Enter Koti Womens' from the backdoor, and it's like stepping through to the other side of the looking-glass. Just a long, cracking perimeter wall separates the entropy of the main road from the tranquil sanctuary of deep groves and shrubbery inside. It's almost like a terrarium in one's backyard - a little enclosure of captured nature. Within the undergrowth is the entire foodchain, sneaking in and out of the thickets: monkeys, waterbirds, snakes and rodents. And yes, it's still the Koti Women's College we are talking about.
The Koti Women's College structure was built in 1803 by Lt. Samuel Russell for the British resident Kirkpatrick. The college shifted here in 1949 when the Nawab Ali Yaver Jung, who lived here, gave it to them.
The buildings today are a diorama of the passage of time. From the new, bleached white buildings of the Science block to the laboratories in the still serviceable barrack-like Nizam time quarters; from the mud and pigeon-feather encrusted meshes of the Geography department to the enormous Durbar chamber chandeliers that look like a set of rotting teeth with their blackening and missing crystals.
The main building has a Parthenon-like façade with Corinthian pillars, wide marble steps and two imposing lions looking stuck in time. The famous Durbar Hall is close by, and has huge Belgian mirrors, portraits of the Nizams, and unexplained little structures that have stayed all the way since then. In places, the dilapidation is egregious, and it seems like bits of crumbling walls must be in the air, falling on you all the time. Elsewhere, the state of ruin is so picteresque, it almost seems like an effort has gone into keeping it that way.
The college canteen is in one of the building nooks, and makes no effort to reflect the spunky spirit of the girls. It is a decrepit-looking, dusty, railway station type café with wooden benches and iron tables. The food is standard: idlis, dosas, vadas and branded snacks.
Girls mostly hang out under the verdant ancient trees, though monkeys periodically pounce out for a bite. But despite the plucky monkeys and sneaky snakes, the women look relaxed in the halcyon surroundings. With a campus like this, and no dress code, too, you can almost smell the freedom in the air.
For education, Koti Women's offers everything there is to study in Hyderabad, and much more. The self-supporting courses like Masters in Analytical Chemistry, Biotech, Information Sciences and Nutrition cost higher, while the regular ones are inexpensive, given the government financing. The college has rather pro-actively started tie-ups with industry in areas like animation, real-time embedded systems etc. to offer cutting-edge courses. Companies like Rocksys and Color Chips have been roped into these programs.
Placements, consequently, aren't too much of a problem. Between the call-center recruiting spate and the hi-tech companies who need skills like those taught here, the girls don't seem to have much to worry about.
The hostel, which can accommodate about 200 students, is rather inexpensive too, at around Rs. 500 per month.
En fin, a complete tour of Koti Women's won't leave you with any unequivocal impression. Between the timeworn buildings, the timeless trees and the up-to-the-minute courses on offer, it's a rather prismatic mix for you to choose from. Like a pick-what-you-want buffet, this college seems to welcome all kinds.