As I walked into the hot flash of air and a buzzling crowd covering the streets full of colourful dupattas, bangles everywhere and that strong tingling spicy smell emanating from the street food shops down the lane, I found myself on the iconic street of Hyderabad.
Hyderabad, a city with an enticing plethora of options for food, shopping should be labelled a paradise for travellers and hoggers. Hyderabad, the city that is famous for its scrumptious biryani, beautiful pearls, glittery bangles and Irani cafes that dish out lip-smacking Irani chai and cookies was a great experience for me. While I was there just for two days, there weren’t a lot of places that I could go to (I mean I wanted to cover almost everything there) but time did not permit me. Hence, I did all that I could at my own pace. Nevertheless, there’s one place that you can never miss if in Hyderabad; and that is ‘Charminar.’
Yes, the very place that houses all things charming!
Charminar, the ‘Four Minarets’, built in the year 1591 is a monument and a mosque. It is the commercial hub. Trust me when I say that because I mean to force the fact that it will not let you fall out of love with it. The Iranian Architecture will leave you spellbound along with the lovely crowd around. (I still remember the bhaiya who served me those yummy samosas while I shopped my heart out and all the people who were ogling while I was jumping wearing those bangles in the crowd.)
This part is the real Hyderabad, with all the famous street food outlets, the very famous ittar and bangle shops, vendors selling their products and the good old Muslim food. This area will give you the real feel of the city.
So, what’s the story behind the ‘Four Minarets’?
Charminar being the prominent landmark situated in the old city of Hyderabad was built when Quli Qutb Shah shifted 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 fable which is likely the love story of Quli Qutb Shah because according to the old stories, 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.
While there are a lot of stories for a reason behind the minarets being built and left for explorers like us to admire, let’s not miss Charminar and its grand architecture. Charminar’s architecture shouts to all its beauty, the past glorious era of Hyderabad. The structure of Charminar is a perfect square, and the four grand arches face a fundamental point that opens into four streets. These four streets are right where all my fun began; the shopping plus hogging mania.
What’s in for you at the Charminar?
I’d shout all things glittery, but well, Charminar is famous for grand bargain shopping. Imagine buying bangles worth Rs. 2500 for just Rs. 1500? Yes, and I am not talking about a handful of bangles. I bought six pairs of those heavy ones.
A great deal, right?
Moving on to the market, the streets always stay jampacked with people and vehicles and vendors carrying those big plates full of delectable items. The Charminar area is famous for the delightful food items which are a treasure of the Hyderabadi cuisine. While shopping in the crowded streets, you can quickly fill yourself up with some of the traditional food items available here like Biryani, Mirchi Ka Salan, Haleem and Double Ka Meetha and of course other food items that are common everywhere in India.
NOTE: Don’t forget to sip on the famous Irani Chai or even go for the Falooda ice cream.
What I would not want to miss was the shop where ‘bread’ was being made. Yes, I was randomly walking trying to find a shop for bangles for kids, and a wonderful fragrance of flour mixed with butter tingled my nose and my taste buds. It felt like someone is using the classical baking method. I had to stop there.
When I stopped, I saw a group of 6-7 men working their hands on a soft dough like magic. The bread is a 163- years- old traditional recipe. The bread is known as ‘munshi naan.’ I was stunned to see an old method still being followed passionately because if you notice, most traditional methods have fizzled out by now.
I was even able to spot a couple of ittar shops that smelled wonderful.
The walk down the Charminar was an arcade for a girl like me. So, if you are someone like me, someone who’s crazy about traditional clothes, bargaining like crazy and of course, the food, this is your safe place.
A lot of shopping and hogging later, I realized I spent an entire day there. Although I wasn’t really feeling like leaving, I moved to the other spot I had on my bucket list, ‘Dimmy’s Pan Palace’. Another yummy place, to gorge on some delicious and fresh pan.
I will be talking about it in my next post, ofcourse.
Keep travelling and devouring great food!