Written by koshkha on 07 Dec, 2009
Once you've read this, you might decide it's not really a 'story' – it's more of an extended 'Thank You' letter to the staff of the Hotel Geetanjali who designed our 4 day tour programme in Hyderabad and especially to our adorable driver Mohin who…Read More
Once you've read this, you might decide it's not really a 'story' – it's more of an extended 'Thank You' letter to the staff of the Hotel Geetanjali who designed our 4 day tour programme in Hyderabad and especially to our adorable driver Mohin who took amazingly good care of us during our visit. Each day Mohin turned up at the hotel to collect his instructions on where to take us and each day he did everything in his power to make sure we saw all that his city had to offer. The individual sites can each have their reviews later, but it's certainly true that we'd not have got half as much out of this city without the help of Varun the manager and Mohin the driver. We were only the second couple to book one of their tours and we came away as very contented guinea pigs indeed.Obviously I can't promise that anyone else booking a tourist package with the hotel will be lucky enough to get the same driver but Hyderabad is such a great city that you'll struggle to go too far wrong. I must admit I wasn't too sure what to expect. I have three Indian guide books – Footprint, Frommers and Dorling Kindersley and none of them seemed to reckon much to Hyderabad. Even the on-line forums I consulted advised that you could only stretch a visit to three days if you padded it with a lot of shopping but we had no trouble at all thanks to the package we booked and the imagination that went into its design.We arrived on Sunday morning on an overnight flight from London. On our first day we slept all morning after flying over-night and asked to meet our driver after lunch. At first we wondered how he was going to cope with us because he didn't seem to speak much English. As the days passed, his English got more confident and we all developed a sort of sixth sense about what he was suggesting and what we wanted to do. He looked after us like we were his relatives and the term 'nothing was too much trouble' was designed for Mohin. He was a safe, reliable driver, his car was always clean and tidy and he went out of his way to make sure we saw everything on the programme, including the things we didn't think we wanted to see. Each morning he picked up his instructions from the hotel about where to take us and if we wanted to change anything he'd call the hotel for confirmation and everything was quickly sorted out.On day one he took us to the Salar jung museum and that really was all we could deal with for the day. Day two was our main local sightseeing trip and we started with the Birla Temple followed by the Birla Science Museum and then on to the park by the lake for a speedboat trip to the Buddha Island in the lake. We visited the Charminar, Hyderabad's most famous landmark and the Mecca Masjid mosque before heading back north of the river to the bizarre NTR Park and finally onto Golconda for the Sound and Light Show. Day three he took us to Ramoji Film City then back to Hyderabad for an absurd hand-built novelty car museum and Snow World (a giant freezer full of over-excited Indians playing snowballs). On our final day we went back to Golconda for another look and to the Qut'b Shahi tombs. I think it's fair to say we saw a lot of places that have never made it into guide books, some of them fabulous fun and really interesting and Mohin and Varun are to be congratulated for putting such a great programme together.At each place we went to Mohin leapt out of the car, rushed off to buy our tickets and then made sure we knew where to go and what to do. When the entrance fees were only a few rupees, he bought an extra ticket so he could come in and show us around, grabbing our camera every now and then to take pictures of us posing around in the parks. A lot of the attractions ban cameras so he always waited outside to make sure we were OK and to take the cameras if we were banned from using them. Every time we emerged from a site he was waiting for us, as if by magic. Even if we tried to sneak out of an attraction and creep back by a side entrance, we couldn't catch him out. When we needed to find an internet café one evening to print our train tickets, he drove all over town trying to find a place for us because the first few places we stopped all had broken servers. When we wanted to buy packets of tissues and some dental floss, he stopped half a dozen times until we'd tracked down the tissues. Amazingly the dental floss was easy to find but packets of tissues were surprisingly challenging.Whenever we'd skipped breakfast, the hotel told him and he always tried to make sure to offer us a bakery or another place to pick up some food. He quickly came to understand that our idea of breakfast was a piece of cake and not weird curry. One day when we'd already been out for