Barkas is located near Chandrayangutta abutting the Srisailam Highway. It is famously known as Mini Arabia among the people of Hyderabad, because of many mini Dubai shopping centres and existence of Yemen Culture and its traditions. Several shops in the area sell products from Yemen, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.
Once the Nizam’s barracks, now city’s Little Arabia
Barkas is located near Chandrayangutta abutting the Srisailam Highway. It is famously known as Mini Arabia among the people of Hyderabad, because of many mini Dubai shopping centres and existence of Yemen Culture and its traditions. Several shops in the area sell products from Yemen, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. The area has become famous for milk products, burqas, Arab chappals, perfumes from Dubai, dates and lungis from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
In earlier days, majority of families depended on growing fruits like anjeer, guava, papaya, zamrud, pomegranate, etc. These homegrown fruits are auctioned every morning from 6 am to 10 am at an auction centre established for the purpose decades ago. It is also famous for Iranian dishes like Harees, a sweet mouthwatering version of Haleem. The mint peppered Suleimani Chai and Gawa (milk mixed with dry ginger) is a drink to relish on, and is also good for health.
The landmarks here are the playground, Old Taxi Stand, CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force 1939),Kendriya Vidyalaya of CRPF (1978), a graveyard from the Nizam era, Jama Masjid, Farooqui Aazam Masjid, and Yum Yum Tree Hotel, which is famous for its Arabian cuisine. It is a strategic Army point since the place is surrounded by four hills, viz. Chakki Pahad, Chandrayangutta, Nalakula Pahad, Chuhe ka Pahad.
Gurram Cheruvu (In Telugu Gurram means horse and Cheruvu means lake) is located in between these hills. It was the place where the Nizam’s horses were left to graze and drink water. It is interesting to know the different kinds of organisations working in the area for the welfare of the people. There are committees for different social activities like marriage, funeral service, medical service, etc. All of them are named in Arabic like Majilisul Sabil ul Khair (Masjid committee). Al Shabab is a committee for emergency medical care, which sends out ambulances in case of emergencies. The people in the area are proud of the emergency ambulance service, which has been functioning for the last 30 years.
Visiting Barkas and walking on Arab Street gives one the feeling that they are in Cairo or an old locality of Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia.
Barkas was inhabited by the employees of the Nizams. As they were surrounded by hostile rulers in the Deccan, the Nizams (who considered themselves agnatically descended from the first Caliph Abu Bakr) put their trust in the tall and strongly built Arabs. Their personal Army was mainly recruited from Arabian countries. Their numbers grew and the Arabs settled in the barracks on the outskirts of the walled, gated city.
The name ‘Barkas’ is believed to be derived from the English word ‘Barracks’ which means specialised buildings for permanent military accommodation with an objective to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training, and esprit de corps. They were sometimes called discipline factories for soldiers. Like industrial factories, some barracks are considered to be shoddy or dull buildings, although others are known for their magnificent architecture such as Collins Barracks in Dublin and others in Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Vienna, or London.
Abood Bin Tayuub, a local resident, said, “The construction of the water reservoir on Chakki Pahad needs to be speeded up by the concerned authorities so that water problem of Barkas and the neighbouring areas is permanently solved. There is a need for repairing the old MCH Municipal Market Complex of 1968 is dilapidated. It is being used as a toilet and has become a pigsty. The stench from the market is horrible. The market area needs to be cleaned out.”