Posted on: 1 August 2013

Digital Rare Book:
Modern Hyderabad (Deccan)
By John Law
Published by Thacker, Spink & Co., Calcutta - 1914

Book extract:

After the terrible flood of 1908, which was the highest and most disastrous that had occurred in Hyderabad for at least three-quarters of a century, and which was caused by the overflow of the river Musi, that generally runs in a small, turgid stream below the city wall, the government of His Highness the late Nizam engaged the services of Mr. M. Visvesvaraya, Superintending Engineer, P.W.D., Bombay (now Dewan of Mysore), to advise and assist in the reconstruction of the city and to devise measures for the prevention of the recurrence of such a terrible catastrophe. He was ably assisted by Mr. Ahmed Ali, now secretary to government, P. W. D., Hyderabad, and after much investigation and deliberation these gentlemen gave it as their opinion that the immunity of Hyderabad city from flood must come from the construction of flood catchment areas in the basin above the city, and they proposed to construct two such reservoirs a few miles above the capital, which would be large enough to store all the water ordinarily available for developing irrigation in the valley, and these reservoirs were to cost 56 lakhs of rupees for flood prevention and 45 lakhs for irrigation.

On his accession to the gaddi, H. H. the present Nizam sanctioned a portion of this scheme, namely, the damming of the river Musi at Gundipett, a project having as its dual object the mitigation of the possible inundation of the city by flood and the supply of pure drinking water to the populations of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

On March 23rd, 1913, His Highness the Nizam laid the first stone of the Osman Saugar Reservoir, in the presence of the Hon'ble the British Resident, H. E. the Minister, the members of His Highness's government and the leading inhabitants of the city and its suburbs.

An address was read by A. T. Mackenzie, Esq., Superintending Engineer, Irrigation Branch, P. W. D., and he said :

" Your Highness, Colonel Pinhey, ladies and gentlemen, - The history of this work will not take long to relate. It began in calamity. Let us hope it may end in blessing. None who were here will ever forget the disastrous flood of September 1908. I need not descant upon the loss of life and property, the widespread havoc and suffering it caused. It was the talk of the world. His Highness the late Nizam and his advisers determined then and there that everything humanly possible must be done to prevent such another catastrophe, and in this determination and in the action it called forth none took a greater part than one who has now left Hyderabad but who retains - I have it from his own lips and all who knew him will be certain of it without his declaration - who retains, I say,- a deep and loving interest in this State and its inhabitants, for whom he did so much. I refer to Sir George Casson Walker. (Applause.) Without him it is not too much to say that this work would never have come into being and with his name must be coupled that of his successor, Mr. Glancy. (Applause.)

" His late Highness's advisers were fortunate in the officer selected to plan a method of protection. The choice fell upon Mr. Visvesvaraya, one of the ablest of India's engineers, a man who would make his mark in any walk of life, and who is now doing splendid service as Dewan of Mysore. It is to him that we are indebted for the scheme which we are now commencing. The details have been published in the form of a report which all may read and which need not be recapitulated here. In this report he has borne cordial testimony to the great assistance he received from Mr. Ahmed Ali and to the high qualities shewn by that officer in the course of the investigation.

"Mr. Visvesvaraya's scheme has not been materially altered. It has, however, received an addition of great importance. The occasion has been seized not only to protect the city from floods but also to provide it with a pure and bountiful supply of drinking water, the first requisite of health and well-being in any country, but in India above all. We hope that in four years the city of Hyderabad and the cantonment of Secunderabad will be blessed with a supply of water that for purity, copiousness and permanence, can challenge comparison with any town in the East. (Applause.)

"A word may be permitted concerning the magnitude of the work. For this is no light undertaking. In no part of the world would it be a small matter to dam up a river draining nearly 300 sq. miles of country and subject to violent floods, with a wall 125 feet high, to transform it into a placid lake three or four times the area of the Husain Saugar, and capable of containing ten times the quantity of water, to construct a covered conduit twelve miles long, and a pipe system for nearly a million people. There have been big engineering works carried out in India. This in its boldness and width of view is as big as any. It may be confidently asserted that it is by far the biggest thing ever done in
Hyderabad. Your Highness will be glad to know that you have in Mr. Dalai an officer eminently capable of bringing this great effort to a successful conclusion, and in this I speak with knowledge, for I have seen and studied and admired the difficult and arduous enterprise of a similar nature that he has already carried out in Mysore.

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Photograph of a street in Hyderabad looking towards the Char Minar, taken by Deen Dayal in the 1880s. This is from the Curzon Collection: 'Views of HH the Nizam's Dominions, Hyderabad, Deccan, 1892'. Hyderabad was founded beside the River Musi in 1591 by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (r.1580-1612) as an alternative to his capital at Golconda. The town was laid out in a grid pattern with two main roads running east to west and north to south; the Char Minar, or Four Towers, sits at the intersection of these two roads. This ceremonial strucuture was built in 1591 to mark the centre of the city. It comprises four imposing arched portals with arcaded storeys and geometric screens above. The four corner minarets, crowned with domical finials, contain spiral staircases opening onto triple tiers of balconies. The Mecca mosque, begun in 1617, can be seen to the right of this image.

Hyderabad was founded besides the River Musi in Andhra Pradesh in 1591 by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (1562-1612) as a more salubrious alternative to his capital at Golconda. The town was laid out in an unusual grid pattern with two main roads running east to west and north to south, at the intersection of which was Hyderabad's most famous building, the Char Minar (1591). Hyderabad was made up of four sections; the north-western section was set apart for royal palaces and state offices; the north-eastern for residencies of the nobles. It was an extremely prosperous and cosmopolitan city attracting merchants from Asia and Europe. Many of the city's buildings were destroyed as it expanded and much more was destroyed in the disastrous flooding of 1908.

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Bundle of Historical Information ... ! Thanx.. for sharing such a useful book...!

Excellent book..

Another Treasure of information on Sir MV.

Oh, Hyderabad was already developed? Till now, I was thinking that we were leaving in tents as per the claims.