about 11 hours, he still took us to a place with lots of restaurants and offered to wait whilst we got dinner from one of the many restaurants. We just grabbed some sandwiches and told him he should go home to his family and we'd be happy to snack in our room. We were so well looked after and so fond of him after 4 days together that we were really sad to leave Mohin when he finally dropped us at the railway station.What we got – we got the lot!With the exception of the second visit to Golconda and the trip to the Qut'b Shahi tombs, all our entrance fees were included in our package. I wanted to go back to Golconda because I'd fallen asleep the first time thus maintaining my 100% record for not staying awake at Indian Sound and Light shows. We wanted to see it properly in daylight and the tombs were something I'd found in my guide book and wanted to take a look at. Of the long list of attractions included in our package we missed only one thing and that was a zoological gardens which was closed on Mondays (that was our main sightseeing day) and we ran out of time on the last day by going 'off piste' to the fort and the tombs. Not all of the included attractions in the Geetanjali's package were cheap to go into and many charged much higher fees for us as foreigners than they would have been for locals. The entrance fees on the third day alone were more than £20 but all those fees were included in our deal. I did wonder if the hotel had even covered their costs for sending is off all over the place for four days.A final footnote: if you've got this far and been wondering about the name of the hotel (and why not, it's not a word many would know), Geetanjali (or Gitanjali) means 'Song Offerings' and is the name of a book of devotional songs written by the great Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore, (which I haven't read but apparently it's very beautiful). Tagore was Asia's first ever winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and the man responsible for the National Anthems of both India and Bangladesh, neither of which I could hum or would reClose
Written by koshkha on 05 Dec, 2009
It's never a great experience to land at an airport you don't know at 4.45 am so our recent visit to Hyderabad found us tired, a bit confused and not entirely sure what to expect. I knew only a couple of things about the airport:…Read More
It's never a great experience to land at an airport you don't know at 4.45 am so our recent visit to Hyderabad found us tired, a bit confused and not entirely sure what to expect. I knew only a couple of things about the airport: that it was very new, that it was a LONG way from the city and that I was likely to get ripped off for a taxi. I was also aware that if we got hot and bothered and looked at all like we might have swine flu, we weren't going to get let into the country. So no pressure then!Due to having nabbed seats that were fairly near the front of the economy cabin, we were able to get off pretty quickly and beat the worst of the queues. Stepping off the plane my husband looked around and said "Wow, this is pretty impressive", and considering that we most often fly into Delhi when we go to India, it's very true to say that Hyderabad is a gleaming bright jewel of an airport compared to the run down inefficient, smelly horror that is Indira Gandhi International airport. Keeping it in the family, the airport that bears her son's name is a 1000 times more pleasant than her Delhi hub.Walking up the gleaming air-bridge and looking towards the brand spanking new terminal we were both a bit dazzled. I was reminded of Munich Airport but maybe that was just lack of sleep though I did once pass through Lagos airport and found an identikit copy of Amsterdam's Schipol so I'm always on the look out for such similarities.Once inside the terminal everything was clean, shiny and best of all, everything worked! The toilets were spotless and nobody tried to mug us for our change to pay for the facilities. The moving walk-ways all, well, moved! It sounds like little to be stunned by but most of the Indian airports I've used (and I've used many) just don't come close to the charms and efficiency of Hyderabad. We joined a pair of lines for the health checks, overly conscious that heat-seeking cameras were checking us and those around us to make sure we weren't suffering from fevers. We'd already completed our 'I haven't got swine flu, honest' forms before stepping off the plane but faced with a bank of serious looking doctors and nurses in face masks, it's hard not to imagine being hauled out of line and refused entry. What would happen? Would they stick you on a plane back to London or throw you in an isolation hospital and chuck away the key? I have no idea and fortunately I didn't have to find out.As a result of the long line for flu-screening, the passport check area was almost empty and we sailed straight through. Passing duty-free arrival shops filled with tempting goods we found ourselves