Category Archives: Historical Links / Pre-Independence

His voice, a capsule of tribal histories

Ramachandraiah is probably the last such singer left in A.P. and Telangana

Sakine Ramachandraiah could easily have been awarded honorary doctorate by any university. An unlettered man from Koonavaram village of Manuguru mandal of Bhadradri Kothagudem district, Ramachandraiah has oral histories of the Koya tribe on the tip of his tongue.

One only has to mention the story to have it cascade effortlessly from his vocal chambers, in Telugu as well as Koya language.

Belonging to the ‘Doli’ sub-division of the Koya tribe, which has been traditionally ordained with the duty of reciting the tribe’s clan histories, Ramachandraiah is probably the last such singer left in the two states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

“Some times, I cross the State border to perform in Chhattisgarh, where people want the songs in Koya language,” Ramachandraiah says.

He sings at marriages, at funerals, and he always sings at the biennial Medaram Jathara also known as the ‘Sammakka Saralamma Jathara’, which is touted as the world’s largest repeat congregation of tribal communities. The Medaram Jathara is to be held from January 31 to February 3 this year, at Eturunagaram of Jayashankar Bhupalpally district.


The Doli community is described as ‘professional beggars’ among Koyas by the Godavari District Gazette of 1896. Though their duties are priest-like and along with ‘Oddis’— the superior priest class — they can be classified as the ‘literate’ in the tribe, their status is still considered ‘inferior’.

Doli men sing oral histories based on the ‘Padige’s or pictorial scrolls inherited by various communities over centuries.

“Earlier, Doli families used to live in a hamlet called ‘Soppala’.

Now, nobody lives there. Few are left who can recite oral histories as accurately as Ramachandraiah,” says Jayadhir Tirumala Rao, academic and researcher of tribal communities.

Prof. Tirumala Rao is spearheading a project to document the oral history of ‘Sammakka-Saralamma’ as told by Ramachandraiah, and he vouches that the story, if fleshed out from the myth it is enmeshed in, could substantially aid historical research.

“Sammakka-Saralamma story is about the war waged against the Kakatiya dynasty by tribal women who challenged king Prataparudra when he had levied tax on them for the tanks he had got constructed in their forests. The Koya tribe had then lived on hunting-gathering, and never cultivated any land.

So, the king sought to send outsiders into the forest for cultivation, which was the last straw on the camel’s back. This story comes out very clearly from the song recited by Ramachandraiah,” Prof. Tirumala Rao says.

Apart from ‘Sammakka-Saralamma’, the balladeer sings the stories of tribal warriors such as Gari Kamaraju, Pagididda Raju, Irama Raju, Gaadi Raju, Bapanamma, Musalamma, Nagulamma, Sadalamma and others. He also knows and recites the stories behind the endogamous tribal sub-divisions and their surnames. “Now, nobody wants to sing the stories. Even my own son refuses to follow the tradition,” Ramachandraiah laments.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Telangana / by Swathi Vadlamudi / January 10th, 2018

First Mahatma Gandhi digital store opened

Ela Gandhi and Jayesh Ranjan inaugurating the store. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Information Technology secretary Jayesh Ranjan on Tuesday inaugurated the country’s first Mahatma Gandhi Mobile Digital Museum Store at Bapu Ghat in the city.

A joint venture of the Visual Quest India and Aditya Birla Group’s corporate social responsibility initiative Eternal Gandhi, the digital store is aimed at spreading Gandhi’s ideology and teachings. Souvenirs inspired by the ‘Father of the Nation’, crafted to reflect various facets of his life reflecting values of peace, truth and non-violence, would be put on sale. The income generated through the sale would be used for the mobile digital museum.

Gandhi’s granddaughter and former member of South African Parliament, Ela Gandhi, was present on the occasion. She recalled how Gandhi always believed that education was not all about learning, but a way of living. “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” she said, quoting her famous grandfather while addressing youths at the function.

