The lake that formed the insurance policy of the Qutb Shahi rulers is just a remnant of its glorious past. Serish Nanisetti discovers more about what was the Secret Lake

Amidst boulders that appear like children's game of seven stones, and as sun roasts everything under it, there is no sound sweeter than that of murmuring, gurgling, rushing water after a hike. You cannot see it but the sound fills you with delight and hope just as scampering whistling teals and jacanas noisily fight for turf. A 20-minute walk off the Old Bombay highway brings you to the other end of the Durgam Cheruvu. Not the tourism spot, not the spot where IT offices and a mall girdle the lake but the spot from where you can see Golconda Fort at a distance. While the Baradari of Golconda is visible for miles across, this edge of the lake which is almost on the same gradient remains unnoticed. Visitors to the lake assume it is a natural lake but it isn't. The high bund proves how the Qutb Shahi rulers created water insurance for their fort city channelizing the water from here to their fort.

The gurgling water running in the channel hewn out of rock looks pure as it flows down the channel. The small canal takes birth at the mouth of Durgam Cheruvu where a bund holds back the water. Earlier, there were two sluice gates, now only one is in existence. The other got filled in after portion of a 400-year-old mosque collapsed. The water would flow into a tank and fill it up, but instead of a spillway, the water would flow through the channel under pressure. Now, the water leaves the lake at a lower level violating the principle followed by Persian hydrologists who released water with higher pressure, now the water just tumbles out without pressure.

The modern sluice gate is at a lower level that has the effect of reducing the lake level freeing up acres of land. On Monday morning, two workers of Tourism Department were clearing up the debris clogging the outlet. “We do this every four days,” they say as they use a net and stick contraption to remove polythene sheets, used shoes, clothes and other rubbish.What happens if they don't do this? The tourists who reach the lake edge will get an even fouler dosage of stink, the green water level will rise thanks to the inflows of sewerage from the nearby complexes. During the 2006 monsoon, the lake flooded its surrounding areas leaving a few apartment complexes submerged when the lake level reached 23 feet while the full reservoir level is 28 feet. A few ancient steps take you down to the edge of the sluice gate which is a cement and concrete mound with an iron gate. The collapse of one sluice gate has meant the principle of symmetry is lost. The flow is no longer over the latticed structures that controlled the flow as well had aesthetic appeal.

Up in the hillocks, on a Sunday morning sits Yadaiah near the small temple of Katta Maisamma (katta = bund). He narrates how the bund allows the water to rise up to the level of Golconda and points to a location from where the baradari becomes visible. He remembers the time when the rock hewn wells and structures created cascades, water screens and gurgling streams to delight the occasional picnickers. Now you can admire the lake from a garden restaurant in a mall and say wow!

(Next week, from Durgam Cheruvu to Katora Houz)