Culture · Daily Life · Events · Food · Heritage · Monument · People · Street · vendors

Ramzan nights (around Charminar)

To describe the Ramzan experience around Charminar as a sensory overload would be an understatement. There is so much to see, feel, hear, smell , eat or even buy and take delight in. The experience might even leave you wiser in consumer behaviour too and render you incapable of bargaining because you are after all a “king” !

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All you need to make Sheer-Korma (apart from milk and sugar)
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The gentlemen around the shop assured everyone passing by that they would find the most fashionable designs here
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The only time I might be seen amidst so much bling!
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Daawat-e-Iftaar – when the fast is broken and the entire community eats together

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Iftar at the Makkah Masjid
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If you started out in the hope of a good bargain – he will certainly not entertain you!
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Still trying to figure out what pendel would mean.
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And the shopping and feasting continue into the night

All the images on this blog are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, blog or repost in ANY way. If you wish to use them please get in touch with me through email (lakshmi.prabhala@yahoo.co.in)

Personal

A tribute to my heroes

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At Sea World, San Diego on a vacation, circa Aug 1991

I will start with a disclaimer. I have almost never talked about my private space online, or on social media. I was never comfortable doing it as I believe it is not necessary to have cyberspace flooded with every minute detail of our lives. And it isn’t as if anyone has time for it either.

But today I make an exception. I would like to make a small tribute to my parents – my father, Prabhala Hanumantha Rao (P.H. Rao) who left us exactly 25 years ago, and my mother Prabhala Savithri Devi who left us over 7 years ago.

To say my father’s departure from our world was sudden would be an understatement. On June 4th, 1992, a few hours after he left for work, his colleague came home to inform us he was admitted in a hospital because of (what seemed like) a stroke. When the medical reports confirmed his condition to be a life threatening aneurysm, we had no choice but to wait for his condition to stabilize before we could fly him down to India and continue the treatment. But by early next morning, we were informed by the hospital staff that he had left for another world. His 47th summer on this planet had only started and sadly came to an end rather suddenly.

My father’s childhood was far from a cake walk. But he made sure he had his share of fun and frolic. We were told by our grandparents that he would relax the most while swimming in the Krishna river for hours together. Although he got an earful every single time, it did not deter him one bit. A big turn happened in his life when he ran away from home at the age of 16 when his request to join a tuition was turned down by our grandfather. In search of better opportunities, he landed in Vizag and joined the Indian Navy where he learnt electronics engineering.

Probably one of the most defining moment in his life, it is difficult to comprehend the courage and “will to overcome” in his mind when he left the comfort and security of a home at such a tender age to step into the big bad world and fend for himself. He would narrate this incident, as well as his formative days in the Navy, to instill in us a sense of discipline. Gradually, he grew in ranks in the Navy (where he fought 3 wars for the country) and very soon my grandmother decided it was time for him to find a life partner.

My mother’s and father’s family met with an intention of forging an alliance. After an expression of approval, my father made it very clear that he had no customary material expectation from my mother’s family.  Needless to say, everyone present were baffled by his declaration. But my father went at great length to ensure it, even if it irked some of his own family members.

A year later, I was born and my father landed an opportunity to work in Bahrain (an island in the Arabian Gulf)). In a matter of a few years years we joined him and my brother also came along.

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At London, circa Aug 1977

My father unconditionally helped many friends and family members find their footing with life-altering job opportunities in Bahrain. Helping others gave him a sense of purpose and identity.

At heart, he was a true sportsperson and would grasp the skill and strategy of almost any game in a very short time. In this matter, he was so confident that he didn’t really care about a result as long as he knew he gave it his best. Be it carroms, basketball, badminton, pool, swimming, table tennis, chess and card-games. Even today, all the trophies that are in our home are mementos of his victories in various games. And over the years, like most families, we too had fond memories of watching World Cup (Soccer) and Grand Slam Tennis Championships together.

Always consciously ask yourself why the opponent made a particular move, before making your counter” – my father’s advice before a chess game, which also applies to any other game. Or even life!

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The winning team – my father to the top left – photograph published in the local daily – Gulf Daily News, circa Nov 1985

A firm proponent of the “simple living and high thinking” ideal, he wouldn’t hesitate to ride a bicycle in India, although there were many other convenient modes of transport available. Much to the amazement of our friends and relatives.

In addition to academics, my father allowed us to explore various faculties like classical music, dance and art even though he didn’t understand them too well because he believed it would broaden our perspectives.  Watching a Bollywood movie with him was always fun but was dotted with “spoiler alerts”

If you listen to the lyrics of a song carefully, you can easily guess the story that unfolds

When he passed away, as much as we were in a state of shock and grief, we (my mother, myself and my brother) also needed to pick up all the bits and pieces of our life and move to India. And we had a very small window of time. During this period, we received a lot of help from our family-friends, my father’s colleagues, our school teachers and class mates and people who had known my father at some point or other. We were filled with much gratitude for one and all who came forward to help, knowing deep in our hearts that this was a result of the good-will that my father had earned over the years which had come back to help us in our darkest moments.

 


 

Coming to my mother, in 2004 after the tsunami in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu – a personal tsunami struck our family. A biopsy of a 6 cm lump in her breast tested positive for malignancy. What ensued was a continuous battle (both mental as well as physical) over a 5 year period with multiple recurrences. She made a remarkable recovery during the treatment of metastases in the lungs and brain. She bravely fought the recurrence in the spinal cord as well. A few months after her 60th birthday, things steadily deteriorated when she was given a terminal diagnosis and, eventually in her sleep, she succumbed to this deadly disease on April 30, 2010.

Much like my father, my mother too did not have an easy childhood/adolescence. Prior to her teens the family fell into bad times and lost their assets and hence a social footing. From a young age, she took an avid interest in music, art, literature and mimicry which many believe she inherited from her paternal grandmother. She also rarely missed an opportunity to play a prank.