at the luggage carousels where the efficient sparkling airport systems broke down a little and we waited nearly 20 minutes for all the bags to come through. All the porters were watching the cricket so we couldn't help wondering if the baggage handlers were doing the same.Whilst we waited, my husband popped off to change some money and we were soon out of the airport, facing a wall of waiting faces. I'd already read up on the transport options both in the luggage area and on the internet before we travelled so I knew we were likely to be charged higher rates into the city because it was so early in the morning. I also knew that we could either take a taxi straight outside the terminal and take a gamble on getting one that would charge the official rate of 15 Rp per kilometre, or we could take a bus to the so-called Transit Hub and get a 'pre-paid' taxi. Finding the transfer bus right in front of us, we opted for the latter. No sooner were we on that we were being schmoozed by a taxi man. "Where are you going?" he asked and I told him evasively "The Transit Hub". "No, no, WHERE in the city?" I told him I wasn't interested, I wanted a pre-paid taxi and would get one at the Hub. After a bit more nagging from him, I revealed the area of the city and he told me it would be 800 Rp. I laughed at him and called him a crook (yes, it sounds extreme but I knew that he was overcharging me) and I repeated that I wanted a pre-paid taxi. He showed me his ID pass showing that he was a pre-paid driver and I said I'd take my chances at the Transit Hub. My husband was sniggering and enjoying the entertainment. I told the guy he was charging far too much and he claimed it was because these were the 'night rates'. I told him the official rate from outside the airport was only 15 rupees per km and so it shouldn't be more than 600.After about 5 minutes we were at the Hub, a clever set up where all the taxis and buses are kept off the main airport concourse by holding them in one place. It's an elegant solution and we were impressed at the organisation and thought that had gone into this system. What we weren't impressed by was finding that there was no sign of a pre-paid taxi office. Throughout this trip we struggled with so-called Pre-paid systems before finally working it out in our last destination, but in theory you SHOULD be able to go to a ticket counter, tell the operator where you want to go and be assigned a driver and a fixed price. Sadly at 5.30 in the morning there was no evidence of such an arrangement.It's worth keeping in mind at this time that I was arguing mostly for the sport. 800 Rp is only a little over £10 and the journey was going to be about 25- 30 miles so the actual amount wasn't going to make or break the holiday. I kept the debate going a bit longer before eventually agreeing I'd pay him 650 Rp and an extra 50 if he got us there without any crazy or dangerous driving. It might sound trite but if I'd agreed to his original 800 he'd never have respected me and would have spent the rest of the day kicking himself for not asking for 1200. The deal was struck, he called a driver over and he and the driver took us into town. Our holiday had begun.Close
Written by sbmalik on 08 Feb, 2007
Sites in Hyderabad
Salarjung MusuemSalarjung Musuem has the largest private collection of articles in the world. The museum has various artifacts collected by Nawab Turab Ali Khan, popularly known as Salar Jung I, the diwan of the Hyderabad State, and his descendants, and definitely is a…Read More
Sites in Hyderabad
Salarjung MusuemSalarjung Musuem has the largest private collection of articles in the world. The museum has various artifacts collected by Nawab Turab Ali Khan, popularly known as Salar Jung I, the diwan of the Hyderabad State, and his descendants, and definitely is a major attraction in Hyderabad.
Salar Jung III alias Mir Yousuf Ali Khan’s collection forms the major chunk of the art pieces on display. The popular ones among these rare pieces of art are the Veiled Rebecca (a statue bought in 1876 in Rome), Venice (a painting by Marc Aldine of 19th century Italy), Indian paintings, arms and attires of the Mughal emperors, and some clocks. Don’t miss out on the 19th century British Musical Clock—a toy soldier popping out to ring the bell is a really cute sight. The Jade Room comprising jade objects is of special interest. You need to spend an entire day here to see all the exhibits.
NTR Garden One of the most recent and glamorous attractions of Hyderabad is the NTR Garden, which is located at Hussain Sager Lake. The sprawling NTR Gardens, set up in an area of 36 acres, offer a serene atmosphere and yet provide recreation facilities such as a machan tree, Japanese bonsai garden, car café, souvenir shops, Thrillium and Children's playing area, and a lot more. It is a memorial to the late N T Rama Rao, one of the most charismatic chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh. A toy train takes the visitors around the garden.
