Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology of the RWTH Aachen University

During Ramazan in Hyderabad

Ramazan – Ramadan in Hyderabad, India

This blog entry will give you a brief idea about the time of Ramazan experienced during our time of research in the city of Hyderabad. A brief background on the Muslim influence in Hyderabad will be given before a few pictures and the story of my late night trip during Ramazan are shown.

Historically Hyderabad has a rich past and different influences from the ruling dynasties. During my two months stay in Hyderabad I have heard and seen a lot about the dynasty of the Nizam. Nizam al Muluk, a title first used in Urdu around the year 1600, meaning Governor of the realm. The Nizam ruled Hyderabad state, which summed up todays states of Telangana (the state Hyderabad is temporarily part of, founded only 2 years ago), a part of Karnataka as well as a region of Maharashtra. Back then it was covering an area of 223.000 km². Making a great jump to the year of 1947 (the time of the partition of India) Britain offered the 566 princely states in the sub-continent the option of becoming part of either India or Pakistan, or remaining independent. The Nizam decided to keep Hyderabad independent, unlike the other princely states. The leaders of the new Indian Union did not want an independent – and possibly hostile – state in the heart of their new country, and were determined to assimilate Hyderabad into the Indian Union, by force if necessary. No destruction took place as the Indian Army marched into Hyderabad, deposed the Nizam, and annexed the state into the Indian Union.

The Rulers were great patrons of literature, art, architecture, and culture, and rich food (due to that we will be talking about the famous Hyderabadi Haleem later). The Nizams patronised foreign Persian art, Persian architecture and Persian culture, which became central to the Hyderabadi Muslim identity. Especially in the old town of Hyderabad this influence is widely spread and you are able to see it.

With Hyderabad having around 2.5 million Muslim citizens Ramadan, here known as Ramazan is part of Hyderabad and luckily I was able to experience it myself.

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Using the great opportunity we went for a wonderful late night trip to the old town of the city, driving without a lot of traffic at around 2 in the night. And life despite my doubts was obviously just taking place at this time in the old town where the biggest part of the Muslim community lives. The picture above shows Ramazan around the Charminar building towards the end of Ramazan.

Presenting itself as a great shopping venue, and a very night active place I really enjoyed visiting the area and getting an Idea of something I have not had the chance to experience in such a way yet. A little shopping had to be done of course during this late night visit, which lead to buying some bangles! Those can be bought at a stand as the one in the following picture.

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Foodwise, being here during Ramazan brings another great benefit. The famous Hyderabadi Haleem which is only available during this time and can be purchased all over town right now. Chicken or mutton Haleem are the choices you have most of the time and it honestly is a great treat I really like.  In my opinion comparable, not in taste but in its meaning, to special German food that you can only get during the time of Christmas, maybe such as Christstollen to those who have had it. It is amazing in its taste, you really enjoy eating it during a specific time of the year, but out of the time of Christmas, and for Haleem outside of the month of Ramazan it won’t be served, neither will you demand for it. Therefore I am very happy about having the chance to eat it and enjoy it!

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A brief idea of what I am talking about which is prepared in the picture above:
Haleem is a stew composed of meat, lentils and pounded wheat made into a thick paste.
It is originally an Arabic dish and was introduced to the Hyderabad State by the Chaush people during the rule of the Nizams.
Local traditional spices helped in evolving a unique Hyderabadi haleem that became popular among the native Hyderabadi Muslims by the 19th-century. Particularly consumed in the Islamic month of Ramadan during Iftar (the evening meal that breaks the day-long fast) as it provides instant energy and is high in calories.
This has made the dish synonymous with Ramadan and is recognized as a special geographical indication status, granted by the Indian government. 

I can only say that it was another highly enjoyable experience in this city.

Thank you Hyderabad!!!

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