She wanted to pursue academic studies in Sanskrit and agreed to meet my father’s family regarding an alliance, even though she was uncertain at the time. When my father’s family came to meet her, she won their hearts with a rendition of a South Indian classical song. Even though she leaned heavily towards pursuing academics at the time, her father was impressed with my father. He requested my mother to give it a thought and not lose a good match.

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The wedding, circa April 1971

In her own words, listening to her father turned out to be one of the best decisions of her life. A few years into her marriage she traveled overseas (to Bahrain, an island in the Arabian Gulf) with my father and 3 year old me, something that was beyond her imagination prior to marriage.

At Bahrain, she took a very keen interest in Indian Fine Arts. So much that people remember her even today for her passionate participation. Whenever possible she would take us along to concerts of eminent Indian musicians. She encouraged us to take inspiration from these stalwarts and we occasionally got to meet some of them back stage and seek their blessings. She personally supervised our progress in music and dance, and backed us whenever we needed to perform on stage.

An active member of an Indian Ladies Association, she occasionally won a prize or two at cookery contests. She too joined my dad at playing badminton in a local club and won a few trophies herself. Also, she never missed an opportunity to volunteer for charitable activities.  Even though she wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth, she never hesitated to donate time, money or effort for valid causes to help the underprivileged.

She had a genuine concern for health and children. When asked what was it that she cared about the most, she would promptly reply, ” The health of people I love is most important.”  Whenever she met friends after a long time she would make it a point to ask about their health and how their kids were faring.

Ironically, on the morning of June 4, 1992, it was the health of her husband that was affected in such a manner, neither she nor the doctors or anyone could have foreseen. All of a sudden, the biggest blow of her life was dealt to her. At the same time she had some very crucial and time-critical decisions to make regarding my father’s cremation, whether to continue to stay in Bahrain, and most importantly “all of our” future.

Our life in Bahrain was totally dependent and revolved around my father. Continuing to stay in Bahrain would be possible only through favours from good friends. The self-respecting woman that she was – taking favours was not a situation she could even consider. Hence she decided to move back to Hyderabad, India and rebuild our lives.

With that decision the cozy and comfortable life of Bahrain was gone and now she, along with her children were thrust into the chaotic, competitive and cruel world, left to fend for themselves. Step by step, inch by inch, and without a job and zero support from anyone, she rebuilt her life, put a roof over our head, food on the table, and put us through engineering college. One must give it to her for the resilience and courage that she faced these circumstances with. Surely, all that she learnt through her difficult childhood came back to help her during these tough times. Despite her own difficulties, she even found it in her to help friends and family with time, shelter, and money.

In tough times or happy days, whether it was smooth sailing or a hard long journey, she managed to find it in her to cheer the people around her with jokes, anecdotes, impressions/mimicry or even pranks.

To lead a good life you need only two things – good health and good spirit” – something she always kept telling me

Just when we thought she had conquered her hurdles and seen through it all, cancer raised its ugly head and began another kind of battle.

This is a small tribute to the true heroes we knew – our father Prabhala Hanumantha Rao and our mother Prabhala Savithri Devi.

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Architecture · Events · Heritage · Monument · Reflections · Still Life

Residency

A few years ago, when I visited the Residency at the Koti Womens College, I was told about the opulent Durbar Hall and the double stairways. I could hardly imagine the grandeur I would see,  when I finally got the opportunity to visit the Residency during the event Reviving Residency.

The mansion weaves its own mystique with the Durbar Hall, painted ceiling, chandeliers, galleried halls, inlaid wood and drawing rooms. It was built in European neo-classical style, similar to the White House in Washington DC. It was intended to cement the power of the British East India Company, and maintain its influence over the independent state of Hyderabad and the Nizam. The Resident was appointed to protect the British interests in the Deccan region.

It was commissioned by the British Resident in Hyderabad, James Kirkpatrick, around 1803. Up until Independence this colonial building served as the seat of the British Resident after which, in 1949 it became part of Osmania College for Women.

The Residency was the backdrop of the romance between British Resident James Kirkpatrick (the protagonist of William Dalrymple’s ‘White Mughals’) and Khairunnisa. Kirkpatrick fell in love with and eventually married Khairunnisa, a local girl from an aristocratic Muslim family, and adopted the local customs and rituals.

The British Residency is now a protected monument under the control of Telangana State Department of Archaeology and Museums. An anonymous British donor had pledged $1 million to the World Monument Fund for its restoration. The  ongoing conservation work is in collaboration with World Monuments Fund (WMF), National Culture Fund of Union Ministry of Culture and the State Department of Archaeology and Museums.

Reviving Residency was organised to commemorate the completion of phase I of the Restoration of the site and the commencement of phase II.

There are plans to convert the Residency to a museum once the restoration is complete.

I hope to revisit sometime soon, see it in natural light and experience it’s architectural beauty all over again.

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All the images on this blog are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, blog or repost in ANY way. If you wish to use them please get in touch with me through email (lakshmi.prabhala@yahoo.co.in)

Culture · Daily Life · Events · People · Uncategorized · Urban

Bahubali 2 – a mega blockbuster

This has to go down as my first time in a theatre on a “first day – first show”.  Its another matter altogether that I did not intend to watch the movie itself.

The day: 28th April 2017, about 10 am

The movie: Bahubali-The Conclusion

Location: Sudarshan theatre, RTC Crossroads.

When I read that – BookMyShow (an online portal for selling movie tickets) had claimed to have sold a million tickets – two days before the release of ‘Bahubali-The Conclusion’ (!!) –  I was eager to see the craze for myself. Friends and family were keen to know if I was sure – I am habituated to watching a flick only on its way out even it has a rating of a 5* and comes highly recommended. But hey who said I wanted to watch this movie today itself?

