venues are as important to a city as its flyovers and high rises. Zeenab Aneez looks at two new places that are adding to Hyderabad’s diversity

When it comes to the question of cultural spaces in Hyderabad, there is good news, bad news and great news. The good news is that with places like Lamakaan and Saptaparni opening their doors to artistes and communities that are engaged in socio-culturally relevant work, the city has seen a marked increase in theatre performances, music concerts, art exhibitions and workshops. The bad news is that these cultural hubs have had such a catalytic effect that the city seems to have run out of venues to host these events. While these spaces ensure a decent venue where you can reach the right audience, a booking in Lamakaan, for instance, needs to be done at least two months in advance. This brings us to the great news — this shortage of space has led others to look for ways to provide other options. We speak with Nayantara Nandakumar, Malik Posanipalli and Raj Janagam who have opened up two unique cultural spaces in the city.

Learning and doing

Nayantara Nandakumar’s belief that it is important to preserve our wealth of cultural knowledge and heritage led her to open up Our Sacred Space in January 2013. An engineer and trained Odissi dancer who has performed on many stages in India and abroad, she feels dancing gives her a feeling of “peace, harmony and good health”. “Urban spaces need that,” she says. While the place is mainly a platform for classical and folk art, Nayantara opens her doors to anyone doing work with ‘substance’. Visit on a weekend and you can expect to watch anything from a classical dance performance, a play or a performance combining both theatre and dance. The principal activity of the space, however, is grounded in Nayantara’s belief that the best way to preserve any sort of knowledge is to spread it. During the week, the place is abuzz with classes from Odissi, Carnatic music or Ikebana, to visual arts, meditation and yoga.

Urban ashram

Roots, located near Osmania University, can be best described as a collective built on the principles of sharing and sustainability. “These spaces already exist in rural areas where community living and resource sharing is a practice but in cities we have to make the space for that,” adds Rajkumar Janagam. With each of its four floors serving a specific purpose to this end, Roots is an experiment in ‘place-making’, informs Malik Posanipalli. The ground floor houses a green recording studio and a jam room open to musicians.

“The studio will be open to folk and indigenous musicians for free, while we also allow bands which perform western music for a nominal fee.” From Monday to Friday, the first floor functions as a co-working space where young entrepreneurs and freelancers can rent out desk spaces, with power backup, Wifi and a conference room, at about Rs.3,000 a month.

“The idea is to create a productive environment for everyone that uses it,” says Raj. For this reason, curating those who have access to the space is also important, he adds. The third floor which houses the offices of Roots and Unlimited Hyderabad, an NGO run by Raj, is also open for movie screenings and small theatre performances while the terrace doubles up as a studio for artists as well as a space for hobby classes. The place is also open to people who want to hold workshops or networking events. While there is ample focus on cultural activities, Roots focuses on promoting the sustainability.

“We don't charge many people for using the place but we expect them to contribute to the place in kind, or with ideas,” informs Raj. Roots also has a completely organic garden, store and café on their premises.

Cultural centres

Apart from these, cafés and restaurants like Truffles in Jubilee Hills and Coffee Cup in Sainikpuri are happy to open their doors to books clubs and hobbyists and others like Books and More in Secunderabad double up as libraries and activity centres ensuring there is something to do every weekend.

Books n More - Maredpally

Treasure House - Jubilee Hills

Swecha - Gachibowli

Kalpatharu - Hobby Hut - Banjara Hills

Coffee Cup - Sainikpuri

Plantation House - Banjara Hills