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Got back early this morning from a two-day sojourn in the land of the Nizams. For the first time, I met two bloggers – Sheetal (though she shouldn’t count, for she’s a long-time, pre-blogging friend) and Kiruba (the “meeting” was all too brief – we shook hands and made promises to catch up in Chennai!) The first meeting was by design and the second by chance. Kiruba was speaking at a conference Vidya was attending, and she introduced me to him.

The better part of two days was spent wandering around the remains of Hyderabad’s Nizami past. Visited the Paigah Tombs, Kothi Residency, Purani Haveli, Char Minar and Mecca Masjid, wandered around in the old city – Chudi Bazar mostly, in Vidya’s wake, got a few pictures and one heck of a city experience!

Hyderabad has a lot of character, as well as characters! The Paigah Tombs were brilliant with their stucco work and the blue sky provided opportunity for some nice pictures. Little remains of the splendour of the Kothi Residency – most of it has disappeared due to ignorance, neglect and apathy. What remains is a sad pointer to the story of an English Resident and his fateful love. Purani Haveli is testament to the decadence of the Nizams’ lives, as well as a trumpeting of their achievements as rulers. What else can you say about a 240-foot wardrobe with changing rooms and cupboards filled with clothes, shoes perfumes, turbans, and accessories – each worn just once? What else can you say about a ruler whose “middle class” subjects collected money to present him with an 8-kilogram model of his throne – in solid gold!

Char Minar was crowded, filled with ogling young men and noisy women and children. Steep, narrow staircases took us to breathtaking views of the surroundings. The crowds and vandals notwithstanding, the sense of history and wonder made the climb up Char Minar worth it.

Mecca Masjid, with its imposing facade, rows of tombs of the Nizams, red bricks from Mecca and flocks of pigeons nicely rounded off our day at the old city.

We spent a couple of hours at the Hyderabad Central mall – a thoroughly frustrating and unenjoyable experience. Confusing or absent signage, inept staff, overcrowding, dangerous building flaws and a non-working ventilation system ensured that.

More detailed travelogue and pictures if and when I feel like it.

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