Musings from Hyderabad I

“Old city is extremely crowded… dont drive there… better take an auto or a bus… with children you better be very careful, also with your camera…”

I had been hearing this for close to four months and so was fearing even venturing there. Yesterday I told myself, nah, I am going with my kids and cammy. I hired a driver and surprisingly my husband came along too.

The old city minus all the commercial nonsense is almost a surreal experience. As you drive on the road that leads to the most sought after monument of Hyderabad, the Charminar, there are beautiful tall structures built with granite stones displaying Mughal architecture with a wee bit of influence from Hindus. Now it remains camouflaged with shops on both sides that sell everything from cheap shoes to expensive pearls. The beauty of Charminar can never be experienced by a sane person since there is no sense of traffic or parking area. Nevertheless, you will have enough time to look at it and admire it from the car since you are bound to inch those 500 meters for a minimum of 20-30 mins.

I must add that I wish things were a little better. Our heritage properties ought not to get ignored in our race for commercialism. Having said that, I shall give you a glimpse of the ‘thrill’ that people associate with that part of this city. It is shopping. Bangles pour out of the most sought after street, lad bazar, begum bazar overflows with utensils and groceries, smaller bazars selling chunnis (long scarfs), the list is endless. There are shops that sell naan, the mughalai bread,  surma, the eye liner made organically,  attar, the perfumed oils in antique looking glass bottles in various aromas, paan, the Indian flavoured betel leaf, zardosi wedding wear, the style of embroidery that is a type of embroidery done originally with silver and gold threads and foils embedding gem stones, flashy chappal stalls on the road and shacks that sell ‘modern’ clothes at cheap rates, push carts overcrowding both sides of the roads with plastics, bangles, accessories for girls, ceramic tea cups painted randomly…. Amidst all this are huge heritage structures, a mosque, a college, a general hospital, a dental hospital…. All this speaks of how the rich nawab culture of Hyderabad has become diluted over the years.

I have mixed feeling about my trip there. While I want to absorb more culture I wish the place hadn’t become so commercial. Such a rich cultural heritage is hard to find. I am spellbound. I wish we restored all these buildings and made old city a purely tourist spot with no commercialisation.

More in my next entry….

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