A Stroll Around Charminar

September 4, 2011

Hyderabad, a city in our southern neighborhood sports quite a few attractions to merit a family visit in a non-summer vacation (summer is punishingly hot). Ramoji Rao film city which provides day long entertainment, the mock snow world, the marble wonder Birla mandir, Golconda fort, Salar Jung museum full of medieval antiquities and most importantly, its sumptuous variety of both veg and non - veg food (including the famous Hyderabadi Biriyani) are few of them. But the true charm of the city and its life lay at and around its most renowned landmark Charminar.

A bus from almost everywhere in the main city of Hyderabad takes you to Afzal Gunj and if you are not that scrupulous about travelling conveniences, a shared rickshaw is the most exciting mode to reach there. Mere five rupees can fetch you a prized seat beside the driver and you may take it provided your arms are strong enough to cling on to the metal during a bumpy ride. You feel like accompanied by a close family in an auto packed with six or seven people. I had six co travelers: 2 Burkah clad old ladies, two young tourists and two students. As the beautiful mansions pass, you feel like a privileged invitee to Nizaam’s private Banquet; taken along with your family in a jumping wheeled palanquin.

Thanking the auto driver for zipping past a million pedestrians in no time, you turn and look for Charminar, only to find a unending series of shops like a gigantic line of Yachts floating in a ever swelling sea of humanity. The first striking fact here is life. Men and women saunter and shop here in such great numbers that it looks typical representation of India, so populous and overwhelmingly lower middle class. The petty shop keepers throw all the tantrums to grab the attention of potential customers. The number of people shopping and going up and down the street is astonishing, making it a unique extension of Hyderabad, which in no way is like any other of its quarters. In a nutshell: it is a gigantic shopping plaza for the masses.

All the streets streaming out of Charminar quarter are full of shops. The total number is estimated to be 14,000. Laad bazaar area has plenty of shops for you to pamper your women. The bangles sparkle in their cases, colorful sarees glitter from a height, draping the headless hanging mannequins. Every colour in the world embodies a fabric and is up for display as a dress material. Half of the employees perform the attention grabbing act. It’s a bitter competition between these boys, the one with louder voice and more animated movements gets his prized catch; another prospective purchaser.

In every by lane you find at least one shop looking like mini museum thanks to the age old items it offers for sale. Outside few of the shops you find items known to you only through your grannies bedtime tales. Some clock shops sport watches made by men who have died and companies which have wound up many centuries ago. The carts, both mobile and immobile are useful trade implements. Ice cream seller pushing his cart, cycle rickshawas (in different designs) plying goods is still vogue here at least to the petty shoppers. Age runs back a few decades if not more when you stroll in this quarter.

Step ahead and look beyond the obvious. You’ll be stunned to note that every building that houses the petty shop is a gorgeous medieval mansion. Just wipe out the merchandize stocked in front of them in your mind’s eye and you realize that each of them is an elegant “Haweli” (mansion) deserving dwelling by a “Nawab” or a noble man if not by the King himself. If the administration was bit heritage literate and population pressures were much scanty, then the houses should have been on display and the goods at much distant place. But, the reality of the population supported by this trade might make it a task not possible for a few more decades if not a century. So, see the people, enjoy man’s triumphant survival instincts at their best. The sheer number of grand mansions is both astonishing and a powerful indicator to Hyderabad’s prominence and stature in its prime.

The number of mansions was impressive and their condition though not immaculate, is still worthy of artistic appreciation. If Nizams in the heaven wish to take back the reign of the city back into their hands very little they’ll have to do at this quarter; find a alternate place for those poor souls and scrub all the dirt deposited by the passing of time and vomit of the autos.

Move ahead a few more yards and one of the four grand arches (each located on prominent street leading to Charminar) welcomes you to bygone times. Suddenly, from the crowded background emerges a tall and majestic structure of stately charisma. The structure isn’t strikingly grand but its minimalist aesthetics and grand symmetry of four minarets gives it elegance thoroughly deserving the prominence that it enjoys throughout the planet. A European had termed it “Arc De Trompe” of the east, but the Napoleonic structure by a long way lacks the medieval charm that its oriental cousin.

