By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
Question: When does a 16 kilometre (give or take one or two) walk feel as if it’s over in less than half the time it should take?
Answer: When half your walk is in Mahabubnagar town that seems overflowing with thousand upon thousands of boisterous, excited people cheering on the #BharatJodoYatra.
It was indeed a long morning walk today, perhaps the longest of the Yatra yet. But for the Yatris, the excitement and support of the crowd was like a pure jolt of adrenaline. Says Yatri Shatrughan Sharma, “The crowd fervour was incredible, just out of this world.”
Waiting by the way with the national flag Mohammad Billal, 8 with his sister Mohammadi. “He wants to meet Rahul Gandhi,” said his father Md. Shafi 49.
And almost as if it’s a theme, a little far ahead we came across Manogna 6, with her father, also with the national flag in hand.
Today we also met Rahul Rao, Yatri, who had the opportunity to walk with Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. “It was wonderful experience walking with my leader,” says Rao, “His simplicity is striking; truly he is an inspiration to us all.”
Gandhi had a busy day today, meeting with diverse groups of people during the morning walk. Among others, he met members of the vulnerable forest dwelling Chenchu Adivasi group, a group of local teachers; and representatives of a handloom weaving community, including Padmashri awardee and handloom designer Gajam Anjaiah.
The Yatris took their their midday rest at the Gopal Reddy Garden. In the afternoon there is a planned interaction on education related issues in Telangana – including reduced budget for education, caste discrimination in the colleges; failure of state govt to provide basic facilities in govt institutions; and plight of girl students.
Midday Travel Facts
1. Current District Name – Mahabubnagar
2. The district is famous for its ancient temples and historical structures. Pillalamari, a 700 years old Banyan tree, is a major attraction for tourists.
3. It is believed that the famous Golconda diamonds including the “Kohinoor Diamond” came from this region.
4. Mahabubnagar was an important centre during the Quit India movement and the integration of Hyderabad into the Indian Union
5. Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, the great freedom fighter and first elected Chief Minister of Hyderabad was born in Mahabubnagar. He was was an active participant in the Quit India movement as well as instrumental in bringing Hyderabad into the Indian Union.