The image of a young Prince in love braving the mighty river known for the turbulence of its swirling waters, to meet his beloved, the beautiful Bhagmati, residing in a humble village called Chichlam from a romance steeped legend is etched in the memory of all Hyderabadis.
It was the crossing of the Musi that got Quli Qutb Shah the love of his life, as his father thought it safer to have her on his side of the river bank rather than risk his son’s life to the river.
If Quli Qutub Shah’s lovelorn river crossing led ultimately to the construction of “Bhagyanagar” which became “Hyderabad”, the devastation wrought by Musi’s 1908 floods led to the then Nizam roping in Mokshagundam Vishweshwariah who became the architect of urban planning that transformed Hyderabad into a beautiful well planned city.
Legend and history apart Musi was a vibrant, flowing river bringing beauty and cadence through the ebb and flow of its water and adding to its rich cultural mosaic of poetry, music and “Deccani tehzeeb”
Today there are historians who debunk the legend of Bhagamati, the river waters have lost their form, politicians repeat the never “put into action” plans and environmentalists continue their crusade for “revival”. Except those from its hoary past who regale us with “Musi Tales” flavoured with a touch of nostalgia, many of us have never seen the “Musi flow”. Like the mythical “Saraswati’ known as “Antharvahini” (inward flowing) it remains elusive to our naked eyes.
What’s worse – its surroundings and water puddles remain a “Sign board”. Musi like the ruined palaces of the past is a “river in ruin”— a pathetic reminder of better days and better times. With industrial effluents and sewer filling its catchment area it is home to ‘Several pathogenic” bacteria making it one of the world’s most polluted rivers. How a clear, powerful river from its origin in the Ananthagiri Hills of Telangana became Musi after losing its original name (Muchukunda) is a story of neglect and apathy going back to several decades.
A life line to the people surrounding it and its environs, Musi had a 20km flow in Hyderabad passing through Rangareddy, Hyderabad and Nalgonda districts over a distance of 266 km before joining the Krishna River at Wadepally in Nalgonda. In its days of glory Musi had several barrages built on its downstream irrigating more than fifty villages in the vicinity. The riverfront was said to have been designed on the lines of the River Thames in London while a retaining wall built for flood control between Puranapul and Chaderghat bridges gave it a ‘Paris’ like look.
Indiscriminate encroachment and apathy managed to ebb life away from a river that once flowed gloriously with its bed being home to lush green lawns, fruit laden orchards, parks and gardens. Have we ever seen them? We have only seen these things “in our mind’s eye” and “master plans” that remain on paper.
In recent times the ornate granite walls around the river have been removed, the river bed encroached and a bus station and metro rail station are coming up on its banks. Instead of making efforts to revive the river our policy makers are reclaiming the area to build shopping complexes and residential apartments on its “waterless” watery foundations. Environmentalists like Dr D Narasimha Reddy warn of a huge environmental disaster resulting from these encroachments.
“A full monsoon season can wipe out the “real estate” gains, add to human misery, entail enormous costs to both the government and the people and destroy the entire area around the river” according to him. The outer ring road has already destroyed many canals, streams and water flow avenues reducing Musi to a giant sewer for dumping effluents from almost 12,000 industries in the catchment area. More important than beautification are efforts to rid the area of pollution affecting crops, vegetation, health and habitat around the river.
Rivers have been our lifeline. Perennially flowing rivers have been called “jeeva nadis” (eternally flowing and life giving) and revered as “vahinis” (flow) that symbolize plentitude. The “Nadi Stuti” (Ode to rivers) in the “Rig Veda” is a string of verses paying a tribute to our rivers.
The following two verses reflect our reverence
“Captivating brilliant, your greatness spreads all over, you fill the coffers,
Unbounded rivers, active like untiring horses,
You look picturesque and wonderfully beautiful”
“Happiness and pleasure, you give us both, noble rivers, Your water we sprinkle around our food Great is your glory Oh waters,
Unbounded, unstoppable, is the fame you carry” (Source: Kant Singh)
It is not enough to make grandiose statements about our hoary past. It is time we made amends and reclaim our rich legacy destroyed through our own folly. Restoring the river to its pristine glory and helping us see its majestic flow is the responsibility of those who spin dreams of a “golden state”. The flowing river will be an effort blessed by gods, environmentalists and all concerned citizens.#KhabarLive