A bright Sunday afternoon with the sun gleaming between the towering Eucalypti makes for a pretty picture — but what’s worth a real exploration is the Pala Pitta Cycling Park in Kondapur, and Hyderabad has long been waiting for an urban lung space which encourages this much interaction.
The park, aptly named after the state bird as a symbol of pride, was inaugurated on November 20 in a flurry of pomp and circumstance in the presence of minister K T Rama Rao. He thanked the Forest Department for its thoughtfulness and effort into making the park an eco-hub.
The 35-acre land, which was formerly under dispute for a number of years, used to be a dump. Trash from residences and construction debris often found their final resting place here until the government put its foot down. In a matter of months, Kondapur residents passing by the expansive land saw a change.
Now the gateway to the park is worth a few Instagram posts — multidimensional wall-art of cyclists and the area’s flora and fauna are set in mesmeric blue and green tones, paying homage to the many peacocks that roam the area. The signage with silver lettering jumps out at passers-by.
A large shed to the side accommodates the countless bicycles available for rent. The cycles are custom pieces rocking the park’s name on the simple white frame. The booking process is simple and thorough, making sure each cyclist is given the right cycle size.
The 3km track that meanders between the trees is often two-way except for a scenic route which winds around a pond, reminiscent of a storybook, drawing in a lot of couples, friend groups and families looking to hang out in different ways.
Weekends are seeing close to 1,000 people queuing up for cycling at the park. Cykul, upon looking at the queues and the enthusiastic response, has decided to double the number of cycles available on weekends. The organisation is based in Hyderabad, Jaipur and Gurgaon and aims to build a better cycling community on all levels throughout India through education and practise.
The park is also a biodiversity hub, with numerous species of birds and reptiles. Easy to spot birds are curious kingfishers, peacocks and eagrets who often bask beside the sparkling pond. But don’t expect to be able to whip out your DSLR; photography is prohibited at the park so bring your Instagram A-game.
On the right track
Deenanath Haranpanalli, founder and CEO of Cykul, acknowledges there’s plenty to be done with the space in conserving the forestry and in educating people about using cycling tracks.
Deenanath and his counterparts mobilised corporates into doing socially responsible work such as planting trees, removing weeds and so on.
Assuming it’s the first of its kind in the country, Deenanath is incredibly proud as he watches people use the bicycles his company commissioned. “One of the reasons people go out and use bicycles is to bypass the vehicular congestion, but we believe in the skills of the people to navigate through the traffic in a thoughtful and responsible way. Helmets are a safety issue, but there are skill-based aspects such as turning, balancing, riding in a single file and so on.”
Inside the park throughout the day, there are equal amounts of sun and shade, given the 7,500 trees planted thus far. Deenananth says this amount can easily triple in the next year, proving it’s not just about maintaining a green zone but even more so about developing it.