Allan, Boo, Larry, Jardine, Steve and I were at breakfast when the bride and groom came down -- we clapped for them and welcomed them to our table (we are all staying at the same hotel.) It was fun to share some of the pictures we had taken the night before with them -- they loved it, and we loved sharing with them some of the highlights of the night.
I had made arrangements the day before to have a private guide and car ready to take us to Golkonda Fort today at 1:00 -- the driver and the guide were on time and ready to go! Boo wasn't feeling well, so she and Larry stayed behind to rest. Steve, Allan, Jardine and I were tired but ready to go.
Our guide, Mahu, was very knowledgable about the area. From the moment we got in the car he shared the history of Hyderabad, the number of current inhabitants, and the general cultural and economic situation in the area. While of course I knew that Hyderabad was known for its pearls and for being a "tech" city, he rattled off some of the companies that use call centers located in Hyderabad and mentioned that the newest section/area in the greater Hyderabad area is CYBERABAD. No lie. Really.
When we got to the Golkonda Fort, Mahu helped us arranged for our tickets. I'm going to share what I remember from his talk with us -- please remember I was tired, and right now I'm too lazy to double check the facts that I think I remember with any sources -- so bear with me. Mahu started explaining that the fort was originally a Hindu Palace/stronghold, and then was taken over by Muslims and expanded. The people who took over the original Hindu palace were very secular -- they allowed the Hindu temple that still remains and is used in the fort to continue -- they built a separate mosque on the site. The Hindu temple there has been in use since the 12th century. The temple was busy -- there is a Hindu festival held every Sunday in July -- many of the walls and just about all the stairs had markings made with tumeric and vermillion as a marking for the festival. In addition, there were broken coconuts scattered along many of the stairs. Mahu explained that the coconuts represent purification when broken in a ritualistic way. As pilgrims made their way to the temple (near the top of the fort), they would mark the stairs and break coconuts. Here's a picture of one of the marked walls, and of the temple at the top of the fort.
The first dynasty Muslim kings that lived at Golkonda did use at high levels of government Hindus. I believe more than one King married a Hindu woman. It was a time of great prosperity -- Hyderabad (or the area that became Hyderabad) was one of if not the largest (and most wealthy) kingdoms in India. The fort was expanded under Muslim rulership, and became quite large. The fort, with its large outer walls and series of inner walls made of mostly granite was hard to penetrate. The Mughals Kings in Delhi were upset with the kings in Hyderabad because they allowed the Hindus to not only continue in their religious tradition but to be part of the governing body of the area, so the Mughals in Delhi attacked Golkonda. We hiked to the top of the fort -- the view was breathtaking from there.
The area around Golkonda Fort was known for its diamond mining. The Hope diamond and the Kohinoor diamonds were mined there. We were able to see the ruins of the palace where the king and his family lived. There was an elaborate water system installed, bringing water up three stories! In addition in order to communicate, the acoustics in certain areas was so fine due to the building of certain types of arches and ceilings, that people could communicate from one area to another through a series of claps -- kind of like morse code.
Remember we were at Taramati Baradari a few days ago for the Mehendi dinner? The legend goes that the King used to sit at the top of Golkonda Fort and listen to the music of Taramati at the caravan station across the way -- and fell in love with her. He allegedly married her and created a mosque on the grounds of the Golkonda Fort named for her.
After the tour of Golkonda Fort (and I only gave you the tip of the iceberg here -- it is well worth a visit, especially with an experienced guide) we headed over to the Qutub Shahi Tombs where the kings were buried along with members of their families and the higher level officials. We saw the building and room were bodies were prepared for burial. We were also able to see a number of the tombs themselves, including the tomb of the third king whose tomb has the only existing bit of original tile work on the outside -- apparently all the other tile work along with anything of value was looted a long time ago. You can see the blue, yellow and green tile work in the upper right hand corner of one of the photos here.
It was so peaceful to walk around the grounds of the tombs -- you can see some of them from the Golkonda Fort.
We headed back to the hotel, showered and rested a bit before heading over to Serene Domain for the Hyderabadi custom Gul Poshi -- where the bride, the day after the wedding, returning to her mother's home along with her new in laws for the exchange of flower garlands. It was a very moving short family-only ceremony. Garlands were placed on Devika's parents by Devika's Grandmother. All the family put garlands around the necks of Devika and Max, and Smita put garlands around our necks. It was beautiful! It made Allan -- and all of us -- very teary. Gifts were given by Devika's family to Devika and Max.
Ghazal, the family's close friend from Lucknow and a creative writer in Urdu, authored a poem for Devika and Max -- and here is a picture of her reciting the poem. You can see Nani sitting on the coach in the background with a bandage on her head. She fell today and ended up with stitches.
We then had a most delicious dinner of Haleem and biryani. It was the last "official" event for this wedding. I think Devika's family must be exhausted, but everything was done extremely well, and the hospitality has been unsurpassed. What an amazing life event this has been for our families! I can't wait to see the video and pictures from the wedding.
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Location:Road No 1, Hyderabad, India