Here is an enchanting piece of tale which reveals the quaint history behind the street names of our ancient city. This meticulously researched article exposes the extraordinary as well as anecdotal legends behind these names which we so dearly associate with…
The author is a freelance journalist, publisher of books and managing partner of Solus Media. This article is a part of the `Best of 9 years’ series, and is reproduced from the original which appeared as a four part series in the July to October 1998 issues of Primetime Prism. All facts and figures are as on the original date of publication) .
Source: Primetime Prism- The Complete Magazine, December 2006
The street names of Hyderabad. In other words names of the legends behind these place names, not only make a fascinating reading, but also reflect the 400 years old glory of its culture, history and heritage. Each of these street names reveal an interesting account not known to many. These streets talk about their ancestors and their contribution to the betterment of the city and the society. And these places remind us of our great departed souls, memorable events and incidents.
The street names of Hyderabad and Secunderabad have a history and an architectural individuality of their own, which lend them the fragrance of romance. The history, here, like elsewhere, is etched on its walls and monuments, the deluge of heritage, which India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru described as the `Microcosm of Indian culture‘.
Another peculiarity of these names, unlike the names of places in any other city, is the addition of suffixes such as gudas, bads, baghs, kuntas, metlas, nagars and pallys.
The city which has an incredible and diverse culture draws many names form the legends as well as the unsung heroes of yesteryears. One scratch at these street names and out comes about 400 years history of this great shahar. Starting from 1497 AD till date, this place of Qutb Shahis, Asaf Jahis, Moghuls, and the Nizams has had its share of glory and gory. The names listed here have been painstakingly compiled from many sources, pieces of historical information, memory of bujurgs and from the modest effort of this author.
Hyderabad, the present name of our city was once called as Bhagnagar which stands for `city of gardens‘. There appears to have been a number of gardens in and around the city of Hyderabad, such as Bashir Bagh, Amin Bagh, Bir Ban Bagh, Hardikar Bagh, Bagh Lingampally and Jam Bagh etc. Hence it was called as Bhagnagar. But, according to `Mahanama’, compiled by Ghulam Hussian Khan Jauhar around 1810 AD, the city of Bhagnagar was named after the lady Bhagirati, who was the queen of Ibrahim Qutb Shah, who married her during his exile at Vijayanagar. Bhagirathi, as narrated in Mahanama, had purchased seven villages and laid the foundation of the city of Bhagnagar. Hence, the city was named after Bhagirathi, the mother of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, who decreed that his capital city should be `a replica of heaven on earth‘.
Some of the Telugu contemporary works have different story to offer. Poet Sarangu Rammayya named the city as Bhagyanagaramu or Bhagyanagara of Bhagirathi Pattanam (city of good fortune)… There is one more theory that suggests that Sultan Quli Qutb Shah, the son of Ibrahim Qutb Shah and the founder of the city, named it after his beloved Bhagmati. However, one thing remains certain, whether he named it after his lover or mother, local inhabitants popularly used to call it Bhagnagar.. And continued to call it so till the end of 17th century.
Later, probably it changed to Hyderabad, after the name of Hazarat Ali, a well known Shia Imam.. Yet another name in circulation around that time was Farkhunda Buniyad, which meant `the city of good fortune‘, the literal Persian translation of the earlier Bhagnagar. And the same was also found inscribed on the Asaf Jahi coins. While local people called it Bhagnagar, Khafi Khan a writer in 1687 informed that the city was re-named as Hyderabad only after the death of Bhagmati. Persians called it Aiderabad and Muslim nobility named it Hyderabad.