Eating out in Hyderabad
Hyderabadi cuisine has, like its culture, stood high and unmatched by any other state in India. In fact Hyderabad was known for the spectacular way its aristocracy entertained. The famous dishes of Hyderabad like Biryani (lamb and rice dish), Mirchi Ka Salaan (chilli curry), Murghi Korma (chicken curry), Haleem (Hyderabadi porridge—a local favourite), Sheer Korma (vermicelli pudding—another celebration special), and Qubani Ka Meetha (apricot pudding—a favorite at weddings) are worth the try and many cities in India regularly offer these dishes, especially the Biryanis and Korma at the outlets known as Hyderabad Biryani House.
Written by cheshta on 13 Jun, 2005
One built the Taj Mahal for his dead wife and the other named an entire city after her. Hyderabad, more famous today as Cyberabad, named after the love of Muhammad Quli, Rani Bhagmati, renamed Begum Haidar Mahal, is another striking example of what lovers are…Read More
One built the Taj Mahal for his dead wife and the other named an entire city after her. Hyderabad, more famous today as Cyberabad, named after the love of Muhammad Quli, Rani Bhagmati, renamed Begum Haidar Mahal, is another striking example of what lovers are capable of doing for each other.
And what a love story it was: the son of the Muslim king in love with a Hindu village dancer. Two religions that now do not see eye to eye were then living in perfect harmony, tolerance, and love and laying down the stones of this magnificent city.
The construction of the city was completed in 1592, and today, the city is an ideal mix of the past and the present. Known for its pearls, biryanis, and the IT revolution, Hyderabad was once the proud owner of the Kohinoor diamond, the Darya-i-Noor, the Orloff, the Pitt, and the great table of the Nizam. Today, most of these treasures can be seen behind tightly secured glass cages of museums abroad, but what you can see in your country here is the place where it all began.
Five-hundred and fifty kilometres from Bangalore, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh, is well connected by road, rail, bus, and the air network of the country. The official language is Telugu, but most people understand Hindi and English perfectly well. Their accented Hindi is a treat to listen to for those who understand Hindi.
A weekend might be enough for most travellers to Hyderabad, but if possible, budget for at least 3 days, as there is enough to look out for in this place for people of all ages.
For those who are enamored by stories of love, valor, and treachery, two visits to the 16th-century fortress, Golconda, are a must. Visit the fort in the daytime and use a guide, who will tell you the intricacies of construction of the fort. He will show you how a clap at one end of the giant fort was heard at the top of the hill by the king’s sentries; how the king could watch the judgments happen but no one could see him; how the empire reached its glory; and how it all ended. Then visit the fort again in the night to witness the sound-and-light-show, hear some more of those stories in the voices of some famous Indian artistes, and see the fortress light up in red, blue, and gold in front of your eyes.
Seedhu, from the fortress on the way back to the city, are the tombs of Qutb Shah. The seven kings of Hyderabad and their families lie in the grounds beneath beautiful Iranian-styled, arched tombs. Visit them to see how each one of them constructed their own tombs for the world to remember them by. See the splendor of the city sprawled in front of you from there. The tomb of Begum Haidar Mahal has been renovated recently, and it glows in its white limestone glory while the other tombs still stand, greyed out, silently awaiting their turn for the Archaeological Society’s generosity.
If you want to see some of the most beautiful and the largest private collections of antique artifacts, plan a visit to the Salar Jung Museum. It boasts of books written in the 11th century, oriental artifacts, Egyptian carpets, European glassware, and Indian crafts. Don’t miss the famous double-sided statue or the veiled lady and listen to the sweet chimes of the hourly clock. You can go and spend the entire day there, yet wonder how much more there is to see.
A slightly long walk from the museum will take you to the famous Charminar. The majestic architectural hub of the city stands at the heart of the old city of Hyderabad, built by Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah in 1591. The structure is square, each side measuring 100 feet, with a central pointed high arch at the center. The minarets, their domed finials, rise to 180 feet from the ground. The whole edifice contains numerous small decorative arches arranged both vertically and horizontally, and you can climb up the structure to see the crowded marketplace below. The Charminar is built such that from any place from the Golconda fort, only two of its minarets are visible – like a mosque, one for Allah and the other for Prophet Muhammad.
One of India’s largest mosques is also located near Charminar. The Mecca Masjid can accommodate up to 10,000 people. Its construction was initiated by Muhammad Qutb Shah in 1617 and completed by Aurangzeb in 1693.
