Feb 21, 2015

Baobab tree of Golconda

October 2, 2014
Few months back I knew only about Savanur's baobab trees. After some online research I realized India was home to several 100s of baobab trees spread across western and South Indian states. Gujarat leads the list with close to a thousand trees, followed by Maharastra, Goa, Karnataka, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and one in Uttar Pradesh too. Hyderabad is home 5 or six baobab trees but I've found only one until now.. that's at Golconda fort.

October 26, 2014
The day was cloudy in the morning and started raining around 11 am. The tree is located inside Naya Qila ~ new fort. I hired an autorickshaw from Golconda fort entrance to reach the tree. It was 10 minute ride. This tree is slightly different in looks compared with Savanur trees.

I was glad to see the iron fencing around the base, keeps vandals away. Also a care-taker was present, the man looked sincere to his duty. You can see lot of graffiti on the tree trunk.. made long time back by insensitive people :( This tree is popularly known as Hathiyan or Elephant tree. It's girth is 27.4 metres, in feet its 89 feet. The trunk is so huge that it has two "rooms" in it. To reach the room, one has to climb up the trunk and then descend in the hollow. Of course you can expect to see creatures like frogs in there.

Our care-taker was a soft spoken person. He said this tree's parts resemble elephant body parts. For instance, a branch here looks like a trunk of an elephant.

This looks like elephant's feet.

Fold on the surface seems like folds in elephant skin.

For a tree of this size, the leaves are pretty small and soft too. The leaves are lobed and they dry quickly. Baobab leaves are a contrast to its trunk which is a succulent. It is said that baobabs store huge quantities of water in their trunk and branches.

The seven lobed baobab leaf.

That's the care-taker of this magnificent tree. I can't recall his name :(

Glimpse of the fort walls from under the tree.

An ancient mosque next to the tree. This mosque is said to be constructed by Aurangzeb after defeating Abul Hasan Tanashah, the last king of Qutub Shahi dynasty.

Some known Baobab trees of India:

  1. Hilltop Nightclub, Vagator, Goa
  2. Cabo Raj Bhavan, Dona Paula, Goa
  3. Quepem, Goa
  4. Bamboo Motels, Goa
  5. Bijapur, Karnataka
  6. Dodda Hunashe Matha, Savanur, Karnataka
  7. Mangaliawas near Ajmer 
  8. Vadodara, Gujarat
  9. near Gujarat College / Victoria Garden / Sukharamnagar, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 
  10. Dayapur, Gujarat
  11. Kutch, Gujarat
  12. Bhanagar, Gujarat
  13. Baroda, Gujarat
  14. Mandavgad or Mandu, Madhya Pradesh 
  15. Mulund, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  16. Byculla zoo, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  17. Outside the Vasai fort, Maharashtra
  18. Tilak road and Ghole road, Pune, Maharastra
  19. near Aurangabad, Maharashtra
  20. near Sangam, left bank of the Ganga, Prayag,  Uttar Pradesh 
  21. Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, Bihar
  22. Theosophist Society Gardens, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  23. Chinmaya Vidyalaya's campus at Ilanthope, Rajapalayam. Tamil Nadu 
  24. Nellore, Andhra
  25. The American College campus, Madurai, Tamil Nadu


Feb 14, 2015

Charminar, signature of Hyderabad

I had visited Hyderabad few times earlier but never got an opportunity to see the inside of Charminar. Now having become a resident of Hyderabad, I got an opportunity to spend a morning gazing at the marvel of the structure.

September 27, 2014
Early morning, I was at my friend Srinu's place near Kokapet. From there we drove past Golconda into the city. We approached Charminar from Laad Bazaar street, a very narrow street. However Pathergatti road, the street on which the monument stands is slightly wider. There it is.. the signature of Hyderabad. Through Charminar's arches you can see another structure.. a massive arch.

There are four such arches standing on intersecting roads and at the intersection is an ancient water fountain.

That's the fountain. In the background is another arch. This street is known for jewellery and pearl shops.

Coming back to Charminar, we walk around it looking up at its minars. Well, for this structure, minars are prominent as for Gol Gumbaz the dome is prominent.

That's Srinu with his back to the southern face of Charminar.

There are several theories as to when and why Charminar was built:
  1. The book 'Days of the Beloved' says Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah constructed Charminar in 1589 CE on the very spot where he first glimpsed his future queen Bhagmati.
  2. According to the XVII century French traveller Jean de Thévenot, Charminar was constructed in 1591 CE to commemorate the beginning of the II Islamic millennium.
  3. According to the historian Masud Hussain Khan, Charminar was completed a year after the city of Hyderbad was created in 1591 CE.
  4. Charminar was built to commemorate the eradication of plague as Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah had prayed and vowed to build a mosque.

As seen from the steps leading into the courtyard, looking up towards the arch and minars. Charminar is open to public between 9 am and 5 pm, one has to an entry ticket of Rs.10 (for Indian nationals).

I'm standing in the courtyard formed by the minars and arches looking the northern arch. At the center is a water fountain.

The ancient cast iron water fountain, a similar one can been seen at the palace ruins in Golconda fort.

Above the arches is a gallery and a shallow dome.

The 16 sided gallery is about 40' from the courtyard floor.

The stairway was pretty narrow. The  gallery is well lit and air circulation is good, it was pretty cool up here.

A mural at the dome center. Probably a chandelier hung from the ring..

One of the many windows, the grill pattern has a pattern in it.. triangles and hexagons. Over every arch crest is royal emblem (see inset).

One of the four sides of the gallery, to the right is the courtyard. The floor has drain holes covered by cast iron plates (see inset). The 12" x 8" drain cover seems to be made by an English company named BIF.

Makkah Masjid as seen from Charminar. Even for this structure minars are prominent and it has no dome.

That's Hyderabad Government Nizamia General Hospital. The ancient building is undergoing maintenance. Visitors coming by private cars usually park them in the hospital compound.

At the base of south-eastern minar is a temple dedicated to goddess Bhagyalakshmi.

Before venturing into Charminar we spent some time at Makkah Masjid and had tea at Nimrah Cafe, a typical Irani tea shop and bakery. A morning well spent!