The nearly four centuries old city of Hyderabadis renowned for its tourist attractions, especially Charminar, Golconda Fort and Salar Jung Museum, and yet its twin city, Secunderabad remains largely forgotten despite being home to a number of churches of considerable architectural value.Most of these old churches were built when the area was a British cantonment.
In particular, the Secunderabad railway station area houses five spectacular old churches, including the 204-year-old St. John’s church, with one of the few functioning pipe organs in Hyderabad. Each of these churches has their own history and stories to tell.
A free guided heritage walk on Sunday morning (February 10), organised as part of the second edition of Indian Heritage Walk Festival (IHWF), will take participants to some of these churches. The month-long, multi-city IHWF 2019 has been organised jointly by Sahapedia (sahapedia.org), the online resource on Indian arts and culture, and UNESCO, to encourage citizens to explore the tangible and intangible heritage of their cities and towns. All bookings for the festival are powered by Odigos, a product by the Bird Group, is an online marketplace that connects tourists to certified guides in India. Odigos app provides a seamless way for travellers and locals alike to understand and explore the iconic sites of our country.
Yunus Y. Lasania, a journalist by profession who is currently on a mission to document the lesser known history of Hyderabad, will lead this walk during which he will narrate the fascinating history and interesting anecdotes about the SPG Tamil Church, Basilica of Our Lady of Assumption (known as St. Mary’s Church), CSI Wesley Church, Centenary Baptist Church and St. John’s Church.
The IHWF, which received the prestigious PATA Gold Award 2018 for its maiden edition organised last year, is a one-of-its-kind month-long festival covering 37 cities, with nearly 100 heritage walks and outreach events. The February 02-28 festival is being supported by NMDC, a state-run mineral producer and explorer. The events’ bookings are facilitated by Odigos, an app that makes travel and discovery easier in India.
Vaibhav Chauhan, Festival Director (IHWF) and Secretary, Sahapedia, said: “We want to democratise access to local history and culture. One might be living in the same neighbourhood for years, but there is a big chance that an important landmark, tucked away in a back alley, has been missed and forgotten. The IHWF is that opportunity to discover the hidden gems linked to the history of a place, town or city.”
Junhi Han, Head and Programme Specialist for Culture, UNESCO New Delhi office, said, “The IHWF programme addresses knowledge of local architectural heritage, sustainable tourism, with a special focus on gender-related issues and accessibility in cultural heritage facilitating more inclusive and better outreach. The festival is expected to involve, engage and sensitize more people, in particular the youth, about their cultural heritage.”
N. Baijendra Kumar, CMD, NMDC, said: “Initiatives like IHWF involve local communities which is integral for promoting India’s heritage. NMDC has been working in the remotest tribal areas of Bastar and Bailadila Hills for the past 60 years and also has closely promoted tribal culture, and other forms of Indian heritage. We are supporting Sahapedia in its efforts to increase civil society participation in understanding our nation’s heritage.”
Dr. Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director, Bird Group, said: “The association with Sahapedia brings us a step closer to achieving our vision of making Indian arts and culture inclusive and interactive. Odigos app by Bird Group, which aims to streamline guided travel tour experiences of travellers, will play the role of a tech enabler for Sahapedia’s IHWF bookings and support the guides’ community.”
Details about the walks, registration and other programmes of IHWF 2019 are available on https://www.odigosguides.com/India-heritage-walk-festival
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