Entry charges to these buildings are nominal at Rs. 10 to Rs. 25 per adult, with extra charges for cameras. Foreigners have to shelve out extra money, about $5 for each adult, for entry.
In case you are interested in seeing the millions of Hyderabad shop around this area. Visit the nearby Chudi market and buy brilliant coloured glass bangles, or just walk around and see people shop for anything and everything in the crowded streets here.
For those interested in spending a relaxing evening under the open sky, spend a few hours at NTR garden or watch the laser show in Lumbini Park. Then take a cruise down the Hussain Sagar Lake to the Buddha statue. The Hussain Sagar, popularly known as Tank Bund, was constructed in 1562 AD by Ibrahim Qutb Shah in gratitude to Husain Shah Wali, who had cured him of a disease. It connects the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The Necklace Road outlines it, and the streetlights reflected off the water are a treat to the eyes.
Then visit the famous Birla Temple. Queue among hordes of devotees wanting to have a glimpse of Lord Vekateshwara and gather one more view of the city from atop the shrine.
If you are a movie buff, spend a day at the Ramoji Film City watching how movies are made. One of the largest film cities, it is located 25km out of Hyderabad on the way to Vijaywada. For Rs.200 a person, you can enjoy bus rides in the film city and watch your favourite movie scenes in their bare forms in front of your eyes. Step inside an airport and walk out of a church. Walk inside Ajanta Caves and stand face to face with an Anaconda. Enjoy joy rides, stroll over beautiful gardens, get wet in lovely fountains, and watch some crazy dance fusion shows, Wild West stunt shows, and comedy shows. End the day with a movie on the world’s largest IMAX screen. Located in a city mall, the IMAX movie is worth an experience for IMAX first-timers. The hall normally plays English movies, animation films, and documentaries. Tickets are available through telephone booking or at the counter. Advance booking is advised. Tickets cost Rs.175 per seat.
Finally, a visit to Hyderabad would not be over till you taste the famous biryanis. Savour the rice dishes with kebabs, haleem, or Nahari sheep trotters and end the meal with the royal Shahi Tukra. All throughout, watch out for the spices, as they are used aplenty. Vegetarians will be a tad disappointed, as the fare is not half as exciting.
Written by TanyaJPaulMunshi on 21 Sep, 2006
If you’re visiting Hyderabad it would be a crime to not visit the Churi Bazaar, which is just next to the famous Charminar. The bangles range from glass, plastic, lac, gold and silver plated and pearl imitations with intricate designs and a range of colours…Read More
If you’re visiting Hyderabad it would be a crime to not visit the Churi Bazaar, which is just next to the famous Charminar. The bangles range from glass, plastic, lac, gold and silver plated and pearl imitations with intricate designs and a range of colours to choose from. A pair of lac bangles costs about Rs. 120/-, while glass bangles range between Rs. 10/- to Rs. 15/-. If you’re fond of henna or mehendi, do pick up the famous Karachi Mehendi which will cost just Rs. 5/- for a cone. Karachi Mehendi is a brand name to reckon with in Hyderabad. It is usually picked up during weddings and festivals and is known for the dark colour that enhances the designs on the palms. Guys might like this place where they can pick up bangles for their girlfriends at such reasonable rates. You can also pick up some funky ear rings from other road side vendors for just Rs. 10/-
Your trip to Hyderabad will remain incomplete if you don’t purchase some fine pearl jewellery. Every shop has something unique to offer and hence it is advisable to look around several pearl shops till you zero down on a select few. For instance, at Princess Pearls you can buy black and purple pearl ear rings with zircons and platinum finish ranging from Rs. 180/- to Rs. 250/-. You can also visit Sri Jagadamba Pearls that offers a range of real pearl junk jewellery ranging between Rs. 100 to Rs. 200/- and above, while real pearl bangles costing about Rs. 400/- a pair. The junk jewellery makes it a popular pearl destination for youngsters. Krishna Pearls is another store for genuine pearl jewellery which is situated near Char Minar and has branches in most of the 5 star hotels in Hyderabad.
Visiting Hyderabad can never be boring as there is so much to explore in this city.
