A Beginner’s Guide to Hyderabad
When Hyderabad called us, Jose and me, we had no idea about the place and its culture. We began planning in advance for a 3 day trip and we made a list of places to go to, gradually getting clarity on what each of us wanted to do.
He had only one thing in his mind – Ramoji film city. While I, researched and fell for the Golconda fort. So after much deliberation, these were the destinations we fixed -Charminar, Golconda Fort, Lad Bazar (Or any of Hyderabad’s famous markets), Ramoji Film City. By the time we were done with the trip, we realised the enjoyments and the blunders that came with not knowing much about a city.
So this post is for anyone who is clueless about Hyderabad. I’ll list the places we visited and also the ones we missed for anyone who has zero knowledge of the place.
- Charminar – A mosque made of four pillars, it was planned and designed by Persian City planners and epitomizes the Persian style of architecture. One can go up the spiral staircases that run through these pillars, and as you do, you’ll find information about the specialties of Hyderabad, places to visit and things to buy written at various corners, which makes Charminar the first place to visit once you are in Hyderabad.
- Mecca Masjid – One of the oldest and one of the largest mosques, Mecca/Makkah Masjid is located near Charminar.
Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, commissioned bricks to be made from the soil brought from Mecca, the holiest site of Islam, and used them in the construction of the central arch of the mosque, thus giving the mosque its name. – Wikipedia
Enough said. This is a beautiful place filled with flocks of pigeons. Women, please ensure that you carry a stole or dupatta when you go inside.
- Lad Bazaar – Located just next to Charminar, you get lots of things in this market, most important one being the lac bangles. You get them in metal base as well as clay base. If you, or someone you love are crazy about bangles, this is the best gift you could give them from your Hyderabad trip. The market is a feast for your eyes and hence, is not to be missed.
- Nimrah Cafe – While in Hyderabad, you must try the Irani tea. On the same side as Mecca Masjid, but closer to Charminar is this simple cafe that will definitely not catch your attention. But, you shouldn’t miss it. Go to this tea shop, try their Irani tea and the Osmania biscuits that they give with it. You’d definitely buy a box of it. The biscuits are so soft and buttery that they melt in your mouth. They have many other cookies which you could taste and ask for boxes full of them.
- Gulnar & Co – This is a tiny shop almost opposite Nimrah cafe. I have to mention this because, they have the most fragrant Attars (Perfume) at very low prices. I am not a fan of Attar as I believe it is too strong smelling and too sweet. But these guys have some really cool fragrances which I carried home to gift some friends. I ended up keeping 3 for myself.
Attar tip – They let you try their Attars. So do Try their Raat Rani (completely feminine) 😉 and Arabian (Unisex).
- Chowmohalla Palace – This is near Charminar as well, but we didn’t go there as my friend wasn’t much of an architecture enthusiast. I’d love to visit this place some day and I’d suggest you do it too. Hyderabad is all about the Persian architecture and the culture. If you intend to go there, it is always better to soak completely in it.
- Golconda Fort – Up until now we were in and around Charminar. Golconda fort is about an hour away from Charminar. It is one beautiful place you must not miss. If you want to take your time, go and explore every bit of the fort, it will take you about 3 hours. But if you are just about running around, getting a glimpse, you can finish it within an hour. The timings are from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm.
In any case, the light and sound show that begins at 6.30 PM is not to be missed.
They give you glimpse into the history of the Fort, the Kings who ruled and how it fell into the current state. One cannot afford to miss Golconda Fort while in Hyderabad.
- Salarjung Museum – Another famous place we did not visit and I’d suggest that you do because, this is another identity of Hyderabad. I had kept this for the last as Charminar, Golconda and Ramoji were our priorities.
- Ramoji Film City – This is coming from someone who is NOT a movie buff, and someone who couldn’t see the place completely due to lack of time. It had a park, bird sanctuary, various types of sets including Bhagavatham and Bahubali, and some live shows. The Bhagavatham set looked magnificent and I found a show, where they explained how they added sound and other effects, informative.
Beyond that, there was no wow factor for me. I’d rather have visited the museum, palaces and the masjids. So if you aren’t a movie buff, I’d suggest you read up about the film city and then decide whether or not to visit as it will require two days to see it fully.
- Finally, Hyderabad is also famous for their pearls (which I have no idea where to get)and their biriyani. We did go to the famous Paradise Restaurant and Oh my! The Chicken biriyani was indeed flavorsome! The Mutton biriyani was a big turn off though. So while there, stick to the chicken biriyani. The Chicken biriyani at Rayalseema Ruchulu was good as well.
Hyderabad is a city that keeps a balance between culture and development and so if you are expecting a place that brims with night life everywhere (it does have nightlife), you’d be disappointed. Some parts of it have the old world charm and close up early in the night, some look like someone was building the city and at some point of time forgot about it. Instead of going there seeking for things you want, go there to see and experience what the city has in store for you and you’ll be surprised.