I remember distinctively, my dad’s narration about Hyderabad and its cultural grandeur and when I started studying Hotel Management, Hyderabad and its cuisine was always explained as one of the distinctive cuisines India has and since then Hyderabad was my dream city to visit. A month before i leave the city, I planned my solo trips to some most interesting tourist places.
This sunday, 5th Novemeber, 2017, I throttled my cafe racer 535 to visit the architecture of the majestic Golconda fort which breathes of history and pride and from there i planned to trip Charminar and the surrounding Laad market.
So, as it was, I set out for Golconda fort, one fine Sunday morning. A forty minutes drive over dust found myself humbled with awe by a magnificent example of human creation. The fortress walls have been along for quite some time of the journey, but the citadel is where the fanciest of the action is. After some time at the queue, the realization dawned on me that I was perhaps the odd one out in the crowd. But let me tell you this, travelling solo brings a certain freedom which is unparalleled. It’s choice of random paths without carrying the additional burden of time, company or even, destination.
Entering the citadel premises, through the main (and only) entrance, the first sight that greets you is the number of visitors clapping underneath the dome, trying to emulate the improvised warning system that the fort used. The warning clap under the dome could alert the troops garrisoned in the fortress, such is the marvel of the acoustics.
Walking paths like this, you can’t help but imagine how the scenes would have been during the glorious period of the fort. You can choose your path to climb up to the top of the Golconda fortress. Climb up the stairs as Golconda unravels history part by part. Look up, and the structure humbles you, look down and the architecture never ceases to amaze.
The granary is easily distinguishable from this inscription in Persian. The inscription is a testimony to the establishment of the granary by the Qutb Shahi, bearing the date of installment.
Moving further up, I reached the Ibrahim Mosque in the fortress grounds. The minarets reached an appreciable height, even though the architecture bore simple Qutb Shahi art.
Walking upwards, a lawn with some refreshment stalls is in rightful existence. Since the climb upwards can be exhausting and some juices are welcome for rejuvenating. The prices are reasonable.
Following some steep and narrow stairways, the view opens up to the wide terrace of the Baradari. This is the highest point of view in the fort, and as expected a panoramic view of the city is for treat. When I think about it, the skyline illustrated how I was viewing the future, while my feet were rooted in the past. The skyline of the city was in stark contrast with the Golconda area. A confluence of the past and the present which can be surprising.
From there, I again start for Charminar.
Maneuvering through the narrow road filled with autos and pedestrians, I reached Charminar, it was a bumper-to-bumper traffic and the vehicles were moving very slowly. Pedestrians walking on roads, crossing the road was a common sight and honking horns was in vain, for they rarely bothered about vehicles passing through. As it was a Sunday morning, I got parking space near Charminar itself.
Mohammed Quli Qutab Shah constructed Charminar in 1591 to mark the end of plague in Hyderabad.
Charminar is a massive and impressive structure with four minarets. It has four imposing arches facing four directions. A row of small vaulted niches ornament each of the four arches. Charminar is square in shape and each side measures 100 feet.
The minar is a two-storied building with the first floor being covered. The balconies on the floor provide a great view of the surrounding areas. A small mosque adorns the top floor. The mosque is situated on the western side facing Mecca. The mosque is said to be the oldest surviving mosque in Hyderabad.
The four minarets of the Charminar dominate the landscape of the region. The minarets, their domed finials rising from their lotus-leaves cushion, rise to 180 feet from the ground. The whole structure contains various small and ornamental arches arranged in vertical and horizontal fashion. The cornice on the first floor upholds a series of six arches and capitals on each portico, rising to the double-story gallery of the minarets. The projected canopy, decorative brackets and decoration in stucco plaster add graceful elegance to Charminar. On the upper courtyard, a screen of arches topped by a row of square jalis or water screens provides a delicate charm to the look of Charminar. Inside the minarets 149 winding steps guide the visitor to the top floor, the highest point one can reach, which provides a panoramic view of the city. All the four arches have a clock each installed in 1889.
The beautiful colossus in granite, lime, mortar and, some say, pulverised marble, was the heart of the city then. Initially, the monument with its four arches was so proportionately planned that when the fort was opened one could catch a glimpse of the bustling Hyderabad city as these Charminar arches were facing the most active royal ancestral streets. There is also a legend of an underground tunnel connecting the palace at Golkonda to Charminar, possibly intended as an escape route for the Qutub Shahi rulers in case of a siege, though the exact location of the tunnel is unknown.
A breakfast with Nihari at Shah Ghouse was immaculate. Nihari is a typical lamb trotter soup which is being savoured by all in this city of pearls. The restaurant boil these lamb trotters long enough to give the stock a sticky meaty flavour.
They say that the Charminar market had some 14,000 shops and we went to get the feel of shopping in the famous markets known as Laad Baazar and Pather Gatti. The markets are favourite of both tourists and locals for jewelry, especially known for exquisite bangles and pearls. The colourful shops sell items like glass bangles, pearls, jewelry, traditional Muslim gear and Mughlai delicacies.
The Laad Bazzar or the Bangle Street was loud and bustling. Found number of pearl jewelry shops along the narrow streets, besides cloth shops, bangle sellers, food emporiums, costume makers, booksellers, artisans, and what not almost one can imagine.