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A promotional poster featuring Prabhas and the leading lady Anushka Shetty

With its grand sets and epic performances, Baahubali-2 was the most-anticipated film of the year. The film had released in 6,500 screens, which is highest ever in Indian history.

The question “Why Kattappa Killed Bahubali” even got its own hashtag after the film’s poster and trailers and the first look were out.

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Drumrolls were the order of the day – drumming up the celebrations as well as the hype.

 

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A huge garland for ……
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……for the larger-than-life Bahubali!!
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One of those rare movies where the director as well as the antagonist get their hoardings!
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Can we believe Bahubali gets an abhishekam (milk poured over his head) amidst all the fanfare?

 

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The ardent fans ensure Bahubali enters their digital world as well!!

All the images on this blog are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, blog or repost in ANY way. If you wish to use them please get in touch with me through email (lakshmi.prabhala@yahoo.co.in)

 

Architecture · Art · Culture · Heritage · Landscape · Monument · Uncategorized

Back to life

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A month ago, I had an opportunity to visit the Qutb Shahi tombs site and had a (brief) look at the restoration activities and to say that it is a mega project would be an understatement.

The entire restoration project is divided into three phases and each phase is planned such that the visitors can move about freely in the rest of the site.

The three years of restoration work has infused life into the weather beaten mausoleums at the Quli Qutb Shahi tombs complex near Golconda fort. The sparkling white domes of the renovated structures are a contrast to the older monuments that patiently await their turn for a makeover.

Although the Quli Qutb Shah tombs’ complex is commonly referred to as ‘Saat Gumbaz’ or ‘Seven tombs’, it encompasses a total of 75 structures comprising 40 mausoleums, 23 mosques, six baolis (step-wells), a hamam (mortuary bath), an Idgah, pavilions, garden structures and enclosure walls spread across an expanse of 108 acres.

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The tombs (close to the main entrance) that are scheduled for phase II and III seem to wait for their turn to get a facelift – Originally the Badi Baoli and Fatima Sultana’s tomb was planned as a part of phase II but due to collapse of a wall in the Baoli due to rain and the plinth of Fatima’s tomb – they were included in Phase I

The complex is an example of rare architectural splendor and was selected for conservation by the Government of Telangana. The objective was to restore the grandeur of the site and develop it as an urban archaeological park called Quli Qutb Shah Archaeological Park.  The aim was to showcase and ensure long term preservation as well as enhance understanding of the monuments that stand within its boundaries.

The main aim of the project is to ensure long term preservation of the monuments which is achieved by using traditional materials and craftsmen. Only traditional building materials like lime mortar and stone are used.

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Badi Baoli – the 400-year-old step well that collapsed in 2013 now collects enough water to fulfil the needs of the restoration activities at the site

 

The revival of Badi Baoli, one of the six step wells within the complex, is probably as remarkable as the 400-year-old quadrangular structure used for water storage. In a span of three years, starting from a collapsed condition in 2013, it has become completely functional and collected about 33 lakh liters of water during the monsoon of 2016, which is now used within the site for the restoration activities.

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The terrace of the Hamam or mortuary bath is now devoid of any vegetation.
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The Idgah which stands to the south of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah’s tomb, is one of the earliest structures constructed by Sultan Quli Qutb Shah
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The tomb of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of Hyderabad is the most grand and stands on a pavilion
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The ceiling of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah after the restoration works are complete.
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On the external walls of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah’s tomb, portions of the original intricate glazed tile work are still visible.
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The Southern Gate, connected to the Golconda fort through an underground passage, was used as a processional pathway to bring the body to the tomb site for burial ceremonies

It is common belief that a body was brought to the tomb complex for burial from Golconda through an underground passage. An archival photograph suggested the possibility of a processional path way connecting the Golconda Fort with the tomb complex.

Excavations were conducted at a depression found south of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah’s tomb that revealed an arched gateway. This gate over which a mosque stands, would have been the processional path that was preferred for entry to the tombs during burial ceremonies.

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The finer details of patterns in the stucco plaster on Sultan Qutb-ul-Mulk’s tomb (the first Qutb Shahi King) have been restored.
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The tombs that are scheduled under the first phase of the restoration.
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Among the tombs that are restored, the tomb of the second Qutb Shahi king, Jamshed Qutb Shah stands tall and is unique with its octagonal base.

The restoration project also envisages landscaping in about 15 acres as part of the Qutb Shah Heritage Park. Activities like tree and bird mapping have been conducted and various species of both have been identified. These studies will help improve the bio-diversity of the Qutb Shah Heritage Park as well as aid in creating an ecological zone with introduction of suitable tree species and development of a bird habitat typical of the region.

You could read the entire piece that was published in the Wow!Hyderabad Magazine Apr 2017 issue

All the images on this blog are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, blog or repost in ANY way. If you wish to use them please get in touch with me through email (lakshmi.prabhala@yahoo.co.in)

Culture · Daily Life · People · portrait · Street · Urban

Ho! Ho! Ho! ….

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…even without the snow, the sleigh and the reindeers.

If you love Hyderabad, AND if you love Santa Claus, now you’d probably see everything in “red and white”.

On a seriously happy note, hope the last fortnight of the year brings you more reason to celebrate.

All the images on this blog are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, blog or repost in ANY way. If you wish to use them please get in touch with me through email (lakshmi.prabhala@yahoo.co.in)

Daily Life · Events · Personal

Photography Exhibition invite

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I take great pleasure in inviting you for the upcoming exhibition of my photographs at the Goethe Zentrum, Hyderabad. Many of these photographs have been exhibited at Hamburg last year as a part of the India Week, Hamburg 2015.

