Hyderabad was founded in 1586 by Mohammed Quli, fifth Sultan of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty of Golconda. Today, it is the capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh. The city of smiles, of lights, of a thousand faces, endearingly called the Pearl City, Hyderabad offers a variety of tourist attractions ranging from Heritage monuments, Lakes and Parks, Gardens and Resorts, Museums to delectable cuisine and a delightful shopping experience. To the traveller, Hyderabad offers a fascinating panorama of the past, with a richly mixed cultural and historical tradition spanning 400 colourful years.
Some of the tourist attractions include…
The Charminar is as much the signature of Hyderabad as the Taj Mahal is of Agra or the Eiffel Tower is of Paris. Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of Hyderabad, built Charminar in 1591 at the centre of the original city layout. It is said to be built as a charm to ward off a deadly epidemic raging at that time. Four graceful minarets soar to a height of 48.7 m above the ground. Charminar has 45 prayer spaces and a mosque in it.
- Mecca Masjid
A two hundred yards southwest of the Charminar is the Mecca Masjid, so named because the bricks were brought from Mecca to build the central arch. The Qutb Shahis never finished the building of the mosque, which was completed by Aurangzeb in 1694.
- Golconda Fort
Golconda is one of the famous forts of India. The name originates from the Telugu words “Golla Konda” meaning “Shepherd’s Hill”. The origins of the fort can be traced back to the Yadava dynasty of Deogiri and the Kakatiyas of Warangal. Golconda was originally a mud fort, which passed to the Bahmani dynasty and later to the Qutb Shahis, who held it from 1518 to 1687 A.D. The first three Qutb Shahi kings rebuilt Golconda, over a span of 62 years. The fort is famous for its acoustics, palaces, ingenious water supply system and the famous Fateh Rahben gun, one of the cannons used in the last siege of Golconda by Aurangzeb, to whom the fort ultimately fell.
- Qutb Shahi Tombs
The tombs of the legendary Qutb Shahi kings lie about a kilometre away from Banjara Darwaza of the Golconda Fort. Planned and built by the Qutb Shahis themselves, these tombs are said to be the oldest historical monuments in Hyderabad. They form a large group and stand on a raised platform. The tombs are built in Persian, Pathan and Hindu architectural styles using grey granite, with stucco ornamentation, the only one of its kind in the world where an entire dynasty has been buried at one place.
- Birla Mandir (Venkateswara Temple)
This white marble temple of Lord Venkateshwara floats on the city skyline, on Kala Pahad. The idol in the temple is a replica of the one at Tirumala Tirupati.
- Salar Jung Museum
This museum houses one of the biggest one-man collections of antiques of the world by Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, Salar Jung III. The objects include Persian carpets, Moghal miniatures, Chinese porcelain, Japanese lacquerware, famous statues including the Veiled Rebecca and Marguerite and Mephistopheles, a superb collection of jade, daggers belonging to Queen Noor Jahan and the Emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb’s sword and many other fabulous items.
- AP State Archaeological Museum
A visit to the Andhra Pradesh State Archaeological Museum is a delight for art lovers. Located in the picturesque Public Gardens, the museum boasts of one of the richest repositories of antiques and art objects in the country. Built in 1920 by the Nizam VII, the museum building itself is a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. The museum contains a Buddhist gallery, Brahmanical & Jain gallery, Bronze gallery, Arms & Armour gallery, Numismatics gallery, Ajanta gallery and more. Adjacent to the State Museum is the Contemporary Art Museum.
- Nehru Zoological Park
Spanning 300 lush green acres, the Nehru Zoological Park is a must for nature lovers. It has over 250 species of animals and birds, most of which are kept in conditions as close to their natural habitats as possible. This is the first zoo to create moated enclosures for animals. The Lion Safari Park, Natural History Museum and Children’s Train are the added attractions.
- Hitec City
One of the modern monuments of trade and technology, it embodies the newfound attitude of Hyderabad and today finds a place of pride. Situated on the outskirts of the city, it is the nucleus of Cyberabad, the IT destination in this part of the world. Cyber Towers is the main building here.