Representatives of Aditya Birla Group and Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts were also present.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Telangana / by Special Correspondent / Hyderabad – December 20th, 2017

A movement that created groundwork for Telugu renaissance

Safety first: Bomb squad inspecting World Telugu Conference 2017 venue, L.B. Stadium, in the city with a sniffer dog on Monday. | Photo Credit: G_RAMAKRISHNA

Daasarathi made his entry as well as mark as a 19-year-old in 1944

In a world before WiFi, the Telangana Saraswatha Parishath in Boggulkunta, was the first free open public space for prose, poetry and literature in Hyderabad.

“Telugu poet Sri Sri used to come and speak here. Other well known Telugu littérateurs used it to perfect their craft and share their stories. This has been a training ground for legions of Telugu teachers. More than that the Parishath has held aloft the torch of Telugu literature,” says J. Chennaiah, secretary of the TSP in Boggulkunta area.

As Hyderabad gets ready to host the World Telugu Conference between December 15 and 19, the shaded alcove in front of the L-shaped building is deserted but inside it thrums with classrooms where a new generation of Telugu teachers are being created.

Born as a rebel movement out of the grand Andhra Mahasabha on May 26, 1943 , it was first called Nizam Rashtra Andhra Saraswatha Parishath (NRASP).

The NRASP was born in the small library hall of Reddy Hostel building. Sankaranarayana Rao, Boorgula Ranganadha Rao and B. Krishna Rao, who were the founding members of the Parishad, set the tone and tenor of the movement. The choice of location was ironical as the Nizam’s King Kothi was just yards away.

“The word Nizam was used because the Parishath wanted to limit its activities to the Telugu-speaking areas of the Nizam’s dominion. The Nizam was wary of groupings. He suspected that the language groups would be used to subvert his rule. The NRASP’s sole goal was literary as many of the founders discovered that the Andhra Mahasabha was more interested in political activities,” informs Mr. Chennaih.

What the Parishad was against became apparent when the next meeting was organised inside the Warangal Fort on December 29 and December 30, 1944. But before the meeting could get underway, the whole tented arrangement was burnt in the night.

“The next day, Kaloji Narayana Rao, Devulapalli Ramanuja Rao decided to conduct the meeting as if nothing happened. The Police Commissioner Raja Bahadur Venkatarama Reddy was the chief guest. It was also the first meeting, where Daasarathi made his entry as well as a mark as a 19-year-old,” says Mr. Chennaiah.

The annual event did not take place in 1948 as the Nizam launched a crackdown and then there was the Police Action.

The 1949 meeting in Toopran in February saw the name of the organisation changed to Andhra Saraswatha Parishath (ASP) and it created groundwork for Telugu renaissance. “It was at that meeting that a demand was made for compulsory Telugu up to Matric which the government agreed to. All the students who were studying Telugu at the ASP got jobs as teachers,” informs Mr. Chennaih.

The effort to turn Osmania University into a Central University with Hindi as a principal medium of instruction was again thwarted as the ASP created Citizens’ Committee and lobbied against the move.

“It is on record that the then Education Minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad shot down the idea of a Hindi University only after hearing out members of the ASP,” says Mr. Chenniah.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Hyderabad / by Serish Nanisetti / Hyderabad – December 12th, 2017

Focus on Telugu luminaries down the ages

World Telugu Conference welcome arches to feature personalities from across

Telugu personalities who illuminated Telugu language, literature and culture will get the pride of place in cities and towns across the State as Telangana is gearing up to host the prestigious World Telugu Conference-2017.

Kings, poets, writers, scholars, artistes and leaders who shaped the history, politics and culture of Telugu people and Telangana State will adorn 100 welcome arches in Hyderabad and other cities.

Another 200 hoardings with illustrious personalities from the Telugu States will come up in the city and across the State and in other metros like Chennai, Bangalore where significant number of Telugu people live. It is a way of paying tributes to them and educating and creating awareness among the young generation about their roots, says the organising committee of WTC.