The opening is on Oct 18 (Tuesday) 6:30 pm at the Hamburg Hall, Goethe Zentrum, Hyderabad and the works will be on display till Nov 2nd. Details below:

 “Absolute Hyderabad” by Lakshmi Prabhala.
    OPENING: 18 Oct, 6:30 pm
    Venue: Hamburg Hall, Goethe-Zentrum, Hyderabad (Address: No. 20, Journalist’s Colony, Road No. 3, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad)

Look forward to seeing you all there. Please share this with any of your friends who might be interested.

(Please RSVP here in case you wish to attend the exhibition on any of the days, including the opening as well)

Architecture · Art · Daily Life · Monument

the calm before the ….

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Perhaps, the most photographed spot in Hyderabad. Whether you are a tourist or a resident. Whether the place is packed or empty. Whether the birds take off in all directions or stay put on the ground or eat out of the hands of the visitors. A peaceful morning or hectic dusk, in all probability you would return with some interesting images. Even if you happen to realise it much later.

Shot on an early morning visit, a rare quiet moment when the pigeons were gathering in great numbers, building a sense of anticipation before they eventually took off in a frenzy and circled around the monument.

All the images on this blog are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, blog or repost in ANY way. If you wish to use them please get in touch with me through email (lakshmi.prabhala@yahoo.co.in)

Culture · Daily Life · People · Street · vendors

Pruning the flower market

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An evening scene at the traditional Jambagh flower market, which was initially a part of the Moazzam Jahi Market, but shifted to the adjoining road. By default market places in India come with a lot of colours, vibrance textures, patterns and many a time chaos too. The empty baskets in the image perhaps indicate she had good business on the day. The mounds and swirls of flowers are sure to delight many a pedestrians and commuter around the corner

In the recent years the flower market has faced a double whammy – first due to the road widening activity in 2009, which forced many vendors to relocate to more commercial markets. Currently, the Jambagh flower market is undergoing yet another drastic change with the construction of the Hyderabad Metro pushing the vendors further into the narrow bylanes. One cannot help but wonder if the efforts in modernization cannot be achieved without causing far reaching consequences to existing heritage components(traditional bazaar in this case) of the city.

All the images on this blog are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, blog or repost in ANY way. If you wish to use them please get in touch with me through email(lakshmi.prabhala@yahoo.co.in)

Architecture · Heritage · Landscape · Monument · Uncategorized

Monsieur Raymond’s tomb

6. Raymonds Tomb

On the top of a hillock near Asmangadh, stands the tomb of Monsieur Raymond, or General Michel Joachim Marie Raymond.  Monsieur Raymond was a French General in Nizam’s military and was also the founder of Gunfoundry Hyderabad.

In 1775, Raymond set out for Pondicherry to start a merchant shop, but eventually joined the service of the ruling Nizam of Hyderabad in 1786. In 1796, he was appointed Controller of Ordinance and established several cannon and cannonball factories. Guns, ammunition and cannons were forged under his guidance.

Raymond was not only a close friend of the second Nizam, but also won the love and trust of the local people. He was known for his kindness, and bravery. The place where his tomb is constructed is called Moosa-ram-bagh, after him.

The tomb is conical with a square base and of 7 metres in height and has the letters JR engraved on it. The Nizam built the pavilion which collapsed during 2001 and was rebuilt in 2003.

In 1798, Raymond had an untimely and mysterious death. The cause is not known ; some believe he was poisoned while others suspect he may have committed suicide.

All the images on this blog are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, blog or repost in ANY way. If you wish to use them please get in touch with me through email(lakshmi.prabhala@yahoo.co.in)

Architecture · Heritage · Monument

Hillfort Palace ( Hotel Ritz )

Recently, the Hillfort Palace was open to the public as a venue for an interesting art exhibition titled “inBox” hosted by Shrishti Art Gallery.

Art as well as heritage enthusiasts across the city were happy to be a part of the event. After the exhibition many of us checked out to appreciate the building even in its present condition.

Below are some images shot in and around the Hillfort Palace during my visit. Many people associate the building with tragedy – considering the fate of the building itself. And hence the choice for B/W

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All the images on this blog are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, blog or repost in ANY way. If you wish to use them please get in touch with me through email(lakshmi.prabhala@yahoo.co.in)

Architecture · Art · Heritage · Landscape · Monument

Naya Qila

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The platform from which Aurangzeb launched his attack on Golconda.

When the Quli Qutb Shahi dynasty was ruling the Deccan region successfully, Aurangazeb had set his eyes on the Golkonda fort. Buoyed by victories over various kingdoms in 1656, Aurangazeb directed his forces to the surrounding areas of Golkonda. Abdullah Qutb Shah, who ruled Golkonda at the time, shut the gates to the fort. Aurangazeb looked for a place to launch a cannon attack on Golconda. When he found an elevated place, he used as a platform to fire at the fort.

Despite persistent attacks from the Mughal army, Golconda stood firm. Aurangzeb realised the Qutb Shahi stronghold was impregnable and returned without any success. The fort walls, however weakened from  repeated firing. To strengthen the defences and prevent future attacks, Abdullah Qutb Shah made this elevated platform a part of Golconda by building a wall around it. This part of Golconda was called Naya Qila or the “New Fort”.

The Naya Qila Trail was a part of the Hyderabad Heritage Week celebrations (19-29 Nov 2015) and was organised by HydTrails. Ms Anuradha Reddy, of INTACH lead the walk and  explained the various heritage and historic aspects of the site.

The Naya Qila is ahead of the Jamali Darwaza. As we entered the complex amidst the vast expanses of green, to the right side we stopped at a site which had a few smaller structures and some excavations. This is the Naya Qila Talab  – a water tank that was situated within the Naya Qila, and constituted part of the irrigation systems connecting the water bodies inside and outside the Naya Qila area. In the past, Abdullah Qutb Shah had used the lakes to create his own pleasure retreat surrounded by orchards. The services of hydraulics experts were used to create cascading pools which gently flowed creating an enchanting garden called Bagh-e-Naya Qila.

