The rich tradition of its literature and cosmopolitan culture of Hyderabadi heritage was on full display in the virtual event of the Tourism Ministry’s webinar.
Titled “Cultural heritage of Hyderabad”, Dekho Apna Desh series was presented by Madhu Vottery, Heritage education Consultant, Author and Conservation Architect. The webinar showcased the culture of Hyderabad which is quite distinct from the rest of Telangana with its strong Islamic influences inherited from the period of the Nizam rule which is starkly visible on Hyderabad’s architecture, food, lifestyle and language especially in the old city.
The presenter also highlighted how the new city represents a more cosmopolitan culture. Hyderabad has a rich tradition of literature and fine arts, with many museums, art galleries and exhibitions dedicated to the display of Hyderabadi heritage.
Vottery explained how, Hyderabad is popularly known as the “City of Pearls” and the “City of Nizams”, and has been the centre of a vibrant historical legacy, ever since its inception by the QutubShahi dynasty. The city was later conquered by Mughal Empire and finally fell into the hands of the AsafJahi dynasty.
The presenter spoke about the influence of how the royal past shines even today in the culture of Hyderabad, food and iconic architectural structures such as Charminar and Golconda Fort which stand as testaments to the city’s glorious history.
Recounting the history of the city, the presenter introduced the participants to the history of the city. Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah established Hyderabad in 1591 to extend the capital beyond the fortified Golconda.
In 1687, the city was annexed by the Mughals. In 1724, Mughal governor Nizam Asaf Jah I declared his sovereignty and founded the AsafJahi dynasty, also known as the Nizams. Hyderabad served as the imperial capital of the AsafJahis from 1769 to 1948. As capital of the princely state of Hyderabad, the city housed the British Residency and cantonment until Indian independence in 1947.
Relics of the Qutb Shahi and Nizam rules remain visible even today; the Charminar has come to symbolise the city. By the end of the early modern era, the Mughal Empire declined in the Deccan and the Nizams’ patronage had attracted men of letters from different parts of the world.
The amalgamation of local and migrated artisans had originated a distinctive culture, and the city emerged as the foremost centre of oriental culture. Painting, handicraft, jewellery, literature, dialect and clothing are prominent still today. The Telugu film industry based in the city is the country’s second-largest producer of motion pictures. Hyderabad has been selected as a creative city in the category of gastronomy by UNESCO.
The following important cultural sites of Hyderabad were highlighted in this session:
Golconda Fort, Hyderabad- A massive fortress whose ruins stand proudly even today displaying the glory of its rich past and some untold sagas of the city’s history. The place oozing charm is a must visit historical place in Hyderabad. Mohammed Quli understood the need of a new City and made Bhagnagar (after the name of his beloved) with Charminar in its centre.
Chowmahalla Palace- Once the seat of the Asaf Jahi Dynasty, the Chowmahalla Palace was built in Hyderabad and is located near the famous monument, Charminar and Laad Bazar. The palace is designed very intricately and holds that Nawabi Charm in itself. Chowmahalla Palace, the seat of power of Nizams, has bagged the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Merit Award for Culture Heritage Conservation.
Charminar- The monument was erected when Quli Qutab Shah shifted his capital from Golconda to Hyderabad. The monument got its name from its structure as it consists of four minarets.
Purani Haveli- one of the significant historical places in Hyderabad’s golden era is today known for its remarkable exhibits of artwork and talent. It is a beautiful structure comprising great surprises for history lovers.
Mecca Masjid- One of the oldest and the largest mosques of India is the grandest historical places in Hyderabad was completed by Aurangazeb in 1693.The bricks used here are believed to be from Mecca, and hence the name.
Qutub Shahi Tombs- Located in the Ibrahim Bagh, Qutub Shahi Tombs are a group of small and big mosques and tombs built by the rulers of the Qutub Shah dynasty. The tombs are all built on a raised platform and have a dome-shaped structure. The little historical places in Hyderabad are single-storeyed while the bigger ones are double storeyed.
The site was used by the mughal army to target Golconda Fort. The tomb’s lower storey was used as stables for the Mughal army horses.
Paigah tombs- Located in the suburbs of Pisal Banda in Hyderabad, Paigah Tombs are a group of tombs of the Paigah royal family. Although now in a derelict and dilapidated state, the tombs still boast of striking architecture and marvellously carved marble panels. This historical place in Hyderabad is managed by a family of caretakers who reside in the premises.
Salar Jung Museum- Is an art museum established in the year 1951 and located at Dar-ul-Shifa, on the southern bank of the Musi River in the city of Hyderabad. The Salar Jung family is responsible for its collection of rare art objects from all over the world. The family is one of the most illustrious families in Deccan history, five of them having been prime-ministers in the erstwhile Nizam rule of Hyderabad-Deccan.
Warangal Fort- This fort appears to have existed since at least the 12th century when it was the capital of the Kakatiya dynasty. The fort has four ornamental gates, known as Kakatiya Kala Thoranam, that originally formed the entrances to a now ruined great Shiva temple.
Talking about the twin city of Secunderabad, Vottery explained how in 1798, the Subsidiary alliance was signed between the Second Nizam and the British. Far from the Charminar to the North, a part of the City was established as a cantonment and called Secunderabad after the name of Nawab Sikander Jah, the third Nizam. The construction of European style structures started in 1908 when there was flood followed by plague in 1911.
Apart from the combination old heritage structure and modern buildings, Hyderabad is also famous for lac bangles, glass bangles at Laad bazaar, Pearls and jewellery at Pathergatti, ethnic wear at laad bazaar and Patharghata and calligraphy at Chatta bazar. The City is famous for edible silver foil, Zardozi work, Calligraphy etc.
The presenter also spoke about the walking tours organized by the Telangana State Government showing the heritage and culture of the State. The State Government also has an app called Hyderabad.
Moderating the session, Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General spoke about the connectivity of Hyderabad in terms of Road, rail and air. She informed how the international airport of the city is well connected to Europe, Middle East and SouthEast Asia. Hyderabad International Airport has won many awards for its operation, cleanliness and excellent energy efficient Unit.
She also spoke about the Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification program offered by the Ministry of Tourism, an online learning program on destination, travel and products which will go a long way in improving the skills of storytelling and sharing the historical and heritage of the past with the tourists. This will further help citizens to own up the local culture and show it to the visitors in a unique way.
The Ministry of Tourism is organizing the Dekho Apna Desh webinars with an objective to create awareness about and promote various tourism destinations of India – including the lesser known destinations and lesser known facets of popular destinations. It also promotes the spirit of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.