Hyderabad is that rich city that was popular as ‘Bhagya Nagaram’ - The city of wealth. Hyderabad was offered this status by the then wealthy Nizams. This city is also popular as ‘The city of Nizams’. Hyderabad is a blend of the ancient tradition and modern growth. The city’s affluent history, traditions, ethnicity and architecture along with its multilingual culture speak volumes about its rich past. Growth in the sectors of information technology, ITES and biotechnology has made it one of the country’s prominent cities.
Hyderabad comprises the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad and is the capital city of Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad is presently the fifth largest Indian city. It was founded in1590 by the fourth Qutb Shahi king, Muhammad Quli. The city of Hyderabad is built on the Banks of River Musi and is bordered by huge primitive rock structures suggestive of startled old elephants. The city of Hyderabad serves as the meeting point for North and South India.
The burgeoning city
Hyderabad, though a tradition bound city was quick enough to adapt to the latest technological spree. Hyderabad is also famous as ‘Cyberabad’ indicative of the growth of techies and IT companies. Hyderabad is home to prominent organizations involved bio-technology, pharmaceuticals, and entertainment. Ramoji film city located on the outskirts of the city is the largest film studio in the world.
In South India, Hyderabad is the only city that reflects Mughal splendor similar to the Mughal grandeur of Agra, Delhi, Sikri, and Fatehpur. It is an important place for Islamic culture and tradition.
Charminar: Charminar is a grandiose architectural monument situated right in the heart of the old city of Hyderabad. It was built by Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah in 1591 and was supposed to have been built to celebrate the eradication of plague from Hyderabad.
Golconda Fort: Golconda fort is a magnificent monument located on the western outskirts of Hyderabad city. It speaks volumes about the enormous cultural heritage of the past 400 years. Try and take in Sound and Light show held in the evenings.
Salar Jung Museum: The Salar Jung Museum houses the largest collection of antiques by a single person. The museum displays over 35,000 objects of art like Chinese porcelain, Aurangazeb's Sword, and daggers belonging to Queen Noor Jehan, Emperor Jahangir & Shah Jahan. Other displays include sculpture, Indian paintings and Persian carpets. Tourist attractions include Veiled Rebecca, the translucent white marble statue by Bezoni, the arms section, the jade section and the Oriental section.
Birla Mandir: A stunning contemporary temple, Birla Mandir overlooks the southern end of Hussain Sagar, in Hyderabad. The temple provides a fantastic view of the city while watching from the summit. This splendid structure was erected using marble stones from Rajasthan.
Mecca Masjid: Mecca Masjid is one of the biggest mosques in India. Sultan Muhammad Qutub Shah began the construction of this mosque and the construction was completed in 1694 by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
Jama Masjid: One among the oldest mosques in Hyderabad, the Jama Masjid is located just a few meters away from the Charminar. This mosque was built by Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah in the year 1597.
Birla Planetarium: It is situated in the heart of Hyderabad city. It can be sited on the prominent hillock of Naubat Pahad. Birla Planetarium is a tribute to commemorate the advances made in science and technology.
Falaknuma Palace: The palace is a splendid piece of architecture and only one of its kind in India. It was built by Nawab Vikar-ul-Umra Bahadur and is located on top of a 650 m hill. This palace is about 5-km from Charminar.
In South India, Hyderabad is the only city that reflects Mughal splendor similar to the Mughal grandeur of Agra, Delhi, Sikri, and Fatehpur. Famed for its hot spicy cuisine tempered with Moghul influence - Hyderabadi Biryani and Qubani ka mitha.
Qutub Shahi Tombs: It is located just one kilometer from the Golconda fort. The tombs of the Qutub Shahi rulers can be seen here. The tombs have dome-like structures erected on a square pedestal bordered by sharp arcs. In the center of each tomb is a casket, which overlies the actual burial chamber in a vault below. The domes were initially covered with blue and green tiles, only a few pieces of the original tiles are still intact. It is open daily from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm and is closed on Fridays.
Chote Hazrat Ki Dargah: Chote Hazrat ki Dargah is located inside Devan Devadi in Hyderabad. You have to climb more than 400 steps to reach the place of worship. This was built during the period of Asif Jahi. The line of arches leading up to the hill is a brilliant sight. The Dargah or mortuary was constructed in tribute to Hazrat Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad.
Paigah Tombs: These tombs are 200 years old and belong to the 'Paigah' nobles (tied by blood and marriage to the Nizams). It is located at Santoshnagar. These unique lime and mortar tombs have been skillfully engraved in marble.
Raymond's Tomb: Michel Raymond, a French national was the military commander and a close friend of the Nizam II. A tomb was built from black granite in his remembrance and bears the initials JR. It is located in Saroornagar off the Vijaywada road, about 3-km from the Elephant Bridge, in east Hyderabad.
St. Joseph's Cathedral: The Cathedral of Saint Joseph can be found in the Gun foundry area and is possibly the most stunning church in the twin cities.
High Court: A gorgeous Mughal-style building, the High court is sited alongside the Musi River near Afzal Gunj Bridge. It was built in 1916 using local pink granite; red sandstone carved panels and columns at an estimated cost of 2 million rupees. This building is one amongst the outstanding works of the British architect Vincent Esch.
Naubat Pahad: Naubat pahad is a combination of small rocky hills in the heart of Hyderabad. They can be found alongside the Hussain Sagar Lake and are popular as Naubat pahad and Kala pahad. During the Mughal period, they announced official proclamations from Naubat Pahad after beating large drums.
Hussain Sagar: Hussain Sagar is a big lake located right in the middle of the city. It was constructed in 1562 AD. It is also popular as Tank Bund that connects the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
Hi-Tech City: Hyderabad has developed into a Software destination. Hi-Tech City is located on the city outskirts and houses numerous IT companies.
Sanjeevaiah Park: Sanjeevaiah Park has a rose garden, rock garden and a floral clock. It is located next to Hussain Sagar, towards the end of Necklace Road, in Hyderabad.
Indira Park: Indira Park for children is located near lower Tank Bund, Hyderabad. It is one of the oldest parks in the twin cities.
Public Gardens: The Public Gardens is the largest garden in the city. Its premises accommodate numerous important public buildings including the State Legislative Assembly, State Archaeological Museum, Jubilee Hall, Jawahar Bal Bhavan and Telugu Lalita Kala Thoranam and an open air theatre.
Nehru Zoological Park: Nehru Zoological Park is one among the biggest zoos in Asia with over 250 animal species. The lion safari park, natural history museum, pre-historical animal’s park, nocturnal birds, a children's park with a train ride are notable sights in this Park.
Cinema: In India, the second largest film industry can be traced down to Hyderabad. It is well-known as Tollywood and produces about 50 films per year. In the year 2007, Hyderabad hosted the first ever International film festival. Prasad’s IMAX was the first of its kind to be set up in South India.
The noble Nizams and aristocracies of Hyderabad are remembered as wonderful entertainers and hosts. The flavor of Hyderabadi food is derived from coconut, sesame seeds, peanuts and tamarind. Hyderabadi cuisine is a pot pourri of Telugu, Mughal, and Persian cuisine.
Hyderabadi biryani is a well-known meat delicacy, cooked using rice and meat along with spices and seasoning. Other popular dishes include kebab, korma, double ka mitha, phirni, Qubani ka mitha, haleem (a meat and wheat dish prepared during the month of Ramzan) and nahari kulche (also known as paya).
Vegetarians have a variety of dishes like rumali roti (bread made from refined flour as thin as a hankie), bagara baingan (a rich spicy dish made from egg plant), kichri (rice and lentil combination), tomato kut (fragrant puree of tomatoes with seasonings), mirch-ka-salan (chilies in a creamy gravy) and shahi dahi vadas (lentil dumplings in yoghurt sauce) to choose from. Irani cafes are common here serving Irani chai, Irani samosa, and Osmania biscuit.
Hyderabad travel tips
Hyderabad is easily accessible from within India and outside India. The city is well connected by air, road and rail. Within the city there are local buses, auto rickshaws and taxis that can help visitors around. There are numerous hotels in Hyderabad that varying budgets. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample authentic Hyderabadi cuisine. Best season to travel to Hyderabad is between June and February.
Pearls are very famous in Hyderabad but remember to buy them from reliable shops. Lepakshi emporium is a government owned handicrafts emporium and the pearls they sell are of good quality. Food is very spicy in Hyderabad so prepare your digestive system for the same.