A little over half km walk along the road took us to a huge tree, that is said to be over 400 years  old! Baobab trees are native to the African continent and this tree was brought by the Arab traders who gifted it to the Abdullah Qutb Shah.

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Hathiyan ka jhaad or Elephant sized tree – a baobab tree with a massive girth of 25m

Adjacent to the huge tree stands the Mullah Khiyali Masjid that was built to honour the royal poet of the Qutb Shahi court.

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Mosque Mullah Khiyali

The Naya Qila was designed and constructed by , the royal architect of the Qutb Shahi dynasty – Mustafa Khan; who had also designed and constructed the Makkah Masjid and Toli Masjid.

On our way back we stopped at the  Mosque of Mustafa Khan(seen in the images below) which was built in his memory. Devoid of turrets or minarets, the walls were lined with a series of arches both on the inside and outside and space within was filled with serenity and austerity.

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Mustafa Khan Mosque

An elevated view can perhaps give a better idea of the interiors of the Mustafa Khan mosque.

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Mustafa Khan Mosque

From the top of the Mustafa Khan mosque one can also see the two canons present atop the Manjun burj.

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The contrast – the towers of the past and the present
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The long line of rooms was perhaps the army quarters (an educated guess)

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The panoramic views of the Fort and around can help us understand how how difficult it may have been for builders, given that they did not have the technology or infrastructure that is available to us today. These walls and towers have been witness to wars and rise and fall of dynasties and governments. To some extent, we get a fair idea of how historic events may have unfolded. These make strong cases for one to appreciate and strive to preserve our past..or the future generations may lose out and never have no clue about it.

Personally, before my visit to Naya Qila , I had no idea about the tales and historic structures that stood within these spaces. All I had heard about was the gigantic baobab tree and a mosque that stood beside it. I hope and look forward to a time when these are made available to the general public, since it is a part of our heritage and collective wealth and everyone deserves to at least know about it.

All the images on this blog are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, blog or repost in ANY way. If you wish to use them please get in touch with me through email(lakshmi.prabhala@yahoo.co.in)

Architecture · Daily Life · Monument · Out of place · Urban

The changing skylines

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It is not just the metro that seems to have an impact on the changing skylines. While changes are inevitable, one cannot but stop to wonder if they need to overshadow the past so decisively!

All the images on this blog are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, blog or repost in ANY way. If you wish to use them please get in touch with me through email(lakshmi.prabhala@yahoo.co.in)

Culture · Daily Life

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It was interesting to see various representations of snakes in the idols that were created. All of them were smeared with haldi-kumkum during the Nag Panchami festival. I just couldnt capture the smell of milk/egg that was around the place.

All the images on this blog are protected by copyright. Please do not copy, blog or repost in ANY way. If you wish to use them please get in touch with me through email.

Uncategorized

HydandSeek as a book!

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The blog has remained dormant for sometime now…but I return with good news.

It is not often that something which starts as a simple creative side project eventually takes the form of a book and is on the shelves at bookstores, today.
The book has been conceptualised, designed and published by Blue Pencil Creative. It was launched at the Hyderabad Literary Festival 2015 and received great feedback and reviews.

If you are in Hyderabad you could pick up a copy of HydandSeek at any of these locations
BookPoint, Narayanguda
Saptaparni, Banjara Hills
The Secret Garden, Hotel Avasa, Madhapur

For those interested in procuring a copy of HydandSeek from other cities in India, please send an email to the[dot]bookpoint@orientblackswan[dot]com. You will receive instructions in an email. The payment mode is via bank transfer and the cost of the book is Rs 750/- including shipping.

As always, thank you all for your support and good wishes and get your copy today!

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Daily Life · People · Urban

Under cover

With the rains this year, I hope the farmers are able to yield a good crop, and the water tables have risen and the lakes in and around the city heave a sigh of relief. Rains are generally good, except for the kids engaging in the gully-cricket tournament.

hakeem_dargah 078

rain-1-

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Daily Life · Food

Hyderabad’s favourite timepass – irani chai, biscoot aur gupshap

I have always been wary of walking into an Irani Cafe, a woman in such a place would stick out like a sore thumb. And not really a tea drinker myself(thanks to the lactose intolerance), I wondered why I would bother going to one.

I had heard good things about the chai as well as the osmani biscuits at the Nimrah cafe near Charminar, but was warned not to go there alone or as a ladies-only group. I had wrapped up a meeting in the part of town very quickly and had some time on hand. Perhaps it was the right time to check out the most celebrated teatime fare of the city. There was the usual crowd but being the month of Ramazan, I would guess it was on the lesser side.

I took a place outside, and as one is bound to in such a place, began to observe the people, the life, the haste as well as the leisure all right in front of the iconic monument of the city. The waiters seemed to take no notice of my presence and for some reason it did not bother me. I decided to take out my camera to take a few shots and reckoned it was always better to ask for permission to avoid a round of questions or angering anyone around. It seemed like the manager was in a good mood, when I told him that I was keen on documenting things that were essentially Hyderabadi, he insisted I start clicking only after I had my cuppa and some biscuits(on the house). This wasn’t the reception I expected, moreover it also served to mock my initial apprehensions. He looked disappointed when I told him of my allergy and agreed to let me carry on with my work.

Once I was done, I went to say thank you, and he handed me a box of osmani biscuits, “Do visit us again!”

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Urban

Film City – Sets

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I was at the Film City on some work and had a couple of hours to wait. Luckily with a car at my disposal at the site, I wandered around and made some shots. The film city bus rides do pass by some of these sets with the guides telling you which film scene was shot there I am not sure I can recognize any of them. Perhaps you do?

Needless to say some of these sets were under constructions.