Prominent names

Telangana Sahitya Academy is overseeing the display of arches and each welcome arch will be dedicated to one prominent person and it will depict the portrait and excerpts from their popular works. Hala King, poet Pampa, Prataparudra, Adikavi Palkuriki Somana, Bammera Pothana, Gona Budhareddy, Bhakta Kavi Ramadasu, Suravaram Pratapa Reddy, Vattikota Alwaruswamy, Kaloji, Oddiraju brothers, first Chief Minister of Hyderabad State Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, former Prime Minister and multifacted personality P.V.Narasimha Rao, renowned poets Dasharathi Krishnamacharya, C.Narayana Reddy and several other eminent persons will be the focus of the welcome arches.

Telugu poets Nannayya, Thikkana, Yerrapragada, Allasani Peddana, Vemana, poet composer Annamacharya, social reformer and writer Gurajada Apparao, revolutionary poet Sri Sri among others will beam across the arches evoking the pride of Telugu people congregating for the conference from across the world, they say.

Pillars decorated

The metro rail pillars will become alive with the landscape of Telangana, capturing its way of life, culture, festivals and folk arts and Hyderabad Metro Rail Authority is coordinating the work with artistes. Principal Secretary, Tourism and Culture, B.Venkatesham says all the welcome arches and hoardings will be in place by December 12 and the city will be beautified and decked up for the event celebrating the Telugu language.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Hyderabad / by M.L. Melly Maitreyi / Hyderabad – December 06th, 2017

All roads lead to Kondagattu shrine

Devotees make a beeline to the temple on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti

All roads leading to the historic Sri Anjaneya Swamy devasthanam in Kondagattu in Jagital turned saffron on Friday, with devotees making a beeline to the temple shrine ahead of Hanuman Jayanti on May 21.

Devotees started pouring in from various parts of the State as temple authorities launched the celebrations by conducting ‘homam,’ which would continue till Sunday. Predicting heavy rush on Sunday, many devotees were seen offering prayers at the temple shrine on Friday. Several Hanuman devotees wearing a mala were seen walking to the temple barefoot in the scorching heat as part of a ritual.

Temporary shelters

Devasthanam authorities, in coordination with the district administration and the police, made elaborate arrangements for the same. Temporary shelters were erected to protect the devotees from the sweltering heat. More than 750 police personnel were roped in for bandobust.

To avoid road mishaps, the police have decided to regulate traffic on the ghat road by restricting the entry of vehicles.

Parking spaces would be designated on the foothill of the shrine on the JNTU college road, Jagtial, and Karimnagar roads.

The police also installed 52 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras to keep vigil.

The temple authorities expect four lakh pilgrims to visit the temple on Hanuman Jayanti.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Telangana / by K.M. Dayashankar / Jagtial – May 19th, 2017

A tribute to Hyderabad braves

Lastng legacyTeen Murti memorial in New Delhi, The Second Lancers WW-I memorial in the cityVV Krishnan, KVS GiriV_V_Krishnan

A relook at the legacy of the Teen Murti Memorial in Delhi which has a Hyderabad connect

The Teen Murti Memorial in New Delhi is set to be renamed again. What was Imperial Cavalry Brigade Memorial and became Teen Murti Memorial after Independence, is to be renamed Teen Murti Haifa Chowk timed with the first ever visit of an Indian Prime Minister to Israel. The tinkering with the name of a war memorial will not change the glorious memory and the gallantry of Indian soldiers.

Hyderabad House is a well known landmark in New Delhi and is a venue for the reception of foreign dignitaries. The Teen Murti memorial’s link to Hyderabad is less well known. But as the roundabout with three lancers wearing pugrees and khaki shorts grabs the nation’s attention due to yet another renaming row, it is time to remember the legacy of the memorial and its Hyderabad connect.

