Friday, January 01, 2010

Charminar, Hyderabad

The next morning, having showered (shared a bathroom with pigeons) and eaten at the hospital’s canteen, I took a public bus down to Charminar, located in the heart of Hyderabad’s old city. My first destination was the building of Charminar, a triumphal arch now Hyderabad’s city symbol. It was built in 1591 to commemorate the elimination of the plague in Hyderabad. As its name suggests, Charminar has four minarets, each 56 m (184 ft) high. There was a mosque on the roof, but it is no longer being used. The surface of the structure is slightly yellow in color, having gotten its color from a special stucco made from marble powder, gram, and egg yolk. Massive arches occupy most of the bottom area, each about 11 m (36 feet) high. Above the arch on each side is a clock, installed in 1889. Looking through the arches, I could see free-standing arch structures a short distance up each of the four streets. I tried to imagine what the streets going through these arches must have looked like hundreds of years ago, once being royal streets. Perhaps some of the same items were being sold, transactions occurring much like today. The area back then was likely still a gathering place.

Ascending the winding, narrow stairs up the tower, I had great views of the streets that passed through it. On one side, hordes of autorickshaws clustered together. The Mecca Masjid was within easy sight, with pigeons regularly ascending and descending onto the structure and its pool. Off other sides, I could see bazaars, streets specializing in pearls, and another with produce. Looking through the small arches of the structure afforded different views. Light streamed in from the large arches below, illuminating the pigeons that had gathered along the ledges of the opening. A few pigeons rested on top of the head of a relief dragon-like creature carved along with some Arabic writing. On the round ceiling above, a circular relief design echoed the graceful, ornamental look of the structure.
Next I walked down Lad Bazaar, one of the oldest streets in Hyderabad. It is the place to go if preparing for a Hyderabad marriage. Here you can find jewelry, spices, clothes, copper kettles, trimming for wedding dresses, and more. At 10 am, things were pretty quiet yet, many stores not yet open. Walking farther, I reached Mahboob Chowk, a market square featuring a mosque and Victorian clocktower. I continued to wander through the streets, watching Muslim men making lac bangles (including very sparkly ones that took 1-2 days and were made for weddings), a man making kites, stores selling burquas, pearl shops, dental booths promoting creation of dentures, and stores selling gorgeous saris.

While walking towards the bus station, a man on a tricycle pulling an empty flat cart approached me and asked if I could take his photo. So thankful, he insisted that I ride on his cart to the bus station. Riding on the cart afforded me a unique view of the now-bustling market streets. People waved to me and said hi as they passed by on their motorcycles and bikes. Out of the back of a crammed autorickshaw popped the heads of several women in burquas, also sharing their greetings. One Muslim woman on the back of a motorcycle pulled out her cell phone and began recording the scene.

1 comment:

Romantic bed and breakfasts said...

Charminar meaning "Mosque of the Four Minarets" and "Four Towers" is the most prominent mosque and monument in the city of Hyderabad. Charminar is a stunning and exciting square monument. Each side measures 20 m, and each of the corners has a high pointed minaret. These four charmingly carved minarets soar to a height of 48.7 m above the ground.