January 27, 2001

Hyderabad, the city of Charminar and pearls

The English and Indian Under-19s teams are here in Hyderabad for the third and final 'Test' match. Hyderabad and Secunderabad are one of the few twin cities of the world divided by an imaginary line that runs along the beautiful Hussain Sagar Lake. This city is at an altitude of 536 metres and the temperature at this time of the year is in mid thirties, promising four days of good cricket.

Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah, the Fifth king of Golconda, founded this city in 1591 by laying the foundation of the famous monument 'Charminar' as the centre of the city. The English has had long association with the city of Hyderabad. In 1798, an area north of Hussain Sagar Lake was made a cantonment. This was the result of an alliance signed between the Nizam and the East India Company for military and political co-operation. The cantonment was named Secunderabad after the then Nizam Sikander Jah.

The visitors did have a taste of Hyderabad as they visited the Charminar (The four graceful minarets from which 'Charminar' derives its name, literally meaning 'Four Minars' soar to a height of 48.7m each above the ground). They have had the opportunity to visit Salarjung Museum, located on the banks of the river Musi that flows through the heart of the city. It boasts of the 'largest one man collection of antiques in the world,' The artefact on display are unique and range through varied periods of time and places in the world.

There is much more to Hyderabad than the Golconda fort, the bangles, the Nizams and the Nawabs, for this city is steeped in history. Incidentally the pearl craftsmanship of the Hyderabadis is famous, making this is the city of pearls. Hyderabad to its credit has some cricketing pearls too. Ghulam Ahmed, Nawab of Pataudi Jr, ML Jaisimha, Abbas Ali Baig, Abid Ali and Mohd Azharuddin are a few of the pearls produced in the 'maidans' of this beautiful city. One and all remember Jaisimha, who passed away in 1999, as a graceful sportsman who played the game in the true spirit of the game. One look at the above mentioned names brings memories of the subtle artistry they brought into the beloved game.

Cricket and Hyderabad have lived together for ages. This is the centennial year of the match played between the visiting 'Oxford Authentics' and the Hyderabad XI in 1901. History is not a thing of the past in this warm and hospitable city; it is a living process. Ian Bell and his boys would know, that they are to be a part of the Hyderabadi history, come Saturday.

It was in 1911 the Moin-ud-Dowlah Gold Cup Invitation Tournament (named after the prominent king Nizam) that came about to be synonymous with Hyderabad. Maharajah Sir Kishen Prashad Bahadur was a great patron of this tournament, which was of much significance as it served as the preliminaries for the India selection.

Cricket was played here between teams made on the basis of their faith. The Hindus, Moslems, Parsis and Europeans drawn from the 7th Dragon Regiment, constituted the four main teams. In 1920 there was an inter communal match between the Hindus and the Moslems. Those days there wasn't even a whisper of communal tension. The ritual of the inter-communal cricket came to an end, when Mahatma Gandhi requested for it to be stopped.

Time has had its say with Hyderabad too. These days Hyderabad is the 'Cyberabad' the Silicon Valley of India. It is all about Software, Technology and the Internet. Make no mistake; cricket is still a passion, though it hurts the man in the street, when talking about their fallen son and match fixing. They still do enjoy this game as much as they enjoy the wonderful Hyderabadi cuisine. You haven't seen Hyderabad if you haven't been to `Patther Gatti', the street of pearl shops and you haven't had the taste of Hyderabad, if you haven't tasted the 'Hyderabadi Biriyani'.