Hyderabad’s ‘numaish’ has something for everyone

By Mohammed Shafeeq, IANS

Hyderabad : It is a New Year gift that this city awaits every year. Popularly known as ‘numaish’ – the Urdu word for exhibition – the fair has come a long way since it was first organised in 1937 during the reign of the Nizam.

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The All India Industrial Exhibition, an annual shopping event, began Jan 1 and will continue for one-and-a-half months. Many swanky shopping malls might have changed the landscape of the city in the last few years but this open-air shopping mall has its own charm.

All the roads during this part of the year lead to the sprawling exhibition grounds in Nampally in the heart of Hyderabad as people from different parts of the city and even neighbouring districts and states descend to be part of the gala event.

From the carpets of Iran and dry fruits of Jammu and Kashmir to handmade garments from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, handicraft items from all over India and electronic goods of the best brands in the country, the exhibition brings together the best from all around.

Started as a local exhibition intended to display indigenously produced goods, the numaish is today one of the biggest display windows in the country for trade, commerce and industry.

It not only attracts traders from India but also, as seen in the last few years, from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey.

Electrical goods, glassware, furniture, kitchenware, costumes, jewellery, traditional garments, toys, trendy wear, leather goods, footwear, table ware, ceramics, handlooms and fitness equipment, you name it and the big open air shopping mall has it.

The fair is incomplete without entertainment. A mini-train, a giant wheel and ‘dragon’ rides add to the thrills. Then there is the ‘maut ka kuwan’ or well of death, where a group of youngsters ride motorbikes and also a car driving at breakneck speed in a well-shaped structure, almost touching the outer edges.

There are dozens of stalls selling lip-smacking dishes like chaat and paav bhaji, Chinese fast food, sweets and ice cream.

Old timers recall how the fair over the years has reflected the changing lifestyle of the people.

“People in those days used to buy garments and a few household items but today there is a flood of electronic and other consumer goods,” said Anees Khan, a 70-year-old who had been visiting the exhibition since his childhood days.

Since its inception, the event has one day reserved for women. Then there is a day earmarked for children. Comedy shows in Hyderabadi style and other cultural programmes are continuing even today.

It was a group of graduates from Osmania University that came up with the idea in 1937 to organise a numaish to sell indigenously produced goods and to provide information to people on various subjects like health and environment.

The Osmania University alumni later formed an exhibition society to organise the event and started using the proceeds for the education of poor women. It later set up Vanita Maha Vidyalaya or a degree college for women.

Today the society runs 18 educational institutions from the money it earns through entry tickets priced at Rs.10 per person and by selling the space to traders.

“The society this year hopes to raise Rs.100 million, but our goal is to achieve the Rs.500 million mark,” said Home Minister and society chief K. Jana Reddy. The government has also extended the lease of the exhibition grounds to the society till 2052.

The traders and exhibitors this year have put up more than 2,500 stalls, including those by traders from Pakistan, Iran and Bhutan. The event, which is in its 67th edition this year, is expected to attract over 2.5 million visitors.

Keeping pace with the changing times, the exhibition society plans to build a huge mall on the exhibition grounds. The society also plans to build three convention centres, two marriage halls to seat 5,000 and underground parking to accommodate 1,000 vehicles.

“The grounds have sufficient space to build multi-storied complexes and we are trying to host the show in an organised fashion,” said society’s honorary secretary Nanak Singh.

However, the plans are facing resistance from some citizens who feel that the construction of a mall would threaten the sprawling 24-acre exhibition grounds and take away the charm of the event.

The numaish has been free from any major untoward incident since its inception but the three blasts in the city since May last year have forced the authorities to focus on security arrangements.