Secunderabad, part of twin city, was formerly known as Lashkar to many old generation people in the city. Lashkar meaning ‘cantonment’ was renamed as Secunderabad after Sikander Jah Bahadur Nizam III in 1806. Secunderabad was also called the Residency Bazaar at the end of the 19th century. It was also developed to house British soldiers. In the early decade of the 19th century, the East India Company had declared Secunderabad as an important military base and a trading centre. Secunderabad is the abode for Secunderabad Railway Station, Head Quarters for South Central Railways, Parade Grounds and many churches. Kings Way, now known as Rashtrapathi Road (laid out in 1936 to relieve congestion), James Street (only existing thoroughfare before 1936 AD), now called the Mahatma Gandhi Road are part of this great locality.
Charminar, synonymous of Hyderabad, is the edifice of the four minarets. The awesome rectangular structure built upon four grand arches by Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah in1590-91 is the legendary masterpiece in the city. Because of this historical monument Char (means four) minar (means minaret) the area around it gets its name from this great landmark. Originally it was called Mankal. Mohammed Shah Bahmani of Gulbarga named the fort Mohamadnagar. Golconda, one of the most impressive fortresses in ruins in India, is probably 2000 years old. It was a picturesque city with big gardens, broad thoroughfares and shops. That was the reason why the famous historian Farishta observed Golconda as an International marketplace where merchants converged from Turkestan, Arabia and Persia. Two of the world renowned diamonds the Koh-i-noor (weighed 787 carats, now 106 carats, it was valued at one million sterling at that time, is now found its place in the Imperial Regalia of British) and the so called Nizam’s Diamond, both trace their origin to this place.
Sitting smack in the centre of the city is Abids also called Abid Road. It is one of the busiest business localities in the city and undisputedly the heart of the twin cities today. Bustling with activity, it is quite simply the major shopping mall in the twin cities. St George’s Church, the 130 years old church and one of the oldest in the twin cities was built in a land donated by the Nizam in appreciation of the services of European community settled in the city in 1860′s during the tenure of the Resident, Sir George Yule. Built upon the patronage of the families of domiciled Europeans in the city, it accommodates 500 people.
With major establishments becoming important landmarks like Haji Kurban Husain @ Sons, Chermas, Big Shot, the famous Taj Mahal Hotel, Deccan Pen Stores, General Post of the Nightingale of India, Sarojini Naidu, it accommodates a part of the Hyderabad Central University. Owned by Sarojini Naidu’s husband Dr. Muthyala Govind Rajulu Naidu, who after completing his higher studies in London took a commission in the Nizam’s Army as Major. The adjoining building which presently houses the Mysore Cafe was his clinic. Even the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, during one of his visits to the city, stayed here. The building was later donated by Sarojini Naidu’s heirs, for the establishment of the Central University, it is the hub of business activity as well as a place to visit. Around the early 19th century, a modern shopping centre was developed in this place. The origin of this street name is quite interesting.
Abid was the name of the owner of the first shop, Albert Abid, Valet and Steward, a Jewish merchant in the area. He was also a in charge to Nizam IV. Hence the place is so called. According to another version, Abids derives its name from the first departmental store of Hyderabad, owned by Abid Evans. Such was the popularity of this shop that the whole place comprising business centres got this name. However, the old, particularly hailing from the Old City, still refer to it as Abid Shop and Abid Ki Shop. Before getting christened as Abid Road, the place was known as Mustafa Bazaar. Mahboob Ali Pasha, the sixth Nizam, on a visit to Calcutta met Abid Evans, an American Jewish businessman. Impressed by him, he had brought Mr. Abid to Hyderabad in a royal train. Abid set up a departmental store off the main intersection in a building which is presently known as Palace Talkies. Soon, the departmental store, offering all and sundry merchandise caught the imagination of the Hyderabadis and was turned into a major shopping centre, Not only the Abid Store, but the whole place was dotted with shops. Later, the main market was shifted from the vicinity of Charminar to Abids.
F D Khan’s, which is one of the clothes stores at Abids, had weathered the test of time to remain in the reckoning. Popular for its uniform dress material, F D Khan’s is synonymous with quality. The shop was also the official supplier for the staff of the palace during the days of the Nizam. During the World War-II, when rationing on clothing material was imposed, F D Khan’s was appointed as official agents.
