Hyderabad 2010: Day 1 — Eat Street, Charminar and Mecca Masjid

Date: 26th December 2010

After beginning this year with a visit to the UAE, then Singapore, Malaysia & Thailand later in the year, I capped off my 2010 travels with a trip to Hyderabad. The main purpose of the visit was to attend a friend’s wedding, but we (my usual travel buddies Ramesh and Loiyumba) decided to go a bit early to do a bit of sight-seeing.

This wasn’t my first visit to the capital of Andhra Pradesh. I first came to Hyderabad in 2002 to visit my brother when he worked there briefly.

In some ways I was looking forward to this trip because it was after a span of nearly 9 years that I got to travel by train again. We boarded the Kacheguda Express from Bangalore Cantonment station in the evening.

Kachiguda Express Indian train sleeper bed Loiyumba
Loi didn't wait too long to cuddle up in his sleeping bag and doze off

We arrived in Kacheguda station (not Hyderabad’s main railway station) at a chilly 5:45am. We had reserved a room for us three at Nand International, a nearby hotel, so we figured we could walk it there. But after walking for around a minute or two, we couldn’t spot the hotel and the auto drivers we passed by were telling us they could take us there for just Rs. 10. Figuring it was cold and we had luggage, we got in… and literally 5 seconds later, up the same Station road we were at, we were dropped at Nand International! Pissed at the fact all he had to tell us was to walk a few steps further to get here, we shouted at the auto driver — but relented from ruining our morning and just paid him Rs. 10 to get lost.

We checked in to our three person bedroom/family room.

Nand International three bedroom Kacheguda Hyderabad hotel
Costs Rs. 870 ($19/€13) per night for this centrally air-conditioned room

Since we were still sleepy, we crashed for a few hours.

Got up around noon, had tea and pondered about where to have lunch. In a city famed for its food, we weren’t keen on hitting up the street food joints near Charminar straight away. So we decided to go to a place called Eat Street.

Eat Street Necklace road Hyderabad India
Cost nearly Rs. 60 to get here by auto from Kacheguda Station Road

Eat Street is just some food court by Hussain Sagar Lake, one of the largest man made lakes in India. We passed through scanners (apparently security is pretty tight in Hyderabad) and walked in to a not-so-busy food court.

Eat Street food court Hussain Sagar lake HyderabadEat street open air food court Hussain Sagar lake HyderabadWe checked out the various stalls, some open open for business… some not. You get your usual choice of South Indian, biriyani (of course), chaats, western fast food, etc. But despite being in the city famous for its biriyani, I wasn’t going to eat it from just about anywhere.

Eat Street biriyani fried chicken fries Hyderabad
So I had burger, fried chicken strips and fries instead. Lame, I know.

Ramesh and Loi both tried out the biriyani and they described the food as: “sucks” and “horrible”. So there.

Eat Street Hussain Sagar lake Mithun Ramesh Hyderabad
Loiyumba took this photograph using his camera
Hussain Sagar lake Hyderabad India
Hussain Sagar lake (Photograph by Loiyumba)
Hussain Sagar lake Buddha statue Hyderabad India
There are boat rides in the evening to go to the Buddha statue (Photograph by Loiyumba)

Post-lunch, we already feeling a sense of ‘boredom’ and wondered what to do next.

Hussain Sagar lake park tarot reader afternoon Hyderabad
We left Eat Street and aimlessly walked through the park around the lake

Hussain Sagar lake park afternoon Hyderabad Hyderabad colourful houses dish antennas cartoon wall

Hyderabad book fair 2010 stalls people India
There was book fair going on
Hyderabad book fair 2010 stalls India
It was the annual Hyderabad Book Fair

Ram Gopal Varma autobiography Telugu book

Hyderabad book fair 2010 stalls afternoon India
Considering none of us have the habit of reading books much, we left fairly quickly

Hyderabad lake park afternoon India

Prasads Imax theatre Hyderabad mall
Crossed the road over to Prasads

The one good thing about Hyderabad is that they have an IMAX screen, and it can be found at Prasads on Tank Bund Road. The security was pretty tight before entering here as well (I take it’s because of the Telangana issue?). We checked out the mall a bit before going to collect our pre-booked tickets for Tron which was playing.

After checking out Prasads, we stepped out, took an autorickshaw and went to see Charminar, Hyderabad’s iconic structure.

Way to Charminar Musi River bridge Hyderabad

Charminar market bazaar Hyderabad
There are many old bazaars leading up to Charminar... and traffic was very congested

We eventually asked the auto driver to stop and decided to walk it further up.

Charminar pearl bazaar shops Hyderabad India
Plenty of pearl stores here, Hyderabad pearls are quite famous

Charminar fort entrance Hyderabad India
Charminar road crowded HyderabadSyedi book seller Charminar fort Hyderabad

Charminar fort Hyderabad India
The road goes all around Charminar
Charminar Tiffin centre South Indian food Hyderabad
I ate from here on the third day, really good South Indian food!

Charminar literally translates to “four towers”. Minar or minaret  being the towers or pointy structures you find in just about every mosque and char which just means four.

Charminar fort blue sky Hyderabad India
Built by ruler Qutb Shah in 1591 AD
Charminar fort entry visitors Hyderabad
There was a queue going half way around Charminar
Charminar fort street kids old coins Hyderabad India
Old coins for sale. Genuineness unconfirmed.
Charminar fort visitors queue Hyderabad India
We queued up, paid the Rs. 5 entry fee and entered

Charminar fort entry Hyderabad India Charminar no spitting sign Hyderabad India

Climbing stairs Charminar minaret Hyderabad
You climb narrow stairs up one of the minars

Climbing up minaret Charminar inside Hyderabad

Charminar stairs minar Hyderabad
The walls were quite cold
Charminar balcony view woman Hyderabad
You obviously get a better picture of the surrounding from up here

View from Charminar bazaar HyderabadBut walking through the halls, I couldn’t really help but not ignore something.

