Hyderabad Travel Guide

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Falaknuma Palace

Falaknuma Palace

Photo By A. Srinivas

Hyderabad is the capital of Andhra Pradesh. It is a big, lively and traditional city. Situated on the banks of the river Musi, the city gives travellers fascinating glimpses of past splendours – the legacy of its four hundred year old history. The city, which was earlier called as Bhagyanagar, is better known as the Istanbul of India. On every street corner, you will see its dualistic character, the coming together of Muslims and Hindus.

It boasts of examples of Qutb Shahi architecture - the Jami Masjid, Toli Masjid and the Hyderabad symbol, the Char Minar(char- four and minar - tower). The Char Minar is sometimes compared with the Arch the Triomphe and is located in the heart of the city. The minar is surrounded by the hustle and bustle of market life and the visitors of the Mecca Masjid. Hyderabad also claims to have one of the largest Buddha statues. Some ten kilometres away from the city, the marvellous Golconda Fortress and the tombs of the Quatab Shahi Kings can be visited.

Nowadays, Hyderabad is making great strides in Information Technology and Telecommunications. It is now a big hub for Multinational companies and is rivalling Bangalore in terms of attracting foreign investment and performing the outsourcing work. Moreover, superspeciality hospitals with excellent doctors and low fees are attracting medical tourism to Hyderabad.

Hyderabad has a pleasant climate, a fascinating amalgam of cultures, magnificent cuisine, splendid shopping areas and a variety of things to see and do. It all contributes to making this trip into a memorable one.

The Architecture

The city has rich architectural beauty of mixed styles. It was laid with a plan, when Charminar was built. Charminar was built on the intersection of the then two state-highways. Four sides of the charminar were divided with different purposes. One side, for palaces, another for the emirs and nawabs, another one for common people and buisness men. Along the roads, were built 14000 shops.

Later, in the late 1900, specially after the 1908 musi river flood disaster, Hyderabad saw a different beginning, when HEH The Nizam started the development. Near charminar all the shops were built by stone, in a beautiful architecture. The Hight court building, Osmania Hospital, Central Library, City college, MJ Market, Unani Hospital, Osmania University, improved Public Gardens, Osman Sagar (the Dam on Musi River to stop flood and provide drinking water), Himayath Sagar (another dam), Drainage system for the city( being used even now) etc are a few to name. Moreover, there was CIB (City improvement Board) set up which built hundreds of houses for the comman man.

The city was known as city of Havelis. There were hundreds of havelis and deorhis, of which a few are still remaining. Most of the city colonies names are after some haveli or nawab's palaces.

About Charminar

Charminar is always on the top of the mind of any tourist visiting Hyderabad. To say that Charminar is a major landmark in the city is to state the obvious, to repeat a cliché. The great monument is a synonym for Hyderabad and the pivot around which the glory and history of the city have developed. To imagine this 400-year-old city without Charminar is to imagine New York without the Statue of Liberty or Moscow without the Kremlin. Built by Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah in 1591, shortly after he had shifted his capital from Golkonda to what now is known as Hyderabad, this beautiful colossus in granite, lime, mortar and, some say, pulverised marble, was at one time the heart of the city. This great tribute to aesthetics looks sturdy and solid from a distance but as one moves closer, it emerges as an elegant and romantic edifice proclaiming its architectural eminence in all its detail and dignity. Apart from being the core of the city’s cultural milieu, it has become a brand name.

Charminar is a squarish structure with four towers in the four corners of the square, each of whose sides is 20 metres in length. Every side opens into a plaza through giant arches, which overlook four major thoroughfares and dwarf other features of the building except the minarets. Each arch is 11 metres wide and rises 20 metres to the pinnacle from the plinth. The minarets soar skywards by 24 metres from the roof of Charminar. Each minaret has four storeys, each looking like a delicately carved ring around the minaret. Some Anglophiles call Charminar the Arc de Triomphe of the East. From the ground to the apex, the minarets cover a length of 48.7 metres.

According to Mir Moazzam Husain, a long time official of the UNESCO and a keen student of this historic city, “these minarets may even symbolise the first four khalifs of Islam, but I cannot vouch for this interpretation with any degree of certainty.” At the western end of the roof of Charminar is a beautiful mosque; the oldest in Hyderabad, and the rest of the roof was used as a court in Qutub Shahi times. Atop the great monument are 45 prayer spaces for the devout where they can offer worship in an atmosphere unspoilt by the bustle of the city. East of this space is a spacious verandah with small and large arches in the middle. The first floor has beautiful balconies from where one has a fantastic view of the historic city and its later accretions.

These are technical details, of interest only to scholars and scribes. For the tourist, Charminar disgorges unlimited architectural wealth exuding from every pore of its masonry surface. The minarets taper off with a bulbous dome, embellished by petal-like motifs, and crowned by a brass spire. Though Charminar has a number of features answering to Hindu architectural usage, the minarets themselves are exclusively an Islamic architectural tradition. Unlike Taj Mahal, the fluted minarets of Charminar are built into the main structure. Inside the four-storeyed minarets are spiral stairways of 149 steps leading you to the top, the highest point one can reach, and providing a panoramic view of the sprawling and amorphous city. Each minaret has four arcaded balconies helping the tourist to imbibe the beauty of the city at various levels.

The essence of Islamic architecture rests in the deployment of arches, minarets and domes in a harmonic whole. This is very much true of Charminar, where apart from the main arches on the four sides; above each arch are horizontal arrays of arches. Not only the four balconies of each minaret have arches but also between the fourth balcony and the crowning dome, you can see arches playing merry-go-round. Even as the arches and minarets of Charminar reflect the influence of Islamic architectural schools, the structure as a whole embodies elements of South Indian temple architecture. Again, flanking each arch are four arched and trellised windows one above the other. The four main arches have thus 32 such windows.

But Charminar actually is a galaxy of prominent landmarks in the city’s history. Its neighbourhood is as interesting a site of cultural heritage as Charminar itself. Around this architectural axis are colourful bazaars, bringing to mind the bazaars of ancient Baghdad and Istanbul, selling pearls, bangles, traditional Muslim gear and Mughlai delicacies. Architecturally significant are the Mecca masjid, Jamay masjid, Char Kamaan, and Miya Mishk mosque. The Nizams too had built a complex of palaces close to Charminar and beyond Lad Bazaar. Among them, more well-known are the Chow Mohalla palace (1750), Khilwat Mahal, the Malwala Palace (1845), the Salarjungs’ Dewan Devdi and Purani Haveli (1803).

The Chow Mahalla palace was built by the first Nizam, Salabat Jah, in 1750 and is presumed to be a more refined version of the Shah of Iran’s palace in Teheran. This is now a heritage building, flood-lit in the night. “The main quadrangle (of the palace) has a beautiful garden surrounding a large marble cistern, the fountains and the splashing waters of which in moonlit nights have been compared by a visitor with one of the enchanting gardens described in the Arabian nights. To the north of the cistern is the grand Durbar Hall, where the Nizams used to hold state receptions and receive official nobles.”

HYDERABAD has lot of Exciting Places to visit, and some good tour operators who provide economical and professional services, and you can rely upon, one of the reputed - GLOBAL TOURISM PROMOTIONS for the same. They can be contacted  on 9440082627, 9490942788. Customized Tours with Transportation & Accommodation will be taken care of. They are also specialized in Group Tours & Student Excursions and Educational Tours for Andhra Pradesh.

Contributors

January 24, 2006 change by giorgio

January 10, 2007 change by pavvy

December 04, 2008 change by srij

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