The beat, tenor and character of Hyderabad is in flux. The pace of life has become fast and frantic thanks to the IT culture. But luckily, life here is not heartless, selfish or commercial yet. People still have time for friends and families.

To outsiders Hyderabad conjures up images of nawabs, fabulous banquets, chowki dinners and pearl shopping in the quaint little bazaars around Charminar. Yes, the city offers both the hectic pace and the laid back style. Choice is yours.

From Charminar to Cyberabad a lot of water has flown down the Musi. Hyderabad has a new icon in the Hitec city now. Yet, visitors flock to the ‘purana shahr' for the charm it exudes. It has its bright spots. But if one wants to look at the stereotypes there are plenty – abject poverty, communal conflicts and ditched child brides.

Hyderabad continues to be vibrant due to its variety. Unlike other metros, it welcomes everyone and rejects none. That's its matchless spirit. Initially newcomers might find an ethnic and cultural barrier but soon they adopt it. And in no time they become the city's unabashed fans. Yes, Hyderabad thrives – leavened by the spirit of nonchalance best captured by its unofficial motto: khaya piya chal diya.

Magnetic pull

Hyderabad appears to exercise a sort of magnetic pull. Whoever migrates here ultimately settles and becomes its part. No wonder visitors to Mecca Masjid take turns sitting on the marble slab perpetuating the legend that whoever sits on it comes back again.

Why are people attracted to Hyderabad? The ‘Gandipet ka paani', which is fast depleting now, might be a lore although the seventh Nizam carried it wherever he went. But essentially the city draws one because of its accommodating nature. A place of pulsating hearts, someone in dire need don't have to look far for help. Heart-warming stories are dime a dozen here.

Right from its inception the city attracted people from far and wide. “The salubrious climate and genial temperament of the people apart, the open-hearted policy of the erstwhile rulers played a great part,” says M. A. Qaiyum, noted historian.

While the Turks, Arabs, Iranians, Armenians, Abyssinians came during the time of Qutb Shahis, the Asaf Jahi rule drew people from all over the country. Thus Hyderabad drew unqualified praise from both visitors and foreign travellers who found it better and bigger than any Mughal city.

Hyderabad of yore was a perfect example of plural society. Regardless of their religious affiliations everyone took part in the dominant public culture. Imposing residences of Hindu and Muslim nobles shared space with commoners.

Visitors are struck by the diversity of sub culture here. Right from the Qutb Shahi to Mughal, Rajput, Rajasthani, French, English, vernacular and modern architecture exists. Over the years the topography of Hyderabad has undergone a sea change but the old city remains much the same except for a few cosmetic changes here and there. “The human bond and the one-to-one touch here is difficult to find elsewhere,” says Mr. Qaiyum.

Increase in migration

In the recent years the pace of migration to the city has only increased. Sure, Hyderabad founder Mohd Quli Qutb Shah's prayer to God to fill the city with people like fish in the ocean is more than fulfilled.

Now the prayer seems to have become a nightmare with more people than the city can manage. “Heritage has taken a back seat with real estate becoming the priority,” rues P. Anuradha Reddy, convenor, Intach, Hyderabad chapter.

Nothing typifies a city more than its monuments and structures. But the exponential growth is leading to many a hoary building biting dust. Will the cityscape alter beyond recognition in the days to come? Conservationists want city planners to keep in mind the culture, history and sentiments of the people before implementing schemes that assault its heritage.

Unfortunately, the generation next as also the politicians lack that emotional and historical connect with the city. That explains why except a few feeble voices hardly there is a protest whenever a landmark is razed to the ground.

Nostalgia is still strong but there is this urge among the people to get a slice of the ‘happening city' pie. “No one is born with a silver spoon anymore. One has to struggle for his place under the sun,” remarks a member of a royal family.

The city of domes and minarets offers you the best of both worlds – traditional and modern. For free spirits there are a variety of hangouts like dance floors, bars, water parks. And for the conventional there is no dearth of qawwalis, mushairas and breathtaking palaces.

Today Hyderabad is bigger, lustier and louder than ever. Whatever, the Hyderabad appeal endures.

Keywords: Charminar

More In: Hyderabad