On Sundays and other holidays, book lovers drop in here from all parts of the city to get a good pick at bargain prices. In front of the closed shutters of shops lay heaps of books, periodicals, magazines and novels which attract people of all ages. Hence it is also called as Abids Book Bazaar. A treasure for the connoisseur of books!
Near Abids is Gunfoundry or Tope ka sancha which was built by a French General – Monsieur Raymond. The entire lane opposite to Mahboobia Girls School is known as Gunfoundry. It was one of the several cannon and cannonball factories set up in 1786. So the locality is called Gundfoundry. The locality houses headquarters of famous State Bank of Hyderabad, inaugurated on April 5, 1942 by Nawab Sir Aqeel Jung Bahadur, the then Member of Commerce and Industries, Nizam’s Executive Council, it was known as Hyderabad State Bank, which later changed to State Bank of Hyderabad, which brought name and fame to the city.
A couple of kilometers away from Gunfoundry is Saifabad, the abode of the State Government Secretariat, the Legislative Assembly (A blend of Indo-Sarcenic architecture, this completed its construction in 1913 to mark the 40th birthday of Nizam Mahboob Ali Khan in 1905. One of the most amazing features about this monument is that it had costed only Rs. 19 lakh. The Public Gardens where it is housed, one of the largest city gardens in India, was thrown open to public in 1864 AD. The site for the Public Gardens was acquired by the Nizam’s Government in 1864 from Raja Balakrishna on the advice of Salar Jung I. Nizam VII used to be bestowed with Nazarana (tributes in cash and kind) on his birthday. Iron Bungalow, the oldest building in the Public Gardens, is adjacent to a very beautiful mosque, where the late Nizam used to offer his Jumme ka Namaz (Friday prayers). Before the opening of the Nehru Zoological Park, the Zoo was located inside the Public Gardens and it was here that the first Industrial Exhibition was held in 1939 and which even today is an important annual feature. The adjacent hill is called as Naubat Pahad. It takes its name from Naubat (drum), beaten vigorously to announce the royal Farmans (orders) during the Qutb Shahi and Mughal days.
Overlooking Gunfoundry, this is an epitome of a culture that is progressive yet steeped in religion. The pahad is also known as Drum Beat Rock. Adjoining the Hussain Sagar Lake, the office of our elected representatives – the Secretariat formed the residence of Nizam VII. Once a palace, it was built by Zafar-ud-Doula Saif Jung, the Peshkar or Deputy of the Nizam VII. Hence the place came to be known after him.
Intruding into Saifabad is Basheerbagh, the commercial nerve centre, the locality famous for Nizam College (110 years old, one of the most coveted and prestigious colleges of the twin cities, was established in 1887. Dr. Aghorenath Chattopadhyay, father of Sarojini Naidu was its founder Principal. The present building, a summer palace of Nawab Mulk Fakrul Bahadur, was a gift from him to the college). Feteh Maidan, a saucer shaped play ground, the field of victory, is also referred to as Lal Bhadur Stadium in present times. This is where Aurangazeb pitched his first camp on his victorious campaign against Golconda. In fact he is the one who coined the name Fateh meaning victory, after his triumph over Qutub Shah. From 1853 onwards Hyderabad’s rulers reviewed military parades or played polo here. Now it is the venue of cricket matches and political rallies. (It has a seating capacity of 30,00 people), lady Hyder Club – the testimony to the pivotal roleplayed by women in Hyderabadi society then.
Gandhi Medical College, Mor Medical Hall (The pharmacy store where the rarest of the rare medicines are always available. If a particular medicine is not available in this store, means it won’t be available in any other shop in the city) and rooftop of the city – Babukhan Estate (this 17 storied glass colossal is known for its neat maintenance and houses 699 offices plus the modest office of the author, Solus Media!). Basheerbagh acquired the name after Sir Asman Jah Bashir-Uddoula Bahadur, a Paigah noble, a proud owner of a garden located there.
