HYDERABAD: Did you know that Hyderabad’s postal history is older than that of independent India? Almost eight decades before the first stamp of free India was issued on November 21, 1947, the richest princely State, Hyderabad, was already printing its own stamps. It began doing so over 150 years ago, in 1869. The first postal stamp featured Charminar and ever since, most of them have been centred around heritage buildings.
“The princely State of Hyderabad had good ties with the British, who were scattered across the continent. They used postal services which was the only source of long-distance communication. That’s why the rulers decided to come up with post offices in the suburbs and the city centre,” Anuradha Reddy, an oral historian, says. The post office at Darulshifa is at least a century old and there is another one at Bhoiguda which is considered to be the oldest post office building. But, the GPO was built in 1960s, she says.
A wide range of postage stamps evolved during this time, in different colours, values, inscriptions and sizes, depicting the varied aspects of the State. This National Postal Week, we speak to philatelists about their collections and the Chief Postmaster General of Telangana about the future of postal services.
Philatelists in the city say that they have witnessed history through stamps.
“I started collecting stamps when I was a child. I also have stamps that date back to the princely State of Hyderabad, featuring Charminar. This was the first official stamp printed in the city, and many others thereafter,” says BK Nagpal, founder and secretary of the Hyderabad Philatelic and Hobbies Society. Nagpal is the senior-most collector of stamps from Hyderabad.
Another, philatelist and engineer Rajesh Pamnani is an avid collector of stamp from the British India period and all things interesting in postal history. “My philatelic journey started when I was 10. My father had gifted me an album with a few stamps from places he had visited. For the past 40 years, I have been collecting, writing and displaying my collection at national and international philately shows,” he says.
On the occasion of Philately Day, which is on Tuesday (October 13), four special covers will be released in honour of Telugu freedom fighters, says S Rajendra Kumar, the Chief Postmaster General of Telangana. “The posters will feature Komaram Bheem, Chakali Ilamma, Ravi Narayana Reddy and Makhdoom Mohiuddin. Picture postcards of scientific institutions of Hyderabad, Hyderabad cuisine including the biryani and monuments such as Golconda Fort were recently released. Permanent pictorial cancellations of the Ronald Ross Institute for Begumpet and Golconda Fort for the Golconda Post Office have also been released,” he says.
In the age of technology, postal services in Hyderabad continue to survive and have a bright future. “We are in the process of registering manufacturers of GI-tracking products for e-commerce sales. This e-commerce portal also allows devotees to register for sevas at temples across Telangana. Prasadams are dispatched via Speed Post,” says Rajendra Kumar.