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Culture · Events · Heritage · People

Navroz

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March 21 2013 Secunderabad Fire temple opposite Chermas

The place was decorated with unique and colourful rangoli and some simple torans and everyone who entered the temple greeted “Navroz Mubarak”. The Parsis dressed in all their finery, come together at the Fire Temple opposite Chermas to celebrate the first day of the Parsi new year. Everyone is seen holding the sacred kusthi and tying it around the waist before entering the temple. A Jashn or a special prayer takes place within the Agiary(Fire Temple) which is soon followed by food and revelry. Then everyone heads to the Seth Vicajee Seth Pestonjee Fire temple situated just behind the Chermas, a famous clothing store run by a gentleman from the same community. After the prayers, everyone is served Feluda and enjoy catching up with friends.

The evening usually has cultural activities at the Zoroastrian Club for which everyone meets once again.

Food is an important part of the celebrations but unfortunately I couldn’t stay long enough. This time I have made friends and perhaps next year I shall be able to blog about the cuisine as well.

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Culture · Events · Heritage · People · Street · vendors

Ramazan Shopping

As it happens every year, the Eid shopping is a delight to the senses, a plethora of sights, sounds and not to forget the aroma of the delicious food that wafts around. A seasoned shopper might set out for great bargains. But the best possible reason to be there is a sum-total of the above – the experience!

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Culture · Events · Heritage · People

Bade Namaz

 

Muslims in the city of Hyderabad thronged to the largest mosque, the Mecca masjid on 17 Aug 2012, to offer their prayers on this holy day. Women offer their prayers from the premises of the Unani Hospital.

Text below from Wiki:

Also known as Jumu’ah-tul-Wida. Jumu’ah-tul-Wida  (Arabic: جمعة الوداع‎ meaning Friday of farewell, also called al-Jumu’ah al-Yatimah Arabic: الجمعة اليتيمة‎ or orphaned Friday) occurs on the last Friday in the month of Ramadan before Eid-ul-Fitr. Some Muslims regard this jumu’ah as the second holiest day of the month of Ramadan and one of the most important days of the year. Some Muslims spend a large part of their day on Jumu’ah-tul-Wida doing ibadah.

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Daily Life · Food · People · Street · vendors

Pulling the strings

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Its festive time with Id-ul-Fitr less than two weeks away. The main preparation for the festival is Sheer Korma and the primary ingredient is the vermiclli. The three brothers live together and engage themselves in making them. With their deft fingers they work the magic and in a matter of minutes they convert a lump of well kneaded dough into strings and leave them to dry. After about 5-7 minutes, a handful of these strings are then rolled and arranged into a swirl to be sold later.

Read more about the brothers and their trade here

Excerpt from wiki: – Sheer khorma or Sheer khurma (شيرخرما, literally “milk with dates” in Urdu) is a festival vermicelli pudding prepared by Muslims onEid ul-Fitr in Pakistan,India and Bangladesh. It is a traditional Muslim festive breakfast, and a dessert for celebrations. Sheer (شير), isPersian for milk and khurma(خرما) is Persian for dates. This dish is made from dried dates.

This special dish is served on the morning of Eid day in the family after the Eid prayer as breakfast, and throughout the day to all the visiting guests.

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Daily Life · Food · People · Street · Urban · vendors

Fresh water fish fried and sold as a delicious treat on the streets. The arrangement of the food is usually very important for the business

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Culture · Events · Heritage · People · Street

Bonalu – Closing Day

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The final day of the Bonalu festival starts from the Akkanna Madana temple where the deity of the Goddess is carried on elephant top and proceeds to the Laldarwaza temple and back to the Charminar and finally proceeds towards the Nayapul. These processions seem to wear a very festive and carnival like atmosphere with drum beats dances and performers with elaborate costumes who dance with great energy through out.

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Culture · Events · Heritage · People · Street

Laldarwaza Bonalu 2012

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On July 15, most of Hyderabad celebrated the Bonalu. A more historic venue of the celebration is at Lal Darwaza in the old city. More than 100 years ago, the Nizam’s Prime Minister Maharaja Kishen Perhsad prayed at this temple to provide relief the floods. Floods effected the whole of Hyderabad. and the flood waters reached the Charminar and went as far as Shah ali-banda which killing many people. It was believed that the epidemic which followed was the result of the anger of Mother Goddess (Ammavaru).When Maharaja Kishen Prasad offered  prayers to the Goddess, then the floods came down. Since then it became an yearly ritual when people in Hyderabad and Secunderabad started offering the Bonam(bhojanam) during a Sunday in the month of aashaadam to safe gaurd from all evils. The offerings consist of cooked rice, jaggery, curd, water and other dishes which are brought in the pots and are given to the Goddess in the temples.

The Goddess at the Laldarwaza Mahankali temple is known as Simhavahini.

We first reached Akkana Madanna temple and proceeded to the Lal Darwaza temple. When we reached the venue, we were in time for the ceremony called the Potharaju Swagatham where a Potharaju would lead a procession of ladies carrying pots on their heads and enter a temple.

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Culture · Events · Heritage · People

Yellamma Temple Bonalu 2012

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The Sunday following the Bonalu celebrations at Secunderabad at the Ujjaini Mahankali Temple, the rest of Hyderabad celebrates the festival. The more grand and prominent of these occur at Balkampet’s Yellamma temple as well as the Old City’s Laldarwaza.

Here I present a series of visuals at the Balkampet Yellamma temple on Jul 15, when Bonalu was celebrated.  I couldn’t stay long enough to witness the Potharaju and the other processions.

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Events · Heritage · People · Street

Lashkar Bonalu 2012

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After the Bonalu kicks off at Golconda fort it is celebrated in Secunderabad. The Mahankai Bonalu Jathara  is probably the most grand celebration of the Bonalu in the twin cities with the largest turnout. The energy and the spirit of the festival must be experienced to be believed.

The preparations for the festival happen on a grand scale where flowers and pots are decorated. The arrangements are made for separate queues for the devotees.

The text below is from Times of India.

A slice of history, women with colourful pots, a man dancing to the sound of reverberating drum beats and what have you?

