You have probably seen the crowded streets and the magnificent towers of Charminar in movies, videos, blogs or anything remotely related to Hyderabad, India. What Taj Mahal is to Agra or the City Palace is to Jaipur, Charminar is to Hyderabad.
But, the crowded Patthargatti town of Hyderabad is popular with the locals for reasons more than one. The area, and its neighboring blocks house the largest local and wholesale market of the city.
Tryst with Pearls
Every city has its unique claim to fame for its famed merchandise. For Hyderabad it is Pearls. The city owes its greatness to the Nawabs and Nizams, who ruled the state earlier. The rulers were great patrons of all things exclusive, especially pearls. They promoted trading and attracted skilled craftsmen from the Gulf. Since then, Hyderabad has come to be known as the “City of Pearls”.
The entire area in and around Chaarminaar is thronged with Pearl shops. Although a majority of the pearls you get in this area are imported from China, there still exist a few shops that sell authentic pearls, albeit at a very high price.
You can get pearls in many different colors and shapes. The elegant shimmer of pearls, ranging in colors from pink, dull white, to black, is surely going to take your breath away!
Special mention goes to Mangatrai Jewellers and Krishna Pearls.
Note from the local shopper: You can easily get a discount of 30-35% on the marked price of any pearl jewelry. You just need to ask. 😉
Of the many other kinds of bling stores that you can find in the Charminar marketplace, the shoe shops stand out. Exquisitely handcrafted shoes are available at throwaway prices. The jootis and mojris are traditionally worn along with Kurta/Pyjama for men and Lehenga/Sarees for women.
Of course, the shoes don’t come with any warranty, but the shiny, well-crafted things will beg you to take them home.
This is one “galli” that is a treat for the eyes. A street full of shops adorned with shining bangles of all colors, you must stroll here (on a sluggish day) even if you are not into wearing bangles. Here, you can get bangles of all kinds, metal, glass, stonework. The naming of this bazaar has many interpretations. Few call it the “Laad Bazaar”, coming from the fact that girls are Laadli (precious ones) of the family, and the bazaar houses everything precious to girls: Bangles, Scarves, Henna, perfumes.
The more probable root of the nomenclature is that the Bazaar sells bangles made of Lacquer, known in Hindi as ‘Laah’.
The Hyderabadi Biriyani Place
Everything about Hyderabad has a Nawabi flavor to it, from the delectable mutton biriyani, to the attitude of the Autorickshaw drivers. The Charminar area is the birthplace of many authentic Hyderabadi restaurants and cafes. Shadaab restaurant (which now has many branches across the city) is known for its Biriyani. You will also find Falooda and lassi shops which are worth a try. The fresh fruit juices are a thing here, provided you are brave to brace the uncertain water source.
You will get almost anything for an amazing deal here in the Charminar market. Be it useful household stuff, traditional dresses, jewelry, or antiques. The one thing that is scarce here is the availability of public transport and parking spaces. Amidst the thousands of people who make a living out of trade in Hyderabad’s Charminar area, you will experience the true meaning of being Hyderabadi: being chilled out, eating like a Nawab, and taking life easy!
Most pictures are sourced from Anindya Roy.
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