Saturday, February 25, 2006
Charmed at Charminar
I still have to write about Hyderabad. The whole trip will be in a coming post and I write here only about Charminar.
It was our first day in Hyderabad and we had 'done' most of the tourist places. Ma and I were wondering when we coud get down to shopping when Ahmed bhai (very interesting man, await the next post!) decided to take us to the famed Charminar in the older parts of the city.
It was built by Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah in 1591 to commemorate the end of the dreaded plague in the city. It is a huge structure with four minarets and is situated in a square with four huge arches forming entrances to four roads. The place is crowded, to say the least.
The Charminar was opened to the public recently. We got to go up for Rs 10 each. A very narrow flight of steps take you up. The top is crowded too. To guards yell at some tourists for leaning too far from the sides while another takes a picture of a family with the pesky kids fidgeting about. The top offers a good view of the city. You can see the majestic General Hospital which was built by the Nizam, a mosque and people so close together that they look like little ants hurrying about to build a colony.
We get down after the mandatory picture from the top. It is relatively more peaceful below around a little fountain. A few more pictures and we move to Lad Bazaar, very very famous for its bangles. The bangles are made of lac, aragu in Kannada (I am still hunting for its English equivalent), and embedded with glass pieces and beads in intricate designs. Every shop is dazzling with bangles of every hue and colour stacked up to the ceiling. We are supposed to be buying bangles for everyone back home but something happens. So many colours, so many varieties, ranging from Rs 50 a pair to a few thousand rupees leaves us blank. You are so spoilt for choice that you come away buying almost nothing. We just bought a few pairs.
Lad Bazaar is famous for its bridal shops. A lot of Muslims come here to buy their wedding clothes. It is hard to walk down the road but a pleasure nonetheless. I had never walked down such a busy road. If you think Avenue Road in Bangalore is congested and busy, you ought to go here.
It was fun though. Every shop was crowded, one more colourful than the other. I try to capture the wonderous colours with my mobile but the glass encrusted on the bangles is too dazzling and it reflects off the lens. Every guide book talks of Lad Bazaar, it is supposed to be a very old street.
The Charminar is charming for its people, a sea of them. Everyone is bustling about, shy brides are looking over jewellery and fitting bangles to their hands. The shopkeeper talks of how that colour looks stunning on her and she stares at them, dreaming, her eyes as bright as the bangle with dreams of marital bliss. There are foreigners, with Indian friends, oohing and aahing at the splendour. Then there are the tourists, like us, who look lost and stupified, given so much to choose from.
Charminar and Lad Bazaar...aah! Glitter, history, a modern crowd, hard bargaining shoppers, old aunties and young brides, fat gentlemen and no handsome hunks [sadly ;-)]. Variety, colour and shopping! What more could you ask for?