The festival’s history can be traced to as recent as the 18th century, unlike most other festivals whose ancestry can be traced back to the hoary past. The story has it that in 1813, Suriti Appaiah, a ‘doli’ bearer in a military battalion, was transferred to Ujjain. Cholera broke out in Hyderabad around that time claiming thousands of lives.

Appaiah and his associates went to the Mahankaal temple in Ujjain and prayed that if people were saved from the epidemic, they would install the idol of Mahankali in Secunderabad. On their return, they installed a wooden idol of the goddess in Secunderabad in July 1815. This was replaced with a stone statue in 1964.

Following brahminical traditions, all hoary Hindu festivals are marked by astrological precision: their timings marked in terms of the sun/moon entering certain constellations in certain months. But Bonalu is a festival of the farming and lower classes and is certainly not brahminical. So the timing of the celebrations are not so rigorous.

Bonalu is celebrated in various parts of the city on different days, all Sundays. On the first Sunday of ‘aashaada’, celebrations are held at the temple at Golconda fort. On the second Sunday, at Ujjain Mahankali in Secunderabad, and the third Sunday, at the Matheswari temple of Lal Darwaza in Old City.
B Narsing Rao, a social activist says: “The celebrations begin at theGolconda, on July 22, followed by Secunderabad on July 29 and at the OldCity on August 5”.
Bonalu involves the worship of Kali and her various forms. She destroys disease and keeps pestilence at arms length. Narsing Rao adds: “Three deities — Maisamma, Pochamma and Elamma, are worshipped. The performances are marked by an element of agression. Potharaju, a masculine power, is believed to weed out all evils. Earlier, they used to sacrifice a he-buffalo. Now, goats or chickens are sacrificed to ward off the ‘evil spirit’. During Bonalu, colourful brass pots, smeared with haldi and kumkum, and decorated with neem leaves are offered to the goddess. The pots usually contain a mixture of raw rice, jaggery, and milk. Sometimes, curd is also used. G Shankar, who lives near the Mahankali temple in Secunderabad, says: “A month before the actual festival begins, there is a ritual called ‘ghatam’, wherein the deity is decked up with flowers and taken to the doorstep of those who cannot come to the temple”.
He adds: “On the first day of Bonalu, ‘phalaru bandulu’, a buffalo cart, laden with fruits is taken around (phalaru means fruits and bandlu, cart). On the second day of the festival, a ritual known as ‘rangam’ is held. Here, a woman stands on a wet clay pot and makes predictions. This is held mostly between8.30 am and 9.30. An hour later, a procession is taken out on an elephant up to Mettuguda. Earlier, Mettuguda was the border of the city. To this day, the tradition continues”.
“There’s a lot of revelry attached to the festivities. Since animal sacrifice is banned at the temples, people mostly do it at home”, says Shankar.
“Bonalu is celebrated in the Old City too. There are three main temples that celebrate the festival: Akkanna Madanna temple in Haribowli, Muthyalu temple in Shah Ali Banda and the Mahankali temple at Lal Darwaza.”
However, of these, celebrations at the 400-year-old Akkanna Madanna temple are the most popular. A bonalu procession is taken around the area on an elephant with the image of goddess Mahankali. Ayub Khan, who has seen Bonalu celebrations for long says that fifty years ago, Muslims too would participate in this festival. “In fact, one year, a Muslim was the potharaju.” Ujjain Mahankali temple’s executive director K Krishnaswamy says: “Every year, lakhs of devotees congregate to pay obeisance to Mahankali. Since some areas in Bidar and Maharashtra were part of the Nizam’s dominions, people from those areas also come here to take part in the celebrations”.Other than these big temples, many villages have their own version of the festival. Gandicheru, a tiny hamlet tucked away near theRamoji Film City, celebrates it by worshiping a small idol of Poshamma mata, decorated with vermillion and turmeric.
Lalithamma, who has been part of this for over 50 years says: “Every year, a family spends around Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 for Bonalu. We start decorating the pots with haldi, kumkum and neem leaves and by evening, we are all set for the procession. This goes on till midnight”, she says. “The purpose behind this ritual”, chips in another veteran Gangamma is that “our children should remain healthy” Source: Times of IndiaHyderabad21 July 2007

Culture · Events · Heritage · People

Bonalu 2012

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The month-long Bonalu festival started last Sunday(Jun 24) at the Golconda Fort. Every Sunday ladies would make offerings to the Goddess and carry it to the temple in decorated pots. They are at times accompanied by strong able bodied men who are smeared with a lot of turmeric, wear a garland of lemons and carry whips made of ropes.

One can read more about the festival on wiki 

Over years the festivals(not just this one) seem to get louder and more ostentatious. There are some occurrences that I have noticed for the first time and shall add them as captions. If you have anything to add please do leave a note as a comment(s).

Over the following weeks, I shall try cover the festival at various parts of the city.[Please watch out for this space]

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Culture · Food · People · portrait · Street

Grilled Delights!

Of the immensely popular street food on the streets of old city Hyderabad, the kebabs deserve a special mention.

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Daily Life · People · Street · Urban

Kids rallying amidst celebrations of the Milad-un-nabi 2012.

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Architecture · Heritage · Landscape

People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges. – Joseph Fort Newton

The arid vegetation around the Golconda fort during a summer morning might make you wonder if it’d look more appealing during a monsoon evening. Perhaps I shall revisit the place in a few months to find out!

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Architecture · Heritage · Monument

Kalyani Nawab Maqbara

The tomb is all that remains of the Kalyani Nawab ki Devdi. The ornate arches, colourful tile work , delicate stucco surround the  filigree-worked marble grave which lies amidst many other graves would most certainly remind one of the Paigah tombs.

Kalyani Nawab hailed from Kalyani in Bidar and came to Hyderabad in the late 18th century. His residence was known as Kalyani Nawab Ki Devdi and he was buried in the same residence when he died, so the place also came to be known as Maqbara Kalyani Nawab.

Incidentally this site was also the birthplace of the Kalyani Biryani, a biryani supposedly made out of beef and equally aromatic and palatable and available at less than half the cost. The devdi served two meals a day to guests (from their estates in Kalyani) who were staying in Hyderabad. When fortunes dwindled and the expenses soared the recipe for the biryani was modified without the knowledge of the Nawab and is still well know today.

Never ceases to amaze me how there are so many tales waiting to be told in these lanes and bylanes!

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Culture · Events · People

Iftar

Iftar at Mahboob Chowk Mosque – Ramzan 2011

Text from wikipedia below:

Iftar (Arabic: إفطار‎), refers to the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together. Iftar is done right after Maghrib (sunset) time. Traditionally, a date is the first thing to be consumed when the fast is broken.

Many Muslims believe that feeding someone iftar as a form of charity is very rewarding and that it was practiced by Prophet Muhammad.

In places like Hyderabad, people break their fast with Haleem because it has a rich taste and is quite filling.

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Architecture · Heritage · Monument · Street

Charminar@night on the Independence Day Night. As seen from the top of Unani Hospital. At twilight many break the Roza and hence the vendors lined around selling fruits!

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Daily Life · Street · vendors

Choodi Bazaar

One of the preliminary steps involved in making the famous Hyderabadi lac bangles would be to flatten the base aluminium rings. Going by the number of bangles seen in the image, it is not hard to imagine how many lac-bangles are made in a day.

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Culture · Daily Life · Food · Heritage

Hyderabadi Dum ki

– Biryani from the famous Paradise Hotel.

Recipe and text courtesy http://spicyindiankitchen.wordpress.com/2008/03/16/hyderabadi-dum-ka-mutton-biryani/

Hyderabad is famous for its Dum Biryani. Hyderabad is famous for its Dum Biryani.Hyderabad is famous for its Dum Biryani. It is a traditional celebration meal made using goat meat and rice and is the staple of a die-hard Hyderabadi. The Hyderabadi Biryani is so named as it is created in the city of Hyderabad, India. The blending of mughlai and Telangana cuisines in the kitchens of the Nizam (ruler of the historic Hyderabad State), resulted in the creation of Hyderabadi Biryani.

Ingredients

Mutton – 1 lb
Basmati Rice – 1 lb
Kesari food color – 1/4 tsp
Butter – 3 tsps
Onion – 3 large
Milk – 10 tsps
Ginger Garlic Paste – 2 tsps
lemon – 1
Eggs – 5 Boiled
Green Chillies – 1
Chopped Cilantro – 2 cups
Mint Leaves – 1 whole bunch
Spices
Cloves – 10
Cinnamon Sticks – 10 medium
Anise Star – 2
Elachi – 10
Bayleaves – 5
shajeera – 1 tsp
Jeera – 2 tsp
For Marinating Mutton
Yogurt – 1 cup
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Green Chillies slit (small) – 2
Ginger Garlic Paste – 3 tsps
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
half lemon squeezed juice – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 2 tsps

Wash Mutton thoroughly. Make medium sized pieces of Mutton and marinate the same with all the above ingredients for atleast 24 hours.Procedure
1) Cook basmati rice with half of all the spices, salt, 1 tsp butter (not completely cooked)
2) Drain water from rice and keep it aside.
3) Take a big vessel and add 2 tsps butter, 3 tsps oil. Dice 1 onion and start frying it in the vessel. Add copped Mint Leaves to the same.
4) Crush Anise Star into powder. Add the same along with remaining spices, slit green chillies and fry.
5) After the onions are cooked, add 2 tsps Ginger Garlic paste and fry it until the raw smell disappears.
6) Add the marinated mutton and let it cook until almost done. The curry should come together. I normally cook mutton in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles or until done.
7) Add salt if necessary. Add 2 tsps Shan Biryani Masala (Sindhi Biryani) and 2 tsps Garam Masala Powder. Cook it for 5 more minutes and turn off the stove.
8) Take milk in a container, warm it. Add kesari color to the milk. Add 2 cups of cooked rice to the same and mix it well. Keep it aside.
9) Cut 2 Onions thinly sliced length-wise. Fry them in butter+oil until it gets a good brown color (caramalized) and keep it aside for Garnishing.
Layering
1) Preheat oven at 375 deg.
2) Take a deep bottomed alluminium tray. Butter its inside walls properly.
3) Keep one cup of cooked rice aside. Divide each of rice, mutton curry, coriander leaves, caralamized onions and saffron colored rice into 2 portions.
4) Add one layer of rice (1/2), one layer of mutton curry ( 1/2 ), one layer of coriander leaves, one layer of caramalized onions ( 1/2) and one layer of Saffron colored rice ( 1/2) in the same order.
5) Repeat this process for one more time with the rest of the portions in the same order. So, the top most layer now is saffron colored rice. Layer it with 1 cup of cooked rice that we kept aside in Step 3.
6) Garnish it Cilantro. Make holes for eggs on the top layer. Make 2 halves of each egg. Place eggs in the holes we made.
7) Place the tray in the oven carefully and cook the same for 40 mins. Check if the rice is cooked. Ifnot, keep the tray back in the oven and cook until done.
8) After it is done, allow the biryani to rest in the oven for 10 more minutes. Take the tray out and squeeze half lemon on the top and mix it slowly.Biryani tastes great with Kheera Raitha and Mirchi Ka Salan.

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Culture · Daily Life · People · Street · Urban

Take on daily life

Always wondered if “reel life” mimics (or drew inspiration from) “real life” or vice versa!

I was only trying to frame the actor/poster(on the bus) wondering which real life subject would be good to include in the frame. And the lady hurriedly ran past in the hope of catching a bus in front of this one.

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