Vijayawada

Kotaveedhi residents know no boundaries

Symbol of Harmony : An ancient temple, church and a Masjid built on the same hill at the Port Area in Visakhapatnam.   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

The ‘Idgah’ (ground where prayers are offered) in Kotaveedhi, a 300-year-old colony in the city, is probably one among a few places in the world where Hindus wait outside the ground to convey the first Id greetings to Muslim residents of the colony after morning prayers on Ramzan day.

“This has been the tradition for the last few decades, probably centuries, and I have been witnessing it for the last 60 years,” said 75-year-old Md. Alikhan, who claims that his ancestors were fauzdars in Aurangzeb’s army and have settled down in Kotaveedhi in the 17th century.

Kotaveedhi is unique, as it has sizeable population of both Hindus and Muslims and since beginning the residents have never experienced any kind of communal undercurrents, irrespective of the developments across the nation or the world.

“We have lived as one community and we participate in festivals without any religious barriers. We have Hindus participating in Id celebration and in the development of the Abusarang Mosque and we actively take part in Ganesh puja and Dasara,” said M.A. Rasool, State secretary of BJP Minority Cell and a resident of Kotaveedhi. And to symbolise the communal harmony, three shrines from three different faiths — Hindu, Muslim and Christian — stand on one single hill range that forms the background of the settlement.

In the lower level of the range stands the Sri Lord Venkateswara Swamy temple that was built some time in the mid 19th century and an officer of the British East India Company Captain Blackmoor had played a key role in the building of the temple.

View of historians

Midway up the hill is the Baba Ishq Madina Dargah and a mosque that dates back to the period of Aurangzeb. Locals say Alamgir (Aurangzeb) had built the mosque, as Wakf records point out that the Moghul emperor had donated sizeable quantity of land and money to the Yarada Mokhasadars for maintenance of the mosque. But historians say the mosque could have been built earlier as the date on the headstone of a grave at the mosque read as September 9, 1257.

At the peak of the hill is the Hill Chapel. Initially, built as a residential bungalow by an Englishman by name Mr. Ross in 1864, it was later converted to a catholic church and named as Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

“The three shines at one place are not only symbol of communal harmony, but are religious places visited by people from all faiths. We believe that the Dargah protects fishermen and the city from the vagaries of the sea and we come regularly and offer our prayers. And for us religion is just a nomenclature and has nothing to do with our friendship,” said Ch. Appalanaidu, a resident of the colony.

That was how people of Kotaveedhi taught us to live and have set standards on communal harmony for the entire city. Though the three shrines have been separated due to roads and railway tracks cutting through, they still do have a positive impact on people, said MLA Vasupalli Ganesh.

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 4:12:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/kotaveedhi-residents-know-no-boundaries/article19151335.ece

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