Just outside the Jamali Kunta darwaza of Golconda in Hyderabad is the area known as Second Lancers. Dotted with low squat houses painted white — some with extensions and some in the same state they were constructed — it has a few houses that still bear the names of the original allotees. While most of the men with Jamadar, Dafadar honorofics are no longer alive, the houses currently occupied by their children and grandchildren still carry their nameplates. These were some of the soldiers who saw action in France and later in Egypt and what was Palestine. The lancers from Hyderabad were the first to sail and were part of the 15th Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade along with lancers drawn from Jodhpur and Mysore princely states. The Teen Murti celebrates the bravery of soldiers from these three princely states.

To call them brave would be an understatement. The great war’s first mechanised weapon was the machine gun that shot out hundreds of bullets in an arc. The lancers from Hyderabad and the other princely states armed with just lances and light weapons were no match for the rat-rat-rat of the machine gun that mowed down anything that moved. But these men stood up, fought and won. One of the most impressive victory was at Haifa on September 23, 1918 and for this the residents of the city still celebrate Haifa Day organised by Indian embassy.

It was not easy to rouse Hyderabad soldiers to fight someone else’s war after crossing the sea. Before the war, the Nizam Osman Ali Khan had to issue a firman informing his soldiers that it is okay for them to fight against fellow Muslims of the Ottoman empire. The port city of Haifa was the key entrepot for the Allied war machine. Years later, the British withdrew from the city leaving the Jews and Arabs to fight it out. The Jews, using a three-pronged attack, captured the city on April 24 in 1948 as the Arabs left their ancient homeland.

Interestingly, while the Teen Murti memorial is in the news, the actual war memorial built for the soldiers who fought for the British in the first World War remains neglected and unseen amidst bushes and brambles in the cantonment area near Second Lancers area in Hyderabad.

Memorable designs

Teen Murti House in New Delhi was designed by Edwin Lutyens, while the Teen Murti Memorial was designed by Leonard Jennings. The one accessible war memorial in Hyderabad, the EME War Memorial in Secunderabad,was designed by Eric Marrett.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> Metroplus / by Serish Nanisetti / May 08th, 2017

Haimendorf’s hilltop haven in Adilabad

Pirengan Patar, a plateau in Telangana, keeps alive the memory of a legendary ethnographer.

Every now and then, Atram Bheem Rao, inheritor of the Gond Raja of Kanchanpalli title, remembers Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf and his contributions to improving the lives of the Raj Gond and other Adivasi tribes of the Adilabad region. When he does, he visits a 250-metre high hill near his village, atop which is a small platform made of stones, to pay his respects to the memory of the legendary Austrian ethnographer.

Prof. Haimendorf started his work in India in what is now Nagaland. During World War II, as a citizen of the Third Reich, he was detained by the British in India. He was confined to what was then Hyderabad state, but was later allowed to live among the tribal peoples of present-day Telangana and do fieldwork.

A deep connection

In 1942, Prof. Haimendorf and his wife Betty Barnado, also a noted ethnographer, first came to Kanchanpalli, in Sirpur mandal, seeking help from Mr. Rao’s grandfather — who was also named Bheem Rao — for their work. The local people could not pronounce the Austrian’s name, Mr. Rao says, so they called him ‘Pirengan,’ which is derived from the Hindustani firangi, foreigner.

At the end of the war, the Nizam’s government appointed Prof. Haimendorf Advisor for Tribes and Backward Classes. During his tenure, he set up educational and other schemes for tribal peoples and taught at Osmania University.

The professor and his wife did path-breaking work in the Northeast, and in Nepal, where he was the first foreigner to document indigenous cultures. He also taught at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Through all this, over forty years, the couple often came back to the Adilabad area to do more research.

“The Haimendorfs avoided this place during summer, but used to come here frequently during winters all through the late 1970s until their death,” Mr. Rao says. “They had an elevated platform made, for them to relax in the winter sun and take in nature’s spread from the hilltop.” From this vantage point, one can see the Godavari flowing in the distance, and the villages in the valley below.