In 1591 when William Shakespeare was busy penning his Hamlet and first settlers were flirting around the coasts of what is now US, A Indian King, Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah ordered its erection. The dreaded Plague that haunted London and ravaged whole of Europe made its presence felt in Hyderabad too (surprisingly, for the dreaded disease the world was a small place even then). It is said that this edifice was built as a memorial for cure of Plague in the city.

Once atop the Charminar, wonderful view of the places around unfold themselves and you also get a closer glimpse of the elegant looking outer carvings of the Minarets. The space inside at the top seems surprisingly vast. The King is said to have held Durbar and conducted his prayers. There are plenty of prayer spaces and a little mosque too is housed inside. Good view of the Mecca Masjid and Yunani Hospital are added rewards, so is the chance to see the countless battalions of rushing yellow roofed autos and the view of innumerable souls garbed in Human bodies.

Amidst the buzz of sellers and honks of the Autos I reached the Masjid area but was bit skeptic to enter it. Firstly I have never entered a Mosque before and secondly I thought I looked a most ill fitting creature to enter a mosque ever. While every man coming out of the Mosque was decked in clean whites and sported a foot long beard, I was wearing most bizarre T-shirt, a quaint Jeans and there was not a strand of hair on my whole face. This made me fear that I would look too odd to be allowed to enter. Still the affable air gave me the courage and to my utter surprise no one seemed bothered by my presumably awkward presence. I felt like a man with clean whites and foot long beard myself. Atmosphere was solemn, calm and serene. It’s a wonder only a few seconds back I was at a place which could surely contend to the coveted title of noisiest place on whole earth and now I was reveling in silence. A stone from Mecca (from Aurangajebs times) and a watch from Switzerland were the two diverse relics. People prayed earnestly inside the mosque and sat and sauntered on its outer yard.

The thing that touched me most was; the Charminar housing a Mariyamma temple at its base. It wasn’t built by Kings but it being thriving in a locality so overwhelmingly Muslim made me proud about India’s tolerant heritage that is mostly followed by masses and is being attempted to ruin by the selfish politicians and their blind followers. Yunani Hospital too is a elegant structure. I relished the beauty of its dome from outside.

At night fall I kept walking every lane and by lane. All the famed Hyderabadi items made their presence felt. The thick layered “Burhewali Chai” , Street side Biriyani, Islamic version of Pundit “Hakeems”, Panwalah; all were there. Fate of poor old men forced to toil was very visible. Walking in the night in the ill lit by lanes made me feel either I was in a different country or in a different decade. But it all was mostly a comforting portrayal of life and its truth.

As you keep moving away from Charminar, shops turn more sophisticate and the buildings-modern and slowly it dawns to you that you are back in to the reality. No matter you have shopped or not you are sure to carry relics of the place with you. Deeply impressed scenes of day to day life and its hustle-bustle, colors and magnificence of the dress materials and truly medieval aura of the surroundings are few of them.

Visit this place to feel overwhelmed by life, its struggles and its beauty in its simplicity.


Joyer Noronha - Archives:


By Joyer Noronha
To submit your article / poem / short story to Daijiworld, please email it to news@daijiworld.com mentioning 'Article/poem submission for daijiworld' in the subject line. Please note the following:

