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During lockdown, explore Hyderabad through virtual heritage walks

A file photo of Golconda Fort teeming with visitors   | Photo Credit: K V S Giri

Did you know that the Qutb Shahi rulers of erstwhile Golconda kingdom had camels, despite the fact that they were not reigning over a desert kingdom? Golconda was on the principal caravan route called the spice route, connecting Masulipatnam on the east coast with Surat on the west. Camels were preferred for the caravans since they can withstand long journeys without frequent water and food requirements. Nuggets of information like these were revealed during the heritage walk conducted by Hyderabad Trails on Sunday. It was a virtual heritage walk, unravelling on Twitter, complying with the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Hyderabad Trails kicked off its series of virtual heritage walks on World Heritage Day, April 18, with a walk to Charminar. Hyderabad Trails intends to continue these virtual walks until it’s safe to venture out for group heritage walks again. After Charminar and Golconda, the next one is likely to be in Hussaini Alam, on International Mother’s Day, May 10.

A B Gopalakrishna, the founder of Hyderabad Trails, was a tad hesitant when the idea of a virtual walk on Twitter was floated by Andrew Fleming, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. “He would attend our heritage walks and live tweet, sharing around 25 to 30 tweets with images, information and keep it interactive through questions. He was confident that we could try out a similar method,” says Gopalakrishna.

Hyderabad Trails has stayed active on Facebook and Instagram in the past, but not on Twitter. This time, Gopalakrishna decided to give it a try. He knew that it would be a little more challenging to get the attention of online users than while having a real group of walkers who meet at a heritage site.

Gopalakrishna looked at the past walks, gathered photographs and information and decided to conduct the virtual walk like he would a real one. It began with brief introductions, supported by a photograph of a few walkers who were the early birds at Golconda Fort’s entrance, waiting for the others to join.

Back in time
  • Virtual heritage walks: The next virtual walk will be held on International Mother’s Day, May 10, to Hussaini Alam.
  • Stories of India: The new series will recap the history of different cities. Gopal Singh will talk about Bikaner, Sivakumar Sethuraman on Chennai, and Gopalakrishna on Hyderabad. The talks will be supported by photographs of these cities through the ages. Other cities such as Jaipur, Delhi, Kolkata, Bhopal and Aurangabad are in the pipeline.

The virtual walk continued for over two hours, through a series of tweets with photographs and interactive questions and anecdotes from history. “During a real walk, now and then people would share stories that they have heard or read, pertaining to a historical site. We tried to bring in that interactive nature online through questions and answers,” says Gopalakrishna.

Nearly 300 Twitter users engaged with the virtual walk over its two and a half hour duration, with at least 40 people responding at a given point of time.

Stories of India

Gopalakrishna wants to continue these virtual walks. He also intends to do a ‘Stories of India’ online talk series by inviting experts from different cities and bringing to fore history insights of different locations in India.

Recently, Hyderabad Trails conducted one such online talk on the history of Warangal, in Telugu, peppered with Telugu poetry. “That’s when I thought it would be interesting to engage people with stories from different regions of the country,” says Gopalakrishna.

Stories of India aims to contextualise India’s history through its geography. Expect to listen in to stories of origin of a city and its history, from those who conduct heritage walks in different cities.

(Check @HyderabadTrails on Twitter, their Facebook page and @hyderabadtrails on Instagram for details)

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 8:39:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/during-lockdown-explore-hyderabad-through-virtual-heritage-walks/article31452509.ece

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