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The Hyderabad crematorium that, among other services, offers funeral rites viewable live on the web
Bidding goodbye to the mortal remains of a loved one is always a sad occasion, and poorly maintained government crematoria don’t really help. But in Hyderabad, an initiative by its civic body, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, hopes to change all of that.

It has re-developed a crematorium to make it chic, with funeral rites viewable live on the web, bathrooms and lockers for mourners, a cafeteria and a nice garden. Called Mahaprasthanam, which means ‘final journey’ in Telugu, it is located in the posh Jubilee Hills area. Earlier there used to be a derelict crematorium and burial ground over 3.7 acres there, but the grounds have been transformed into a well-landscaped garden with lights and a walk way. The GHMC tied up with Phoenix Foundation to turn it into a modern facility at a cost of Rs 3 crore. Mourners can avail of several services: like a hearse and a store that sells all that’s needed to conduct rituals. An inhouse pandit, of course, is always at hand. Mahaprasthanam also boasts of bathrooms. “There is a belief that one has to have a bath after attending a funeral. In these busy times when everyone has to go back to work, a bath can be had in the premises itself,’’ says an official at the site.

As one heads for a bath, there are lockers available to keep valuables, clothes, wallets and keys. Flowers, an integral part of the send-off, are also available at the venue. Relatives and friends who cannot fly down for the funeral can watch the events unfold on a website as the venue offers live streaming of rituals. The electric pyre has also been refurbished. “This is the first time that the GHMC has taken up the modernisation of a [funeral centre]. We plan to refurbish another 30 such crematoria in Hyderabad,’’ says Special Officer Somesh Kumar. The complex is studded with CCTV cameras and security guards to keep trouble at bay.