Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A different zoo and a village of culture at Hyderabad

Dhanesh Wisumperuma

The Nation, 11-11-2012, Undo p. 4-5

Hyderabad is a city with multiple attractions, where a visitor may struggle to decide what to see and where to visit. I am intended to write on two interesting places which I was able to visit during my short stay in Hyderabad – mainly due to the special characters I saw there. Those are the Nehru Zoological Park, a zoo beyond a regular one we know and the Shilparamam, the arts and crafts village depicting India.

Animal-friendly zoo

The Nehru Zoological Park, which is also known as the Hyderabad Zoo, is situated at an spacious location in the southern part of the city, adjacent to the Mir Alam Tank, a man made reservoir. The zoo covers an area of about 380 acres and is often mentioned as one of the largest in India. It was established between 1959 and 1963 and opened in 1963 and named after Jawaharlal Nehru.

The most important feature of the zoo is its spacious nature. Since it is a well-planned zoo, the animals are provided with ample space. Many of the animals are kept in open spaces encircled by short walls of about a meter in height. There is a ditch between the wall and the animal. The trees were maintained without overhanging branches in case of arboreal animals like the monkeys and apes. The area where the animals are kept was mostly covered with trees and grass thus providing a shade for the animal. A manmade cave like hide is available for the animals at a corner of their compound. A very few of the animals are caged, i.e. the birds, reptiles, etc. Even some of the nocturnal animals like the loris are kept in an open ‘room’ inside the darkened nocturnal house.

For instance, the elephants have an area that is about 30 acres to roam freely. There are shelters for elephants, which are not accessible to the normal visitor. Some of the elephants in these shelters are released to this space in rotation and they could wander freely in the space and feed on the vegetation. However, an officer of the zoo said us that they provide the elephants with food as the amount of food required by an elephant are large.
The authorities have taken steps to consider the requirements of the animals very cautiously. For instance, the rhinoceros was kept in a large compound, where there are different pools – one with water and another with mud.
With the increased space for the animals, the stress among these captive animals may be reduced and can increase the lifetime of the animals. The arrangement of the zoo is visitor friendly. Almost all animals are kept in such a setting provides an important aspect as the visitors are able to see the animals at their eye-level. This facilitates the observation of the animals and thus increases the educational value of the zoo.

Another attraction in the park is the Jurassic Park. It contains large models of the animals that lived during the Jurassic Era – the dinosaurs. They are labeled with adequate information for the visitor and the landscape is arranged to resemble or mimic the plant life of that period. It seemed to be an attraction among the visitors. The reptile enclosure and the nocturnal house are among other sections visited by most.

There is a safari park where lions and tigers are living freely and visitors take a tour by bus, just like a safari available in a sanctuary or a national park. The vegetation is bit dense in the area and the spotting of animals is little difficult and is like in the natural environment. According to the staff, although there are some herbivores living in the safari area, the tigers and lions are not feeding on them and food for them is provided. It seems that their interest in hunting had been reduced, or they have adapted for the ‘free meal!’

Another interesting feature of the zoo is the transportation within the zoo - battery operated eco-friendly vehicles and a train service is available within the zoo. Wide road network and the park like appearance ease the visitor. Although we spent half a day, I did not felt tired. It was mainly due to the spacious nature and the landscape that provided shade and green. It was a relieved tour, which I never experienced in a Sri Lanka’s zoo. Although the number of the animal species seen at the Nehru zoo is below what you can see in another zoo, it is a friendly place for animals and visitors. I experienced the difference
As we are aware, there are other zoological gardens being planned and built in Sri Lanka, the Nehru Zoological Park of Hyderabad can provide guidance. We were fascinated to hear that there are occasional visits by Sri Lankan authorities. If zoos are required (I think so, for the educational use), it should be more animal friendly.


Colorful village in the city

A venue encircled by a mud colored low wall with a white pattern on it attracted our attention towards it. There were no multistory buildings in the site and tree cover could be seen on the premises which are situated in the middle of the Hi-tech city area of the town, the main industrial and business area of the city – the IT hub. It looked calm and was similar to a park or a recreational area within the busy city. On inquiry I found that it was called ‘Shilparamam’, meaning literary ‘home for the crafts’, the arts, crafts and cultural village in Hyderabad. It is often mentioned as a showcase of India’s cultural heritage.

Shilparamam was established in 1992 by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. It expands to 65 acres and is maintained by the Ministry of Tourism. In short, Shilparamam contains of multiple ventures: it is a permanent exhibition of arts, crafts and lifestyles of people; a sales centre of crafts and arts, a recreation venue for the people, a park and an open stage, etc. I had the opportunity visit it twice and take this opportunity to describe at a least few aspects of the many aspects of arts, crafts and culture of India.

A large area is dedicated to display permanent life sized models of how the traditional lives of people in the country are. The livelihoods, rituals and day-to-day events associated with the culture and crafts are presented in the relevant background. These included the potter house, village artisans, tribal lifestyles, kalahasti wood carving, cherial painting are among the most interested. Various cultural events such as sankranti festival, tulsi pooja and day-to-day life events of the people like the scene of village bazaar are present. These models are self-explanatory and one can understand how traditional arts and crafts function in rural areas. It is actually a cultural show!
While walking around the premises, I suddenly saw a Buddha statue on a lotus pedestal. There were two Buddha statues in fact. It was at the ‘Sculpture Park’ where a collection of various sculptures are displayed. The most interesting was the materials used to make those pieces of art. Some were made out of granite and some seemed to be of plaster, but there was a material rarely used for this type of artwork. Some of the sculptures were made out of welding scrap metal like parts of vehicles, equipment and waste metal pieces, which are otherwise usually dumped. The themes of these sculptures varies largely and included plants, animals, equipment as well as conceptual representations. The artist’s name is also displayed along with the sculpture and the park seemed to be a new addition to the park and opened in September 2012. I noticed that similar sculpture of metal pieces even within the Hyderabad City – it resembles that that the city is more industrial.

There was a unique exhibition of traditional breeds of oxen held at Shilparamam in parallel to the International Biodiversity Summit held in Hyderabad. We were able to see about 23 breeds of the varieties found in India. This rich livestock diversity is somewhat threatened at global level, due to the introduction of developed varieties of animals and it was a topic of discussion during the summit.
There was an area allocated for stalls selling various items, pearl and other jewelry, cloths, craft items, ornamental items, toys and as well as food. Most of these were made by the local people and it was a direct marketing facility for the producers.

The premises is beautifully landscaped and provided shaded avenues for people to walk without being tired in the daytime. Various types of plants are seen used to beautify the environment and some sections are still under improvement. The large and small rocks and mountainous landscape are used as attractive features of the location. Many of the stalls as well as the administrative buildings inside Shilparamam are designed to suit the park. The venue also provided a variety of entertainment facilities for the visitor – shaded avenues, the tank with boating facilities, party venues and the open theater are among those.

A fairly a large crowd both local and foreign gathers at this place escaping their urban lifestyle. The Shiparamam looked like a very different place. It is a must at Hyderabad. Details about the village could be found on, its official website.

No comments:

Post a Comment