India - Historic Hyderabad
India seemed to be one of those places, based on feedback from colleagues with experience of living there, to be a country that one loves or hates. What I would call a Marmite place – no in-between opinions.
I had an opportunity to establish my own views not long ago with an offer to work in Hyderabad, where I was to live for three years, and I was impressed – definitely a lover of the places I visited!
Located in the south of India Hyderabad is an historic city that was, and currently continues to be for the immediate future, the capital of Andhra Pradesh. In June, 2014, the Government of India created the new state of Telangana, one of now 29 states within the Republic of India, which Hyderabad serves as state capital.
The city, which was established in the early part 1500s, has a rich history. Evidence of this can be seen in the Qutb Shahi Tombs that were established in 1543 by the Qutb Shahi dynasty), Golkonda Fort, an imposing complex overlooking the city, and the Charminar (four minarets) in the centre of Hyderabad.
The tombs are fascinating. Large, ornate memorial structures in mixed styles fusing Persian and Hindu architecture of the time and of the region. The Sultans and their relatives built a number of tombs over the decades so one can spend quite some time wandering around and investigating the historic tombs.
Kolkonda Fort is a complex of stone buildings, roads and gardens with steps up from the lower part of the complex to the Baradari, a rectangular building at the top of the hill. There is a “clapping portico” at the entrance to the fort where anyone clapping can be heard hundreds of metres away at the top of the fort. A security system that is five hundred years old!
Golkonda Fort was used for a time to store diamonds, including the Koh-i-Noor and Hope diamonds, that were mined in the region.
Charminar was constructed between 1591, to commemorate Hyderabad becaming the capital of the region in place of Golconda, and 1592. It was originally a mosqueand continues to function as such, though nearby there is a larger new mosque, Makkah Masjid, for the muslim faithful. Charminar is a centre of festivities during the holy month of Ramadan.
Hyderabad was revitalised by a decision to promote the city as a location in which to base hi-tech industries. Among the service centres in the area are those in support of financial services (India and foreign), pharmaceuticals, and internet companies. This prompted growth and infrastructural development – new airport, new highways, new commercial centres and new accommodation blocks. The dry, dusty climate had now taken on a new ingredient – cement!
The bustling city is filled with small and large shops, shopping malls, and restaurants. The food choice is amazing: traditional Hyderabadi Biryani with chicken or mutton, or the veggie version Qabooli Biryani. While the majority of the population is Hindu, there are a significant number of Muslims, thus giving rise to a tolerance for meat in a predominantly vegetarian country.
I miss Hyderabad and would love to return one day. Perhaps soon.