A day with Charminar in the Old City Hyderabad

The best time to spend a day with the Charminar is the holy month of Ramadan. The life around the monument in the old city of Hyderabad is busy, buzzing and beautiful during this period. Those who have visited the old city on Ramzan days may not agree with me because it is heavily crowded and congested during Ramzan. But only the sensitive eyes can discover how lively, how beautiful and how colorful the area around the Charminar in the old city is just as only the sensitive mind can hear the “Song of the Rain”.

Ramzan is in full swing these days. Previously, I read many stories of the old city and the Charminar from bloggers and travelers on the web. I could not help accepting the invitation of the stories to visit the old city this time. The unfelt bliss of exploring the tempo of life around the historic icon of Hyderabad drove me to go out with my Nikon camera the last Sunday. I kept aside all my disturbing thoughts of crowd, congestion, traffic, noise, dirt and dust in the old city.

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I hit the exploration drive with a visit to the Chowmahalla Palace, one of the tourist attractions of Hyderabad and one of the best things to see around the Charminar in the old city. But I am not going to talk about my dating with the history and beauty of the Chowmahalla Palace in this story because it demands a full-length account.

The imposing Charminar at a distance stole the show with me when I came out of the Chowmahalla Palace. It was standing silently amidst the human and vehicular traffic, entertaining the visitors, tourists and photographers. From a distance, I noticed many people in the corridor of the first floor of the monument and could not resist the urge to join them.

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I purchased one entry ticket for five rupees from the counter on the base. I was let in with the camera as still photography is free, but visitors have to pay an extra amount for carrying video cameras inside the monument. Entry to the upper floors is closed. The visitors were guided to climb the stairs to the first floor through two of the four minarets. A fleet of 52 stairs led me to the first floor which is like a gallery with an open balcony.

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The large windows in the balcony of the first floor command stunning views of the old city in all directions. Catching an eyeful of the old city from high was as wonderful as watching the full moon from earth. I was thrilled by the colorful glimpses of the sprawling market on ground. I randomly clicked pictures of the buzzing life and the bustling market from the balcony. It was a multibillion dollar pleasure that I am thankful to my Nikon P520 for.

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Then I stood in the long queue of visitors waiting to climb down the stairs through one of the other two minarets. Once on ground, I went on a photography spree in the area around the Charminar. A temporary bazaar comprising tens of stalls selling fruits, delicacies, snacks, attar and women-special items including churis dominates the area in the Ramzan month. The sight of the stalls with canopies of different colors over them appeared like patchwork on a piece of cloth, from a distance.

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I had heard a lot about the Lad Bazaar, the bangle market near the Charminar, before I came to Hyderabad. The entire lane of the Lad Bazaar is lined with bangle shops on both sides. The Muslim community in the old city own and run most of the shops selling pearl bangles, minakari bangles, kundan bangles, and lac bangles of the Hyderabadi style. I walked through the Lad Bazaar, visited two shops and clicked pictures. The shopkeepers were all smiles to welcome non-buyers like me.

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Irani Chai is a must-have hot beverage in the old city of Hyderabad. A day in the old city feels lazy without sips of Irani Chai. I treated myself to one cup of Irani Chai with a plate of Osmania biscuits at Nimrah which is just a stone’s throw from the Charminar. Biryani, the most popular culinary icon of Hyderabad, is another must-have gastronomic pleasure in the old city. I satisfied the gastronome in me with a plateful of chicken biryani at Shadab, one of the best biryani points in the old city.

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Haleem in Hyderabad is the most popular and delicious flavor of the Ramzan month. Haleem was on my list when I visited the old city last week. I gave it a miss because the stomach was full of biryani at the day end. As my taste buds were craving for haleem, I visited the Haleem Festival at Shilparamam to please them just two days back.

Coming back to my visit to the old city, I had some sweet moments over one glass of faluda at Shadab. Then, I came back with a treasure of photographs which are eloquent enough to speak of the time I happily spent there. “All is well if the end is well.”   

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