The present site where Nizam College is located was earlier called Asad Bagh which meant Lions Garden.. It was also known as Moti Bagh, the garden of Jasmine, and even today the main college building wears its pristine look with the crest of Unicorn.
Within close proximity to Basheerbagh is Hyderaguda, which houses MLAs (Old MLA quarters), Apollo Diagnostic Centre, CDR Hospital and a horde of schools. The name Hyderguda originated after Hyder Ali, the Taluqdar collector who owned the land, formerly owned by Waheeda Unnisa Begum, wife of Nizam V.
A little ahead of Hyderguda is Himayatnagar which was baptized after Prince of Berar and the eldest son of Nizam VI – Nawab Himayat Ali Khan. This street is famous for Hyderabad Stock Exchange, Telugu Academy, Dr. P. Shiva Reddy’s Eye Hospital (the famous Ophthalmologic surgeon, who has Guinness Book of Record and Limca Book of Record to his credit).
Couple of kilometers from Himayatnagar is Bagh Lingampally, known for LIG, MIG, HIG quarters and Ambedkar College, Sundaraiah Park, Sundaraiah Vignana Kendram and library. The old people in the locality inform that the area used to be full of fruit garden belonging to the Nawab, that is why the prefix `Bagh’. The place was a small village called Lingampally which had a tank where queens used to have their bath. population exploded, city grew vertically and horizontally. The greenery vanished over a period of time and concrete structures replaced them. The migrants started occupying every inch of available place. The people lived on the bank (kunta) of a big tank or lake. So the place was called as Nallakunta.
Like Lingampally village there was one more village called Chikkadpally. The present Musheerabad, known as Central Jail, was formerly a part of Chikkadpally village, presently nerve centre of shopping and cultural activity (Tyagaraja Gana Sabha is situated in this locality). Musheerabad was a part of the jagir presented by Nizam II to Nawab Arastu Jah Mushir-Ul-Mulk, who constructed a palace and a garden in 1785 and named them after himself. Azamabad, the oldest industrial area in the city (whereas the other industrial clusters such as Balanagar, Sanathnagar, Kukatpally are quite recent) is located near to this place.
A locality that came up around the Residency (Kothi) is Chaderghat, one of the principal suburbs of the city. The locality was so-called after an anicut across the river which formed a `Chaddar’ or a `sheet of water’. Chaderghat bridge or Oliphant bridge was built by Col. Oliphant during the reign of Nizam Nasir-ud-Daulah. It was mainly a European/Eurasian colony dominated by European style of architecture, including the Christian churches and missionary schools.
Close to the southern bank of the Musi, off the highway to Vijayawada is the 100 years old Malakpet Race Course. It has been regarded as one of the finest race courses in the country. Named after Malik Yakoot, loyal servant of Sultan Abdullah Qutub Shahi, the first races were held here way back in the winter of 1879. The Nizam VI and his nobles were frequent visitors to this place. With a swimming pool for racing horses, a training school for jockeys, it is the most modern race course in India.
Further down is Saidabad named after Syed Mir Mommin, the Prime Minister of Golconda in 1591. A few kilometers away from it is Saroornagar – the land that was granted to Suroor Afza Bai, the wife of Hyderabad Prime Minister – Nawab Arastu Jah Bahadur. He built a palace, a tank and called it Suroornagar, which means a `city of happiness’. The intitial `Suroor’ over generations became Saroor, thus you have Saroornagar.
Barkas is yet another rich colony situated south of Hyderabad of Arabic speaking businessmen. With fruit vendors, gulf money and mosques, this area full of thick forest in the beginning of 17th century is today flushed with dinars, dirhams. Most of the residents in the locality have pucca RCC buildings, electronic household gadgets and other phirang appliances. During 1724-1948, it became a focal point for the Nizam’s
The area around the Ashoor Khana became famous as Hussain Alam. Raza Ali Khan, the Dewan of Hyderabad in 1670 was given the title Nekh-Nam-Khan. After his death, a village named Nekh-Nam-Khampally has now become famous as Nampally.