The plateau is known locally as Pirengan Patar, in their honour. Mr. Rao told The Hindu that the platform would have been destroyed had the government gone ahead with its plan to build a wireless repeater station on it in the 1990s. But the fear of Naxalites damaging it had led to a change of plan.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Telangana / by S. Harpal Sigh / Kanchanpalli – May 05th, 2017

12-minute film documents OU’s growth since inception

A glimpse: Students and faculty members of Department of Communication and Journalism releasing the film at Osmania University on Sunday.

To be screened prior to the inaugural of centenary fete

Showcasing Osmania University’s growth since its inception, the Department of Communication and Journalism has released a 12-minute promotional film that is all set to capture the hearts of the Osmanians.

The film will be screened prior to the inaugural of centenary celebrations by President Pranab Mukherjee on April 26. Later, the film will be posted on the university website to reach out to Osmanians across the world.

K. Stevenson, head of Department of Communication and Journalism, said the film traces the university’s growth from its inception to its present status, giving an overview of the faculty, various departments and the courses offered.

The state-of-the-art research labs and infrastructure are documented in the film, which also gives a glimpse of various facilities such as library, playground and gymnasium available for students. The university’s iconic Arts College building is beautifully captured in overhead drone shots. Rare vintage photographs of OU in its initial days are also a part of the film.

Students of first year Master’s course shot the film for two weeks and covered various institutions across the campus while research scholars did the background research. Post-production work was carried out in the studios of the department.

Prof. Stevenson said the visuals of the OU student populace, with a large number of foreign students, are an indication of the cultural diversity that exists on the campus.

The film was conceptualised in the context of aggressive competition in the education sector which made marketing and positioning the university imperative. Further, the film is expected to help in branding the Osmania University, he added.

Special mention is made of the meritorious alumni such as former Prime Minister of India, P.V. Narasimha Rao; India’s first astronaut Rakesh Sharma; celebrated film director Shyam Benegal and Padma Shri and Ramon Magsaysay awardee Shantha Sinha.

The film is a collective effort of the faculty, students and research scholars of the department, which has produced stalwarts in journalism with most of them serving in various capacities in media in India and abroad. The department was founded by an American, DeForest O’Dell, in 1954. He graduated from Butler University and went on to head its journalism department. Later, he earned a Master’s degree and Ph.D from Columbia University, recalls Dasu Kesava Rao, a student of the 1970-71 batch and who later retired as the Bureau Chief of The Hindu in Hyderabad.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Hyderabad / by R. Ravikanth Reddy / Hyderabad – April 23rd, 2017

First of its kind Buddha park in Telangana

The Buddhavanaman is first of its kind in the country with thematic segments depicting the major events in the life of Buddha.

The Buddhavanaman is first of its kind in the country with thematic segments depicting the major events in the life of Buddha and stories of his previous births. (Representational image)


Sriparvatarama or Buddhavanam, the prestigious Buddhist heritage theme park, is getting ready at Nagarjunasagar. The Buddhavanaman is first of its kind in the country with thematic segments depicting the major events in the life of Buddha and stories of his previous births. An Amaravati-style replica of Mahastupa with sculptural embellishments will be the main attraction at the park. “Nearly 75 per cent of the project is completed. It’s one of its kind in the country and has replicas of all Buddhist stupas. The state government has sanctioned `25 crore for the project,” said Mr Mallepally Laxmaiah, special officer, Buddhavanam Project.

The Telangana Tourism Develo-pment Corporation is developing Buddhavanam with financial assistance from the Centre for domestic and foreign tourists, especially tourists and pilgrims from Southeast Asian countries. The corporation acquired 274 acres on the left bank of the Krishna for the project. It has been divided into eight segments with an imposing entrance plaza.

