Charminar, the edifice of the four minarets, is the legendary masterpiece of the Qutub Shahis. A cultural icon of Hyderabad, it is at the center of many lanes and by-lanes that lead into each other.
Let me take you through these lanes. It is here that you can experience the ‘Ganga-Jamuna Tehzeeb’ imbibed in the culture and the unmissable Dakhni dialect.
1. Mecca Masjid
At a stone’s throw distance from the Charminar, is the biggest mosque in Hyderabad, the Mecca Masjid. It is believed that Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah had commissioned bricks from Mecca which were used to build its central arch and hence the name, Mecca Masjid. It can house up to 10,000 worshippers at a time. The architecture is exquisite and this mosque is definitely worth a visit.
2. Nimrah Café and Bakery
After you come out of Mecca Masjid, you’ll notice the famous Nimrah Café and Bakery. The must-haves here are the Irani Chai and Osmania biscuits. There are many different variants of biscuits one can try. With very few Irani Cafes left in the city, this place is tourist savvy too. It opens at 4 am and runs till 11 pm. Nimrah Café and Bakery is a must-visit. After all, who wouldn’t like chai with a view of the Charminar?
3. Munshi Naan
Munshi Naan has been in existence since 1851, dating back to the reign of the fourth Nizam, Naseer-ud-Doula. Today, it is run by Abdul Hameed, the great-grandson of the founder, Mohammed Hussain. The age-old recipe has been passed down over generations and continues till date, with the only change being the shape of the naan. What makes Munshi naan so special is that it still uses human skill instead of relying on machines. It is located on the main road as you proceed towards Purani Haveli, from Darul Shifa.
4. Laad Bazaar
The street around Charminar that glitters the most is the famous Laad Bazaar. It is specifically known for bangles. It has been operating since the time of the Qutub Shahis and the Nizams. You can pick traditional Hyderabadi artifacts such as the ‘Soorma’ or indulge in the aromas of ‘Ittar’.
After walking through the streets around Charminar, the sights and sounds of the old city are a reminder that history & heritage of a place is not just in old buildings and monuments, but it goes beyond those to encapsulate its people, culture, food, books and a lot more.