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A Visit to Old-Town Hyderabad, Part I

My Hotel

Saturday was shopping day. A friend offered to chaperone me into the Old Town section of Hyderabad and show me the sights. He dropped by my hotel about noon with his driver in tow, and we were off.

I had heard many things about the great Hyderabadi monument, Charminar. I asked if we could see that, and he said yes (although his driver seemed to tense up). As soon as we had finished shopping, he said, because the stores were nearby. And we would also go by the Legislature Assembly Building for the state of Andhra Pradesh, and I could see the big statue of Ghandi as well.

Sounded good to me!

I didn’t know quite what I was getting myself into, though. This is the last weekend of Ramzan (Ramadan), and Old Town is mostly Muslim at this stage of the city’s development. I had heard crowds would be thick, but since I didn’t intend to get out and walk around, I didn’t think that would be a problem…

Old Town Crowd

Crowds Spilling Into the Street, Old Town Hyderabad

Well, okay; I’m big enough to admit I could be wrong, sometimes. I usually don’t mind crowds. Then again, they’re not usually so close that they bang against the side of the car with their knees and elbows, or bump along the side with the handlebars of their bikes. And that was in the less-crowded parts, where people could at least move faster than the car.

Old Town College

One of the Newer Buildings in Old Town

Just getting to the vicinity of Charminar was an experience. The whole area focuses on commerce of all types, mostly dealing with the everyday: Food, clothing, transportation.The luckier places have small shops; most vendors deal from a small pile of goods on the sidewalk, or from a pushcart of some kind. The closer you get to Charminar, the more carts and goods are in the roadway, and the narrower the channel where motorized traffic could move.

Locals still try to make at least three lanes of traffic, of course; even when there’s not room for a subcompact sedan. That causes a real feeling of claustrophobia in some folks (fortunately, not me; I never suffer from things like that when my meds are in near-overdose mode).

Beauty Sign

Somewhere There’s Beauty Here

India Goods Selling

Potatoes, Onions, Garlic, Ginger for Sale

Colorful Goods

Colorful Children’s Garments, Old Town Bazaar, Hyderbad

Shoe Seller

Shoes for Sale at the Bazaar: Up to $0.60 a Pair

Flowers for Sale

Flowers for Sale, Babysitting for Free; Old Town Bazaar

Then we found Charminar. What an impressive structure! However, there is no place where you can stand and capture the whole magnificence with a camera. I took a few snaps from outside the car, but had to duck back inside when the beggars noticed me. We made a snail’s pace getaway and I took a few more pics from inside the car. These show great detail, but not any real sense of the structure’s magnificance.

I’ll continue this sequence in my next post; meanwhile,

Enjoy the (Old Town) Heat!

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