Charminar: This weekend I visited Charminar, yet again, with my friend Sud.. and the place continued to thrall me with its ethereal beauty despite the fact that betel juice traced its path from the streets and along the winding stairs (that path could do with some lighting) bang into the balcony. The glimpse of the (not-yet-crowded) bazaar through the balcony was made memorable when the clocks chimed at 11:00am (Charminar is one of the many clock towers adorning the twin cities ::4 clocks, to be more precise::) while the lazy pigeons sat perched in their moolah oblivious to the furor and the shutterbugs clicking away to glory.
(PS: Single female visitors will not be allowed to enter Charminar owing to security reasons, there were few eve-teasing instances in the past, it is better to tag along with a friend.)
|In and around Charminar|
Famous Govind Bandi: The next stop was the famous Govind bandi for some hot cheese dosa. I missed out on my cheese dosa by a whisker but the buttery dosa kind of made up since the descent from Charminar was tiring thanks to the dark winding stairs.
(PS: If you are visiting Charminar during the day do not miss this bandi fare. The sooner you reach the bandi the better. Sud was on a mission and started her trip at Charminar with a hot sumptuous cheese dosa, if you reach the bandi late - which closes by 1pm, you may have to settle for a buttery dosa like I did.)
The Laad Bazaar: Our next stop was supposed to be Chowmahalla palace for which we had to walk through Laad bazaar and since we left our blinkers and ear plugs home, we went for a quick bangle shopping (just kidding! we fell for the sales pitches). After a happy detour where we picked few stone studded bangles for Sud (after some not-so-hardcore bargaining) we headed to our original destination.
(PS: It is advisable to bargain while shopping for bangles at Laad bazaar. Better tag along with local Hyderabadi friend(s) however hopeless they are at bargaining. Always start with half-price or use your instincts.)
It was fun to recall the history of the Nizams parading through the palace which was origially spread in about 45 acres but is now confined to 12 acres. Princess Esra, former wife of Prince Mukarram Jah Bahadur, is instrumental in restoring the palace to its past glory and telling the city their story. The Palace now holds souvenirs of the Nizam dynasty through several exhibits - featuring photographs, paintings, crockery, arms, clothes and carriages/cars. Certain parts of the palace are not open to the public yet, but one gets a peek into the royalty and grandeur that once was, Chowmahalla(t) palace.
(P.S: Thanks Sud for planning this trip and enlightening me about Chowmahalla meaning four palaces :D)
|Irani chai Nimrah cafe|
Irani Chai and Osmania biscuit: My first date with Irani chai was in December when I visited Nimrah cafe for a cuppa, but the chai fell flat in terms of taste (too much milk and way too much sugar) and texture. Sud convinced me to take the leap of faith (she considered herself to be the lucky food companion) and to order the famous Irani chai of Nimrah and their partners-in-crime osmania biscuits. Oh boy! Sud was right (it is now certified, she is a lucky food companion). The tea tasted better than what I had when I last visited this place. After quickly sipping tea and getting refreshed, we headed to Mecca masjid for some peace and calm. (It is a bad idea to ask for special Irani chai for your friends visiting Hyderabad, just order your cuppa and enjoy.)
(PS: Women are advised to carry a shawl/dupatta while visiting this mosque.)
This trip also ended with a cup of refreshing Irani chai, now I know why this is the go-to beverage for most Hyderabadis. While walking back to catch our respective cabs I recalled Sarojini Naidu's famous poem, 'In the bazaars of Hyderabad', which I discussed with Sud when I first visited this place with her in 2012.
Disclaimer: This is my account of the city and the places I am trying to discover. This post does not provide a 360° view of those places.
Photo Credits: Clicked by Sud (most of them) and me