India’s fourth largest city by population, Hyderabad may be best known for its exquisite monuments, rich cuisine, the finest pearls, and lately, for being a startup hub. However, 400 years of history and a multitude of influences shape its unique character. Founded in 1591 CE by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty, Hyderabad was built around the magnificent Charminar. After a brief period under Mughal rule, the city came under the occupation of the first Nizam of Hyderabad in 1724. After Independence, it was annexed by the Indian Army in 1948, and divided on the basis of linguistic differences, with the city of Hyderabad becoming the capital of Andhra Pradesh, and more recently, also the capital of Telangana. With much to offer, in terms of history, heritage, culture, food, architecture, and shopping, Hyderabad makes for a regal discovery. By Satarupa Paul
Hyderabad brims with serene lakes and gardens, museums displaying impressive
collections, and other unique attractions.
Museum Trail One of the three National Museums of India, the Salar Jung Museum was originally a private art collection of the Salar Jung family, which was gifted to the nation after the death of Salar Jung III. The biggest individual collection of antiques on the planet, it has 43,000 art objects, over 8,000 manuscripts, and more than 60,000 books.
Built in 2010, the Sudha Cars Museum displays handmade cars by Kanyaboniya Sudhakar. Designed to look like everyday objects, the cars can be driven around, but are not for sale.
Located at Purani Haveli, the Nizam’s Museum is a repository of souvenirs, gifts, and mementoes presented by dignitaries to the last Nizam on his silver jubilee celebrations.
Once, it boasted a staggering 7,000 lakes and other water bodies; today, only 185 remain. Of these, the heart-shaped Hussain Sagar is one of the largest man-made lakes in India. Spread across an area of 5.7 square kilometres, it is renowned for the monolithic statue of Lord Buddha that stands in the centre on the Gibraltar Rock.
Named after the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad, Osman Sagar is a serene lake spread over 46 square kilometres. The dam over this water-body serves as the main reservoir for the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Straddling the border between two districts in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam across the River Krishna is one of India’s oldest and largest infrastructure projects, and makes for a popular getaway from the city.
Parks & Gardens
NTR Gardens is a lovely landscaped park, dotted with ornate lamp posts, water fountains, tall trees, and colourful flowering plants.
Barely a minute’s walk from here, Lumbini Park offers boating facilities for tourists to reach the statue of Lord Buddha in the middle of Hussain Sagar. It also plays a fantastic multimedia fountain show that recreates the historical and cultural aspects of the city daily.
Indira Park sprawls over 76 acres and is one of the best maintained green spaces in the city.
No trip to Hyderabad is complete without a visit to these architectural masterpieces.
The centrepiece of the royal city, Charminar, is the most iconic landmark of Hyderabad. Constructed in 1591 by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, this square structure of granite, limestone, and pulverised marble features four grand arches and 149 winding steps leading to a mosque built over 400 years ago.
A fortified citadel and former capital of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty, the Golconda Fort is an archaeological treasure with four distinct forts featuring 87 bastions, eight gateways, four drawbridges, temples, mosques, and more. It flourished as a trade centre for the famous Golconda Diamonds, including the world’s most famous one, the Koh-i-Noor.
One of the largest mosques in the country, with a capacity to host 20,000 worshippers at once, the Mecca Masjid in the heart of the city was built with bricks made with soil brought from Mecca, the holiest site of Islam.
Other most revered heritage sites include the Qutb Shahi Tombs and the Chowmahalla Palace —the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad.
Certified by Guinness World Records as the largest studio complex in the world, the Ramoji Film City spreads across a whopping 2,000 acres and is an entertainment destination, attracting over 1.5 million tourists every year. Guided tours of the film sets cover a London street, the Hollywood sign, Japanese gardens, railway stations, temples, and more. There are 47 sound stages, two hotels, theme parks, and amusement rides inside the film city, as well.
Shilparamam, a traditional crafts village, is set amidst cascading waterfalls and lush greenery. Besides aiming to preserve traditional arts and crafts of the state through displays and shops, it also houses a cultural museum, workshops, and research and design centres.
Situated on the banks of Osman Sagar, Chikur Balaji Temple is unlike any other. Housed inside is the figurine of Visa Balaji, a deity worshipped by US-Visa aspirants!
Wine & Dine
Hyderabad is a foodie’s haven, with iconic eateries dishing out local delights, upscale establishments serving world cuisine, and stylish pubs o ering innovative potions.
The narrow bylanes around Charminar, Secunderabad, and Nampally are replete with old stalls selling mouthwatering Nizami fare, including haleem, biryani, kebabs, and luqmi (a variant of mutton samosas). Try buttery-soft Osmania biscuits with Irani chai at a tea stall.
If, however, you wish to savour the finest biryani that the state has to offer, head to the iconic Paradise Restaurant (paradisefoodcourt.in).
Bawarchi is another chain of restaurants that locals swear by for many variants of biryani (44, RTC Cross Road, Jawahar Nagar, New Nallakunta).
Chutneys is your best bet for South Indian staples (Shilpa Arcade, Road No. 3, Banjara Hills).
Rajiv Gandhi International Airport serves Hyderabad with flights from all major cities, while the Hyderabad Deccan Railway Station located in Nampally has numerous trains operating from important destinations around India. Auto rickshaws are aplenty, however, they may not always charge by the metre. Hyderabad offers good connectivity through local bus services, and radio taxis including Uber and Ola are readily available. The metro network currently includes three lines, and self-drive cars can be hired from the airport and many hotels in the city.
Boasting a fantastic Mediterranean menu, Olive Bistro & Bar is a chic outpost with a romantic vibe (olivebarandkitchen.com).
Set in a waterfront property, Ohri’s Tansen offers classical live music to serenade you, while you tuck into a delectable choice of Mughal and North Indian dishes (ohris.com).
The Hyderabad chapter of Goa’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf is for those who love great seafood coupled with live music (thefishermanswharf.in).
Prego at The Westin offers a lovely poolside setup to enjoy a bottle of vino over some hand-tossed pizzas and freshly-rolled pastas (marriott.com).
All That Glitters
Packed with 350 shops selling a dazzling array of colourful bangles, Laad Bazaar has been in business for 200 years—from the time of the Nizams. Besides its speciality lacquer bangles, you can find semi-precious stones, pearls, jewellery, kalamkari paintings, silverware, bidri-ware products, handwoven silk, and embroidered fabrics.
Sultan Bazaar is another old market from the Nizams’ era. Visit this market for silver junk jewellery, precious stones, and other sparkly treasures.
At Pot Market, you can find a variety of pots, utensils, and jewellery in stylish modern designs.
For some serious street shopping action, visit the Nampally Market, where you can
score great bargains on clothes, footwear, and bags.
Begum Bazaar is one of Hyderabad’s grandest markets, known for tobacco, household
goods, decor, kitchen essentials, toiletries, cosmetics, gold, silver, and even fresh fish!
Once a market selling exotic fruits, Moazzam Jahi Market is today a buzzing bazaar of fresh produce and its coveted ice cream. The area around Charminar bustles with shops selling sarees, Hyderabadi khada dupattas, sherwanis, and the renowned Basra Pearl, embellished with gold and silver.
The Perfume Market is famous for its century old businesses of luxuriously-scented ittars sold in pretty vials. Besides antiques, you can also find exquisite metal crafts with intricate inlay work on silver sheets or zinc and copper alloys at the Antique Market.
Bibliophiles love visiting the Sunday Book Bazaar for its rare out-of-print books, old editions, and secondhand bargains on famous volumes.
There is no dearth of places in the City of Nizams where you can let your hair down, enjoy a few tipples, and dance the night away. Spread over four levels of a retro-cool building, Zero40 Brewing transforms from a co-working space to a brewpub, as the night progresses (zero40.com). It offers six fresh brews and a selection of beer cocktails, which go down perfectly with their awesome thin crust pizzas and an exhaustive menu of bar nibbles.
