Charminar – Hyderabad’s ’shaan’

The first thought when I saw the Charminar was ‘hey, this isnt as imposing as I thought it would be!’ The Charminar was a pleasant sight amidst the hustle and bustle of the busy streets in the old part of Hyderabad. The proportions of this beautiful structure almost makes it sweet-looking; it really is one of the nicest monuments I have seen.

We parked the car at the Chowmahalla palace. And after seeing the palace, we walked to Charminar. See map below. ‘A’ is Chowmahalla and ‘B’ is Charminar.


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As we turned left, I saw the Charminar up ahead … Hyderabad 2010 112

… and I was really surprised to not find it belittling! This is in spite of having seen many many pics of it all over the internet.

Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the 5th ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty built Charminar at the end of the 16th century, shortly after he had shifted his capital from Golkonda to what is now known as Hyderabad. Apparently, he built this famous structure to commemorate the elimination of a plague epidemic from this city. He is said to have prayed for the end of a plague that was ravaging his city and vowed to build a mosque at the very place where he was praying. The mosque became popularly known as Charminar because of its four minarets.

The structure was at one time the heart of the city. There is also a legend of an underground tunnel connecting the palace at Golkonda to Charminar, possibly intended as an escape route for the Qutub Shahi rulers.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see it very elegantly designed – again, the surprise factor was about not finding it imposing at all, even when we walked right under it! The carved intricate details were very beautiful.

Hyderabad 2010 113

Hyderabad 2010 114

Hyderabad 2010 115

looking at this, both the daughter and I marveled at how lace like the edges were

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We could see people at the first storey, however, we didn’t go up ourselves. It was in the middle of the afternoon and the place was very very crowded. We didn’t want to wear the kids out. We had already spent a few hours at the Chowmahalla palace and we still had to walk around in the neighbourhood. Perhaps another time!

Hyderabad 2010 117

Some interesting trivia excerpts about the Charminar from Wikipedia:

  • The actual mosque occupies the top floor of the four-storey structure.
  • Each of the floors was meant for a separate branch of learning - before the structure was transformed by the Imperial British administration into a warehouse for opium and liqueurs. Sad!
  • In 2007, Hyderabadi Muslims living in Pakistan constructed a replica of the Charminar in Karachi.

Charminar overlooks another beautiful and grand mosque, the Makkah Masjid. Will post about it soon. Here’s a view of the Charminar from the Makkah Masjid.

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the little boy is my son enjoying running behind the goats at the Makkah masjid ..

The famous Laad bazaar is right near the Charminar. It is famous for its exquisite bangles; it is the daughter’s 2nd grade school comprehension worksheet about the Laad bazaar that got me planning our Hyderabad trip. Will post about the Laad bazaar too.

All pics in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.

The road to Hyderabad

So, as promised in the previous post – here’s the first of the posts about the trip. We hit the road after breakfast the first day of the Christmas vacations. After crossing the Bangalore International airport in Devanahalli, it took us about 7 hours to reach the Hyd city limits, and this included 2 relaxing stops – both about 45 mins long. The route is NH7: Bangalore - Chikballapur - Bagepalli - Penukonda - Anantapur - Gooty - Kurnool - Jadcherla – Hyderabad.


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The only thing about this route is we didnt find too many by-the-highway rest areas. Just a couple of decent ones – 1, a Kamat just after Chikballapur and another an hour before Hyderabad. This is a pretty good one, a nice newly opened restaurant on a lake side. You even see trains chugging along at a distance when you are seated here.

At the end of December, which is when we went, the entire stretch was a 4 lane divided freeway, including fully ready bypasses for all the towns on the way. So, this helped it make it a very peaceful, uneventful cruise through and through. Also, the entire stretch is on the Deccan plateau, which is located between 3 mountain ranges: the Western Ghats form its western boundary, and the Eastern Ghats its eastern boundary. Both the ghats rise from their respective nearby coastal plains and nearly meet at the southern tip of India. The Deccan plateau is separated from the Gangetic plain to the north by the Satpura and Vindhya Ranges, which form its northern boundary.

We got to appreciate how absolutely flat the land was – we could see the countryside from horizon to horizon and saw the road stretch ahead of us till the horizon too. No exaggeration. The countryside is beautiful, not in the everything is green and bountiful like the western ghats side of Karnataka. This is more drier, and yet peaceful and beautiful in its own way.

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

the never ending sight of the road ahead of us

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

the beautiful countryside, bright blue sky, and a sense of calm

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

the beautiful contrasts of people’s clothing and their freeway surrounds

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

While the blue sky was a blessing for photography, the car’s tinted glass helped too :)

We reached Hyderabad as the Sun was setting. We couldn’t believe how easy the long stretch had been with the kids. The best thing to do with kids is to always give them the required breaks to run around, play, eat, use the rest-rooms, and they invariably make great companions on the road.

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

We got on the never-ending flyover, as the kids call the 10+ kms flyover from just outside the Hyd airport till the center of the city. We reached Banjara Hills, where we were staying, within minutes.

More about the places we visited in the subsequent posts

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All pics in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.

The road trip to Hyderabad

Hyderabad Diaries

The trip to Hyderabad was a long pending one – husband’s aunt who has been there for 3 years had been inviting us to pay a visit. Also, recently, the daughter at school got a small comprehension worksheet about the Laad bazaar and its bangles. The last question in the sheet was to find out about points of interest in Hyderabad. When she was working on the project, I helped her look up Hyderabad on wikipedia. We listed out a few things for her write-up, but read up about everything else. There was one thing that fascinated her – the Salar Jung museum; the fact that there was a museum simply to house one man’s collection!

So, anyway, come Christmas vacations, and I was very clear about taking the kids to Hyderabad. The husband loves to drive and the 2 of us love road trips. Hyderabad seemed far fetched with the kids, considering the distance. But one of my friends had done this and said that it was easily doable. So, off we went at the start of the vacations …

Will do more posts in the days to come about each of our stops and things we did. Do watch this space.

For you, a thousand times over

Just finished watching the movie, ‘The Kite Runner’. What a well made movie. While I have read the book and enjoyed the book too, the movie really made an impression on me. Beautiful narration, pace, cinematography, cast, and lovely, lovely picture tones. Overall, awesome.

I enjoyed the book too – especially the first half. Loved reading about Kabul, how it was, the lives people led, and the overall narration. But the book kind of got too windy and dramatic in the second half and sort of lost me. However, the movie keeps a good pace and weans away from the over-dramatisation, keeping things almost to the minimal and I loved that. Beautiful direction of such a famous book – not an easy thing to do.

The casting was near perfect. Every scene was perfect too.

The loyalty in the story is what is really touching. As is the pride and self respect. I really liked the character of Amir’s father. Very old school and yet very loving. Amir was really blessed to have been surrounded by such nice people though out. It is also sad that he didnt stand up for anything or anybody until the end. It was very heart-breaking to have his friend/servant boy turn back and say, “for you, a thousand times over” when he had to run and bring back the kite, the kite that they had cut during the kite flying competition.

The best thing about the book and the movie too is the peek that we get into the old Kabul, the Kabul that is now gone. One of the best things about the movie is the picturisation of the flying kites. Really amazing. Wonder how they managed the camera work.

And to learn that the Russians cut off all the tress – and for the heck of it! Russians keep making it harder and harder to be liked, and I dont mean just in this story.

For Kabul and its people, I wish they get to go back to how they lived. To their past glory and peace. Too much to ask?

Bangalore from inside a Vayu Vajra

Recently, I was riding in the Volvo Vayu Vajra to reach the venue of a photography assignment. When I saw the city whizz by, I took a few pics. As I was looking at the city, the city I grew up in, through the viewfinder, I was left with different feelings - nostalgia, a feeling of life having rushed past, placidity, a sense of silence …

Sharing here some of them pics.

Bangalore - Chitra Aiyer Photography

Bangalore - Chitra Aiyer Photography

Bangalore - Chitra Aiyer Photography

Bangalore - Chitra Aiyer Photography

Bangalore - Chitra Aiyer Photography

Bangalore - Chitra Aiyer Photography

Bangalore - Chitra Aiyer Photography

What is your relationship with Bangalore, if you have any? How do feel towards the city now … in 2011?