On Wednesday, a couple of us went to Charminar again. It was a very stressful morning with organizing our ride and counting people that were actually going. Uber wasn’t working and we were almost ready to abort our mission. But Mr. Das came through with Chandra’s car service and we boarded the van three hours after our scheduled time.
We arrived in Charminar pretty starved so we entered the first Indian place we found. The cuisine resembled our food in Tagore–South Indian biryanis, spicy chicken, and vegetable curry. We ordered just the right amount to finish it all.
We didn’t enter Charminar this time but just took tourist-y pics from outside. This time I did my research on the significance of the place. During his era, Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, shifted his capital from Golkunda to Hyderabad. To memorialize this, he built the Charminar in 1591. The structure is considered a signature of Islamic architecture and is recognized as one of the most historical places of Andhra Pradesh.
Also constructed by Sultan Qutb was the Makkah Masjid, which we didn’t get to explore last time because not all of us had scarves to cover our heads. The Shah ordered the bricks to be brought from Mecca, the holy city of Saudi Arabia. I didn’t learn much else about the architecture but Wikipedia says the main hall of the mosque can accommodate up to 10,000 people. !!!!. The courtyard in front of the entrance holds a rectangular-like structure with open windows on either side. Honestly, I don’t even know how to describe it but it looks like this.
Right next to it is a big pond with beautiful blue water, presumably intended for cleansing the hands and feet before entering the mosque. After looking it up, I realize this canopied building houses the tombs of Asaf Jahi rulers.
Upon entering this tomb, we were instructed to remove our sandals and were given a number to hold our spots. This, we expected. As we were walking around the place barefeet, a kindly old man (who we assumed to be a worker at the mosque) gave us a brief history on the place and brought us to the Sufi sitting inside the tombs, blessing people with a stick adorned with down feathers(?) We bowed our heads to be blessed, as per the instruction by the “guide” and then got pressured to donate. What a stink. They ask for money after they’ve tricked you into a service. We also were troubled at the front by the people that “overlooked” our shoes. Apparently, that service wasn’t free either, but we didn’t have any other place to leave our shoes. Man, these people be trying to swindle us from left and right. We didn’t pay either time.
After a quick shopping trip, we headed back to Tagore. In the evening five of us started our first Hindi class! It’s more more conversational Hindi than it is about learning the script and all its formal grammar. We went over the alphabet and began to recite basic sentences and phrases. Will give updates on Monday, as it the class is held only twice a week.