I picked up this small booklet from the Archaeology museum that lists walks around the old city. Having done the regular places like Charminar, and Purani Haveli, last week I chose to walk in the relatively unknown locality of Shah Ali Banda. The only thing I had heard about it was its Police Station and Bus stand which often gets mentioned in the newspapers. So, this was to be a complete exploration, and surprises were expected. About a kilometer from Charminar towards Falaknuma is the Shah Ali Banda area. Where during the Nizam era lived the rich and influential.
Like Kishen Pershad and Shyam Raj amongst others in their well-known Deodis.
Walking tour of Shah Ali Banda, Hyderabad
The first street that we walked into was the Khoya Gali. It had small Khoya shops on both sides and in the bylanes emanating from it. Khoya is wrapped in Aluminum foil, plastic sheets, paper sheets, and newspapers and displayed in an open pan. There is a weighing machine, pictures & calendars on the wall, and a shopkeeper in every shop. The rest of the space is empty. Something that is not a norm in most other shops that are brimming with articles on every part of the wall. The merchants in this market receive Khoya or condensed milk from across the state. And they sell it to Mithai shop owners and retail customers here.
On average, a shopkeeper sells anywhere between 200-300 kgs of Khoya every day. I was wondering if that is the kind of Khoya this city consumes. But then is it not the city that is known best for its food and foodies?
Chandi Ka Vark
In the same street for the first time in my life, I saw the making of Chandi ka Vark, or the thin layer of the silver sheet that is put in the sweets. In a small shop, there was a small counter that had the finished sheets of silver pasted on paper sheets in stacks of 50 each. An old man sitting on the floor was beating the next set of sheets with constant and rhythmic hammering. I was told it takes 3 hours of constant beating to make 225 sheets from a small bit of silver. I know this visual will pop up every time I eat silver-coated sweets now.
Akkanna Madanna Temple, Shah Ali Banda
Little ahead there is a small colorful temple sandwiched between rows of buildings. But stands out with its unique shape and color. It is dedicated to Akkanna Madanna – an incarnation of Shakti and is known by the same name. Inside the temple is just a small room with a beautiful Silver Idol of the Goddess. When I visited a family was performing the Puja. They told me that this temple is hundreds of years old. And is a favorite with the politicians who it is believed cannot win elections without visiting this temple.
Coming back on the main road we saw this old gateway with a small clock tower standing like an adamant old man refusing to let go. The trees are coming out of the lintel covering the clock. But the white gateway seems to be least worried about. All it wants you to know is how the Deodis of the bygone eras were and seems to be asking what have you made of the beautiful area today.
The Hanuman temple in the Lal Darwaza area is once again a small temple with its deity’s saffron color all over it beside a huge tree. The small narrow gates sound intriguing. Not too far from here is a Mahakali temple in pink with white Gopuram. There were many more things mentioned in the booklet that we could not locate. Neither the locals seem to know about them. Maybe the booklet is old. And the monuments no longer exist or maybe another round of exploration is required.
India never ceases to amaze with the wonders it holds even in the humblest of its corners.
Recommend you read the following travel blog on places to visit in Hyderabad.