All roads lead to Bibi-ka-Alawa today. The historic ‘Bibi-ka-Alam’ taken out from the Ashoorkhana in Dabeerpura of old city is the star attraction of ‘Youme Ashoora’, the tenth day of Muharram. It is also considered a living example of communal harmony for it draws people of different faiths.
Hundreds of barefoot and bare-chested mourners from more than 40 ‘anjumans’, including a few from various parts of the country form part of the procession. The procession starts around noon from Bibi-ka-Alawa and culminates at Chaderghat in the evening, covering a distance of about five kilometres.
En-route it stops for a brief period at the Ashoorkhana ‘Khadam-e-Rasool’ where the footprints of Prophet Mohammed are displayed. The next stop is the ‘Peeli gate, Purani Haveli, where one of the members of the Nizam’s family offers a ‘dhatti’ to the Alam. The third stop is the Alawa-e-Sartouq Mubarak near the Darulshifa playground. Here, women mourners are permitted inside the premises where a ‘matham’ is performed for a short period of time. The fourth is Azakhana Zehra, where a ‘dhatti’ is offered by a representative or member of the Nizam’s family.
It is believed that the practice of installing the Alam is 434 years old, dating back to the Quli Qutb Shahi period. “For many centuries it was housed in a Qutb Shahi Aashoorkhana near Golconda Fort, but later was shifted to Bibi ka Alawa,” Syed Hamed Hussain Jaffery, president of Andhra Pradesh Shia Youth Conference says.
The important characteristic of the Alam is that it is believed to contain a wooden plank on which Bibi Fatima, daughter of the holy prophet, was given the final ablution. It also has six diamonds and other jewellery gifted by the VII Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, in the 1950s, informs Mr. Jaffery.
Initially, the Alam was carried upon an elephant named Hyderi, and now this job is done by Rajani, its calf. For some years another elephant, Hashmi, also carried the Alam. Interestingly, Rajani is also used during the Bonalu procession in the old city.
Traffic restrictions in old city between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Dabeerpura - Alawa Bibi stretch closed. Diversion at Sunargalli ‘T’ Junction towards Mata-ki-Khidki.
Dabeerpura Flyover - Shaik Faiz Kaman closed.
Bada Bazaar ‘T’ Junction - Shaik Faiz Kaman road closed. Purani Haveli - Ethebar Chowk traffic diverted at Setwin crossroads to go to Dabeerpura.
Gulzar Houz - Etebar Chowk road closed. Traffic between Bibi Bazaar crossroads - Kotla Alija not allowed.
Hafez Danka Mosque - Chowk Maidan Khan Road closed. Shahalibanda - Charminar traffic diverted at Paris Café to go to Moghalpura.
Laad Bazaar road closed.
Madina crossroads – Charminar road closed when procession reaches Kotla Alija.
Dar-ul-Shifa crossroads - Purani Haveli - Etebar Chowk road closed. Kali Kabar - Dar-ul-Shifa crossroads closed when procession reaches Alawa Sartouq.
Salar Jung bridge closed for traffic when procession reaches Alawa Sartouq.
APSRTC district buses will be diverted to Gowliguda and Rang Mahal Road for entry and exit from 2.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.
Buses will not be allowed on Kalikabar Road till the end of procession.
Traffic restrictions in Secunderabad
4 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.
Tank Bund - Karbala Maidan traffic diverted at Children’s Park towards Kavadiguda.
R.P. Road - Karbala Maidan traffic diverted at Begumpet Traffic police station to go to Tank Bund.
M.G. Road will be a one-way route for traffic going toward Ranigunj.