Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hyderabad - Historical Monuments

The monuments of historical importance in  Hyderabad are Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Golkonda Fort, the Qutb Shahi Tombs, and the Chowmohalla Palace.

Charminar, one of the most famous historical structures in India, consisting of four minarets supported by four ornate arches. This was built by Sultan Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah in 1591. It is said that the city was ravaged by plaque and this affected the economy of the place as foreign traders stopped coming to Hyderabad for trading. The Sultan is said to have prayed for the elimination of the plaque disease and vowed to build a mosque in commemoration of the end of the epidemic.

This monument is open to public on all days between 9 am to 5 pm except on Fridays when it is closed between 12:30 pm to 2 pm. One can climb the spiral stairway up to the first level which offers a panoramic view of the city.

Mecca Masjid, one of the oldest mosques of Hyderabad, so called because bricks were brought from Mecca to build this mosque. It is located at a stone's throw away from the Charminar and is closed to tourists on Friday.

Near the Charminar and the Mecca Masjid is the Laad Bazaar or the bangle market, dotted with innumerous shops selling exquisite bangles and pearls. DO NOT FORGET to bargain. Bargain hard and end up buying stuff at half their rates.

Note: Restaurants in the old city are closed for four days after Eid. We were looking forward to eating the authentic biryani in the old city but were amused when told that the restaurants are closed for four days following Eid as most households have large amounts of leftover biryani from the festival!!

Chowmohalla Palace, belonging to the Nizams of Hyderabad was modelled on the Shah of Iran's palace.

It is at walking distance from the Charminar. Consisting of various courtyards and gardens , it houses beautiful collections of crockery, arms and weapons, and antiques. The Nizam's throne room is  very beautifully adorned with numerous chandeliers.
Nizam's throne

A marble sculpture 
It takes about an hour to walk through the various rooms and courtyards of the palace.

Golkonda Fort

Golkonda Fort famous for its brilliant acoustics lies around 11 km from the city of Hyderabad. Built by the Hindu Kakatiya Kings, it later became the capital of the Qutb Shahi dynasty until it was captured by Aurangazeb, the Mughal emperor. It is said that the fort stood strong against Aurangazeb for nine months until a treachery by one of the soldiers led to the fall of the fortress.  Though it is now in ruins, the brilliant acoustical system of the fort is still in place. A clap sounded at the grand portico or at the main gate can by heard at the top of the citadel which is around 300 feet high. Most of the rooms are built with diamond-shaped arcs in their walls which are responsible for the acoustics.

 This systems was used to alert guards at the top of the citadel through codes handclaps about any incoming guest, enemy, or the king himself. This acoustical system was used by the king to eavesdrop on his guests from the royal chambers. Even a whisper in a room downstairs was clearly audible in the king's chambers.  The acoustical system was also used by the females of the royal family to beckon their maids-in-waiting.

The fort is open to the public on all days from 9am to 5 pm. There is a sound and light show which takes place at the fort every evening at sunset. It is recommended to hire the services of a guide to understand the beauty of the ruins better.

Qutb Shahi Tombs
About a kilometer away from the Golkonda Fort, lies the Qutb Shahi Tombs, the tombs of the seven Qutb Shahi Kings except for the last one who had been captured by Aurangazeb. It is said that the Qutb Shahi rulers commissioned the building of their tombs when they ascended the throne so that they could be buried there after their deaths. So the tomb built for the seventh ruler lies empty.

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