Laser Show at Lumbini Park – Lumbini is named after the birthplace of Buddha. In fact, en route to the park you will notice a massive statue of the Buddha, which is lit up at night in the centre of the Hussain Sagar Lake. The park has been done up in Japanese style of rockwork, cacti, pathways and lawns. As you enter the park, there is a huge floral clock at the entrance welcoming you. Lumbini Park offers its tourists a display of musical water fountain dancing to the tunes of the latest Hindi and English tracks, as well as the history of Hyderabad displayed on a screen of water. After the show, you can take a walk or drive along the Necklace Road that connects Lumbini Park in Hyderabad to Sanjeeviah Park in Secundarabad. Tickets per person Rs. 30/-. Shows are held only in the evenings, after sunset.
Ramoji Film City – This place is heaven for youngsters who plan trips just after exams and it is also best for office picnics. Apart from sightseeing and eating, you can enjoy rides at Fandustaan inside the film city. Red London buses inside the film city take you on a guided tour. Most of the things built at Ramoji are made of plaster of Paris and fibre glass. Don’t be surprised if you spot a railway station with a train, a dhaba, the Taj Mahal, Japanese gardens, Angel Fountain, a slum from Mumbai and Brindavan Gardens—they are simply readymade film sets! In fact, ETV serials, Bollywood flicks such as Karan Arjun and several television commercials are shot here. You can see the Wild West stunt show and a comedy show performed in sets and other variety entertainment with no extra cost. Tickets per person Rs. 250/- which is only the entry fee, additional charges are extra for food and other rides.
Golconda Fort – is known for its military architecture and was once considered a well protected fort that was very difficult for any enemy to break in. In fact, as soon as you enter the fort, you reach the portico of the Fateh Darwaza or the Victory Gate. If you clap your hands at the portico, the sound reverberates and is heard on top of the hills in the palace where the king lived. This served as a warning in case of an emergency. Even today, you will amaze yourself when you hear several echoes of your single clap. Right after sun set you can witness the Light and Sound Show at the Golconda Fort. The boulders and the hilly remains of the fort come alive through the narration by the super star Amitabh Bacchan along with light and sound effects. This light and sound show will take you through the history of Hyderabad and Golconda. Tickets per person is Rs. 40/-. Shows are held only in the evenings, after sunset.
Salar Jung Museum – This museum displays a priceless collection that belonged to the late Salar Jung III, the Hyderabadi noble who inherited them from his father and grandfather. The collection ranges from fine porcelain, bone china, carpets, figurines, sculpture, exotic furniture and manuscripts. You can see the life history of Salar Jung I, II and III, as well as, Salar
Jung III’s school books and rapid readers displayed at the museum. There are several rooms, where each room is dedicated to a particular theme, such as fine jewellery, clocks from all around the world, silver and ivory work and exquisite clothing and so on. The highlight of this museum is a clock which is a masterpiece in itself. There are two LCD monitors placed next to the clock, with seating arrangements that allow visitors to see how a little soldier inside the clock, pops out to strike the time on the dong. You can spend an entire day looking at the exhibits and munch on goodies at the museum’s cafeteria. You can also shop for curios, calendars and jewellery from the museum shop. Cameras are not allowed, in fact, there are counters where you can deposit your cameras before visiting the museum. Tickets per person Rs. 5/-. The museum is closed on Fridays.
The Char Minaar is synonymous and an inseparable part of Hyderabad. This minar which stands for Hindu and Muslim tradition offers a view of the entire Hyderabad city and looks amazing at night when it is all lit up. In fact, if you look carefully you will be able to spot the Golconda Fort amongst the busy city life. Just before visiting the Churi Bazar, you can make a trip to the Char Minaar. Be careful while climbing the stairs, as they are extremely steep and very narrow, which also makes it difficult to climb down. Tickets per person is Rs. 5/-.
Written by Vaidya on 30 Jul, 2005
Nawab Turab Ali Khan, popularly known as Salar Jung I, was the ‘Diwan’ (Prime Minister) of the Hyderabad State. He and his descendants (Laiq Ali Khan – Salarjung II and Mir Yousuf Ali Khan – Salarjung III) were avid collectors of artifacts. This collection, most…Read More
Nawab Turab Ali Khan, popularly known as Salar Jung I, was the ‘Diwan’ (Prime Minister) of the Hyderabad State. He and his descendants (Laiq Ali Khan – Salarjung II and Mir Yousuf Ali Khan – Salarjung III) were avid collectors of artifacts. This collection, most of which was collected by Salarjung III, is reputed to be the largest private collection in the world.
