Celebrity blogger, One of our Chennai Bloggers Club’s (CBC) admin and my good friend TD A.K.A Sindhu was so kind to invite me to her wedding. What made me more excited than the wedding itself is the fact that it’s gonna be in Hyderabad. For most of the world, Hyderabad is IT Hub, Land of Nizams, The Pearl City and so on. But, for the rest of the divine souls like me, it’s the Biryani Paradise, Haleem Heaven and a living Monument of Mogul Food. Now you might have got the sole reason why I was super excited.
Before going deep into the whereabouts of the trip, it’s time for some history lesson on how the city got its name, courtesy Google, Wikipedia and all of the web.
Hyderabad means “Haydar’s city” or “lion city”, from haydar (lion) and ābād (city). It was named to honour the Caliph Ali Ibn Abi Talib, who was also known as Haydar because of his lion-like valour in battles. The city was originally called Baghnagar (city of gardens). One popular theory suggests that Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of the city, named it “Bhagyanagar” or “Bhāgnagar” after Bhagmati, a local nautch (dancing) girl with whom he had fallen in love. She converted to Islam and adopted the title Hyder Mahal. The city was renamed Hyderabad in her honour.
Initially, we 6 of us planned to go together for the trip. But, just like any other trip two dropped out due to unforeseen circumstances. So, finally, its 4 of us who made it to the trip, it’s me, DeepaNarayanan a.k.a Deepu, Bragadeesh Prasanna a.k.a Brags Anna and Jothi Vel Moorthi a.k.a Jo Anna.
The Timely Benefit
Our train from Chennai Central to Hyderabad Charminar Express was scheduled to depart at 6.10 pm on 2nd Dec. Unfortunately, it’s 4.15 and was still struck at my home as it was pouring heavily. I started in spite of the heavy rains as it was a now or never moment. With clocks ticking, my wait for the bus to Tambaram station went in vain. Luckily after a few minutes came a share auto all empty. The driver noticed the clear anxiety on my face and asked me what’s wrong. I told him that I am running late to catch the train. After hearing this, he didn’t stop the auto at any subsequent stops though there were a few passengers waiting. “Bro, now you will catch the train on time”, he said while dropping me at the station earlier that expected. To my surprise, he didn’t demand any extra money. It’s not the first time someone had helped me to reach on time. From Tambaram Station I took a local to Park Station and from there I joined the rest to board the train at the Chennai Central on time. Many thanks to the share auto driver.
காலத்தி னாற்செய்த நன்றி சிறிதெனினும்
ஞாலத்தின் மாணப் பெரிது.
A timely benefit, -though thing of little worth,
The gift itself, -in excellence transcends the earth.
The Alpha Hotel
We boarded our train, had our dinner and dozed off. The next day (3rd Dec) morning by 7.30 we reached the Secunderabad Junction. Thanks to my friend at work Sashidhar who recommended the Alpha Hotel and we found it right opposite to the railway station. As Sashi suggested we ordered the specialty of the place “Keema Roti” and Omelet. As Deepu is a vegetarian, he ordered Lukmi and Sabzi. To my surprise, the Roti was so big that I wasn’t able to have more than one and the Keema (minced meat curry) was spicy, rusting and utterly delicious. The food was not only divine and soul filling but was also very much affordable. It cost only 360 for the 4 of us. Isn’t it a sin to complete the breakfast without an Irani Chai while you are in Hyderabad. As we didn’t intend to commit one, we had our cup of joy there itself. The Alpha Hotel has been around for more than 50 years and serves good food at an affordable price. So, sincere thanks to The Alpha Hotel for brightening up our morning. From there we took a cab to the hotel where our rooms were booked.
The Salar Jung Museum
After resting a bit and freshening up, we decided to roam out. We took a cab by 11 am and reached our 1st stop “The Salar Jung Museum” by 12.15 pm. This massive museum is one of the three national museums of India. After collecting out tickets, we had to deposit our bags as no bags are allowed inside the museum. You need all day to patiently look around all the galleries here, but unfortunately, we didn’t have that luxury of time. So, all we could do was skim through the galleries. One of the famous attractions here is a marble statue named “The Veiled Rebekah”, as they say, it’s definitely a melody in marble. Yet another famous attraction here is “The English Bracket Musical Clock”. It’s manufactured in England and got assembled in Kolkata in the late 19th century. A lot of visitors, including me, patiently waited for the striking of the gong. There are 2 toys in this clock. One is a blacksmith which keeps on beating the hammer for every second. Second is what every one of us is waiting for, a bearded man who comes out 3 minutes before every hour and strikes the gong no of times the hour (12 times for 12’O clock) exactly when the hour strikes and goes back in. Out of everything I saw there, one thing really caught my eyes. It’s a small ivory statue of a beautiful woman in their ivory gallery. I named her Ivory Nandhini after one of the famous charters in Kalki’s book Ponniyin Selvan.
