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Culture hamlet

The Taramati Baradari will be the latest culture destination of the twin cities, reports RANEE KUMAR

Taramati Baradari and the newly constructed indoor and open-air auditoriums with modern amenities -- Photos: K. Ramesh Babu

IT IS quaint, ethnic and technologically savvy, just the right mix to project the State's culture without sacrificing its natural charm. This in a nutshell is Taramati Baradari - the new culture hamlet that will shortly beckon the connoisseur and the commoner to its artistic abode. Does the name ring a bell? Leaf through the pages of the history of Qutb Shahis and out peep the graceful Taramati and the tempting Premavathi - the singer-dancer duo who adorned the royal court of their times. The most talented, erudite, artistes lived and flourished during that era leaving their footprints in the sands of time, which would have been wiped out but for the dedicated efforts of a few individuals who are more practitioners than preachers. Legacy has transformed itself into a reality with the construction of Taramati Baradari (twelve thresholds to Taramati) - a destination for art and culture designed to recreate the artistic inheritance handed over to us by the illustrious Qutb Shahi rulers of Golconda nearly 500 years ago. Inspired by the untiring efforts of the doyen of dance (Andhra Natyam) Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna, the A.P. Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) under the stewardship of C. Anjaneya Reddy has given a fresh lease of life to the monument of Taramati, a music hall, atop a hillock in Ibrahimbagh (enroute Gandipet). It stands there today as a unique symbol of communal respect and amity.

This monument was a music hall with 12 doorways to it and served as an auditorium in those days. It was a rare and unbelievable engineering skill that led the builders of that era to place it on a hillock so as to avoid sound pollution that may emanate from the din and bustle of the populated surroundings.

The acoustics of this hall similar to the Bala Hissar area of Golconda fort is a wonder in itself. The new Taramati Baradari skirting the foot of the original monument is a replica of the Qutb Shahi architecture in every aspect. It not only reproduces the original in form and structure but it will retain the same spirit too, devoted to the cause of classical and folk-arts for which Taramati dedicated a lifetime.

Care has been taken to make this culture destination a happening place for the elite and the conservative for it cuts across the generation gap. Spread over seven acres of land with the antique Baradari as its backdrop, there is everything under the sun to make it a wholesome culture destination. Cultural events can be held under the open sky with a sprawling open-air auditorium - an amphitheatre (1500 seating capacity) in stone welcoming the art lovers. Flanked on either side of the auditorium are eight food courts that get activated during cultural fests. There are two sets of green rooms and washrooms and a practicing room beneath the structure. A mega-sized hall with semi-arched ceiling with the length of an open corridor and doors/windows leading into it is the art gallery which can double up as a banquet hall for special events. A pantry attached to it provides an added advantage of made-to-order food for dinners or luncheons. Just in case, the cultural hub grows into a full-fledged research centre of fine arts in future, residencyis no problem. Nearly six suites and 24 rooms are available for any one who cares for a prolonged stay. The archives-cum-museum-cum research facility is by far the most innovative proposition taking shape at Taramati Baradari.

The posh Punnami restaurant (a brand name of the APTDC food chain) across the aisle dotted with souvenir shops and a mini stage offers wonderful cuisine and folk performances. Punnami is a theme restaurant on the lines of western taverns. An adjacent Saaki bar will literally keep the spirits up. To recreate the archaic Hyderabadi ambience and relive its magnificent cuisine, traditional chowki dinners around the lit monument will be hosted for an asking.

The inaugural will be flagged off with the chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu pressing a remote control which will illuminate the Taramati Baradari on the hillock. "An alaapwill flow from within the lit monument and as it recedes, the open air auditorium will unveil its stage for a host of cultural shows that follow,'' says Anjaneya Reddy. "Conceptually this is a unique monument dedicated to a musician. We want to revive the role for which it was created. We took this property from the State Archaeology department and developed it. We wanted to retain the original name as it is historical, '' he further explains. The Banyan Tree - an organisation based in Mumbai that showcases Indian performing arts has been entrusted with the four-day cultural festival that follows the inaugural. There will be folk percussionists from all regions across the length and breadth of the country. Traditional Carnatic and Hindustani musicians notwithstanding, some unique folk and cultural dance forms will also take the stage. It will be the only one of its kind,'' says Mahesh Babu of Banyan Tree.

Besides hosting major cultural events, Taramati will also witness three major national festivals, over three to five days annually, under the aegis of the APTDC. Taramati festival devoted to classical music; Premavathi festival, on the lines of Khajuraho and Konark, will be devoted to traditional dance and the Golconda festival will be one of folk tradition as the Qutb Shahis were the foremost patrons of folk art. "For the rest of the year, the place will be open to artistes to hold their own shows or corporates to host parties with cultural performances. The idea is to draw participation from one and all so that the initiative is realised,'' says Anjaneya Reddy. The Corporation has identified and adopted 34 performing arts in order to revive them. If only memories could be preserved for posterity like the Taramati Baradari, there is no fear of losing our rich heritage and culture. It will continue to attract young torchbearers of the coming generation.

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