Nourishment for souls
Nampally holds historical significance, with some houses, lanes, and doorways standing as remnants of a bygone era.
HYDERABAD: Ramzan illuminates and spreads its colour in Nampally, one of the most significant localities of Hyderabad from a historical point of view. CE goes on a food walk with The Deccan Archives and Hyderabad Walking Company, exploring the local delicacies popular during Ramzan and also diving into the history of the place
Shrimansi Kaushik “Hayat le ke chalo kaenat le ke chalo; chalo to saare zamane ko saath le ke chalo”
The ‘Secret Ramzan Food Walk’ with The Deccan Archive and Hyderabad Walking Company at Nampally was not just an assortment of food items laid out on a dastarkhan, one can be assured of nourishment for souls as well, for they never let their walkers leave without a piece of history, a slice of information to savour for a lifetime.
The group convened at the dargah of Syed Shah Moinuddin Hussaini, also known as Hazrat Shah Khamosh, due to his 20-year vow of silence. Although the dargah was closed, the blooming cherry and white blossoms in front of the architectural beauty indicated something more serene to come.
Nampally holds historical significance, with some houses, lanes, and doorways standing as remnants of a bygone era. “While many people associate Hyderabadi cuisine with the cafes near Charminar, there is so much more to explore. For local food lovers, Nampally is heaven. Speaking from the point of view of our food walk, unlike the touristy Charminar area, Nampally offers a mix of Sufi history, urban planning, and diverse food options that cater to a wide range of preferences,” said Sibghat Khan, owner, The Deccan Archives.
As the group proceeded towards the bazaar, on their 1.2 km stretch of food hopping, the bustling neighbourhood, adorned with lights and shops illuminated and waiting for customers, came alive.
Their first stop was Alhamdulillah Hotel, where they relished the succulent beef seekh kebabs, talawa ghosht, and haleem that melted in the mouth. Chicken 65 was also served, and there were dahi wada and samosa for vegetarians.
Passing through several places in the city rarely does one stop to ponder how development took place in some of the oldest localities in the city– a hint at the age-long question — are we for the city or the city for us and if latter is the case, who are we? Shedding some light on the story behind the planned part of Nampally, now known as Mallepally, Sibghat told the group that the road they were standing on, was originally a canal named Afzal Sagar. The early 1900s floods in the Musi river led to planned development around water bodies, an onus of the City Improvement Board, which in the 1970s, constructed model houses around Afzal Sagar, now turned into multi-story buildings.
An exemplary architect’s mind, Sibghat led the group to a volleyball ground and instructed everyone to open Google maps on their phones with satellite view. One could easily see the portion of the neighbourhood that was planned and developed in the form of blocks placed radially around a circular centre. The playground was also connected to another one in the other symmetrical block. The area was significant in many respects, said Sibghat, with several luminaries hailing from there, including Kaifi Azmi and the revolutionary poet Makhdoom Mohiuddin — to whom we owe the credit of writing the lines with which this article begins, and to everyone’s surprise, actress Tabu as well. The playground was built in memory of Abdul Basith Siddiqui, an international volleyball player, captain of the national men’s volleyball team and who represented India twice in Asian Games.
After a lot more on history and town planning, the group then visited Baabji Ka Ghota, where they savoured the most delicious patthar ka ghosht and shawarma, accompanied by delectable mutton chakna. They also had Burhanpuri Jalebi at the famous Khowa Jalebi stall, which prompted Sibghat to utter, “Burhanpur, the gateway to the Deccan.”
Next, they went to Al-Barkat for fish dishes, where someone asked Naveen, the founder, Hyderabad Walking Company, about his heritage walking troupe. Naveen reminisced about being surprised by the relaxed atmosphere of Hyderabad when he arrived from Chennai. “I was surprised to see how people had a different sense of time here and food. The only morning routine I knew of was coffee and newspaper quite early. Here, people would think of only getting up around 8 am. Then I was also surprised to see how welcoming people here are,” he said.
When asked if they settled with the shopkeepers the group was visiting, Naveen explained, “We don’t, as we want people’s experience to be just as authentic as walking into a new place and discovering on your own.”
Lastly, the group concluded their walk at the Al-Ameen chai shop, offering the famous Irani Chai and right in front, 7 Star Pan (Dot) Com, after enjoying Mosambi juice at Milan Juice Center and mulberry malai. For those who missed out on the experience, the next walks will be at Charminar and Yusuf Tekri, Tolichowki.