Abids – Charminar; Scenes from the Old City.

The Abids Sunday Book Market.

2006 is when I came to Hyderabad. Since then, it is my home. I haven’t really posted anything about Hyderabad except for its famous Biryani. I think a post about the city should have preceded it. It is not an easy task. Hyderabad is still on its way to modernization like many other cities in India. Massive infrastructure development happening in even the remotest corners might even perplex you sometimes. Like any other Indian city, you’d discover the ancient side of it; a side where all this development does not reach, a side which is still holding on to its glorious past, a side many people actually miss.

Hyderabad, India

Hyderabad, India (Photo credit: skasuga)

Of all the cities I have visited Hyderabad holds on to this past rather strongly than others. There’s a clearly cut demarcation between the old city and the new city. The grandeur of the old city is something you can see in the brilliantly made black and white photographs hanging in the walls of Falaknuma Palace; a city ruled by the legendary Nizams.
Much of the culture and style of Hyderabad was contributed during the time of these Nizams. The wealthiest of all the rulers in India, they made Hyderabad one of the most beautiful Principalities in India.

Old Photos on display in the Falaknuma Palace

When I came, the University was almost where the city ends. My only venturing outside was the regular Sunday visits to the Koti/Bank Street area to look for sale of books. A lion share of the books sold there were second hand but mostly in good condition. Almost all sorts of books were available on these markets where individual or group sellers would arrange them on the footpath and sell it festively.

Photograph of a street in Hyderabad looking to...

Photograph of a street in Hyderabad looking towards the Char Minar, taken by Deen Dayal in the 1880s. The Mecca mosque, begun in 1617, can be seen to the right of this image. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A good bargain could get you a collection of Blake’s poems for Rs 50. Slowly, it took me all the way to Old City one day where I saw the magnificent Char Minar. For many, this monument built in the 16th Century is the symbol of Hyderabad. On one side of Char Minar is the busy Laad Bazaar and on the other side you could spot the Makkah Masjid.

Once you climb to the allowed space on top of Char Minar, you could get an outstanding sight of the old city spread around you. I’ve been there more than six times, just to see if anything has changed. Except for some hoardings and a few lanes of shops, nothing seems to have changed in the old city around Char Minar in the last six years whereas in the other parts of the city change happens on a weekly basis.

A View from the Charminar

The Fruit Market outside Charminar

Nothing can give Old City this perspective. The busy streets as seen from Charminar.

The Magnificent Makkah Masjid

The Makkah Masjid as seen from the Charminar



Old city has a different culture. You could see it changing from Abids onwards. By the time you reach Laad Bazaar it’d be completely different. The disoriented, careless and rude local Telugu speaking merchants would be replaced by highly professional and soft-speaking Hyderabadi Muslimmerchants.

English: This image shows a store at Laad baza...

A store at Laad Bazaar.

The highlight is that they can speak English and they could lead you to the right places. Business is business there and shopping is an experience. Food is part of culture and there you can grab anything from a restaurant and find it amazing. For some people, Old City is chaos. But for some, that chaos has a meaning. The crowd of women wearing Purdah and the crazy motor cyclists, the push-cart sellers and the rude Traffic Police… all are part of Old City and there you see life, less polished but true to the core. On the way back, if you can appreciate the things for what they are, you’d definitely think of coming back to take another look.


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14 thoughts on “Abids – Charminar; Scenes from the Old City.

  1. My city – my beautiful crazy city :’)
    when I was younger I’d go to Abids every sunday to buy second hand books (since those were the only ones I could afford with my pocket money, so it was quantity over quality)
    Old city in Ramzan is a delight to be a part of and even craziness duh


  2. Terrific photos! One day, I shall make it to India. In my novel, Entanglement, my character’s grandparents are buried in the English cemetery in Hyderabad. :)


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