Moazzam Jahi Market, one of the largest markets of retail trade in fresh fruits and vegetables till recently, was named after Nawab Jah Bahadur, the son of Mir Osman Ali Kham Nizam VII and the President of the City Improvement Board. The market building which completed its construction in 1935 was inaugurated by Mir Osman Ali Khan Nizam VII. The other big wholesale market for vegetables is Mir Alam Mundi, which was christened after Nawab Mir Alam, Prime Minister of Sikander Jah Bahadur Nizam III.
The city of Hyderabad has a number of bazaars and mohallas. The biggest mohalla Dabeerpura is called after Abdul Sannad Dabirio-UI-Mlk, a scholar and noble man. Begum Bazaar famous for wholesale grain and other business was the piece of land gifted to public to conduct trade by Humala Begum, wife of Nizam Ali Khan Bahadur. So it is called Begum Bazaar. Every Thursday there used to be a special market called `Jumme Raat Ki Bazaar‘, a tradition that is continued even today.
A lot of markets mushroomed around Begum Bazaar like Moazzam Jahi, Siddi Amber, etc. Area near the British residency was called as `Residency Bazaar‘ but after 1933, the land was restored to Nizam VII, who named it as Sultan Bazaar. Nizam V donated some land to the grain merchants to store and sell their grains. This area came to be known as Afzalgunj.
Siddiamber Bazaar is called after Siddis -the Afro-Arabs who sold amber or perfumes. They also served as cooks and palanquin bearers. Noor Khan Bazaar was called so after Noor Khan, the ablest administrator in the country who on the request of the Nizam II came to Hyderabad from Lucknow. There was a knight, who was honoured by a land grant by Nizam I, for his role in suppressing a revolt. The place came to be called after him, Ghansitmian Bazaar. Esamia Bazaar is named after a British loyalist Inidan Esamaiah, who stayed near the area. Over a period of time Esamaiah Bazaar had gradually become Esamia Bazaar, Hotel Haridwar situated in this locality is synonymous to the name of its place.
Troop Bazaar was a market place for a British regiment after 1857 attack. It is a corrupted form of Troop Bazaar. Chappal Bazaar, near Kothi, is a word derived from Telugu chapal or fish. The fish caught from river musi was sold here. There is one bazaar in Hyderabad, which no visitor can ever miss. That is Lad Bazaar. Historians have various versions about it. One version records that the doors in this bazaar were painted in a shade of red. Another says that it is a corrupted version of `Lary’ from Abdur Razzack Lary, the General, who valiantly defended Golconda on the eve of Moghul invasion. Hence it is so called as Lad Bazaar. The bazaar is famous for its bangles and bridal ware.
Somajiguda with the spacious Raj Bhavan is named after a pandit called Sonaji, employed in the Revenue Department, who resided in this area. Slowly, Sonaji became Somaji. Khairatabad, the thickly populated area is named after Princess Kahiratunnisa, daughter of Sultan Ibrahim Qutub Shah. The area which is on south western shore of Hussian Sagar was chosen as a location to construct the residence of the Princess who was not keeping good health. The ruler in the fond hope that the greenery and climate of the lake shore would restore the normal health of the Princess and asked his son-in-law, Hazrat Hussian Shah Wali, an eminent engineer to construct a residential palace, a mosque and a tank which is now called after him as Hussain Sagar (or the Tank Bund) as it is commonly called was built on a tributary of the Musi during the reign of Ibrahim Qutb Shah in 1562.
After the Nizam captured Golconda in 1724 from the Moghuls he camped near the fort in a village, which was renamed Asifnagar. Abdul Hassan Tana Sha on one of his visits to his Prime Minister’s house, was attracted to a landscape and its proximity to Mir Jumla.
