Emerging from one of the
great arches of Hyderabads historic landmark, the Charminar
(the hour-minarets) and extending westwards is the legendary Lad
Bazaar or the street of love.
Lad Bazaar for
Hyderabadis is not just a bazaar, but is a tradition which
they have well preserved. It is as old as the history of the city
itself. Its features are mutli-faceted; and its colour and charm are
as fascinating as its antiquity. Also known as Hyderabads
bridal bazaar, Lad Bazaar ahs much to offer a visitor right
from its dazzling exterior to the pitiable constraints its
inhabitants have to face.
Hyderabad, is a city of
contrasts, where the mystic orient and the elite occident; pre-modern
and modern; all co-exist in a strange, whimsical fashion.
The Old city (purana
shaher) has its reigned over own cultural identity which is
reminiscent of the days of the Qutub Shahis and Asfijhas, who it for
nearly six centuries. It bustling bazaars, beautiful chowks
(boulevards), kamans (archways) and the other structures of
Indo-saracenic architecture still retain their quaint oriental
milieu, inspite of the worst traffic congestion and urban decay
brought in by the citys burgeoning population. The hundreds of
bicycles, tricycles, carts and horsedriven carts, dodging in and out
among the other fast moving vehicles, pedestrians, and more often
than not, cattle jamming the labyrinth of lanes and bylanes around
the Charminar, especially the Lad Bazaar, never seem to bother the
Hyderabadi who almost takes it for granted and puts up with it. For
him traditions are more treasure and must be preserved as such, at
Lad Bazaar is a place of
endless movement and of different flavours. Double-storeyed
structures standing on either side of a narrow stretch of road framed
between Charminar and the Mehboob Chowk are full of colour and
buzzing with commercial activity throughout the year. The
street has a number of names such as Chudi Bazaar, Joda Bazaar, Judwa
Bazaar, Meena Bazaar, Murga Bazaar and so on; and each owes its
allegiance to a section of it, depending on the items it sells.
Lad Bazaar is said to
have been founded by Ladi Begum, the wife of Mir Mehboob Khan, the
wife of Mir Mehboob Khan, the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad. In those
days, it used to be a street where the concubines of the Nizam lived.
The tiny upper storey apartments, still seem to hide the romance of
their past grandeur, behind their typical little wooden shutters.
These apartments are at present being used as karkhanas
There is yet another
story which takes its origin from the days of Qutub Shahis.
According to this version, it was called Lords Bazaar or the
bazaar meant for the nobility Lad Bazaar being a latter day
corruption. But there is little today to suggest its noble origins.
Come Ramzan (month of
fasting) or the wedding season, Lad Bazaar is heavily crowded with
the burkha-clad (veiled) Muslim women, fashion conscious
ladies, chic college girls and the blushing Lambadinis (a clan of
gypsies) bejeweled in their traditional finery. The street echoes
with the calls of pavement vendors selling bangles, trousers and
hair-pins etc. it is interesting to watch the shy Muslim women
looking the other way while the push-cart bangle sellers slip bangles
onto their delicate wrists.
In the alleys behind, and
upstairs, tailors squat with their sewing machines. There are women
and young girls sitting in alcoves or in their karkhanas
behind, embroidering beautiful bridals suits. A little further,
black metal and woodcraft workers carry on their old trade marking
objects of art and décor.
Lad Bazaar is indeed a
treasure trove of articles of beauty and utility. For Hyderabadi
women, irrespective of whether they are Hindu or Muslim, a
forthcoming marriage usually calls for a visit to the Lad Bazaar. A
bridal suit, or khopdia joda comprising a kurta
(shirt), pyjama (trouser), choli (jacket) and a
ghunghat (veil) is a certain item on their list, and is
available nowhere except in Lad Bazaar. Among the other important
wedding items mehendi (henna), haldi (turmeric) and
bridal bangles are found here.
A walk through the bazaar
and the labyrinth of bylanes behind is an experience in itself. On
is sure to get exhilarated by the rich riot of colourful hangings
that deck the exteriors of almost each shop right from the
Charminar to the Seft-e-khas estate. As a tradition the various
articles made in Lad Bazaar have greater accent on colour, glitter
and temporary sheen. They are not only attractive but durable and
cheap; their ephemeral quality doesnt stop customers from
buying them, for they are bought more as a tradition than anything
The Mehboob Chowk, a
torpid looking quadrangle almost half the size of a volley ball court
with an imposing tower in the middle, marks the end of Lad Bazaar.
The green and white Chowk Mosque, standing nearby, on a high platform
imposes a Mughal flavour and around it commerce proceeds with vigour.
In fact, most of the things such as the black metalware and
woodcrafted articles which are sold in the Lad Bazaar are designed
and made at this Chowk. On the right is the Hotel Mohmadi from where
the smell of hot spiced kababs and tea mingles with that of
the bird market behind. The recesses around the platform below the
Chowk Mosque are filled with various workshops and vendors. There
are metal workers, machine repairmen, old and rare book sellers, and
Why so many crows at the
bird market behind the Chowk? I was surprised to see more crows in
cages than the other birds. But quite interestingly, I was told
later that the crows were meant for patients who buy and set them
free, and by doing so, they believe that they would be cured of their
A browse through the
other parts of the bazaar reveals beautiful collections of
former Nawabas. With all this and much more, Lad Bazaar or the
bridal bazaar of Hyderabad is at its mystical best at night,
especially during the Ramzan season when the entire street between
the Charminar and the Mehboob Chowk is brightly illuminated. The
bazaars nocturnal activity goes on uninterrupted till
late hours especially during the last three days of the Id, when
people in large numbers go out to do their last minute shopping.
In natures cycle of
eternal changes, nothing remains static; does the antiquity of the
legendary Lad Bazaar. The next decade may witness a new history in
making on the rubbles of the old. But what would become of
its oriental charm is a question that will haunt people here for some
time to come.