Undivided, Andhra Pradesh is home to many heritage and archaeological finds. However, with the division being sorted out, it still remains to be seen which state will get the lion’s share of the haul. In the meanwhile, heritage activists have been trying to figure out the same, and a bus from the Nizam era that is stationed outside Vijaywada’s central bus stand seems to have caught their attention.
One of the undivided State’s biggest employers, The State Road Transport Corporation is buzzing with activity, much like any other government department in the capital city, as we inch towards the appointed day. Amidst the compromises and bargaining though, heritage activists are attempting to bring back the Nizam era bus from Vijayawada, a probable capital for the new state.
The place in question is one of the biggest and busiest terminals in the State, known as Telugu Satavahana Prayana Pranganam or Pandit Nehru Bus Station.
Says city-based heritage activist and convener of INTACH, P Anuradha Reddy, “In 1932, the Nizam had started the State Transport Department and used to have around 30 Albion buses ply across Hyderabad. At present, only two remain in existence. One is kept outside Bus Bhavan, Hyderabad and one outside the Central Bus Stand, Vijayawada.”
As it turns out, Anuradha says she has been unsuccessfully trying to bring the vehicle back to the city for a few years now. “I approached the APSRTC authorities several times requesting the same, yet there has been no positive response. When I visited Vijayawada, I saw that the bus was not at all maintained well. We should get it back since it part of the city’s legacy.”
For their part, when asked, APSRTC officials pointed out that the issue had so far not come up for discussions. In fact, the Hyderabad executive director of APSRTC responded saying the issue need not be commented upon. “It is a heritage property. Though we have not discussed about it so far, we do not think there will be a problem in bringing back the bus,” he said.
Explaining more about the Nizam’s legacy and State Road Transport Corporation, noted city-based historian and managing trustee of Deccan Heritage Trust, Mohammed Safiullah pointed out that the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan had in operation a highly professional transport department integrated well with railways, roadways, airways and even waterways.
“The letter ‘Z’ that one can see today in over 20,000 buses of APSRTC, actually refers to the last Nizam’s mother, Zehra Begum. Every bus in undivided AP has this letter on the number plate as a respect to the last ruler,” he noted.
According to him, the Nizam’s State Railway-Road Transport Department use to ply buses imported from London, across the state. It was so advanced that, the workshops in the state were equipped with mechanics from abroad. It is also said that the bus service that started in 1932 covering 450 kms, in a decade’s time, was extended to nearly 500 vehicles serving 7200 kms. The two remnants of this era are red coloured buses that seat 19 in total. One can see the city’s bus exhibited near RTC cross roads where the Bus Bhavan is located.