Friday, July 13, 2012

Hyderabad Chronicles III - Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Chowmahalla Palace, Hussain Sagar and Birla Mandir

Hyderabad Chronicles II - Walking through Salar Jung Museum
Hyderabad Chronicles III - Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Chowmahalla Palace, Hussain Sagar and Birla Mandir
Hyderabad Chronicles IV - Golconda Fort, Kutb Shahi tombs, Spanish Mosque and Secundrabad

Around 1 pm, I came out from Salar Jung museum and started walking towards the iconic Charminar. As I was approaching closer to the area, streets were getting busier. Dotted with small but plenty of shops on both sides, roads were like a human sea.

In one shop both potential buyers and sellers are locked in some intense discussion. Another place one, a person casually looks the items displayed in the store. Yet in another one, a lot of people are sitting and talking.

Finally, I reached Charminar, after buying tickets from the counter at the entrance I went in. According to history, the fifth ruler of Qutb Shahi dynasty - Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah - built Charminar just after shifting his capital from Golkonda to Hyderabad in 1591 AD. This building with four archers - each of which is opening to a street - stands in a 20 metre long square edifice. Minarets at four corners of the building are 56 metres high with a dome in the top. Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah built Charminar to commemorate the elimination of plague from the city. He prayed for the end of plague and vowed to build a masjid at the same place.

There is a short but steep staircase to reach the first floor. It’s just enough for one person. Outer plastering looks smooth and beautiful from a distance only. If you are going close, especially in the stair cases and first floor - public can't access second floor - people scratched the plaster using pointed objects and wrote their names.

From first floor you can see the crowded city. Both Mecca Masjid and Nizamia General Hospital are close to Charminar. After spending some time there I got down and walked in the direction of Mecca Masjid.

Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah commissioned the construction of Mecca Masjid. The mosque got its name as the bricks used in construction were made of soil brought from Mecca. This is one of the oldest mosques in Hyderabad City and one among the biggest in India. Even though the construction was started by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, it was completed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb after his conquest of Hyderabad.

There is a thriving fruit market - Mangoes, apples, grapes, sugar cane etc - in front of Mecca Masjid. I took two glasses of sugarcane juice - 5 Rs/glass. In my two days journey, I bought sugar cane juice from various parts of Hyderabad and her twin Secunderabad, the price fluctuated in a range of 5-10 Rs/glass.

A small Road on the sides Mecca Masjid took me to Chowmahalla Palace. Chowmahalla - means four palaces Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal - was the seat of Asaf Jahi dynasty, official residence of Nizam. Takht-e-Nishan or the royal seat of Nizam is located at Darbar Hall of Khilwat Mubarak here. The presence of 19 Chandeliers of Belgian crystal makes it more attractive.

I walked through various palaces and reached heritage vehicle museum in the end. After spending some more time here I boarded a Secunderabad bus to reach Andra Pradesh state museum. Unfortunately, I didn't recognise the stop and finally get down at the Secandrabad end of Hussain Sagar lake.

Fine, I walked back through the tank bund road. Water body stands at one side of the road and statues of well known personalities in Andra history at the other side. Hussain sagar offers required empty space for an otherwise crowded city.

Tank Bund Road
This artificial lake - built on a tributary of Musi River to meet the water and irrigation needs of the city - was built by Hazrat Hussain Shah Wali in 1562, during the reign of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah. A big monolithic statue of Gautama Buddha erected in 1992 in the lake. After reaching the other side of the lake, I continued towards state museum only to see the closed gates. A message was pasted on the wall saying that it will be closed on all public holidays. I don't understand what is the use of a museum to visitors it won't open in holidays.

On the way to museum stands the beautiful white building of AP state assembly. From here I walked towards Birla Mandir standing on the top of Naubath Pahad constructed entirely using white marble. Birla Technology Museum is located close to the mandir. The main deity is Lord Venkateshwara. Only handbags are allowed inside, other things you have to deposit in clock room.

Birla Mandir
I joined the slowly moving queue and went inside. After spending some time inside the temple I came out and sat on the steps. From here you can see the entire City, indeed beautiful scenery. By this time, sun almost set on the western ocean and darkness slowly started spreading her cover over the city. I can see the fountains of Hussain Sagar lake pumping water in to the air.

I was very much tired after the day long walk and decided not go anywhere else and went to a lodge. But this decision cost me one beautiful night on the banks of Hussain Sagar which I realised later. So if you are going to visit Hyderabad don't forget to spend one evening on the banks of Hussain Sagar.


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