School and college alumni reunions are commonplace; neighbourhood families coming together after decades is not. In a first of its kind, nearly 200 residents of the Erramanzil Colony who lived in the government quarters between 1957 and 2020 attended a reunion at the colony's Community Hall on October 16, 2022.
Good cheer, camaraderie and squeals of laughter reverberated at the venue as people, young and old exchanged pleasantries and recalled the time that they all spent together in the colony. It was literally a walk down memory lane as the erstwhile residents walked through the lanes and bylanes of the colony, checked out their houses, clicked photographs and excitedly showed their children the play areas, cycling paths and their hangout spots.
Fading into history
Amid the excitement of revisiting the colony, there was sadness as well at seeing the dilapidated condition of some houses and the knowledge that the entire residential area will soon give way to a new venture undertaken by the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIIMS) for their expansion plans.
Though a part of the land had been in the possession of NIIMS since the 1980s, it is only now that the Department of Health, Medical and Family Welfare, Government of Telangana has become proactive with plans to develop the facility in the 36-acre land.
The few residents who still live in the quarters received a notice to vacate, following the demolition notification from the government, last month. “This is when it struck us that our houses will be history very soon and we wanted to gather all the old residents and create an opportunity for everyone to visit the colony one last time,” says Laxman Reddy, who along with his colony-mate Rampuram Srinivas Goud planned the Sunday reunion.
It was not easy to trace the residents of 92 houses who have spread across the globe. Different WhatsApp group messages and endless phone calls resulted in three generations of residents flocking to the colony for the reunion. Says Goud, “We expected some 60 to 70 of them to respond and attend but seeing nearly 200 of them was overwhelming. The bonding that Erramanzil colony residents shared was unique. I don’t think anything like this has ever happened in other residential colonies in the city.”
Following the formation of Andhra Pradesh in 1956 with Kurnool as the capital, there were a large number of government employees from the erstwhile Madras state, Coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana who formed a diverse workforce. Eventually, when Hyderabad became the capital, various locations in the city were selected to build quarters to accommodate the employees. Erramanzil was one such locality. It was named after the famed Irrum Manzil Palace (later known as Chief Engineers Office) built by Nawab Fakhr-ul Mulk in 1870.
The colony came up in 1957 at the foot of the palace in the vast expanse that extended from Punjagutta to Banjara Hills. The first-generation occupants, with their multi-regional background, laid a foundation that was to become the social fabric and cosmopolitan characteristic of Hyderabad. Children born after 1957 either went to Erramanzil Government School, Rajbhavan School or Saraswati Vidya Mandir. Those who preferred English medium education enrolled in Holy Mary Girls High School (Saifabad) , St Ann’s (Vijayanagar colony), All Saint’s, St George’s Grammar School and Mehboobia - all located in Abids and within a five-kilometre distance.
A Montessori prep school behind the Motilal building (next to the Khairatabad RTA office) laid a foundation for most pre-schoolers while a nursing home run by the nuns of JMJ Society within their convent premises offered medical and maternity care to the colony residents. The most sought-after colony library, Lakshmipuram Patanalayam nurtured many a reading pursuit and served as a meeting ground.
"We hope the unity and harmony that our parents displayed as a community living in Erramanzil Colony, get passed on to our next generation," says Goud who plans to organise more such gatherings of the erstwhile colony residents.