Pathergutti is so named because the entire area was made of granite stone. Lallaguda, also known as `Little England’ (like a street – Little India in Singapore, where there is concentration of Indian settlers) with majority Catholics living there was fortified village development by Thaniat Unnisa Begum alias Bibi Sahaba, favourite queen of Nizam II. He constructed a palace and a garden near Moula Ali, under the supervision of Lalla, one of the best architects of Hyderabad. Originally called Tahniat Nagar or Bibinagar, it came to be called Lallaguda after her death.
Then there are places named after communities like Banjara Hills, Baider Wadi, Bhaldar Wadi, Brahmin Wadi, Kumhar Wadi, Mehtar Wadi and Chakna Wadi (is derived from a dish prepared from the intestines of sheep). Gowliguda is named after the gowlis or milkmen. AC guardsor African Cavalry guards, mainly comprised of Abyssinians, Somalis and European Officers and were a gift to Nizam VI from Raja of Wanaparthy. They formed the Nizam’s guards on State occasions. They established a camp around 1910, to the West of Lakdi-Ka-Puland the area got christened as AC Guards.
Banjara Hills was once the rugged home of a gypsy tribe from distant Rajasthan who left home to follow the fortunes of warring armies, performing daring deeds that they sing about even today around campfires. One sees them occasionally in Hyderabad, the women gorgeously attired in bright flashy skirts, silver glints at throat, ear and nose, and heavy ivory bracelets click on golden brown hands. Thus the place surrounded by fascinating rock formations called as Banjara Hills.
Lakdi-ka-pul – there is no authentic information on how the area derived its name. However, according to a popular legend, a bridge with wooden poles (lakdi) was built across an old pond and so it was named Lakdi-ka-pul. Despite the construction of a concrete bridge and the lake vanishing, the name still continues to be in use. Lakdi-ka-pul comprises towering structures and a cluster of hotels and presents a picture of chaos and confusion. It is major centre for commercial and cultural activities.
Masab Tank, is a distorted version of Maa-Sahaba Tank. Maa-Sahaba was a title endowed on Hayat Bakshi Begum, wife futub hahi VI. The `Talab’ or tank was built by Khanum Agha, Qutub Shah V’s mother, but it become famous after his wife as `Talab-e-Maa- Sahaba’. The upgraded `Maa Sahaba Talab’ got anglicized to Masab Tank.
The royal families also lent their names to various streets.. Begumpet owes its name to Bashir-Ul-Unnisa Begum, daughter of Nizam II, who married a Paigah noble and received the land as part of dowry. Kulsumpura near Karvan was so called after Kulsum Begum, the daughter of Muhammad Qutub Shah.
Purana Pul or Old Bridge is the most famous of the four bridges of Hyderabad. It was built in 1578 by Sultan Ibrahim Qutub Shah, the king of Golconda. Tavernier, the celebrated French Jeweller, traveller and historian, wrote of this `bridge of love’ when he visited Hyderabad in 1676: “At Bhagyanagar you cross the river over a bridge no less beautiful than the Pont Neuf at Paris”.
Tarnaka, is derived from ‘Tar’ which means `wire’ and `Naka’ meaning `guard room’. It was thus called because the Nizam barbed the area and put up a guard room to protect his fruit gardens in the area. Though the tar and naka have disappeared, the boundary still exists in the form of Osmania University Campus. Tarnaka once a fruit garden has now turned into the cradle of intellectuals pursuits with a number of research institutions like CCMB, NIN etc.
Thus Hyderabad, with its twin city Secunderabad, presents a fine picture of Muslim and Hindu cultural coexistence and the convergence of the past and the present, as well as the coming together of north and south India in its population, monuments, modern buildings, bazaars and way of life..
- హబ్సిగుడా – తీన్మార్ by Lokeshwar Hyderabadi