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The City Of Nizams

It is only lately that a regret has begun to creep up upon me; that I haven't seen as much of the world as I would have liked to at this point. While I have friends who have travelled around much of the world, there are places within my own state that are stranger to me. With instagram reels glorifying the pleasures of travel and exploration, it is no surprise that I too, caught the travel bug eventually.

One problem though. I study in a jail of a college where a college trip simply for the pleasures of travelling would probably be non existent on the priority list. I come from a slightly orthodox family that believes that the whole world is out to take advantage of, cheat, harm and maim its one and only golden boy (me).

I did strike gold when my team got selected for the GreenBiz'23 Hackathon held in Hyderabad. After almost missing the train and messing up everything, we were finally on track to visit the City of Pearls, the City of Nizams, Hyderabad.

Cold. That's one word to describe Hyderabad. Coming from the scorching, humid streets of Chennai, Hyderabad effectively felt like Antarctica, something that was not helped by the incessant rains. Adding to the cold was the fact that our hotel booking had to be cancelled as they wouldn't let three people stay in a single room. As we spent hours looking for a hotel that would take us in at the last minute, I realized that my dreams of exploring and photographing the wonders of the Golconda Fort were getting flushed along with the rains.

Once the rains cleared though, I began to appreciate the silent beauty of the cool air, beautifully paved roads, artfully decorated pillars, and of course, the innumerable statues that stood watch over the city like silent guardians. There were shops selling everything from mundane chocolates to exotic perfumes, and half a dozen shops selling firearms and ammunition, an unseen sight in Chennai. It was a short walk from our hotel to the Salar Jung Museum.

The Museum was a treasure trove of artefacts from throughout history. Every chair, every table had been painstakingly inscribed with scenes from history and mythology by craftsmen of times long gone. This did lead me to wonder, there were times when every chair, every table, every thing in the house had a sense of story. It had been handmade by a craftsman who had lovingly imbibed it with the qualities it had, before it reached the hands of the buyer. Now, well, we have flimsy plastic chairs that have been mass produced. Yes, mass production has ensured that things are less expensive, but at what cost? The famous Bracket clock has been striking and marking each hour for the better part of the last few centuries, faithfully keeping time. Who knows the stories it has witnessed?

What struck me the most was the silent grandeur of the Charminar. It stood in stark contrast to the bustling bazaar around it, cool and melancholy, offering an unparalleled view in and around. Wares of all kinds were sold around it, by people of all regions and religions, from juices from perfumes, from jewellery to clothes. It had stood from 1591, watching the centuries pass by. From the top, it also offered stunning views of the streets of Hyderabad as if through the lens of a God, and at such a height, the little blemishes of humans seemed to vanish, and for a few perfect moments, we seemed like the most beautiful species to inhabit the planet, beautifying it with art, poetry, and love. Though Shakespeare had said,

Not marble nor the gilded monuments Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme

, the Charminar has outlived quite a few, and is one of the remaining evidences of times of war, conquest, grandeur and art.

Though I would have been perfectly content to settle there and soak in the ancient flavors of Hyderabad and its biriyani, we had to eventually leave. (We did win the Hackathon with a huge cash prize.) While I was sad to leave Hyderabad, Chennai did welcome me with open arms and the familiar stench of overpopulation. After all, one might travel the seas and conquer the cosmos, but there is no place quite like home.

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