Much said and talked about the extravagance of the city of Nizams…the history, the culture, that makes Hyderabad a sort of heritage site, the city has another aspect to it. It may not have been known, spoken or written about, but this side of the city, remains behind the tight lipped Hyderabadis. My attempt is to capture the subtleties of the city….intriguing secrets that lay under the gallant Nizams and their descendants….
The World’s First Diamond Mine
The Kollur mine, was once upon a time, the only diamond mine in the world. No wonder then, that the Nizams were the wealthiest clan on earth. And what’s more?….the Kohinoor Diamond, that remains the world’s most precious diamond, was unearthed in these mines! So were the Hope Diamond, Nassak Diamond and the Noor-ul-Ain. The Kohinoor may not be in our hands, but the legacy of the Nizams is still reeking amidst their temples and forts.
Abids is the oldest and the most popular business area in the city. It is the hub of the main shopping centres in the city and the main street is known as Abid Road. We know that….But what you would not know is that Abid Road had a shop known as Abid’s belonging to a Jewish merchant known as Albert Abid, a valet of Nizam VI of Hyderabad state. A street named after a valet!
The Forgotten Palgahs
The bond between the Nizams and the Paigah nobility strengthened with the marriage of Abul Fatah Khan’s son Fakhruddin Khan with the daughter of Mir Nizam Ali Khan. Hence, the known but ignored Palgah tombs are a combination of Mughal, Hindu and Persian architecture, a unique blend that is must see.
The Cat Ran After The Rat
Well, literally. The city is built on a miracle. Legend has it that Quli Qutub Shah decided to build the monument as a commemoration when the plague ended. Charminar was built to commemorate victory of the city over deadly plague. Cat motifs can be seen all over the minar, as a symbol of this victory…yes, a cat face, because plague is caused by rats…and the cat ran after the rats….and saved the city!
The Biryani Fever
Hyderabadi Biryani is a dish that people travel to city, specially, for. But if you were to flash back, this over obsessed for dish, was a quick snack served to soldiers minutes before the war. Heavy and satiating, the Biryani was a quick fix food. But the Nizams’ love for food, brought the limelight on the dish and in their obsession to enhance it, the biryani….it’s variants as Hyderabadi Nizami biryani, Hyderabadi zafrani pulao, Kachi biryani and pakki biryani came to be.
As mysterious as the history is, what intrigues me more, is the mindset and the enthusiasm of the rulers and Nizams over triviality and their ability to literally make….a mountain of a mole hill! But who’s complaining? The quirks are what maketh for interesting history…right?