- Hussainsagar Lake
Excavated in 1562 A.D. by Hussain Shah Wali during the time of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah, the lake has a promenade that is a busy thoroughfare today. Boating and water sports are a regular feature in the Hussainsagar. One of the World’s tallest monolithic statues of the Buddha stands on the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’, in the middle of the lake.
- The Nizam’s Silver Jubilee Museum
The stately Purani Haveli, the palace acquired around the year 1750 by the second Nizam, is now converted into a museum with a fascinating collection. The museum exhibits the gifts and mementos presented to the last Nizam on the occasion of the silver jubilee celebrations in 1937. A 1930 Rolls Royce, Packard and a Mark V Jaguar are among the vintage cars displayed. There is an interesting collection of models made in silver of all the prominent buildings of the city and citations in Urdu about H.E.H. Mir Osman Ali Khan, gold burnished wooden throne used for the silver jubilee celebrations, gold tiffin box inlaid with diamonds, and a gold model of Jubilee Pavilion.
- Hyderabad Botanical Gardens
The first Botanical Gardens in Andhra Pradesh, spread over 120 acres. Already open to public is the first phase, with the completion of some sections. The sections include medicinal plants, timber trees, fruit trees, ornamental plants, aquatic plants and bamboos. The Park has been designed to have large water bodies, Rolling Meadows, natural forests, rich grasslands and exquisite rock formations.
- Osmansagar Lake
Osmansagar, better known as Gandipet, on the outskirts of Hyderabad is an excellent picnic spot. Osmansagar is one of the two lakes on the city’s periphery that supplies drinking water to the great metropolis. The lake is a reservoir created by a dam across the Isa, a tributary of the River Musi. Abutting the lake and the bund are lush gardens that provide the ideal ambience for an outing. Overlooking the lake is the heritage building, Sagar Mahal, built as a resort by the Nizam of Hyderabad and converted now into a lake resort managed by AP Tourism.
- Chow Mohalla Palace
Built in several phases by the Nizams between 1857-1869, this is now one of the heritage buildings. The complex comprises four palaces in Moghal and European styles, of which the main palace is double storeyed with the others being single-storeyed blocks.
- Ramoji Film City
Ramoji Film City is the world’s largest film studio located on a hour-long drive from Hyderabad city. Situated on more than 1500-acre land opened by Ramoji Group in 1996 as a film production house. Number of films in many languages like Hindi, English, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati, Bengali, Oriya, Bhojpuri and many TV serials and commercials are produced here every year.
The city’s shopping centres are scattered across town.
Fancy Cloth Store, Patthargatti will provide a variety of saris, silks, cottons, and readymade outfits. Kalanjali, Public Garden, has a wide variety of saris, fabrics, and Indian artefacts. Meena Bazaar has branches in Tilak Road and in Basheer Bagh, among others, and all have vast stocks of saris, fabrics, readymade garments.
This city is world famous for its pearls. Hundreds of outlets are scattered all over Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Lepakshi, the Government of Andhra Pradesh’s handicrafts emporium at Gunfoundry, is worth visiting.
The Cottage Industries Exposition (CIE) at Begumpet, is another good place for handicrafts, carpets, furniture, linen and miniature paintings. Walden, is the city’s original bookstore, and has branches at Begumpet and in Banjara Hills. Odyssey (Vikrampuri and Jubilee Hills), Crossword (Banjara Hills) and Landmark are other interesting bookstores to get lost in.
Hyderabadi cuisine is slightly sour, hot and richly endowed with nuts and assorted spices and cooked in asli ghee has to be enjoyed to be believed. Sometimes simple aids like slow cooking and dum help produce rich flavours. The wealthy and leisured aristocracy of the erstwhile Nizam State as well as the long peaceful years of their dominance, contributed largely to the development of and devotion to, the culinary art.
In a nutshell,
Hyderabad has grown enormously over the years. Originally sited on the south side of the Musi river and built to reflect Sultan Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah’s splendor and style of governance, the city has spread widely in all directions – north across the river, eastwards and westwards. Today it has a population of over 6 million.
– HINAL SHAH
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