Also located in the same neighbourhood, Room Two is an exclusive speakeasy bar serving interesting cocktails and hosting stand-up comic shows and live jazz music (room-two.business.site). Located in the Park Hotel Hyderabad, Aqua is a glitzy bar lounge with an infinity pool and a good selection of wines, spirits, and cocktails (theparkhotels.com).
The British pub-style 10 Downing Street, with cosy interiors, wooden furniture, and antique artwork, is popular for karaoke nights, themed parties, ladies nights,
and engaging gigs (10ds.in).
Be it a heritage stay or a modern hotel that you seek, the City of Nizams doesn’t disappoint.
Taj Falaknuma Palace
Experience royal grandeur in all its glory at this former palace of the Nizam of Hyderabad.
Perched 2,000 feet above the city, the Taj Falaknuma Palace serves uber luxury with a dose
of regal nostalgia. Arrive at the doors in a horse-drawn carriage, let the palace butlers
treat you like royalty, enjoy an indulgent stay in one of their 60 rooms and suites beautifully refurbished by the Nizam’s Turkish wife, and take numerous
gastronomic journeys at its many dining outposts! Try Adaa for luscious Indian fare in a fine-dining setup, Celeste for global cuisine, and Gol Bungalow for a regal dinner. The treatments at the in-house Jiva Spa are rooted in the traditional Indian wellness philosophy. Guided tours to the art, culture, and shopping destinations in the city are also
arranged by the hotel.
Address: Engine Bowli, Falaknuma; starts from INR 40,000/ USD 560; tajhotels.com
Park Hyatt Hyderabad
Located in the upscale area of Banjara Hills, Park Hyatt Hyderabad offers unique architectural features and an attentive service. Stunning art and exquisite sculptures adorn
the lobby, while its 185 rooms and 24 suites are spacious and stylishly designed. This is also the first luxury business hotel in the city to offer 41 fully-serviced luxury apartments, with 24-hour concierge, a private butler, and all modern amenities. The hotel offers one of the finest buffets—at The Dining Room. While Rika does Modern Asian, Tre-Forni serves home-style Italian over an extensive list of Italian aperitifs, cocktails, and wines. A temperature-controlled pool with cosy cabanas, a lavish spa, and curated tours on request are other facilities available here.
Address: Road 2, Banjara Hills; starts from INR 8,300/ USD 116; hyatt.com
Located in the business district of HITEC City and overlooking the Durgam Lake, ITC Kohenur offers a priceless stay experience. The design elements of the hotel are inspired by the Koh-i-Noor—the famed jewel— and features a crystal-clear glass façade in the lobby, cut glass chandeliers, and local arts of bidri and zardozi everywhere. The 271 rooms, suites, and service apartments are some of the largest and most premium in the city. There are six distinct dining experiences on offer including the Dum Pukht Begum’s that serve authentic flavours of India; Ottimo that serves homely Italian; and two bars—the Peacock Bar and Skypoint.
Address: Hyderabad Knowledge City, Madhapur (HITEC City); starts from INR 15,000/ USD 210; itchotels.in
Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre
Conveniently located adjacent to the Hyderabad International Convention Centre and next to HITEC City, this contemporary business hotel sprawls across 15 acres of manicured lawns and features 288 plush rooms. Its close proximity to IT and pharma giants, while being adjacent to India’s most trusted MICE venue, makes it a preferred stay for business travellers. It’s also ideal for anyone who wishes to experience the bustle of the metropolis and then retreat to a peaceful haven. Food Exchange is a casual multi-cuisine dining destination, while La Cantina serves authentic Pan Asian in a beautiful al fresco setting. Enjoy a tipple at The Bar and a pampering session at the spa to round off a day of business or sightseeing.
Address: Novotel & HICC Complex, PO Bag 1101, Cyberabad; starts from INR 6,500/ USD 91; novotelhyderabad.com