Hyderabad: For years, this historical landmark in Hyderabad has been a rallying point for unity, planned development and recognising the vagaries of natural disasters.
Come September 28, every year, the tamarind tree in the campus of Osmania General Hospital (OGH) becomes a pilgrimage spot where historians recall the hoary past of Hyderabad, the devastating Musi floods of 1908 and how close to 150 desperate souls clung to the tamarind tree, with the hope of escaping the marauding floods.
That was the day when Musi flooded Hyderabad and wiped away a better part of Afzalgunj and claimed many lives. This year marks the 109th anniversary of the devastating Musi floods of 1908, which many consider as a turning point in the history of Hyderabad.
“It’s an occasion for us not only to recall the role of the great tamarind tree in saving lives during the Musi floods, but also realise how much more we have to do in terms of improving our drainage system,” said M Vedakumar of Forum for Better Hyderabad.
Indeed, many historians pointed out that the tamarind tree not only saved lives, but it also brought back to focus the diverse culture of Hyderabad.
“When people clambered onto the tamarind tree, it did not enquire their religious and regional background while protecting them. The tree simply gave them shelter and saved their lives,” said historian from Osmania University, Professor Adapa Satyanarayana.
The Musi floods were devastating and according to historians it wiped away a good part of Afzalgunj, in addition to claiming a heavy death toll. The old Afzalgunj hospital, where patients were being treated, had caved in due to the intense floods.
“It was the tamarind tree that saved lives of many patients and their relatives, who hung on to it because there were no concrete structures left. It’s important that we cherish, celebrate and remember the immensity of that event,” historians said.
Legend of the tamarind tree
The legend of the tamarind tree and Musi floods of 1908 are linked intricately to each other. Well known historian from Hyderabad, Anand Raj Verma said the flooded Musi river receded only after the sixth Nizam Mahbub Ali Pasha performed certain rituals near the tamarind tree.
“During those days, a well-known Pandit advised the Nizam to perform special rituals where the Tamarind tree is located. Mahbub Ali Pasha himself visited the spot near the tree and performed rituals and offered puja, which many believe, was the reasons for quick receding of the flood waters,” Anand Raj Verma said.