Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The road to Charminar

I have stayed in and been to many big and small, famed and little known lanes of Indian cities but none like Gulzar Houz, an obscure place which is host to one of the most famous historical towers of India,  Charminar. Recently I visited Hyderabad and my curiosity about Hyderabad Biryani took me to Shabad, a popular biriyani joint located near Gulzar Houz. But before I ate at Shadab I decided to walk to Charminar to knock off an item from my Hyderabad itinerary. On my way to Charminar, I started feeling I had been transported to another time and space.

I was walking through a bazaar which looked commercially active but totally devoid of anything even remotely modern or western. Not a mobile recharge shop (at least nothing that drew my attention), not a computer shop, not a shop selling jeans or any other western clothes. Perfumery shops sell attar, cloth shops, only traditional Muslim outfits. The road was a sea of humanity, only women with black veils and men in traditional Muslim garbs. What should have been a 10 minutes’ walk took me about half an hour to cover.  On either side of this bazaar you have narrow lanes, each one home to a mini market, selling essentially the same stuff as in the main bazaar.

When I looked up, there were old buildings which may not mind the lack of change they have undergone since their construction a few centuries ago but may complain about the lack of maintenance.  I shuddered to think that maybe beyond those rickety wooden balconies and giant doors, people still live. I saw some boards announcing the presence of dawa khanas (health centers).  

Actually, at a time when lanes change the way they look every two to three years, Gulzar Houz’s stubborn resistance to change may be refreshingly different for many but its complete renouncement of modernity may come at a cost to its residents. Hyderabad is going to have its metro in some time. And the residents of Gulzar Houz could have had the metro passing through Gulzar Houz but for the resistance shown to the project by Gulzar Houz locals – who feared that metro construction would spoil the old look of the place and threatened that if the administration went ahead with the project despite their opposition, they would destroy the construction.  

I visited Wikipedia on Gulzar Houz and found this photo. This is how Gulzar Houz looked in 1880.  The Gulzar Houz I saw last week was different only in three ways. It doesn’t have the fountain on the way to Charminar you see in the photo. (In fact, the fountain has completely disappeared and had it not been for Wikipedia I would not know there was ever one – the Wiki article says it’s the fountain and not the place which was called Gulzar Houz). I didn’t see any horse-drawn carriages. And the Gulzar Houz I saw was much, much crowdier.


Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello, greetings.

After reading your interesting write up, I feel the residents in this locality resist change and refuse to accept modernity which only means that they have to be educated to understand the benefits of modernity and change to keep up with the times. If they don't change with the changing times they will be left far behind and when that happens they have to blame only themselves. They can't find fault with the government or any one else for their backwardness.

I have been there many decades back and noticed it was filthy,crowded and unhigenic and full of doves and their droppings. After reading what you have written I think the place has become still worse. I wonder whether the local children go to schools and colleges.

Hyderabad is a modern city but this place will be blot which cannot be removed because of the resistance of the local people who are guided by their leaders with an ulterior motive. If people are uneducated and remain backward they will easily believe all the lies which are taught to them by their cunning leaders.

Best wishes

indrablog said...


Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your comments. Yes, I felt the place is stuck 50 years back. And the locals seem uneducated and ignorant. No hope, sir.


anjali gupta said...

It was really lovely to read your blog. Thanks for sharing about your visit to Charminar. Also, i would like to add NTR Gardens to the list, It is quite a peaceful respite away from the maddening crowds and the pollution in the city.

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