Reminiscence of the ‘City of Pearl’

-Ramsi Parveen

 

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   When sun rises through the panes of Minarets, Hyderabad wakes from her mighty sleep. A crystal glass of Irani Chai accompanied by Lukmi filters the beginning of a new day. When the tune of the morning prayers from the Mecca masjid raises, lazy doves starts humming the duas for the resting souls. It’s hard to put Hyderabad in words. We, the folks know Hyderabad as the fifth largest city of the country but are unaware that it lies in the prominent pages of history.

Hyderabad has a hundreds of stories to tell. The stories of kings and queens, stories of war and conquer, stories of diamonds and pearls, and even hyderabadi biryani and haleem. The long two hundred years of history tells the tales of Nizams, the kings of Hyderabad. Hyderabad was under the rule of Nizams from 1720 to 1948. From the death of Aurangzeb, to the fall of the Mughal Empire, through the wicked rule of the British, up to the formation of the free Indian state, seven Nizams have ruled the state of Hyderabad.

The Qutb Shahi kings were rulers of Hyderabad between 1518 and 1687. Monuments of their times reveals that they were great builders, lovers of architecture and the makers of the City. Thirty years later comes the Nizami rule. The first ruler Nizam-ul-mulk Fateh Jung, declared independence from the Mughals after the death of Aurangzeb and moved to the Deccan part of the country to establish his empire. He defeated the rajputs as well as the foreign powers and chose Hyderabad as his capital. Nizam Ali Khan being the second ruler had an alliance with the British Raj. This served Hyderabad an advantage; while other princely states were under the boots of the British, Hyderabad was left to herself. The third Nizam was Sikandar Jah and Secunderabad was named after him. Nasir-Ul-Daula, the son of Jah improved the financial state of Hyderabad. Salar-Jung museum got its name from his prime minister, Salar Jung. The following Nizams Afzal-Ul-Daula and Mir Mahboob Ali Khan were equally important. The infant prince Mahboob Ali Khan was barely three years old when his father died. Salar-Jung played an important role in mentoring the young Nizam. Mir Osman Ali Khan was the seventh Nizam of the state of Hyderabad. He shifted the Nizami residence from Falknuma back to Chowmahallah then to King Koti. He was very generous and tolerant to all religions. Osmania University was named after him. By the Independence of the country the state of Andhra Pradesh was formed and the Nizam’s land and wealth were seized. Thus ended the reign of Nizami rule in Hyderabad.

Hyderabad was the largest princely state in India, with its own flag, currency and coins, postal system, railway, and even its own radio. The invasion by the Mughals and the capture of Golkonda in 1687 was a temporary setback for Hyderabad. But steps like the establishment of Osmania University with Urdu as the medium of learning and an advanced judicial administrative system proved the efficiency of the rule.

Now, after Sixty eight years we are in the heart of the city enjoying the legacies of the rule which ‘made’ the city of Hyderabad. Nizami constructions, palaces, and cuisines are before us as a reminiscence of the past. The 400 year old city is noted for its natural beauty, mosques and minarets, bazaars and cuisine, palaces and gardens. These are the remaining of history which became a part of the cultural heritage of the city. Then lines from the Tarekh-e-Qutb Shahi, a history written about twenty five years after the foundation of Hyderabad, is true even today.

The city is verily paradise,

There is nothing that is not to be found here.

If an old man hurries to the city

He would recover his youth

Everything that is good is found in

Hyderabad in plenty,

We find in the city all

That is fortune and nothing that

Causes pain or sorrow….

The reflection of the four Minarets

The first picture which comes to one’s mind when he thinks of Hyderabad is obviously Charminar. This edifice of the four minarets is the legendary masterpiece of the Qutb Shahis. It is one of the best examples of Islamic architecture. Built within 1590-1591, Charminar stands reflecting the promise made by Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah, in commemorating the eradication of Plague. Today it is synonymous with Hyderabad’s old-world charm and beauty. Archeological Survey of India (ASI) mentioned it as an archeological and architectural treasure in the official list of monuments.

The Enchanting spells of Mecca Masjid

Being one of the oldest and largest mosques in the country this place is expected to be one of the lively spots of the City. But once you touch the stones beneath your foot you’ll forget the world around you. Neither the traffic nor the hassle of the laad bazaar bothers you. The flying doves move together in rhythm. It is one of the best scenes for human eye. It lays 100 yards south-west of Charminar. The name is derived from the Holy grand mosque of Mecca on which it is patterned. The bricks used for the construction are made from soil bought from holy Mecca.

Laad Bazaar

Laad bazaar, called by hyderabadi women as choodi bazaar is a place for girls. One can find the cheapest jewelry. It lies in the roads which branches out from Charminar. This bazaar is famous for bangles and artificial studded diamonds. This is a place for wedding materials as well as jewelry. This market is in operation from the time of the Qutb Shahis and the Nizams. Pearl and bangle industries are other important things which attract men and women to this bazaar.  

Through the paths of the Old City

Old City was the royal seat of the Nizam of Hyderabad. This walled city is constructed under the administration of Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah in 1591 AD. Domical mosques and monuments were the main attractions of the Old City. It is little crowded but remains as the heart of the cosmopolitan Hyderabad.

Chowmahallah Palace

Chowmahallah palace was the official residence of the Nizams made in 1880s. As the name indicates it is four palaces in the city. This magnificent palace was the seat of Asaf Jahi dynasty where the Nizams entertained their official guests and royal visitors. It is renowned for its unique style and elegance. This monument has received UNESCO Asia Pacific Merit award for cultural heritage conservation.

Osmania University

Known after the last Nizam of Hyderabad Mir Osman Ali Khan, this building stands apart from other constructions due to its style of architecture. It is an old building which was once the palace of the Nizams. It is still preserved with its heritage value, as a university.

Diamonds of Golkonda

Golkonda is one of the oldest forts of the country. Some historians claim it is about 2000 years old. The Qutb-Shahis ruled Golkonda for almost 170 years. This is one of the prides of Hyderabad. The walls and bastions were built of large blocks of masonry. The gates were studded with iron spikes intended to prevent elephants from charging at them. During the reign of Qutb Shahi kings, Golkonda became popular for trading place for diamonds and other precious stones. Kohinoor diamond is world famous for its elegance. At present it shines in the crown of the British monarch.

A Sip of Irani Chai

Brimful of Chai with Osmania biscuits or lukmi gives a feeling of a true hyderabadi. This recipe is bought from Persia in the 20th century. It stood the test of time and became a part of Hyderabad. There may be Starbucks, CCD or even Chaipoint, but nothing beats Irani Chain at any time of the day.

Nizami Architecture

What makes the monuments in Hyderabad distinct from others is its architectural style. The style comes from Persia which can be equated to the Mughal architectural style. Domes or Minarets are one of the main attractions of this. Islamic architecture has got great acceptance in India even if it is not a part of Indian culture. Long steps and hanging lights add to the elegance of the palaces and mosques. The royal houses are made with stones imported from different parts of the world. Nizams gave more importance to constructions and buildings. This style always stands epic and antique during all ages.

A Lot More…

The city of pearls, the city of palaces, and the city of tastes is rich in its tradition and architecture. The heritage value of this city is known worldwide. We have a lot to boast about in front of the entire world. Hyderabad is more than what we know, a lot more mysteries, a lot more histories and a lot more miracles…

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