Hyderabad’s neighbourhoods are named the way they are for many reasons. Some get their names from men and women from the city’s history, some from historical events, and some even from animals. Here’s a look at a few of them.
Mitti Ka Sher
This small area tucked away in one of the lanes off the Charminar-Pathergatti road gets its name from the mud tiger that stands at a corner here. Mitti means mud, and sher means tiger. The locality has many workshops where Hyderabad’s iconic lac bangles are made. Here, you can watch craftsmen skilfully embed shiny stones on metal rings to which a molten paste of lac, glue and coloured powder has been applied.
(Mitti Ka Sher)
Ghode Ki Qabr
Ghoda means horse and Qabr means grave. This stretch gets its name from exactly what the name suggests. A mud horse stands to the side of the road, on what is clearly a grave. It is believed that a horse owned by a soldier in the Nizam’s army is buried here. There is also a theory that this area was a graveyard meant for horses.
(Ghode Ki Qabr)
Khairatabad is famous for the enormous statues of Lord Ganesh that are installed here each year during Ganesh Chaturthi. It was named after the Qutb Shahi princess Khairunnisa Begum. She was the daughter of the 6th ruler of Golconda, Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah. In this locality, she commissioned a mosque dedicated to her tutor, Akhund Mulla Abul Malik. An empty tomb stands close by, where he was meant to be buried, but it remains empty since he died while on a pilgrimage and not in Hyderabad.
(A tomb in Khairatabad)
Hayathnagar and Masab Tank
Hayathnagar is named after Hayath Bakshi Begum, the daughter of Hyderabad’s founder, Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth ruler of Golconda. Hayath Bakshi means the giver of life. Her father adored her, her husband valued her opinions greatly, and her son looked to her for guidance in running the kingdom. She commissioned an imposing mosque and a sarai, or a resting place for travellers, in the area that came to be called Hayathnagar after her. With her husband’s tragic premature death, she became the queen mother when she was just in her twenties. The people of the kingdom loved her and called her Ma Saheba. Masab Tank, near Banjara Hills, was originally called Ma Saheba Tank after her.
(A part of the sarai in Hayathnagar)
Jam is the local word for guavas, and bagh means garden. Perhaps there were guava gardens here in the past? Today, Jambagh is home to a colourful wholesale flower market. Many area names in Hyderabad end in -bagh, like Jambagh, Basheerbagh, Sitarambagh, etc. The city was originally called Bhagnagar when Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah founded it. He later changed it to Hyderabad. Some historians believe that it was named after Bhagmati, the Sultan’s beloved wife, a commoner from a nearby village. However, her existence is disputed by others, who say the name actually means the City of Gardens.
(Flower Market in Jambagh)
A small area behind the cluster of Taj hotels in Banjara Hills is called Errum Manzil after a spectacular palace that’s hardly visible from the road today. Perched on a hilltop and hidden by traffic, buildings and trees, the Errum Manzil palace was built in 1870 by Nawab Fakhr-ul-Mulk, one of Hyderabad’s most respected nobles. It is currently used as the Chief Engineer’s Office.
Fateh means victory, and maidan means field. Fateh Maidan is now the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium, located across the road from the State Legislative Assembly. This ground was where Aurangzeb’s armies pitched their tents during their 8 month long siege of Golconda. As the name Fateh Maidan suggests, his forces successfully conquered the fortress, and ended the Qutb Shahi Sultanate. A clock tower stands to one side of the maidan now - it was built in the early 1900s during the reign of the 6th Nizam.
(Fateh Maidan Clock Tower)
This is a small square near Charminar, named after the 6th Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Mahbub Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VI. It has a clock tower in the middle, built by a Paigah Nawab who served as Prime Minister of the kingdom in the late 1800s. A beautiful mosque built by the Nizam stands on one side of the clock tower. On the other side is the Moti Mahal, that is over a hundred years old. It was first a palace of the Nizam, then a homeopathic hospital, and now, a function palace. The bustling square has shops offering the widest range of things - hot fluffy naans, curios, books and even key duplication services!
These were just a tiny handful of neighbourhoods. We could talk about so many more, but that would take ages, because one of the best things about Hyderabad is that almost every lane, every building, every wall and every stone has a story to tell.
All photos by Madhumita Gopalan.