The collection is kept in a series of galleries that are numbered. A free guide service is available at fixed hours. As I had descended at an odd hour, and since I wanted to spend an entire day here, I preferred to go to the sales counter to buy a guide. On the way I saw a good cafeteria and decided that I would go there at frequent intervals. I think that there are around 35 or 38 galleries in all.
The first gallery that I ventured into was the ‘founders’ gallery’. It has portraits and other personal belongings of the family – the gifts received by the family, the wine cups, costumes, silver bowls, etc. Though I have a great respect for the Salarjung family for their contribution in promoting art and artists, this gallery failed to impress me.
Indian Bronze and Painted Textiles: This gallery has very old figures of bronze dating back to the 12th century AD. The famous figure of Lord Shiva as Nataraja is also there. The famous ‘Kalamkari’ art (painting on clothes), for which ‘Andhra Pradesh’ is well known, is also on display. The colors used are natural dyes. The scenes are from the great epics ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’. The number of faces, each with a different expression as per his role in mythology, along with the plethora of colors detailing the costumes and the background, is mind-boggling and speaks a lot of the patience and the dexterity of the artist.
Minor Arts of South India: This gallery has figures made of finely carved wood. Most of the artifacts seem to be sourced from the southern parts of the country. I particularly like the wooden screens, sofa sets and chairs.
Ivory Carving: The ‘Nawab’ must have been a lover of ivory. Each and every piece here is of exquisite quality. I could not keep my mouth closed when I saw the famous mat made from ivory threads. Anyone who has ever touched ivory would know how much skill is required to make a single thread by hand, and this mat has thousands of them. Each and every item in this collection is a masterpiece whether it is a figure, chess set, a table lamp, or a carved paper cutter. I think that if I could buy a single item from this collection, I would have to part with most of what I have earned so far in life.
The ‘Nawab,’ as is quite normal, has a great collection of arms and armory. The collection is huge, but could not generate interest in me. The same was true for the metalware gallery – dominated by ‘Bidri’ work. I was eager to go to the ‘miniature paintings’ section and was delighted to see it. I must add here that my native place, ‘Kangra’, is quite known for miniature paintings. The collection here is quite delightful. There are miniatures on leaves from the 14th century AD. Paintings from the ‘Mughal’ school left me spellbound – lots of colors , details, flora, fauna, wildlife, kings, lovers, ladies. The painting showing the elephant fight shows the expressions of the animal in vivid details. There are a lot of paintings from the ‘Rajasthan School’. The life of God ‘Krishna’, episodes from the epic ‘Ramayana’, etc., are there. The paintings from ‘Kangra’ take the cake. This is the only section where you find the details of the sub-schools, which shows how much the ‘Nawab’ was enlightened and impressed by the paintings of ‘Kangra School’. The subjects here are court scenes, celebrations of festivals, palaces, etc. The painters in all the schools have spent a lot of time on small details. In the night, as we go on looking towards the sky, the number of stars keeps on increasing; similarly, here also, if you go on studying the painting, the hidden details keep on coming out. It looks as though the painter knows each and every person, animal, and tree to the core and has taken efforts from his heart to tell the audience about them.
The next section was on modern paintings, but I was so overwhelmed from the ecstasy of expressions that I decided to have a small break in the cafeteria. As it was late afternoon by now, during the break, I decided to go through the remaining galleries fast and mark the galleries and items of interest and then go back to them again. Later, I realized that this was one big mistake that I did, because it took away the surprise element to a certain extent, and in most of the cases, the galleries that seemed lackluster on the first visit looked grand on a second look. Going fast was tiring too. After an hour spent in confusion, I decided to continue in the same manner as in the morning.
