As I stepped out into the hot flash air and a teeming crowd covering the streets full of colourful dupattas, choodies (coloured thin glass bangles) and a strong smell of itar, I found myself on the iconic street of old Hyderabad.
The Charminar (four minarets) constructed in 1591, is a monument and a mosque. The Iranian Architecture will leave you spellbound along with the lovely crowd around.
The old Hyderbad has all the famous street food outlets, the old and famous ittar and bangles shops, and other vendors selling their products. This sector will give you the real feel of the city.
The tale behind the ‘Charminar’
The monument was built by the fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 when shifting his capital from Golconda to Hyderabad. It is said that he moved the capital from Golconda to Hyderabad because of an inadequacy of water. It is also said that he announced to build a minaret the day the suffering of the plague ends.
Apart from this tale, there is another which is likely the love story of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah because according to the book “Days of the Beloved”, the place where Charminar is standing with all its glory now was the same place where he saw his beloved wife, Baghmati for the first time. It is said that he built the minaret as a symbol of his undying love for his wife.
However, it is widely accepted that Charminar was built at the centre of the city, to commemorate the eradication of cholera”, a deadly disease which was widespread at that time. According to Jean De Thevenot, a French traveller of the 17th century whose narration was complemented with the available Persian texts, the Charminar was constructed in the year 1591 CE, to commemorate the beginning of the second Islamic millennium year (1000 AH). The event was celebrated far and wide in the Islamic world, thus Qutb Shah founded the city of Hyderabad to celebrate the event and commemorate it with the construction of this building.
Historical fact: It was constructed using blocks made from soil brought from Islam’s holy land of Mecca.
Ticket price for the Charminar
The entrance for Indians costs 25 INR, 250 INR for Foreigners. To save time in booking queues, you can buy an online ticket from the official Architectural Society of India website and enter the monument directly which will even cost you less.
Did you miss my article about Taj Mahal? Read it now.
Laad Bazaar: Wedding Shopper’s Heaven
It’s like stepping into another world, Laad Bazaar, a kilometre-long traditional shopping street leading from the Charminar, still manages to sparkle. For the Hyderabadi woman, no preparation for a wedding is complete without a trip to Laad Bazaar – shopping heaven for a magnificent range of bridal wear, itar, mehndi, Surma, talismans, bags and belts set with the glittering mirrors and stone-studded laah bangles, a plethora of diamanté jewellery. You can also find the finest lace, sherwanis befitting the grandest groom with every accompanying finery.
Bangles – The prime attraction
The star attraction of all these is, of course, the bangles by which the kilometres long route of shops got its name. Bangles made of lacquer (Laad), on which artificial diamonds and precious stones are studded.
Prices range from 100 INR for a dozen of the plain and lightly adorned bangles in traditional and modern colours to reach beyond ten thousand for the more exclusive laad bangles studded with vibrant coloured stones and decorative patterns.
Though many of the shops display ‘Fixed Price’ signs, bargaining is the keyword which is an expected and accepted practice here. The prices are generally within the mentioned range and some shops are in the business for many years, they could have unwitting buyers, especially the tourists who most often get fooled by the smooth talk of the sellers and end-up giving more than the actual worth.
I wind up my day in true Hyderabadi style, with a cup of Irani chai and the evening snacks from the famous Gokul chat.
The Laad Bazaar is open from 11 am to 9 pm on all days except Friday.
More places to visit in Hyderabad.