“Banaunga Chaar, dikhaunga do” said my Guide pointing towards the three, visible minarets of the Char Minar and moved forward with a stride that was increasingly difficult for me to match.
We were in the acoustic marvels of India where you could clap at one end and the echo of it would be heard at the far end, where you could speak through walls, where they built air conditioned rooms with no technology; and my mind was set on the old monument – the non-glamorous, non-embellished, prayer place of Hyderabad.
On that short trip to Hyderabad, I spent two days exploring Golconda fort, Salar Jung museum & shopping for pearls & Karachi Biscuits & cam back home with a feeling of missing out. Since then, I have been rooting to visit Char Minar and feel in the age old air even if the monument doesn’t amount to much for many, even if I have to cross the gulleys and narrow alleys to reach there, even if it’s under a weather so hot that it can drive me to headache, and even if the entire world says that there is nothing worthwhile in Char Minar.
For me, it was my pilgrimage for I love all things that are broken, neglected, hidden, weak and got a past.
And Char Minar has got a bag of stories, folklores and anecdotes- each different from the other & yet really similar to the spirit of the city, Hyderabad. It’s being said that the monument (and the mosque) of Char Minar was constructed to commemorate the end of Cholera that had plagued the city for some time. Some even believe that the monument was constructed by Qutab Shah at the very spot where he caught the first glimpse of his lady love, Bhagmati, whom he would eventually marry.
The inside of the monument is as humble as the structure itself, you enter the premises, take a left and then a right, and there – you are standing in the centre of it all before you know it. You could view four different Hyderabad’s through four different arched gates. At the middle of the foyer, there is a fountain and a little bit of perspective on the monument for the ones who would want to know more.
I was more intrigued by the people fluttering around with their families, talking loudly, sitting on the stairs and staring at nothing in particular, people in skull caps, people over the phone, people holding hands together and little people running here and there. I could see nodes in each of them and my mind quickly imagined circuits between & across the various nodes. Countless circuits, innumerable relationships & unimaginable volume of stories.
I was going berserk partly because of the manifestation of Circuit Theory & partly because of the searing heat that was now getting to me. I spent a few more minutes inside & decided to take resort in a cafe nearby ditching the idea of shopping for bangles and jewellery from the nearby Laad Bazaar. Before leaving the place until the next time, I took another generous glimpse of this beautiful place & the amazing company I had & locked away the memory for the times ahead.
Amidst the Bazaars, the river and the occasional festivities of Ramzan, the monument continues to sit quietly, looking over its minarets and slowly chipping structure. With time, Char Minar has grown bit old and much wiser. It’s felt the separation when the lightening permanently damaged one of the minarets & the joy of reunion when they rebuilt and repaired the damage. It’s grown to love the disparities and difference. Probably that’s why there exists a temple, ‘BhagyaLakshmi Temple’ at the base of Char Minar where they do morning & evening Aartis overlaying with the five-timed daily Namaaz prayers on the first floor of the monument.
Incredible. Isn’t it?
Take a train or catch a plane but visit the city of Nizams for their flavoured Biryani, shining Pearls, handloom Pochampally & Kalamkari, welcoming palaces, melt-in-mouth Karachi Biscuits & incredible hospitality of Hyderabadis who would lure you by their
‘Kidhar Ja Re?’
Connect with me on Instagram and Twitter & leave a comment describing you own incredible stories from India! I am listening.