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Adab Hyderabad

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Hyderabad, pulsates to the rhythm of modern times; shopping malls, commercial complexes, five-star hotels and resident apartment blocks all cheek by jowl with old palaces, villas and of course the bustling old marketplace around the city’s iconic Charminar. Now, as modern Hyderabad concentrates on becoming India’s cyber capital the old ways of adaab, a tradition of courtesy and grace, may be getting frayed but one can still catch glimpses of it in the ancient city.

Even as one crosses Naya Pul which spans the Musi River to reach the old city, one is caught up in the frenetic bustle of life and the roadside stalls that line the pavements burst with wares for every need as women sporting burqas seem to sprout from nowhere, haggling for bargains. It is a scene straight from the Arabian Nights with the Charminar right in the middle of a maze of fascinating bazaars.

Laad Bazaar houses row upon row of glass and lacquer bangle sellers, each shop offering a sparkling variety of multi-coloured bangles, now shimmering, now glistening, now throwing their rainbow colours, just in time to catch the fancy of a young lady passing by who succumbs to the delightful charms on display.

Yes, the old city is a veritable treasure trove of alleys and by-lanes, flush with rich colours. Here you will find lace in every mood, soft, sensuous silks, golden brocades, delicate kundan and pearl jewellery in stunning designs, the heady fragrance of ittar and, of course, an array of shops selling antiques, crystalware and bidriware.

The Charminar itself is a monument of architectural splendour, built in the Qutb Shahi style characteristic of Hyderabad. It is adorned with delicate stucco ornamentation and its four minarets create a graceful, fluted structure. The Charminar was built in 1591 in the heart of the old city to mark the end of an epidemic of plague.

Another legend has it that Quli Qutb Shah built the Charminar for his lady love Bhagwati, an attractive village belle who he would meet each night at the very spot upon which the monument now stands. The city then was called Bhagyanagar after the maiden. But when she was ushered into the royal family as Hyder Mahal, the city, significantly, was re-christened Hyderabad. The Mecca Masjid, a magnificent edifice which took over a hundred years to build, is just a stone’s throw away from the Charminar. Begun by the sixth Qutb Shahi Sultan in 1614, the masjid was eventually completed by none other than the Mughal Emperor, Aurangazeb. Within its precincts lie the tombs of the Nizams of Hyderabad.

The Nizams are now part of history but further down the road is the resplendent palace complex of Chowmahalla, which gives visitors a glimpse for their lavish lifestyle. This 12 acres complex comprising two courtyards, palaces, gardens and fountains was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and the palaces were restored and recently thrown open to the public. The palaces are an eyeful especially the grand Durbar Hall with its 19 chandeliers and the marble platform on which the royal throne was placed.

Not far from here is the Salar Jung Museum that epitomizes the spirit of Hyerabadi nobility. The museum houses over 35,000 objets d’ art, all part of the private collection of a single man, Nawab Salar Jung III who served as Prime Minister of the Nizam. Porcelain, carved Louis XV furniture, jade hilt daggers and swords that belonged to Mughul emperors and their queens, bronze and marble sculptures, intricate ivory carvings, miniature paintings and the works of European masters, an endless collection of chandeliers, artefacts and priceless treasures from all over the world are a living testimony to the man’s artistic taste and enormous wealth. And while in the city one must try its delightful cuisine: aromatic Hydrabadi biryani cooked over a slow wood fire, Mirchi ka Salan, raita and Dum ka Chicken with Hyderabadi naan and rotis. Top off the meal with creamy Sheermal garnished with silver and rose petals and Double ka Meetha, a crunchy delicious dessert served hot or cold with fresh cream. Yes, when a traditional Hyderabadi daavat calls, even heaven can wait.

File Facts

Hyderabad is very well connected by road, rail and air to the rest of the country. It even has its own international airport.

By way of accommodation it has the entire range of options from plush 5-star properties to budget hotels.

Golconda Fort, 14 km from the city, is a must on any Hyderabad itinerary. About a kilometer from the fort are the tombs of the rulers of the Qutab Shahi dynasty. Also worth visiting is the marble Birla Temple at the summit of Kala Pahad which offers a panoramic view of the city.


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