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Metro Plus    Chennai    Hyderabad   

At home amidst rocks

Frauke Quader, a German who settled in Hyderabad years ago, espouses the cause of the rocks. As these natural formations are in peril, she advocates the protection of the beautiful rockscapes of the Deccan.

ROCK SOLID: Frauke Quader is enchanted with the Deccan landscape.

I LIVED as a child in Germany in a house in the woods and would spend my free time mainly outdoors, lazing in the grass under the green leafy canopy or climbing trees; and in winter ice-skating on the frozen pond in the nearby meadows.

I went on to study languages in Cologne, one of the metros of my country, and I realised that having grown up amidst nature made me feel uneasy living in big cities.

When I joined the German Foreign Office and was posted to Brussels, I would spend my weekends at the seaside rather than in theatres and museums and I was quite happy after four years to go back to sleepy Bonn with long walks along the river Rhine in the evenings, the Seven Mountains looming on the other bank.

New Delhi was my last tenure with the German Foreign Office - this mixture of country side and super city, where I had the good fortune to work in the open green atmosphere of Chanakyapuri and live in Hauz Khas which was at that time still surrounded by fields dotted with centuries-old little tombs and ruins brought alive by the haunting call of the peacocks.

Settling down in Hyderabad with my Hyderabadi husband brought a whole change of lifestyle, of raising a family. But Hyderabad, though enormous in population, offers you a unique and wonderful slice of nature right in and close to the city. The Deccan's 2,500 million-year-old boulders, precariously perched on top of each other is a wonder that no other city can boast of. How my two sons and their friends would enjoy outings to the rocks and the excitement of adventurous climbs and treks!

Over the years, seeing the gradual destruction of this beautiful landscape, the realisation grew that something must be done to save these sculptures of nature, that the notion of rocks being just building material was not acceptable, that landscape protection which is a government policy in Western countries must become part of government policy here too.

I joined a group of rock enthusiasts - mainly artists and environmentalists - in 1992, and we started awareness programmes through media, painting and photo competitions and cultural programmes against the backdrop of rocks.

To be more effective, we officially founded the Society to Save Rocks in 1996, and since then, members from all walks of life have joined to help spread the message through many awareness programmes as well as through work with the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad Urban Development Authority and other local bodies.

Hyderabad, a city on the move, must consider not only increasing facilities for industrial and business expansion, but also keep in mind that recreation, preservation of heritage - man-made and natural, the need of citizens for lung space, beauty of nature and adventure are of as great importance. And rock areas are the ideal raw material to satisfy these needs.

From advocating the protection of the rocky landscape of the city, the Society to Save Rocks has now moved to doing a systematic scientific survey of rock areas in all the "rocky" districts of Andhra Pradesh.

The survey takes into account the geological, zoological, botanical and sociological importance in order to find the rock areas most suitable for extensive nature, adventure and tourist parks.

I grew up in the green woods, but I love the majestic, bare, piled-up rocks of the Deccan. And believe me, there are uncountable citizens - Hyderabadis, outsiders, foreigners - who love them too.

Locals, who have those fond childhood memories of roaming the vast Hyderabadi rockscapes or climbing the nearby adventurous boulder to catch more of the evening breeze, others who come and see and are stunned at the unique stone formations nature has created for us billions of years ago.

The writer is Secretary, Society to Save Rocks.

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