The Bawarchi Biriyani
It’s already 2 pm and Going around the museum made us really hungry. Though the next stop we planned to visit for was just 2 km away, neither our mind, nor our stomach paved way to go for it. We had few eateries nearby, but I was very firm in having authentic Hyderabadi Biriyani for lunch. So, after a couple of calls with Sashi (Yeah the same friend who recommended us Alpha Hotel), we decided upon one of the most famous Biriyani places in Hyderabad. After traveling another 18 km by cab we reached the “Bawarchi Biriyani”. Even by 3 pm, the place was well crowded. As the AC restaurant was fully occupied, we were redirected to the rooftop one. Once we went up and got our seats, the divine smell of the Biryani served around took over me and made me impatient. This is one place where demonetization has hit us very badly. They don’t accept cards and demanded cash upfront on the order, just like a takeaway. With the limited cash we had, all we could order was Chicken Biryani for Me, Brags Na and Jo Na, and the veg one for Deepu. The moment of truth, Finally, the waiter brought big portions of Biryani to our table. The Briyani was yummy, spicy and rustic. The chicken piece was juicy and well marinated too. The portion was sumptuous that it was hard, even for a biryani boy like me to complete one. With a content soul and stomach
As we approach our destination, I could see Telugu being replaced by Urdu in the sign boards and the environment turn old and rustic. Finally, we were there, in front of the most iconic landmark of the city, “The Charminar”. One of my early memories is my paternal grandfather smoking a cigarette brand named Charminar. So, was familiar with the word “Charminar”, even before I know that a place named Hyderabad exists. Brags Na volunteered to take care of our bags as they didn’t allow us to take our backpacks inside and as he has been here umpteen no of times and. We collected our tickets from the counter and “QR Code” on the ticket was scanned using a smartphone just before letting us in. Surrounded by crowded market streets and a big mosque, the view from the top was worth climbing the spiral, narrow and high staircase. What could be a better souvenir than Pearls from the “City Of Pearls”? so after Charminar, we stopped by the nearby pearl market to get some. From there, Brags Na and Jo Na decided to go back to the room and rest. Deepu and I had separate plans to meet up with our friends, so we merged both the plans and decided on a common place on the other side of the city as it would be easy for us to commute together. We had a tough time explaining the pickup location to the cab driver and Mr. Venkateshvaralu a traffic cop helped us with the same. That’s yet another timely help.
It was around 7 pm when we reached Shilparamam night bazaar, an arts and crafts place. Later we were joined by my Jagriti Yatra (JY) friend Kishori, her friend Tushar, Deepu’s friends Harika and Vinay. We roamed around the bazaar talking and doing window shopping. It was great catching up with Kishori after a couple of years after JY. Herself and Tushar got me handmade and hand painted wooden RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) Elephants, that’s so lovely of them. In the meanwhile, Deepu managed to find an awesome gift for the couple getting married the next day. As usual roaming and talking made us hungry and there were a few restaurants just across the road for the rescue. The dinner was at Chutneys, to justify the name they served like 6 varieties of Chutneys. That awesome eventful day came to an end when the cab dropped us back at our hotel and I dozed of exhausted.
It’s yet another Sunday for us, but for our friend Sindhu, it’s her D-day (4th Dec). Surprisingly both Raji and her brother Ram came to the marriage hall quite early in the morning. So, I spent a while chatting with them and the rest of the morning was wisely spent on gift wrapping. I am not even exaggerating, It was a fun activity considering the size of the gift :D. It was a typical Telugu style wedding and totally enjoyed witnessing the proceedings. Once the knot is tied we are supposed to go and wish the couple rather we headed straight to the dining hall. We relaxingly had the awesome wedding lunch, man their yummy desserts. Then we came back, wished the lovely couples and took pictures with them. Even though she is the bride, Sindhu will always be our selfie stick. I am so happy for you both Sindhu and Kiran. Wish you both an awesome life ahead.
The Karachi Biscuits
Unfortunately, all the must visit places were quite far away from our hotel. So, we decided to lay back and rest for a while to avoid the risk of missing the train. The only thing that was bothering me was that I wasn’t able to get some Karachi biscuits. There is a famous quote from the book The Alchemist, “When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream”. Seems I was lucky that day and the universe decided to conspire in my favor. Mr. Ramesh, Jo Na’s friend who came to meet him there lent his helping hand. He drove me and Jo Na to the Karachi Bakery. Again demonetization hit us very badly. We almost ran out of cash and the bakery wasn’t accepting cards. With the limited cash we got, all we could get was one or two small boxes of fruit and cashew biscuits each. Mr. Ramesh was also kind to drop us at Hyderabad Deccan Nampally station.
The Journey Back Home
From Nampally station Me and Jo Na boarded the Charminar Express by 6.30 pm and the other two boarded the same train from the Secunderabad station. After munching some buns I dozed off. When I woke up in the morning, I had a few messages from my dad to stay safe as the CM was critically ill and there might be law and order problem in the city. Later, even a few co-passengers also enquired about me the same. Though I was bit concerned, things looked pretty normal when we reached Chennai Central around 8.00 am. Again, I took a local train back home.
It might have been a short trip, but an awesome one indeed. Definitely, it’s a trip to remember.