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A Ramzan Evening at Charminar

The city is reveling in Ramzan festivities.

And what better way to soak in the ambience, the call of azan for the faithful to offer prayers before breaking their fast, the hustle -bustle on the streets than in the Charminar. Charminar is crowded and busy even on regular days – so it was crazy yidea to go there during Ramzan.

We drove to Charminar with our friend Anand – who had the same crazy idea of visiting Charminar during Ramzan. As he is from Hyderabad, he had a plan to park about 2 kms away from Charminar and then take an auto rickshaw into the heart of the old city. But lack of traffic fooled us and we drove all the way into the old city. The last kilometer was particulary congested with people, rickshawas, food stalls and bikes jostling each other for space on the narrow stretch of road. We luckily found parking after 30 mins or so and Vipul was relieved to be out of the car.

We loved the energy, the lights and generally the crowd at Charminar.

First stop – Haleem at Pista House.

The prayers at Mecca Masjid were done and a crowd descended on various restaurants and road side stands to break the fast. We joined them in relishing haleem – a delicious stew of mutton, wheat and lentils slow cooked in ghee and spcies till the grains blend with the meat – the dish hyderabad associates with Ramzan. Topped with ghee, fried onions and a lemon wedge this is a wholesome meal.

We then decided to walk back to Medina for some Irani chai before indulging in some more Haleem. The way to Medina was even more crowded and Vipul was not comfortable having to push people around and we hopped into autorickshaw. The auto moved at a snail’s pace as well but atleast we were sitting in and enjoyed watching people buy bangles, clothes, dress materials, eat haleem and  desserts etc around us. The driver proved to be a typical Hyderabadi character – complete with ramming his auto into other peoples vehicles and not caring about it, scolding fellow rivers for honking and generally abusing folks in typical Hyderabadi Hindi.

When we got off, we couldn’t find Medina bakery – as it was closed for renovation. So we walked across to Shadab for some chai, haleem and biryani. Their haleem was just as good as Pista House – with more meat in our serving than the one before, but the Biryani was lame.

We were full at this point but stopped for a paan. Anand had typical hyderabadi desserts which he claimed were not so good- so we didn’t try any.

By this time, the crowds had lessened. So we walked back. We actually saw that the lane had footpath and we walked on that to avoid barging into the shoppers, hawkers and the road traffic. It was a bit sane here although the shop keepers lining the footpath called out to us with their wares. While some of the kurta’s and saris looked very enticing, we didn’t stop to buy any.

We finally made it back to the car – took one last look of the Mecca Masjid and Charminar and drove back home.

We took a longer route back to avoid traffic and Vipul breathed easily only once we were out on the highway.

Would we do this again- Likely not.It’s a once in a lifetime experience. Fortunately, all top selling Haleem restaurants have takeaway joints all over the city. And we plan a Haleem tasting as we are hooked on this nutritious warming dish.

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