HYDERABAD: Heritage patrons are awed by the city’s age-old monuments and structures, however, what does not find a mention in bibliographic accounts is a place like Khowa Bela, the only market of its kind, in the city that stands as an example of preserving legacies.
The almost 100-year-old market which consists of about seventy shops that sell khowa (a dairy product), had started off with six, owned by the residents of the Chandulal Baradari locality, now popularly called Khowa Bela.
Remarkably, the six oldest shops, owned by A Raghunandan, Parmeya, Aagmaiah, Kishtia, Anjaiah and Gulab Singh are being run by their sons and grandsons today. Lamenting that his business has seen a setback in the past 15 years, Raghunanadan’s son Vijay Kumar said that the same khowa shop used to be crowded when his father was running it.
However, the shop will stand firm, he said. Initially, most of the khowa was supplied to these shops from surrounding areas in Hyderabad, he said. In the last 15 years, with a lot of commercial development, milk production at a large scale has come down.
“Now, most of the khowa supply is from Solapur in Maharashtra and Bengaluru. There are a few new shops here which manage with substandard khowa also. They mostly get supplies from Chittoor district, which is khowa made out of skimmed milk,” said Vijay Kumar. “Sales have come down by 50 per cent and the sweet khowa that comes from Gujarat, which is white in colour and has sugar mixed in it has become very popular. People are unaware that pure khowa is pale, not white.”
Lifestyle diseases to blame?
Seconding Kumar, some workers from the 40-year-old Babu Bhai klhowa shop said that now the average profit they can earn on the sale of each kg of khowa is eight per cent.
Another khowa shop owner said, “Manufacturing khowa is not an easy task. In the narrow margin of profit and losses, we can benefit by maximum Rs 16 on the sale of one kg khowa, priced between Rs 200 and Rs 220.”
Another reason why there has been a sharp decline in the business is because of the rise in lifestyle diseases. “A lot of health-conscious people are avoiding high-sugar based sweets,” a merchant said.
‘Won’t switch businesses’
“These shops were left to us by our forefathers and they will be preserved at any cost.
We sell paneer to make up for the losses we suffer on certain days,” a shopkeeper said.