Come Ramadan and Hyderabad dons a fresh look — life becomes a busy affair and the city becomes sleepless during this time — making it one irreplaceable destination on any travellers' map who is visiting India during the season.
Traffic can be spotted moving at snail's pace becomes a part of this season's character. Scores of people can be seen out on the city streets — cars parked on both sides of the roads — relishing the haleem, a Ramadan delicacy.
Dozens of young waiters of Pista House and Shah Ghouse, two popular haleem makers, can be seen on their feet, vying with each other to serve customers on the busy Toli Chowki-Mehdipatnam stretch.
Shoppers, the faithful returning from mosques, techies heading home from IT hubs and families throng the dozens of food joints serving piping hot haleem. Heavy traffic, illuminated shops, crowded hotels and eateries give one a feeling that it is day time.
As Eid-ul-Fitr approaches, Ramadan shopping in this historic city with a rich Islamic heritage hits a feverish pitch. While the city witnesses unprecedented commercial activity during the entire holy month, it hardly sleeps in the last 10 days. The devout converge at mosques for 'namaz-e-taraveeh' around 8.30 p.m. and the night vigil ends with special prayers 'tahajjud' around 3.30 a.m. They make most of the last days to offer prayers and seek forgiveness from the Almighty — the goal of the holy month.
From new clothes and footwear to bangles, mehndi, 'attar' (natural perfumes), crockery, household items, vermicelli and dry fruits are few of the hot favourites of the season. Shops in the centuries-old markets in the old city and the gleaming malls in the central and new Hyderabad would be packed with men, women and children.
One of the main reason for this night-time rush is that people would be too tired to get out during the morning while fasting and hardly find any time to spare in the evenings, hence most of them get out for shopping mostly after 8pm — and it continues till 'sehr' or the pre-dawn meals. Dates and all varieties of fruits flood the market during the entire month as Muslims prefer it for 'iftar' or breaking the fast.
Thousands of vendors set up businesses on the footpaths in areas surrounding Charminar in the old city. In recent years, Nampally, Mallepally, Masab Tank, Asif Nagar, Mehdipatnam, Masab Tank, Toli Chowi, Golconda and other Muslim majority areas outside the old city have been witnessing hectic commercial activity during Ramadan.
Hyderabad is the hot favourite among Eid shoppers, including many who come from other parts of Telangana and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. The volume of business, which is mostly in the unorganised sector, is beyond anybody's guess. According to some estimates, the business covering eatables, garments and footwear alone exceeds Rs2,000 crore during this season.
The city has no parallels in India when it comes to Ramadan and this is the one place that travellers should be if they are visiting this country during this season.
(With IANS inputs)