Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah was the Prince of Golconda; one day he saw Bhagmati a beautiful young lass from a village on the banks of Musi. The Prince not only defied the Royal convention of marrying only another Royal, but also built a new capital and named it after his bride- who was now called Hyder Mahal. Well that is the folklore about how Hyderabad was formed you have a choice to go with it or the boring history text book version that the earlier capital of Golconda was overcrowded and a new city was the need of time. Take your pick, as for me I am a sucker for love stories.
Once the Prince ascended to the throne of mightiest empire of Deccan, architects and engineers were called from as far as Persia and given the task to build the new capital. Thus what is today the Old City of Hyderabad was actually one of the first planned cities of India, centuries before Lutyens’ Delhi. Many famous buildings were added to the city like the Charminar, Mecca Masjid. The majestic Hussain Sagar Reservoir was built in the city for drinking and irrigation needs. Hyderabad is one of the few cities in India that becomes more beautiful in the night. An evening visit of the City of Pearl should begin from the Qutub Shahi Tombs, to capture the sunset on the tombs of the former rulers of Golconda and a large part of South India.
Then visit the Taramati Baradari, another monument dedicated to the love of another emperor for his beloved courtesan and singer Taramati. During day the building looks like any other monument, but in night when the lights are switched on it transforms you to the era when Taramati would sing for the Emperor, with stars and moons lighting the Building and her honey smooth voice carried miles away to the emperor in Golconda fort.
My next night stop in Hyderabad is the Hussain Sagar where the 18 Meter Tall Buddha Statue is the icon of new Hyderabad. The statue changes colour as the sun sets over the waters and continue to mesmerise you as the lights play hide and seek on the shimmering water. On the left you can see the Birla Temple on top of the Naubat Pahad a small hill nearby. A few vendors are selling street foods from Bhel Puri to Ice Creams and are only too happy to let me click pictures.
I set up my sturdy Manfrotto tripod to get crisp sharp pictures and set up the camera in shutter priority mode and play with ISO between 800-1600 ( remember the higher you go with ISO the grainier your pictures will be) to capture the lights on the Buddha and some light trails of the passing cars that are too much in a hurry to look at the Buddha towering above the scintillating waters of Hussain Sagar. Unfortunately I had forgotten by wireless remote, so I set up the camera to time release mode so that my clicking does not shake the camera. This is an important aspect for clicking night pictures from tripod, if you click the camera with your fingers, some amount of camera shake comes, so best use a remote or wire release or set it to timed release mode.
But the real nightlife and most picturesque Hyderabad is around Charminar, in the night the iconic monument radiates the timeless beauty that for centuries has charmed travelers and locals alike. You are bound be cajoled by a pearl seller to buy some real Hyderabad Pearls and Bangles. Hyderabad was a major trading centre of pearls and diamonds for centuries and the nearby Golconda mines was the only source of Diamonds in the world till mines in new world were discovered.
The lights in the night market range from extra bright to dimly lit food stalls, so it is best to switch to a fast prime lens like a 50 mm as you will not get much chance to change camera settings in the fast moving action of the night bazaar. The 50 mm will give you a wide open aperture to capture all the action in the night market. But to capture the Charminar I had to switch to a wide angle lens so that I could frame it with some of the shoppers and merchandise being sold around.
Indeed Hyderabad is a photographer’s dream destination for its timeless monuments and ageless Bazaars that sell everything from Pearls to potions to get your beloved. A fitting tribute to the city founded by a Prince who fell in love with a commoner.
About Prasad Np: award winning lifestyle, travel and wildlife photographer and writer, he writes the popular family travel blog form India- desi Traveler . You can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook