Hyderabad is fondly referred to as the city of Nawabs and sometimes also as the city of Pearls as till the 20th century it probably was the only global center for large diamonds. Hyderabad is also famous as the birthplace of Tollywood besides hosting a thriving IT industry. But probably the most distinctive aspect of this historical city is that it is the only city in South India with a distinctly North Indian culture. This makes Hyderabad a veritable treasure house of amazing buildings and great food – and me like a kid in a candy store.
While the casual traveller to Hyderabad will be proffered a host of options, my must visit list starts from the old city of Hyderabad. Hop on a rickshaw to Charminar and visit the Mecca Masjid next door to listen to the morning azaan. If you love Hyderabad as much as I do, you will not miss sitting on the stone slab near the Mecca Masjid: it is believed that anyone who sits there once does end up visiting Hyderabad again.
The best known landmark of Hyderabad: Charminar opens up at 9 AM sharp and that is when you should be climbing up the stairs of this wondrous monument originally built in the year 1591 to commemorate the end of plague in Hyderabad. From the Charminar we can view a large part of the old city of Hyderabad and spot the monuments of Mecca Masjid, Osmania Hospital and the Chowmohalla palace which also happens to be our next destination. Next up, take a short walk through the gems and pearl laden Laad Bazar, asking directions for Chowmohalla Palace. You can buy jewels: particularly pearls from here. I would also recommend buying ittar or perfume bottles from here.
The Chowmohalla Palace provides the most comprehensive information about the history of the twin cities of Secunderabad and Hyderabad, chronicling the lives of its rulers. A relatively new palace turned museum, Chowmohalla provides a peek into the lives of the Nizams of Hyderabad and apart from the Falaknuma is probably your best bet to check out a royal Nizam’s palace in Hyderabad.
The quick history tour would have rumpled your tummy by now and what better than the famous Hyderabadi Biryani to satisfy that hunger. North Indian spices mixed up with South Indian rice, cooked in a fusion of styles to create a combination that will leave you asking for more. While there are many other contenders to the crown, I would suggest the Shadaab Biryani as the best place for the biryani is it is closest to the Chowmohalla Palace.
By now, it’s probably afternoon and the best way to escape the Hyderabad heat is to go inside the cool environs of the Salarjung museum. The Salarjung museum houses one of the largest collections of art collected by one person. And a visit to the place for about two hours will give you just an overview of its vast collection. And we probably can’t spend more time here as the ubiquitous (in most Indian cities) Birla temple is awaiting.
Located atop a hill overlooking the Hussain Sagar lake, the beautiful Birla temple is as well constructed as it is located with various engravings of the Mahabharata on its white marbled walls and pillars. The enticing Hussainsagar lake that you can view while doing the darshan is perfect for a long evening walk and may be with a little help from a rickshaw you can end up at Eat Street. And have dinner at some of the beautiful lakeside joints at Eat Street, watching the colossal Buddha statue in Hussain Sagar.
7 Wonders of India: Hussain Sagar Lake, Lumbini Park
Hyderabad has a lot to offer for the casual traveller and a one day trip can be well spent in probably any of these beautiful places.
Janit Vora is a Business Analyst by profession and a weekend blogger by passion. He blogs about Hyderabad, one of his favorite cities, as also his life in and travels to the different cities of the world at Urban Indian.