Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Hyderabad is rich, flamboyant, extravagant and imperial, just like her Nawabs, pearls, gold, steel, fabric and, above all, diamonds -- the 108 carat Koh-i-Noor, the Orloff, Regent, Hope diamonds and Jacob Diamonds - to name a few. Her riches apart, Hyderabad is loved for her architectural grandeurs - mosques and minarets, bazaars, lakes and kacchi biryani. Lately, the software industry has taken over the city, yet the quieter lanes still echo of history and nostalgia. Movie-buffs have another charm here - the Ramoji Film City, one of the most advanced and largest studios in the world.

Tale of the City

The Golconda Fort, some 10 km away from the city center, is believed to be the precursor to Hyderabad and the guardian of the diamond mine underneath. It was Golconda’s legendary riches that got many empires fighting fangs and teeth. The Nizam’s of the Asaf Jahi dynasty were the most influential and jealously guarded Hyderabad’s riches.


Charminar: Four majestic minarets with a 180 ft. high central structure stands amidst the animated Lad Bazaar in the heart of the old city. The Charminar (Urdu: Four Minarets), a masterpiece of the Qutab Shahi dynasty built in 1591 to mark the end of a terrible plague, is the insignia of Hyderabad. The small open air mosque on the terrace of the monument facing the Muslim holy city of Mecca. Go there for a breathtaking view of the entire city and feel the so hyped grandeur of this “Pearl City”.

Golconda Fort: This irregular rhombus shaped citadel with a rough pentagon on the North Eastern side called ‘Naya Qila’, is the landmark of the once famed diamond mines Hyderabad so boasts of. The Kohinoor originally belonged to Golconda as did the Darya-I-Noor, the Orloff, the Pitt, and the great table of the Nizam. Consider strolling through the winding lanes of the little villages dotted around the Fort for your fill of those ‘rich’ diamond lores.

Qutab Shahi Tombs: Close to the Golconda Fort (1.5 km from the Balahisar Gate) are the tombs of the seven Qutab Shahi rulers. The tombs are surrounded by well-laid gardens. They can be visited between 9.30 am and 4.30 pm on all days except Friday.

Salar Jung Museum: World’s largest one-man museum named after the Prime Minister of the Nizam who was called Salar Jung Bahadur III, some 35,000 collectibles and 50,000 books dating back to the 1st century gathered during his globetrotting escapades. Open between 10 am-5 pm on all weekdays, except Fridays and government holidays.

Lord Venkateshwar Birla Temple: Pilgrims from across the globe visit this white-marbled temple overlooking the southern end of the Husain Sagar Lake. The temple is a classic synthesis of Northern and Southern culture that Hyderabad is so famous for. Open from 7 am to noon and 3 pm to 9 pm.

Mecca Masjid: This is one of the biggest mosques in India and can accommodate around 10,000 people at one time. It lies 100 yards southwest of the Charminar. The mosque is built on the lines of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, hence the name. Lores even have it that the bricks in the mosque are made of soil brought from Mecca and the door arches are made from single slabs of granite that were dragged to the site by nothing less than 1400 buffaloes for 5 years. The sacred hair of Prophet Mohammed is also one among other relics in an exhibition room off the courtyard.

Hussain Sagar: This lake conjoins the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Good for boating and water sports, the pride of the place is the 18 m and 350 ton monolithic Buddha statue on the rock of Gibraltar in the middle of the lake. The making of the statue at Rajgir, 50 km from Hyderabad, took five years and during transportation, sank into the lake and languished there for two years till 1992.

Nehru Zoological Park: Some 3,000 different species of animals in this 1.2 sq km make it one of the largest in the nation. A lion safari trip, a natural history museum, a pre-historical animals park, a children's park with a toy train are some of its crowd-pullers.


Once in the city of gems, needless to mention, you should load your bags with the best bets of pearl and diamond laden jewelry. The Laad Bazaar, around the Charminar, is a treasure trove of dazzling glass and lacquer bangles (some 450 shops and 2,500 craftsmen), exotic hand-woven carpets and some of the most inspired creations in silk. The zari (silver and gold embroidery) work and the print boutiques are undeniable seductions. You can even place an order of your favorite print on the fabric of your choice. Begum Bazaar, Sultan Bazaar, Generic Bazaar are other markets of use.

Antique hunt samples the charm of Hyderabadi bazaars (markets). The handicraft varieties to be checked out are the regional Bidriware (silver inlays in alloy), Filigree (objects made from silver, so finely crafted so as to appear as being made of thread weave), Pembarti (relief work in brass), Nirmal (wooden furniture painted with colorful motifs), and Kalahasti (intricate carvings on wooden furniture). Kondapally Toys, created in the village of Kondapalli, about 16km from Hyderabad, form another must-carry Andhra product. A lesser-known fact is that in Chandanpet (a few kilometers outside the city) an entire population is engaged in the delicate art of drilling pearls.


The geographical positioning of Hyderabad has conspired to churn out a unique cuisine with a strong Mughalai influence, dovetailed with pure Andhra 'hot-n-spicy' flavor. Hyderabadi Biryani ranks first amongst the delectable and popular Shahi Nizam cuisine, Hyderabad is so famed for. For desserts try khubani ka meetha (apricots and cream) or double ka meetha (bread pudding with cashews and almonds).

Hyderabad's claim to fame is its dum-style cooking (where the steam is locked so that the absorption of the aromatic spices if increased). Named fater this style is Dum Pukht (ITC Kakatiya Sheraton & Towers) and try kareli ki nahari (mutton pieces prepared in their own juices and spiced with saffron and cardamon), kakori kebabs (minced meat, cloves, cinnamon, green papaya are all mixed abd then chargrilled) that are served with sheermal (a kind of bread made in saffron and milk). For Hyderabadi biryani head straight to Azizia (near Nampally railway station), Firdaus (Taj Krishna, Rd. no. 1, Banjara Hills). For that scrumptious Andhra pesarattu (spiced mung bean flour pancake) eaten with allam pachadi (ginger pickle), go to Chutney's (Shilpa Arcade Rd. no. 3, Banjara Hills).


Amravati (350 km): Here is one of the best-known Buddhist relics in India and the nation’s largest 2nd century Mahachaitya Stupa. Also famous is the temple of Amareswara, which consists of a massive Lingam. The extensive mounds of Dharankota located on the west of Amravati, together with Nagarjunakonda and Amravati form the Golden Triangle of Buddhism in Andhra Pradesh.

Warangal (157 km NE): Famous for its thousand pillar Chalukya temple and the freestanding gateway in the Buddhist tornan style.

Location :
Capital of Andhra Pradesh, SE India

Go there for :
Charminar, Precious Gems

Climate :
22°-42°C (Summer); 12°- 22°C (Winter)

When to Go:
Oct - Feb

Local Tongue:
Telegu, Urdu, Hindi

Literacy :

STD Code :
+91 - 40


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