The Hussainsagar of the yore

A look back: Hussainsagar lake in the city was used as a recreational and leisure space in the 1890s.

A look back: Hussainsagar lake in the city was used as a recreational and leisure space in the 1890s.  

University of Utah professor delivers lecture on ‘Hydro-Social History of Water in the Deccan’

It was a step back in time on the history of Hussainsagar as Benjamin Cohen delivered a guest lecture on ‘Hydro-Social History of Water in the Deccan’ at University of Hyderabad on Tuesday.

Using archival images, Mr. Cohen spoke about the deep relationship the region has with water and its use as a recreational and leisure space. He began with a newspaper report about a swimmer called Farell, who took up the challenge of swimming in the Hussainsagar in the last decade of the nineteenth century. He swam for nearly two hours before emerging at the other end of the lake where the Nizam was watching his progress. “Can you imagine anyone swimming in the lake? I cannot,” said Mr. Cohen, who teaches at the University of Utah and has published two books on the region.

He also detailed one of the first reports to be drawn up by the government to protect the lake, which was a source of water for the city in 1890s.

“The plan was to fence the Hussainsagar to prevent people from coming in contact with the water. The fencing plan didn’t take into consideration latitude or longitude, but used the residences on the edge of the lake as markers. The fence was to pass in front of Pendelbury’s house, Sardar Diler Jung’s house, Mehdi Hasan’s house and also a small village called Saifabad,” informed Mr. Cohen.

Resettling people

The first plan to save the Hussainsagar also involved resettling the people who washed clothes in the lake to an area downstream. The cattle owners were expected to look for an alternative space for grazing their animals.

Sharing another vignette, Mr. Cohen read out the contents of the letters exchanged between the British resident James Achilles Kirpatrick and his brother William. An excerpt from the letter written by James in November 1798: “The pleasure boat is expected any day. It is not my intention to put it in the Musi which is so rocky and rapid, which is unnavigable. But Hussainsagar which now a very fine piece of water.”

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 8:35:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/the-hussainsagar-of-the-yore/article28692637.ece

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