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Hyderabad – City of Palaces, Museums and Lakes

Hyderabad is a city that has so much to offer. It is well connected by air and rail. It has embraced the march of modernity while retaining the relics of history and culture. A visit is like rekindling memories of a long-forgotten fragrance of a flower or an old photograph from childhood.

The royals of India commanded immense wealth. Their lifestyles were the stuff of legends. Yet they won the hearts of their subjects through their contribution to arts, education, social justice, culture and cuisine. Some places have retained the royal stamp to this day. Lucknow, Jaipur, Mysore, Hyderabad…the list is long. If you wish to get a glimpse of an era preserved in a city, you must come to Hyderabad.

Hyderabad as we know it today was founded by Quli Qutub Shah in 1591. The warrior-king carved out the rocks to set up forts and built canals that would feed into several lakes to overcome water shortages. The Qutub Shahi dynasty gave way to the Mughals and since then the rulers, also known as the Nizams enjoyed protection under the British which helped them retain the unique features of their culture. After Independence, the last Nizam agreed to join the Union and thus the city became a part of India. It was chosen as the capital on the formation of Andhra Pradesh in 1960 and recently after the formation of Telangana State, it shall be the joint capital for both till 2025.

Hyderabad is the city of palaces, museums and lakes. It is truly a tourist delight. Not surprising since it carries a rich tradition of history. The Charminar is the enduring symbol of Hyderabad. It was the first structure to come up after Qutub Shah made Hyderabad his capital. It consists of a prayer space enclosed by four graceful minarets. It is an excellent example of the Indo-Mughal architectural style characterised by domes supported by petal-like bases. The fine detailing on the balconies and stucco work are riveting. The prayerful ambience soothes the nerves. In the evenings under illumination, it is an attractive sight. The four arches of Char Kaman are close to the Charminar. Just a few metres away is the Mecca Masjid built by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Saunter off to the nearby Laad Bazaar which is the marketplace preserved from royal era and specializes in selling two of Hyderabad’s world famous items – pearls and bangles. You would be spoilt for choice by the size, colour and craftsmanship of the jewellery. Do take back some boxes of the glass and stone-studded bangles.

When the shopping spree is done, move over for some hearty eating. A large part of Hyderabad’s reputation is built on its signature cuisine. It is home to the heavenly Hyderabadi biryani and haleem. The subtleness in taste but richness of aroma makes the biryani stand out. Also try out the baghara baingan and desserts like the qubaani ka meetha and kaddu kheer.

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After the gastronomic adventure, it is time for exploring the monuments of Hyderabad. Start off with the Chowmohalla palace which was once the home of the Nizams. It is an amalgam of various architectural styles and makes for interesting viewing. The Purani Haveli has a distinct European architecture and contains the world’s largest wardrobe occupying an entire wing of the palace. Enter the Nizam’s museum here and you will be transported to another era. The exhibits are gifts and mementos in gold and silver received by the last Nizam. The gold burnished wooden throne is sure to take your breath away. You can also view the vintage cars like 1930 Rolls Royce and a Mark V Jaguar.

Hyderabad photo

Photo in the backdrop of the Charminar by madrones

Gear up for a grand feast to the eyes as you enter the Salar Jang Museum. It houses the collections of Salar Jang III, the Prime Minister to the Seventh Nizam, who spent substantial amount of his income over 30 years to build it. Here are a few exhibits you should not miss: jade encrusted daggers of Emperor Jahangir and Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb’s sword, Tipu Sultan’s turban, tiffin box inlaid with diamonds, the Quran collection, furniture from France, paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and the innumerable clocks and manuscripts.

You could wind down in the evening either by visiting the Public Gardens which also has the state archaeological museum or head out for the Hussain Sagar lake which was built in 1562. Take any of the boating options to get to the large Buddha statue in the middle of the lake. A stroll on the promenade gives a fantastic impression of the sheer size of the lake. The lake and Golconda fort are the biggest attractions of the twin city, Secunderabad.

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Start off the day with exploration of the Golconda fort. Built by the Qutub Shahis after wresting control from the Bahmani kings, it is internationally acclaimed for its excellent acoustic mechanisms, large palaces with well laid out lawns and courtyards. Do not miss the cannon used by Aurangzeb who captured the fort. Two other monuments close to Golconda are the Taramati Baradari and the Qutub Shahi tombs.


Spend the afternoon at the Nehru Zoological Park and with boating at the Mir Alam Tank. You could also catch the grandeur of the Falaknuma Palace and Kothi Palace. The Ramoji Film City speaks out for the eminence of Hyderabad as the hub of the motion picture industry in south India. It is hard to miss the changes due to modernization and migration, especially due to the Information Technology sector, symbolized by the Hi-tec City. Large office blocks, malls and multiplexes cater to the vast number of people from different parts of India and abroad who have made Hyderabad their home.

Hyderabad is a city that has so much to offer. It is well connected by air and rail. It has embraced the march of modernity while retaining the relics of history and culture. A visit is like rekindling memories of a long-forgotten fragrance of a flower or an old photograph from childhood.

Featured Photo of Golconda Fort by MASRURAASHRAF

Hyderabad – City Of Palaces, Museums And Lakes

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