The eight segments are 1. Buddha Charitavanam 2. Bodhisattva (Jataka Park) 3 Dhyanavanam (meditation park), 4. Stupa park 5. Acharya Nagarjuna International Centre for Higher Buddhist learning 6. Krishna valley 7 Buddhism in Telugu States especially important stupas, sculptures, statues of philosophers and others in Telangana 8. Mahastupa which symbolically represent the Astangamarga propounded by Buddha, a replica of Amravati stupa.

source: / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> Current Affairs / February 14th, 2017

Telangana chamber tombs reveal burial secrets

Archaeologists examine a dolmen at Dameravai in Tadwai mandal of Jaishankar Bhupalapally district.


Chamber tombs recently unearthed in the forest hillocks of Jaishankar-Bhupalapally and Bhadradri-Kothagudem district along the Godavari from Tadwai to Bhadrachalam, throw new light on burial practices.

“Chamber tombs are secondary burial chambers. After death, when the flesh is gone, the skeleton and its remains are buried in chamber tombs. They date back to 1000 BC and 2nd century AD,” said Mr S.S. Rangacharyulu, archaeology consultant and former deputy director of the archaeology and museums department. Mr Rangacharyulu studied some of the chamber tombs in detail, backed by department director N.R. Visalatchy.

After rock art, megalithic burials are the most important monuments in Telangana state and are found in hundreds of villages. Chamber tombs are built on hillocks and also referred to as cromlechs and dolmens.

They are constructed with dressed slabs and look like a chamber with four or more orthostats — slabs on three sides with an opening on one side and a huge rectangular capstone. Capstones are quite heavy, some of them are 4 metres by 4 metres and 40 to 50-cm thick. The entrance to most dolmens is at the centre.

“It seems that most were family burials. There is a facility for re-use. There are one ore more stone sarcophagi inside the structure. Since these are built with stones, mostly above the ground level on hillocks, they are known as chamber tombs,” Mr Rangacharyulu said.

Among chamber tombs, one in Galaba (Galaba-gutta) and Kachanapalle (Peddhaparupugutta) in this district are rare and were not studied.

“We found graffiti marks, cruciforms and anthropomorphic figures. There are more than 300 chamber tombs on this hillock. The site is important since cruciforms depicting male and female breasts, anthropomorphic figures are lying in front of the chamber tombs. These figures, which are lying in front of the chamber tombs, indicate that originally they were in a standing position,” he said.

“Inside some chambers, stone sarcophagi are located with graffiti marks such as arrow and trident marks like ‘ma’ in Brahmi script of 2nd century BC. In one chamber tomb, six sarcophagi were found which indicates that it was a family burial,” he said.

In Kachanapalle, hundreds of chamber tombs are scattered 8 km from the village on the hillocks locally known as Peddhaparupugutta and Nandigutta. Almost all the burials consist of stone sarcophagi and were provided with lids.

“The erection of huge chamber tombs with dressed stones and carvings of sculptures representing the human form indicate that the megalithic community were culturally advanced and they had sophisticated metal implements and knowledge of geometry to cut huge stones to the required sizes,” said Mr Rangacharyulu. In Aihole and Mottur in north Karnataka, cruciforms were also found, but they were small and crude.

Not linked to Christianity
Archaeologist D.H. Gordon in his book “Prehistoric background of Indian Culture” says scholar J. Mulheran had found crosses (cruciforms) close to the stone burial cysts at Katapur and Mallur villages in Warangal. He ascribed these crosses to Christianity and said that they are not later than 7th Century AD, as pre- or non-Christian crosses were symbols unknown in India.

There was also the view that the megalithic builders were from the Mediterranean region and Western Europe and the custom of erecting cruciforms or anthropomorphic figures might have come with them before the 1st and 2nd century BC. As no other artefacts was reported from these burials, historians say it is very difficult to prove this theory.

Erection of cruciforms and anthropomorphic figures carved with and without breasts, differentiating male and female figures, clearly indicates the original intention of the carver to depict human representation. Historians assert these chamber tombs have nothing to do with the Christianity.

source: / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> Current Affairs / by C R Gowri Shanker / January 29th, 2017