Charminar inside writing damage wall Hyderabad
The walls
Charminar wall damage inscribed Hyderabad
It's quite apparent how badly the walls have been vandalized the past few years by callous visitors
Charminar ceiling islamic architecture Hyderabad
At least the ceilings were hard to reach
Charminar wall names scratched Hyderabad
It's an appalling sight in many of our heritage monuments
No writing damaging walls sign Charminar Hyderabad
Despite the efforts to curb the practice and a law making it a punishable offence...
Charminar wall writing damaging wall Hyderabad
... even to this day, to some worthless citizens of this country, it's still a joke. As if these historical monuments are just another building to them.

Charminar arches ceiling Islamic architecture Hyderabad

Laad bazaar bangles street Charminar Hyderabad
Laad bazaar a.k.a 'bangles street' -- guess why it's called so
Charminar main hall ceiling design Hyderabad
The open hall in between the four minarets

Charminar inside hall wall writings HyderabadCharminar open hall design Hyderabad

Charminar ceiling pigeons Hyderabad
Five pigeons

Charminar Laad bazaar road Hyderabad India

Charminar traffic view from top Hyderabad
Traffic is quite messy (and very busy) around Charminar
Mecca Masjid view from Charminar Hyderabad
Mecca Masjid, where we were headed next
Palace opposite Mecca Masjid Charminar Hyderabad
Nizamia Unani Hospital, opposite Mecca Masjid

Charminar Loiyumba Ramesh Hyderabad India

Charminar circle view down Hyderabad
It was time to head back down
Charminar steps down minar tower Hyderabad
Down another minar we went

Bangles Street bazaar Hyderabad IndiaCharminar arch islamic design HyderabadCharminar ceiling design from ground HyderabadCharminar angle shot HyderabadCharminar done, we decided to sit in a cafe to have something to drink.

Charminar restaurant falooda Hyderabad
Ramesh played it safe with Pepsi, while myself and Loi had *extremely* sweet falooda
Gajini-ki-shaadi film poster Hyderabad India
As seen inside the cafe
Gajini-ki-shaadi Hyderabad poster
Looks like there is a parallel film industry within Hyderabad making low-budget unofficial sequels to mainstream film releases 🙂

Excessive sugar intake complete, we decided to quickly step inside Makkah Masjid.

Charminar circle crowds Hyderabad India

Nizamia Unani hospital opposite Makkah Masjid Hyderabad
The markets are quite bustling in these parts
Mecca Masjid mosque Hyderabad India
Mecca Masjid is the biggest mosque in Hyderabad and one of the oldest in India

You have to leave your bag and shoes at the counter and walk barefoot once past the gates.

Mecca Masjid mosque Charminar Hyderabad

Mecca Masjid sunset pigeon feeding Hyderabad India
People had gathered to see hundreds of pigeons being fed grains
Mecca Masjid evening pigeon feeding Hyderabad
Not very exciting... but still

Mecca Masjid pigeons Hyderabad mosque

Mecca Masjid pigeons flying evening Hyderabad
It's always such a photo moment when hundreds of them fly away at once
Mecca Masjid entrance hall Hyderabad
I decided to check out the mosque
Mecca Masjid prayer hall muslim Hyderabad India
The main prayer hall
Mecca Masjid prayer hall mosque Hyderabad India
Wonder what those honeycomb-like bags hold
Mecca Masjid side visitors Hyderabad
Went around the mosque

Mecca Masjid behind hyderabadMecca Masjid grounds Charminar Hyderabad

Mecca Masjid pigeons evening lamp posts Hyderabad
Pigeons, pigeons... there are a lot of them
Mecca Masjid pigeons electric wires Hyderabad
Needless to say, there's a lot of pigeon poop on the ground

Mecca Masjid fountain Charminar HyderabadWe left the mosque and decided to call it a day.

Punch Mohalla Charminar Hyderabad
Took a rickshaw back to our hotel
Charminar bakery road Hyderabad evening
That's a heap of bread crumbs and rusk being sold in bulk. Not very hygienic in these conditions I would presume.

Once back in Nand International, I was quite cheesed off. Despite claiming to provide 24 hours hot water, when I opened the tap, I only got cold water. Went to the reception to complain and the man with a straight face told me it only comes on from 6am to 6pm. I then raised my voice and told him “well, that’s not what it says on your website!” and demanded I need hot water as it was quite cold (which it was outside). Only then did I get a bucket of hot water. So a big thumbs down for Nand International because of that.

Post rant, we concluded day one in Hyderabad with dinner at nearby three-star hotel restaurant where we had, yes, biriyani.

It was alright, but I would have much better biriyani in the next few days.

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4 Comments

  • gren

    01/08/2011

    Well done buddy!
    i strongly recommend having the “double ka meetha” sweet the next time you’re there…hands down, one of the best sweets I’ve ever had.
    ..
    ..
    then again, I had that sweet at the Marriott, so I guess it had to be great!

    [Reply]

  • Surbhi

    22/12/2011

    hi, you have a blog 🙂 lovely pictures

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  • Rahul Talreja

    10/02/2014

    nice

    [Reply]

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