Charminar looks down up the Mecca Masjid mosque where we walked to next. Mecca Masjid is one of the oldest mosques in Hyderabad and one of the largest in India.
In the Qutb Shahi dynasty, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah commissioned bricks to be made from the soil in Mecca (the holiest site of Islam), and used to construct the arch of the mosque. There are three arched facades that are carved from a single piece of granite, taking 5 years to quarry! The entire structure took 50 years to build and over 8,000 workers.
The mosque itself is large enough to accommodate 10,000 worshippers. Being a woman, I was able to enter the area with my head/shoulders covered, but could not enter the mosque itself. However, here is a view through the gate. (Insert picture).
I was expecting to be more in awe of the place but was actually turned off. The space, unfortunately, has not been maintained very well. Pollution is an issue and beggars were at every corner. We were required to check our bags for a high price yet pay the “shoe lady” to watch our shoes. I felt it became a tourist trap instead of a holy place.
(Indian Man selling perfumes/oils)
I am still interested in visiting more mosques and temples to better experience/observe the religious aspects, as they were not prevalent here.
However, I was stuck for a moment on the street moving between Charminar and Mecca Masjid. As I mentioned, the street is overcrowded with vendors selling everything from bangles to pomegranates, shoes and even underwear! “Madam,” they call at me. Rickshaws and motorcycles zoom aimlessly through the streets, never hitting on another but packing so closely together than one can barely walk through. Their horns toot consistently saying, “I’m here, I’m passing!” All while their motors emit the smells of fuel, mixing with other exotic smells of fried chat and ghee. Sweat drips down my face in the heat and as I turn my head away from the sun, one man catches my eye. He sits in the middle of this chaos in peace and reflection. He looks old and wise, certainly experienced in years of meditation. I am in awe of his devotion. Muslims pray 6 times a day. Even though this man did not make it to the temple to hear the calls of prayer, he found his peace here, on the streets of India.