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This society strives to protect rocks of Deccan Plateau

Last Updated : 19 November 2018, 09:38 IST
Last Updated : 19 November 2018, 09:38 IST

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Rocks are protected as a natural heritage only in Hyderabad

“Rocks are not just barren and lifeless monoliths with only an aesthetic or sentimental value, but a plethora of life forms,” said Siraj Taher, former president of Birdwatcher’s Society of Andhra Pradesh. 

The picturesque rocky hillocks of Hyderabad and the surrounding enviro­ns have been subjected to intense urbanisation, damaging the environment of the living biota and non-living rocks as they have inter-related biodiversity sustena­nce systems. Banjara and Jubilee Hills are the latest testimony to urbanisation activity that affected the equilibrium in these surrounding areas.

Although the government is taking care of some monuments of historical importance, the adjoining areas have been subjected to severe anthropogenic activities, including quarrying. A number of locations call for attention of the planners of the urban development in their conservation and protection program­mes in Hyderabad.

The rock formations in Hyderabad come in many different shapes and sizes. While a heavy rock stands precariously over a smaller football-sized boulder, the other looks like a puppy and yet another looks like a burger with many layers. These granite rocks of the Deccan Plateau, in which Hyderabad is a part, are amongst the oldest in the world.
Geologists date these rocks to 2,500 million years back. That is the time when the earth’s crust solidified. Molten magma then pushed upwards from the interior and hardened under the crust into domes and sheets of granite.

Horizontal and vertical cracks developed. When, slowly, the top layers of the crust eroded, and these very hard granites were expo­sed, they weathered over millions of years into their present forms. This happened along their horizontal and vertical cracks during “onion peel weathering” (or spheroidal weathering), rounding the stones and leading to bizarre formations.

In all, 25 different rocks and rock formations in and around the City of Nizams are now protected under the heritage tag of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority, which seeks a report from an NGO “Society to Save Rocks,” a group of around 300 artists, photographers and environmentalists determined to save the rocks.

The society aims to preserve and protect the spectacular ancient granite formations of the Deccan Plateau.

“We try to impress upon people and authorities that one need not destroy rocks for development but can live with them,” says society secretary Frauke Quader. The society, formed in 1992, succeeded in impressing upon landowners, developers and the government that beautiful granite boulders could be preserved in houses, gardens, colonies and park areas.

Hillocks around Durgam Cheruvu, a lake situated between Jubilee Hills and Hitec city, Rock Park Hillock on Old Bombay Road, near Gachibowli; Bear’s Nose, a formation behind Cyber Tower, Hitec City and Pathar Dil Rock, Gachibowli are among the 25 Heritage rocks protected by the government.

A few rocks were saved from destruction by some concerned citizens by building their houses, hotels and guest houses around these rocks. Senior IAS officer Narendra Luther’s Wall of Rock in his house in Banjara Hills and the magnifice­nt atrium of Taj Deccan hotel come under this category. Mahakali Temple in Golco­nda Fort and Pahadi Sheriff Darga are a few places of worship built in the rocks.

“The criterion of selection is that they should not be artificially carved. Should have aesthetic and balanced look,” Quader says. The society saved Fakruddingutta, a wonderful rock formation from going to a SEZ, by objecting to the prop­osal. “Then came the proposal for construction of a colony for IAS officers. Due to our fight they agreed to shift to another place. We have proposed a rock park, a breathing space for the common man at the hillock,” she added.

“On my very first visit to the site, the rocks beckoned me to dialogue with them. I requested my clients to acquire more land to make the rocks an integral part of the design. Making the rocks the focal point was my way of paying homage to the million-year-old natural heritage,” says Shirish R Beri, architect who desig­ned LaCONES, an annexe of CCMB set up by Government of India at Attapur.

The AP government has taken the first step by including rock areas in Regulation No 13 of the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (HUDA) for the protection of Heritage Buildings and Precincts. Hyderabad is the only city in India where rocks are protected as a
natural heritage. HMDA, the municipal corporation and the Tourism Department have already started developing rock gardens in the city. The first nine formations proposed by the society in 1997 are now protected under Regulation 13 of the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority Zoning Regulations 1981.

The friends of rocks organise “Rock Walks” to create awareness that rocks are fun to be around. These walks are treks to different rocky areas in and around Hyderabad. The walks are on the third Sunday of every month.

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Published 10 August 2013, 17:46 IST

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