We reached Hyderabad, the city of pearls, at the dawn of the republic day and after quick round of freshening up, took an Auto to Charminar, simply because it was the only place accessible at such early hours of the day. Charminar and surrounding can surprise quite a few especially if you have not really seen the pictures or read about the place. It is right there in the middle of a busy street, the locals not even bothered to give it a customary glance.
We stood there looking at the monument wanting to admire it for its architectural brilliance, but confused at simplistic way it stood right in the middle of the street. It took a while for us to believe this was the much raved about monument. True to its name it has four (char) minars (minarats) with a central dome. The place is dominated by Muslims, and is famous for dish called paaya. We had the same and I should admit I did not find it very tasty; my friend Mark though relished its unique taste.
100 yards from the Charminar stands the very beautiful Mecca Masjid, the biggest mosque in Hyderabad which is more than 400 years old .The mosque is said to comprise of bricks brought from Mecca built into the central arch and hence the name. One really interesting fact is the place is filled with pigeons which are quite used to human intervention; hence you can stand right in middle of them to click a perfect shot. Personally I liked the Mecca Masjid more then the Charminar, probably I was expecting too much from the latter.
Our next destination was Golconda fort, a magnificent fortress complex comprising of four distinct forts, around 11km from Hyderabad. Originally a mud fort, it was later reconstructed in stone. The fortress is built on a 120 metres high granite hill surrounded by massive walls. The Golconda Fort is known as the Shepherd's Hill or Golla Konda in Telugu.
There is a 10 km long outer wall which encloses gateways, drawbridges and royal apartments, halls, temples (one rock temple, very interestingly was cut in to the shape of a “Thumbs Up” sign) mosques and stables.The fort has terrific acoustic effects, which characterizes the engineering skills of the architects of Golconda. The echo of theclap of hands at the center of the dome near the entrance can be heard clearly at Bala Hisar Pavilion, which is the highest point of the fort and is around 1 km away.
The acoustic feature was probably added deliberately to act as a warning note to the soldiers in case of an invasion.There is also a laser show in the evening explaining the history of the fort, which unfortunately we had to miss due to well planned and tight travel schedule.
I do have to agree that we all had different expectations from this trip; one of key interests of Mark was food. He had decided to have lunch in Bawaarchi, even if it means it is the only thing we do in the city. I certainly did not have any complaints though, especially after tasting the Biriyani. Bawaarchi, the renowned place for hyderabadi biriyaani, was simple and moderate, with visibly no importance given to the ambience. The biriyaani here is simply too good, and is must to have experience if you are traveling to Hyderabad, and not too bothered about the look and feel of the eatery. It is moderately priced and they do provide a lot in quantity, so much so that both Deepsie and I were not able to finish one biriyaani, Marky of course being the exception.
We took an auto to Birla Mandir, I must say this place is really clean in contrast to some of the places we had seen. The small uphill entrance road to the Mandir is crowded with shops selling pearls and ornaments. This place has varieties of pearl and is priced very modestly and hence will very good bargain for thosewho can identify quality pearls. We though did not push our luck and restricted ourselves to the bare minimum purchase.
We also had enough time to admire the beauty of the Hussian Sagar Lake and marvel the statue of Buddha in the centre of the lake.Evening 6 PM we boarded the train to our next destination, Aurangabad.
Day 1: 25th January 2005 - Introduction
Day 3: 27th January 2005 - Aurangabad (Ellora, Daulatabad Fort, Biwi ka Maqbara)
Day 4: 28th January 2005 - Ajanta Caves
Day 5: 29th January 2005 - Bhopal and Sanchi
Day 6: 30th January 2005 - Bhopal, Bhimbetka and Bhojpur