Hyderabad: ‘Bhagyanagar’ clue in Secunderabad Club game raises eyebrows

Hyderabad: A clue citing ‘Bhagyanagar’, a disputed name of the city, in the Secunderabad Club’s ‘Treasure Hunt 24 Wonder on Wheels’ game here has raised eyebrows. The name ‘Bhagyanagar’ is generally used by right-wingers and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as an interchangeable synonym for the city. The name was used in a clue sheet of the treasure hunt game that the club organises, said members.

In the treasure hunt’s clue sheet, point 16 says, ‘Residence of the rulers of Bhagyanagar’, which has left a few members of the club wondering if this was done deliberately at a time when communal incidents in India are witnessing a rise. Historians have often debated whether Hyderabad was called ‘Bagnagar’ after Bhagmati, the supposed lover of the city’s founder Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah.

However, the word Bhagyanagar was never in question, as that comes from a right-wing or Hindutva demand to name Hyderabad after the Bhagyalakshmi temple, which is an an authorised structure on the Charminar. The Charminar is Hyderabad’s foundation and was built in 1591 by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah when he decided to move out of the Golconda fort and construct a new city for his people.

When contacted, one of the sub-committee members in-charge of entertainment in the Secunderabad Club said that they don’t check the questions and answers in games to remain impartial. He added that Tibcon, a manufacturer of capacitors which was the sponsor for the treasure hunt, was given the task. However, a club member said countered this and said that the committees within the club oversee everything and such things have to get approved before.

On enquiring further, another person from the club informed this reporter that the word Bhagyanagar was innocuously chosen as a clue in lieu of a restaurant that has Hyderabad in its name. “That is all, and there is nothing political about it. It was just in reference to the restaurant,” he added. However, a few members of the club were not convinced about it and said that this was mischief.

”In clue 91 they have used the name Hyderabad as usual, so what was the point of using Bhagyanagar? Similarly, another clue talks of the Nizam’s cronies. Did only they have cronies? The language used here reeks of a right-wing bias,” said one of the members who requested anonymity. As part of the treasure hunt, clue 105 of the game says, ‘Meeting ground for Nizam’s cronies’.

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Did the founder of Hyderabad really have a lover named Bhagmati?

Who was Bhagmati? Did she really exist?

Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah was the fourth king of the Qutb Shahi or Golconda dynasty (1518-1687). He founded Hyderabad in 1591. Prior to that, his grandfather Sultan Quli, a native of Hamadan in Iran, had founded Golconda fort as a walled city in 1518.

According to legend, Mohd Quli Qutb Shah was in love with a Hindu woman named Bhagmati even before Hyderabad was founded. His father was the third king Ibrahim Qutb Shah, who constructed the Puranapul bridge in 1578. The bridge connects the Golconda fort and Old City, and the story is that it was built for his son so he could meet Bhagmati.

A representation of Bhagmati.

The love story

However, when the Puranapul was built, Mohammad Quli was just 12 years of age. That is a fact. So was he in love with Bhagmati at such a young age? Moreover, Ibrahim in fact wanted to move out of the Golconda fort. Logically, he would have built the bridge keeping in mind water requirements. Hyderabad was founded on the southern banks of the Musi river.

Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah, known as a ‘lover boy’ in Hyderabad’s history, became the king in 1580. After that, it is said, married Bhagmati and later named the new city he founded after her: Bhagnagar. The name Hyderabad comes later after Bhagmati converted to Islam and took on the name of Hyder Mahal, the legend says.

Bhagyanagar – politicisation and the unauthorised temple on the Charminar

While Bhagnagar is linked to Bhagmati, right-wing groups and the BJP are demanding Hyderabad to be renamed as Bhagyanagar. This has nothing to do with the courtesan and more to do with the Bhagyalaxmi temple at the Charminar.

On August 4, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) here said it has no information on Hyderabad being named Bhagyanagar. It also said that it has no details of historical records of the Bhagyalaxmi temple at the Charminar. 

The ASI’s response on the Bhagyanagar name for Hyderabad and the Bhagyalaxmi temple was given to activist Robin Zacheus. The activist posed a bunch of questions to the ASI’s Hyderabad circle, under which the Charminar and Golconda fort come. Robin asked for records or historical evidence on these matters through a Right to Information (RTI) query.

ASI itself has said Bhagya Laxmi temple at Charminar is unauthorised

The Bhagyalaxmi temple that is attached to the Charminar is in fact an illegal structure. It is believed to have come up in the late 1960s. Even the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has acknowledged it. At a presentation at Lamakaan in Hyderabad in 2019, former superintending archaeologist of ASI, Milan Kumar Chauley, reiterated the same.