Myths and fables

Myths and fables

The legends and anecdotes of the City of Pearls - Hyderabad

Sheetal Vyas
August 11 , 2014
02 Min Read

It sometimes boggles the mind that Hyderabad’s numerous influences were packed into a relatively short history of a little over four hundred years. But they were centuries of great flux and movement, ones that saw ebbs and surges of dynas­ties, Mughal sieges, the advent of European colonisers, etc. Times that saw immense wealth, a lavish investment in the arts, and the evolution of a culture as distinct as it was charming. Over these centuries, the city formed, consolidated and mutated as rapidly as it was needed. Naturally, these years give us a wealth of stories, and Narendar Luther, who has chronicled Hyderabad’s history and culture for nearly five decades now, is the man to do the telling.


In spite of the contrived portmanteau word (legendotes = legends + anecdotes) weighing down the title of this book, this is an account as light-hearted as the city itself is. The legends and anecdotes are briefly and vivaciously told, each taking up two to six pages, punctuated with pictures, illustra­tions and the occasional table. So we see stories that lie behind the names of localities, amusing and occasionally shocking accounts featuring colourful people, beautiful havelis, and, yes, horses.


Interestingly, Luther debunks the myth of the kulcha. The story goes that ‘Asaf Jah’ Mir Qamaruddin once came upon a hermit called Shah Inayat in the jungle. The saint offered him baked bread of which the minister ate seven pieces, at which the seer is supposed to have predicted a dynastic rule of seven generations. The circle in the middle of the Nizam’s flag is generally con­sidered a tribute to the baked bread; but no, says Luther, it represents the moon. More suitable, but how boring.


With content and with writing, there is a ‘Chandamama’ feel to these anecdotes. And the design feels that way too, with its squar­ish size and blockish layout—an impression that is broken only by the heavy hardbound that gives your wrists a nice workout. What truly engages about this book though is that it drips the essence of Hyderabad and you really can’t say fairer than that.

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