  • The article / poem / short story should be original and previously unpublished in other websites except in the personal blog of the author. We will cross-check the originality of the article, and if found to be copied from another source in whole or in parts without appropriate acknowledgment, the submission will be rejected.
  • The author of the poem / article / short story should include a brief self-introduction limited to 500 characters and his/her recent picture (optional). Pictures relevant to the article may also be sent (optional), provided they are not bound by copyright. Travelogues should be sent along with relevant pictures not sourced from the Internet. Travelogues without relevant pictures will be rejected.
  • In case of a short story / article, the write-up should be at least one-and-a-half pages in word document in Times New Roman font 12 (or, about 700-800 words). Contributors are requested to keep their write-ups limited to a maximum of four pages. Longer write-ups may be sent in parts to publish in installments. Each installment should be sent within a week of the previous installment. A single poem sent for publication should be at least 3/4th of a page in length. Multiple short poems may be submitted for single publication.
  • All submissions should be in Microsoft Word format or text file. Pictures should not be larger than 1000 pixels in width, and of good resolution. Pictures should be attached separately in the mail and may be numbered if the author wants them to be placed in order.
  • Submission of the article / poem / short story does not automatically entail that it would be published. Daijiworld editors will examine each submission and decide on its acceptance/rejection purely based on merit.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to edit the submission if necessary for grammar and spelling, without compromising on the author's tone and message.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to reject submissions without prior notice. Mails/calls on the status of the submission will not be entertained. Contributors are requested to be patient.
  • The article / poem / short story should not be targeted directly or indirectly at any individual/group/community. Daijiworld will not assume responsibility for factual errors in the submission.
  • Once accepted, the article / poem / short story will be published as and when we have space. Publication may take up to four weeks from the date of submission of the write-up, depending on the number of submissions we receive. No author will be published twice in succession or twice within a fortnight.
  • Time-bound articles (example, on Mother's Day) should be sent at least a week in advance. Please specify the occasion as well as the date on which you would like it published while sending the write-up.

Comment on this article

  • Sam, Kinnigoli

    Mon, Sep 19 2011

    Well written travelogue. and Nice photos.

  • RP, Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 12 2011

    Joyer, well narrated travelogue - focusing on the culture than the monument itself. Great job and keep writing !

  • Jamal, Mangalore

    Fri, Sep 09 2011

    I was in Hyderabad in July 11, and it was my first visit to this historic city. I, rather we enjoyed visiting all the monuments and places of sight seeing. However we were shocked to see the conidtion of Charminar, it was a total let down, I feel it is the worst maintained monument in World. I would liek to inform all future visitors to Charminar not to keep very high expectations about Charminar.

  • rico lobo, nakre post,karkala

    Mon, Sep 05 2011

    you have written a well researched article,great job,sadly the history surrounding this great monument is lost in the modern day culture of materialism.if only we could leave the charminar as it originally was meant to be,for future generations,there will surely be a whole different understanding of this wonderful monument.....

  • Sudheer T, Surathkal

    Sun, Sep 04 2011

    Enjoyed the article. Well narrated. I have been to Hyderabad many times and have many sweet memories. Thanks

  • M H Aslam, Kadri

    Sun, Sep 04 2011

    Nice snaps and good article

  • Preetham Kirem, Kirem - Sharjah

    Sun, Sep 04 2011


    You have a style and talent akin to a few greats in narration.

    I become 20 years' younger to recall the places that we visited, and still as they are. The famous Laadbazar and Golconda Fort still remain live in my mind, not loosign the taste of Hyderabadi Biriyani. I always canvass for this Hyd. Biriyani whenever I go to restaurant in U.A.E.

    Tks for recalling me of old memoirs

  • Rafeek , kaul afghan

    Sun, Sep 04 2011

    nice pics and good job thank you joy keep continue ...........

  • abdul razak, jalsoor. doha qatar

    Sun, Sep 04 2011

    Very nice pictures.thanks and good luck

  • Ravi Lobo, Kinnigoli/ Wisconsin

    Sun, Sep 04 2011


    When I read this article, I could picturise the exotic place.

    It is very informative and elegant.
    Good luck keep writing.

Leave a Comment

Title: A Stroll Around Charminar

You have 2000 characters left.


Please write your correct name and email address. Kindly do not post any personal, abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful or similar comments. Daijiworld.com will not be responsible for any defamatory message posted under this article.

Please note that sending false messages to insult, defame, intimidate, mislead or deceive people or to intentionally cause public disorder is punishable under law. It is obligatory on Daijiworld to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments, to the authority concerned upon request.

Hence, sending offensive comments using daijiworld will be purely at your own risk, and in no way will Daijiworld.com be held responsible.