Hyderabad is the city of pearls. It is home to the iconic Charminar, and it is known for its delectable biryani too. But Hyderabad also has another face – the HiTec city. It is full of urban malls, elegant cafes and tall office buildings.
Hyderabad is the capital city of Telangana state, and it is a mix of old-world charm and modern development.
While one part provides a glimpse into the city’s royal history, the other buzzes with commerce. In one area, you can drool over kebabs, and in the other, you can fill yourself with burgers. From Islamic architectural marvels to elegant colonial buildings, there is a lot to explore in Hyderabad and around.
You can also go for a luxury relaxing tour in the lap of nature, in and around Hyderabad. Whether you want a weekend getaway or a week-long escape, the city has various options to suit your plans.
And while you're at it, don’t forget to visit Ramoji Film City, one of the largest film cities in the world.
History and Geography of Hyderabad
Hyderabad is in the southern part of India, on the banks of River Musi in the Deccan plateau. With an area of 650 square kilometres (250 sq mi), it is the largest city in the state of Telangana. The “Old City” was set up on the southern bank of the river. But the city centre shifted to the north with the constructions of government buildings and other administrative blocks.
Secunderabad, nearby, has become a part of Hyderabad, and these so-called Twin Cities have a history that goes back to the 16th century.
Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah set up Hyderabad as his capital in the 1590s. His ancestors used to rule the region from Golconda Fort, about 8 km away from today’s Old City.
During those days the city was called Bhagyanagar after a courtesan named Bhagmati, with whom Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah had a relationship. But she took the name Begum Hyder Mahal after converting to Islam. The city thus came to be known as Hyderabad.
The Qutb Shah dynasty ruled Hyderabad until the 17th century, when the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb took control. The Mughal rule lasted for only a few decades. And in 1724, Nizam Asif Jah I, the governor of the city, became the ruler of the region.
The later Nizams formed a friendly alliance with the British. And they ruled the princely state of Hyderabad after India got independence from the British rule. The city became a part of India in 1948.
Places to Visit in Hyderabad
1. Charminar – The Charminar is the iconic landmark of Hyderabad present in the heart of the Old City. It was built by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah. This architectural marvel has four elegant minarets, and it is illuminated every evening. Charminar also features a space designed for prayers.
2. Golconda Fort – Golconda Fort is a medieval fort overlooking the city. Several dynasties ruled the region from this fort. It is in ruins today, but the strong fortification and the building plans can still be witnessed. A Sound and Light show tells tales about its glorious past.
3. Salar Jung Museum – This museum houses the antiques collected by Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan. From carpets to artefacts and miniatures to statues, a lot is put on display. The collection also includes royal weapons and other items depicting human evolution.
4. Mecca Masjid – Mecca Masjid is a mosque near Charminar. It is named so as bricks from Mecca were used to build the central arch. The construction began during the reign of Qutb Shah, but it was completed by Aurangzeb in 1694.
5. Hussain Sagar Lake – One of the largest man-made lakes in India, Hussain Sagar Lake, has existed since 1562. It was excavated by Hussain Shah Wali. Today, it is a prominent spot for boating, and it also features a tall monolithic statue of Buddha in the middle.
6. NTR Gardens – Located on the banks of Hussain Sagar Lake, NTR Gardens is a beautiful park built as a memorial to late N. T. Rama Rao. The garden is spread across 36 acres and has a variety of shrubs, flowery bushes and trees. It also has a monorail for tourists to take a ride around the park.
7. Ramoji Film City – Ramoji Film City offers a plethora of entertainment options. It is a film city complex where you can see various outdoor shooting sets, tour movie studios and enjoy live shows. Restaurants, shopping avenues and children’s park are also here.
8. Qutb Shahi Tombs – Qutb Shahi Tombs, near Golconda Fort, are among the oldest historical monuments in Hyderabad. The seven kings of the Qutb Shah dynasty have been buried at this place. The tombs are built in a mix of Persian, Pathan and Hindu architectural styles.
