There was no space to walk, but the men in red shirts and kurtas hugged, while the women greeted each other with an adab and children burst crackers as the city celebrated Urs at the hilltop shrine of Moula Ali Dargah on Sunday.
There was an air of festive carnival as visitors were spoilt for choice between makeshift food stalls, entertainment rides and trinket sellers.
But up in the shrine, there was an air of spiritual fervour as barefoot people walked into the shrine as qawwals strung up songs interspersed with the message of Moula Ali. The 10-day Urs will continue till Thursday (according to the Islamic lunar calendar).
As the smell of roasting meat jostled with chakna, naan, jalebis and ice cream, the fragrance of ood (agarwood) could not be ignored.
As the night wore on, families which had come prepared, spread their bedsheets for the night under a moonlit. A dinner and then a short nap before returning home, the age-old routine remained intact.
The tradition of Urs began in 1578 when Ibrahim Qutb Shah was the ruler and one of his senior aides Yakoot saw a dream about Moula Ali resting his palm on the hillock. From the time when it had royal patronage where lakhs of lamps were lit from Charminar to the shrine for the benefit of pilgrims, to the present day LED lighting, things have changed dramatically.