Laad Bazaar is changing. The centuries-old bangles market near Charminar in Hyderabad, which has inspired photographers and poets alike, is being transformed as the department of Municipal Administration and Urban Development, and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation have embarked on a revitalisation scheme for the locality. Two shops in the area have been used to create a true-scale mock-up which is likely to be replicated across the whole street.
“There are 675 shops on the street and all the businessmen have agreed to this changed facade. It looks good and brings uniformity,” said Mohammed Jaweed, who owns a sari showroom in the area.
Arif Crockery and Navrang Jewellers, the two shops that now have a new frontage, are at the beginning of the street on the Chowmahalla Palace side. Done in off-white colour with cusped arches, louvered window and uniform balustrades, the shops appear framed in a different time.
“I worked on the Chowmahalla Palace between 2001 and 2006, and it was heart-breaking to see so many beautiful facades of the shops being pulled down to widen the road. Old buildings were destroyed, and their facades shaved off,” says architect Abha Narain Lambah, whose firm is now involved in the project to revitalise the neighbourhood. Interestingly, the new frontage is a free-standing structure which doesn’t affect the real estate of the shops.
The Charminar precinct has been subjected to multiple experiments over the past 50 years with urban interventions ranging from road widening, to new sewage system to cobblestone pavement. But this is the first time that the stake holders have been involved as the architectural firm spoke to them and incorporated their inputs.
“We spent time talking to the shopkeepers and they told us what worked and what didn’t. Based on their inputs and archival information, we have created this frontage. It doesn’t disturb the shop area. There is a uniform signage, and the utilities go behind the frontage so that it has a neat appearance,” says Ms. Lambah.