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

  1. 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]

  2. hi, you have a blog :) lovely pictures

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  3. Rahul Talreja

    nice

    [Reply]

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