Into the by lanes of history
An edited version of this article was published in May’15 Vistara in-flight magazine as A tryst with the past
Hyderabad the pearl of India has always been in the hot seat for power struggle, art, craft and its glory in Persian poems. Each and every facet of this city is immersed in the beauty of its history that has faded to time immemorial. The city has a blend of old world charm in its streets and the development of the new age era in its HITEC city. Hyderabad doesn’t need a reason or a season to be explored for it’s an all year through phenomena to be experienced.
In the heart of the city stands the iconic structure, dating back to the sixteenth century called Charminar meaning four minarets. Built by Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah the imposing erection is two storied with a mosque on the top floor facing the west towards Mecca. Beautiful stucco work and ornamental arches with great aerial views adds aesthetic value to the monument. The nucleus of Hyderabad’s sociocultural setup, the area bustles with life as vendors sell goods of every kind.
Radiating from the towering structure is the Laad Bazaar a lively street and a paradise for women. It is told that Mohammed Quli set up this place as a shopping destination for his daughter’s wedding to Aurangzeb’s son. The small shops have a wide range of bangles with varied designs and colours to suit the Indian palate. Once you enter the shops you are greeted to bling and glows as bangles studded with stones, pearls and meenakari work reflect the days light. From new born to grownups there is wide variety of bracelets, kadas and bangles made of metal, plastic and lacquer for all age groups. Starting from 100 INR to as much as 1000 INR depending on your budget you can choose the design of your choice.
Few steps down the lane are the shops selling jewellery made from the prized gem. Studs, earrings, bangles, necklaces studded with various colours and shapes of pearl are displayed. Palette of colours with a plethora of options like gold, black, white, pink and lavender pearl are available. Shop owners patiently explain the tests to be carried out to ensure the pearl isn’t a fake. Light a fire below the pearl, if it turns black it isn’t the right choice. When scrapped, flakes shouldn’t come off it is the other test to check the authenticity of this precious thing. There is something for every shopper is it the economical or the high end type, well you are indeed spoilt for choice.
Across the street from Charminar beside Mecca Masjid stands Nimrah Bakery since 1993. A non-descript eatery with a constant inflow of guests serves Irani chai. A 90 ml tea that is prepared tad different as compared to the regular chai, this one has a milky texture. Pauna, tea prepared with higher quantity of milk and hence a higher price well not much, just Rs. 12 is a must try when in Hyderabad. It is told the immigrants from Persia brought the Irani chai to our lands. Dilkush, a variant of pie with a filling of coconut, cherries, nuts and tutti fruiti, an in-house product of the bakery is a great accompaniment for tea at Rs. 10. Shirmal bread made from white refined flour which has its origins in Persia is baked in the kitchens of Nimrah and is a hot selling product for Rs.10.
Abids Road in Hyderabad is a place that has history steeped into it. There are stories that the valet of Nizam IV, Albert Abid had a shop in the oldest commercial hub of Hyderabad. The market and the road were named after him. A.A. Hussain & Co. in Abids Road was originally a general store selling imported goods but later converted into a bookstore in 1949. Books are stacked all across the store and hearing the anecdotes of Asif’s ancestors is an interesting way to spend the day. In the past the shop also sold greeting cards and has received awards for selling record number of UNICEF cards. Till date, loyal customers throng into this quaint bookshop for the personalized attention that they receive. Some values indeed cannot be replaced or taken over by technology and modernism.
En-route to Golconda Fort the erstwhile capital of the Qutub Shahi dynasty is the Qutub Shahi tombs. Seven tombs of the Qutub Shahi rulers and 2 mosques are housed in this premise. A blend of Bahmani, Persian and Tughlaq architecture led to the evolution of Deccani style of monuments through the use of granite, sand and lime. A shutterbug’s delight Sultan Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah’s mausoleum is the grandest of all the structures in Qutub Shahi tombs.
In Hyderabad you hear rhymes echoing the stories of its rich past, some faded with the sands of time but many remembered for its rich glory. Go ahead and explore a slice of its history!
How to Get There?
Vistara flies daily to Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad.
Where to Stay?
One can stay at the Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad. Phone: 040 6629 8585; www.tajhotels.com
- Do try the Hyderabadi Biryani, Khubani ka Meetha and Shahi Tukda when in the city
- Sound and Light show at Golconda fort with songs and Amitabh Bachchan’s narration is an experience that shouldn’t be missed