9. Chowmahalla Palace – The four palaces in the complex are built in Mughal and European styles by the Nizams of the city. These used to be their official residence. Detailed interiors, elegant fountains and beautiful gardens add to the grandeur of the palace complex.
10. B. M. Birla Science Centre – B. M. Birla Science Centre and Museum has exhibition galleries, divided into sections dedicated to different fields of science. The place also hosts various scientific shows and educational programmes. Birla Planetarium is a part of the complex.
11. Shilparamam – Shilparamam is an arts-and-crafts village situated beside the HiTec city of Hyderabad. The village serves as a platform for artists of all ages to exhibit or perform their art. It showcases the works of craftsmen and artists from around the country.
12. Durgam Cheruvu – Near Shilparamam, is the panoramic Durgam Cheruvu lake. The giant granite rock formations are among the prominent features of the lake along with an artificial waterfall and fountain. Durgam Cheruvu is also known as the Secret Lake.
Apart from the places mentioned above, Lumbini Park, Purani Haveli and Nehru Zoological Park are other places worth your time in Hyderabad. Botanical Gardens, Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad Race Club, Jagannath Temple and Paigah Tombs are among other prominent tourist spots in the city.
You can also take a weekend getaway from Hyderabad. Guntur (260 km), Hampi (370 km), Kurnool (213 km), Srisailam (217 km) and Warangal (150 km) are among the must-visit places during your trip to Hyderabad.
Things to do in Hyderabad
1. Shopping in Hyderabad – From jewellery to traditional clothes and food products, shopping in Hyderabad has a charm of its own. In Charminar Bazaar, you can find vintage coins and artefacts. And Laad Bazaar is known for its pearls and bangles. Then, Moazzam Jahi Market sells fresh fruits. Begum Bazaar is the largest commercial market, where you’ll find items ranging from clothes to accessories and household items. Hyderabad also has gigantic shopping malls.
2. Eating in Hyderabad – Hyderabad is known for its biryani. Hotel Paradise and Hotel Shah Ghouse are popular among the locals for their delicious biryani and dishes like haleem, paaya and kebabs. Hotel Bawarchi and Hotel Shadab are the other places where you can find lip-smacking Hyderabadi delicacies. Double ka meetha, kheer and phirni are the sweet dishes popular in the city. And among the street foods, dosa, kachori and samosa top the list.
3. Enjoying Nightlife of Hyderabad – Hyderabad has an energetic nightlife. You’ll find a multitude of bars, clubs and pubs. 10 Downing Street, Amnesia Lounge Bar and Club and Coco’s Bar & Grill are among the popular nightlife spots in Hyderabad. You can also spend your evenings in microbreweries like Belgium Beer House, Prost Brew Pub and Zero40 Brewing.
Best Time to visit Hyderabad
Throughout the monsoon months, Hyderabad’s weather remains pleasant. It can be a good time to visit the city, but the frequent downpour can disturb your visit. So, plan your Hyderabad tour during winter. It starts in November and lasts till February. The temperature and humidity are low and the weather is comfortable to explore the city.
Avoid planning a visit in summer when the sun is scorching hot, and the weather is humid.
How to reach Hyderabad?
Hyderabad is connected to places all around the world. And here are the different ways to reach Hyderabad –
By Road – Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai are among the major cities from where you can get buses to reach Hyderabad. Regular luxury buses by the state government also run from nearby towns. You can also drive or take a cab to reach Hyderabad.
By Rail – Hyderabad railway station is at Nampally. Daily express trains from metropolitan cities and nearby towns are available. Secunderabad is another major railway station near Hyderabad where many trains stop.
By Air – Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, about 24 km away from Hyderabad, connects the city to major destinations across the globe. Flights from international destinations as well as Indian cities are available.
How to travel within Hyderabad?
TSRTC buses connect most of the areas in Hyderabad. And you can also hire taxis and auto rickshaws to go from one place to another. Local metro trains, too, are available between major points of tourist interests. But car rentals are the most convenient way to travel throughout the city and other places nearby.