Hyderabad, Jan 12: It's January, and so it's 'numaish' time here. From amusement rides to shopping with good bargains and a variety of lip-smacking food, the annual event offers loads of fun and frolic.
In its 75th year, it is considered the mother of all carnivals -- and an integral part of Hyderabad's rich culture.
People eagerly wait for the 45-day event, a unique blend of economy and culture, organised at the sprawling Exhibition Grounds in the heart of this historic city.
It draws people not just from the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad but from other parts of Telangana and even neighbouring states.
Numaish-e-Masnuaat-e-Mulki or in short numaish made a humble beginning in 1938 as an event to promote locally produced goods.
Beginning with just 50 stalls and a capital of Rs.2.50, it has today evolved into one of the biggest industrial exhibitions in the country.
The story behind the event is also interesting and sets it apart from similar exhibitions organised elsewhere.
It was a group of graduates from Osmania University who came up with the idea of exhibition to conduct an economic survey of the state.
The seventh Nizam of Hyderabad State, Mir Osman Ali Khan, inaugurated the first 'numaish'.
Enthused by the good response, it was decided to make it an annual event and use the earnings to promote education.
In 1946, it was shifted to the present venue by the then Prime Minister of Hyderabad, Sir Mirza Ismail. The organisers were allotted 32 acres of open land.
With each passing year, the event grew in size and popularity. Old-timers recall that it became a platform for artists to show their skills. Mushaira or literary activity, songs and qawalis became a part of it.
Now there is more focus on commercial aspect.
Senior citizens recall that in the past the exhibition used to have a women's day every week."Men were not allowed entry those days. The organisers used to completely cover all three gates so that men don't even peep in," said Asad Shameem, who recalled the entry ticket cost 15 paise in 1960s.
Numaish could not be organised in 1947 and 1948 due to the turmoil in the aftermath of India's Independence. With Hyderabad acceding to the Indian Union, the event bounced back in 1949.
Renamed the All India Industrial Exhibition in 1949, it was inaugurated by the first Governor General of India, C. Rajagopalachari.
The society which organises the event runs 18 educational institutions in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana. "We are now going to start a school for orphans," said Telangana Finance Minister Etela Rajender.
The event this year began Jan 1 with as many as 2,500 stalls. Traders from across India, besides local industries, entrepreneurs, hotels and food chains, have set up stalls.These offer everything from home appliances and electronics to jewellery, kitchen ware to foot wear, designer homes to cosmetics.
Various state and central government departments as well as public sector undertakings use the platform to reach out to people.
"From Rs.10 to Rs.10,000, you get everything in this fair. That is why it is so popular," said P. Narotham Reddy, honorary secretary of the society which runs it.
There is also a baby show besides cookery, painting and rangoli competitions.
The organisers this year expect 23-24 lakh visitors, up from 21 lakh last year. The entry fee is a modest Rs.20.
Last year, the society's total revenue was Rs.20 crore. It earned a profit of Rs.11 crore last year and expects a jump of Rs.1 crore to 2 crore this year. It spends 85 percent of the income on educational institutions.