Modern Paintings: this section has two paintings from Raja Ravi Verma, namely the ‘Kerala Beauty’ and the ‘Stolen Interview’. The second named painting just moved all the parts of my body - my knees went weak, such is the effect it had on me. I also liked the works of Nandlal Bose (especially ‘Villagers around fire’ and the painting of lady and the deer by Abdur Rehman Chugtai).
I wanted to go to the jade carving, old manuscripts, Egyptian art, and Syrian art sections again, but could not do so, even though these sections are considered to be the highest in value. Carpets have been my favorite subject, and I have spent some time in different markets scouting for a bargain. The collection here primarily has famous Persian carpets. The weaving is intricate, and the carpets are decked with ornamental patterns, floral motifs, and creepers at the borders. The carpets used for prayers (small in size) have exquisite patterns. Somehow, the colors looked dull to me as compared to the carpets from Kashmir, but I really do not know the reason why. One likely reason could be that the carpets might have got worn out owing to usage. The Chinese section has beautiful porcelain items, figures of Lord Buddha, and embroidered silk. The Japanese section has very good furniture, watercolor paintings, lacquer work, ivory, and embroidered silks.
The section on European art is so good that it is housed in a separate section, which looks modern as compared to other parts of the building. The watercolor paintings and the oil paintings are from Britain, France, and Italy. The clarity of colors, smoothness of finish, dramatic expressions, and effect of light and shade results in their becoming masterpieces. On display is the European porcelain and glass too, but after seeing the works of painters like Muller, Bouguerea, Charddin, Aldine, Canaletto, Hayez, Cooper, and Schmalz, the heart does not want to see anything else, or rather, everything else looks so ordinary. I just kept on walking in a trance, wondering how the Nawab Salarung could have appreciated or digested the intricacies of such wide variations. After some time, I was in front of the famous ‘Veiled Rebecca’. This work should be seen by everyone. I wonder whether anyone else in the world would ever be able to capture the feminine charm in the way Benzoni has done. The transparent veil covering her face – I don’t know how it could be made - each and every detail, including the crevices of the dress, has been sculpted to perfection. There are very many fine sculptures around, but after seeing the masterpiece, the eyes start finding the missing details.
The museum has a children’s section too, but I could not go there because of lack of time. I did see the famous musical bell, though. It has got a mechanical device by which a toy figure comes out every hour, strikes the gong, and goes back. The clock is placed in a courtyard and there is a big crowd around. The collective excitement makes the event unforgettable. It just occurred to me that in an emotional country like India, there could be a small riot if by chance the mechanical device fails and the toy soldier is not able to strike the gong. Hats off to the craftsmen who have made such flawless beauties and also to the rich kings who have promoted them.
Written by Vaidya on 26 Mar, 2005
There is one incident which I will never forget. After my marriage, my wife and I were on our way from Nagpur to Karwar, and the route that we had chosen was via Hyderabad and Hubli. On reaching Hyderabad, we found that the gauge inversion…Read More
There is one incident which I will never forget. After my marriage, my wife and I were on our way from Nagpur to Karwar, and the route that we had chosen was via Hyderabad and Hubli. On reaching Hyderabad, we found that the gauge inversion work - i.e., converting the railway line from metre gauge to broad gauge, had started, and the trains for Hbli now left from a place called Mehboobnagar. The timings had also changed. My wife had been to Hyderabad earlier and had an opinion that the food in Hyderabad was no good.
We had a lot of luggage with us, and because of the circumstances, we decided to stay in the first-class waiting room. The place was uncomfortable, to say the least. My wife was reglarly pointing out various food options that were available at the station and telling how bad her earlier exeriences were. I told her I would get some packed food for her from outside. She did not like the idea but did not oppose it. I went out and checked with the taxi drivers/ local grocers, etc., outside the station. I was sure you would not have to walk more than 100-200 meters in Hyderabad to get a good snack or biryanee, or fixed meal. They all pointed to a shop, the place was in the basement and there was a crowd of locals chatting and eating. I placed the order and got nicely packed biryanees in minutes. You should have seen the expression of gratitude in my wife's eyes.
I must advise all the tourists to come out of the station, check up with the locals, and then eat. You will not be disappointed. Do not take any offers of going in a taxi, etc. Ask for places within walking distance. One exception is Chennai, where you should avoid the three-wheeler drivers.