abby and i were in hyderabad, capitol of andhra pradhesh, last week. first, the language: telagu has 60 different symbols, including 16 vowels, 3 vowel modifiers, and 41 consonants.  here are some examples from a gas station, a market, and a political poster:

i have to imagine it takes a long time to hand-write a thank-you note in telagu.

as far as hyderabad’s history itself, the area came under the delhi sultanate’s control during the 15th century; sultan quli qutb-ul-mulk, founder of the qutb dynasty, declared independence from the sultanate at the start of the 16th century, and a later ruler, muhammed quli qutb shah, founded the city itself in 1591. less than 100 years later, the city fell to the mughals, who ruled it until only until 1724, when the local nizam, or governor, took control; the nizams controlled the city until independence.  the sixth nizam, mahbub ali khan, asaf jah vi, was declared by time magazine to be the richest man in the world in 1937, and abby and i visited one of his palaces just to make sure.  the next nizam tried to remain a sovereign ruler over the state after india won its independence from great britain, but that didn’t work out, and just over a year later he agreed to join the indian union after the state was invaded by the indian army.

there will be a test later; the point is, the architecture has been heavily influenced by islamic sources.

let’s start in the center of town. i spent most of my time at the charminar, a tower with four minarets in the market, near the mecca masjid.  (“charminar” literally means four minarets.)  from the top, you can see up and down the main market area.  what you can’t see are the many side streets and alleys where, for example, you can buy pearls and bangles.  hyderabad is known for its pearl and bangle trade.  most of the pearls are high quality, although i wouldn’t bet that they all are; and you can probably find very nice bangles if you look down enough alleys, but on the main street, not so much.

the charminar exterior and interior, and the view into the market
the view toward the mosque. the building to the left was a palace and is now a hospital. a street pearl salesman – presumably, he’s not carrying the high-quality stuff, as he has to compete with the kids selling knock-off ray-bans. buy bangles!

and then we come to the vegetable market, with little shops along the way, as well as the live bird market:

everyone wants his picture taken whether he makes an interesting subject or not, and usually it’s easier just to take the snap rather than snarl in response to the cry of “one photo, one photo,” even though snarling feels like a more genuine response after the umpteenth request. for some reason, i liked this portrait of the auto driver, so i didn’t simply delete it like i normally do. the photo of the boys reading the newspaper is unstaged; once they saw me, of course, they posed, and the subsequent photos weren’t as good. the next photo was taken at the edge of the vegetable market.

the guys in the chicken market also asked me to take their photo, but they actually made an interesting subject. the vegetable sellers didn’t ask for their photos to be taken and simply tolerated me, which is usually how i like it.

from here we go to the tombs.  the qutb sultans built themselves a series of tombs near the foot of fort golconda (which i also visited, but didn’t find especially picturesque), while the paigah family of nobles also built a set of tombs. these latter tombs are intricately carved from marble and are magnificent, or rather, they would be if they weren’t being left to slowly crumble under years of dirt and dust, hidden away in a small unmarked neighborhood far out of town. for some reason, the andhra pradesh government is not promoting the hell out of these tombs, so they’re easy to miss.

scenes from the qutb tombs
scenes from the paigah tombs. my guide didn’t speak english, but that was no surprise as he was only about eight years old, and he seemed to live just outside the tombs with his family in a tiny neighborhood house. as i said, the andhra pradesh government is not putting much money toward promoting the site.