Laad Bazaar walk was one of my last Hyderabad walks as a resident of the city. Anyone who has ever visited these lanes in and around the bazaar in the city knows how every corner shines and shimmers. Bangles in all colors, white pearls along with garments in complimenting combinations vie for your attention.
I had specifically gone to learn how Khara Dupatta – a garment that typically belongs to the city, is draped. Of course, once you are in the bazaar there is no way you can miss the Lacquer or Lac Bangles.
It is located between the two famous monuments of the city – Charminar and Chowmahalla Palace is known for many things. I call it the Shringar Rasa of this charming city on the banks of the Musi River.
Let me walk you through some of the highlights of Laad Bazaar.
Laad Bazaar – The Bling, Brand, or Bread of Hyderabad
Khara Dupatta – the bridal wear of Hyderabad
The first look as I walked into the street with my camera clicking away to glory and the first thought that crossed my mind was ‘Is this the Bling of Hyderabad’. Everywhere the Lehengas, Dupattas, Saris, and Khara dupattas in bright colors with even more shining work on them sparkled competing to catch your eye. I stepped into a few shops and asked them to show me a Khara dupatta.
Based on what I was wearing and my demeanor they had serious doubts if I wanted to buy a Khara Dupatta. So I chose honesty. I told them that I am trying to get to know things that are unique to Hyderabad – Khara Dupatta being one of them. One of them obliged and helped me drape a Yellow Khara Dupatta around me to let me have the feel of holding 6+ meters of clothes balanced on both of my shoulders.
Bridal Khara Dupatta
I was told that for the bride there are another 2 meters that have to be balanced on the head along with this 6 meters. Add to this the 4 meters that go into the making of Kurti and Pajama. The material used for Khara Dupatta is light enough though so weight-wise it is not too bad.
If you roam in the by-lanes you can see many people doing embroidery. Some are pasting stones on these dupattas one by one. They are working on various parts of a Khara Dupatta. It is not easy to embellish so much cloth.
Lacquer or Lac Bangles of Laad Bazaar
I have often walked in this bazaar and each time I stopped at some bangle shop to pick up some lac bangles. There are shops full of all bangles in colors and color combinations. The most popular ones are the sets of bangles with floral patterns on them.
This time, I went into the lanes looking for those who make them.
Making of Lac Bangles
In various chunks, I got to see the whole process of making Lac Bangles in the lanes of the bazaar.
- To begin with, there are bunches of thin metal bangles.
- These raw metal bangles are given proper circular shapes by hand.
- Lac or lacquer is then heated over burning embers and the desired color added to it. Small stripes of Lac are rolled into the desired shape and size.
- Lac or lacquer is then rolled around the metal bangles. These raw bangles are then hand-rolled one by one to give a perfect circular shape.
- These bangles are then sent to workmen who add the zing to the bangle by pasting stones and sparkles in various designs.
Difference between Lac Bangles of Rajasthan and Hyderabad
An artisan explained to me the difference between the lac bangles from Rajasthan and Hyderabad. He proudly said the craft that we have here in this city couldn’t be found elsewhere. Well, an easy way to identify is to look at how much it shines. The more the bangles shine, the more they are likely to come from the lanes of this city. Shining sets of lac bangles are no wonder a brand for the city.
Rajasthani bangles usually come with the pattern on a single bangle while in this city they come in sets where the design goes across bangles.
The economy of Lac Bangles
I saw many small and big workshops with men and women sitting around a small metal stove making bangles in small lanes. In the main bazaar, we see them neatly displayed in rows and rows to entice the customers. I suddenly realized that these bangles are feeding many households.
To me, jewelry and accessories always came across as frivolous things. Things that we can very much live without. Most of the time they are things that belonged to others. It was while roaming around in these streets that I realized the amount of effort that goes into making every single bangle. It is humbling to see the number of hands a bangle passes through before it reaches the wearer. There are so many families involved in this business.
I suddenly wanted to pick up some. And I did pick up a few simple bangles in stone. I am definitely more respectful towards them after this walk. For they are not just vanities but bread for many people working in that industry.
Pearls at Laad Bazaar
Hyderabad is known as the Pearl city of India. Despite nowhere being close to pearl-producing oceans or rivers, it is the biggest pearl processing and trading center. You do not have to make an effort to find pearls when you are in the vicinity of this bazaar. The salesmen of Pearl shops do the effort for you. They will politely invite you to the shop in a way you can not refuse.
You will see strings of pearls, mostly in white or off-white hanging everywhere. There are neckpieces, earrings, and bangles in pearls teasing you. However, I liked the big irregular pearls in unusual colors like smoky grey.
Again, I went behind the shops and saw the pearl processing units. Pearls are first sorted based on size. They are literally sieved through to get a pile of roughly same-sized pearls. These piles are then manually sorted for exact sizes and shapes.
The sorted ones are then pierced one by one with a small drilling machine. The pierced pearls are then strung together to sell. Some of them are sent to the designers to make all kinds of designs with them. I think everyone needs to visit these workshops to see how handcrafted jewelry is made.
This bazaar is a highly recommended walk in the city. It is a shopper’s paradise.
In the Bazaars of Hyderabad by Sarojini Naidu
More than 100 years back, the famous poet, writer, and freedom fighter & Hyderabadi wrote an ode to the bazaars of the city. This was also a part of the Swadeshi movement where the then leaders of the country were trying to promote the products made in the country rather than consume foreign imported products. See how beautifully, she brings out the life of a vibrant bazaar in the city. Not much has changed since her days.
- In The Bazaars of Hyderabad
- What do you sell, O merchants?
- Richly your wares are displayed
- Turbans of crimson and silver
- Tunics of purple brocade
- Mirrors with panels of amber
- Daggers with handles of jade
- What do you weigh, O ye vendors?
- Saffron, lentil, and rice
- What do you grind, O ye maidens?
- Sandalwood, henna, and spice
- What do you call, O ye pedlars?
- Chessmen and ivory dice
- What do you make, O ye goldsmiths?
- Wristlet and anklet and ring
- Bells for the feet of blue pigeons
- Frail as a dragonfly’s wing
- Girdles of gold for the dancers
- Scabbards of gold for the kings
- What do you cry, O fruitmen?
- Citron, pomegranate and plum
- What do you play, O ye musicians?
- Sitar, Sarangi, and drum
- What do you chant, O magicians?
- Spells for the aeons to come
- What do you weave, O ye flower-girls?
- With tassels of azure and red?
- Crowns for the brow of a bridegroom
- Chaplets to garland his bed
- Sheets of white blossoms new-garnered
- To perfume the sleep of the dead.
While you are in and around the Bazaar in the city, explore these Things to do in Hyderabad as well: