This post is on Hyderabad, an important city in South India. Hyderabad is famous for its cuisine (Hyderabadi Biryani especially), Charminar, Chudi (Bangle) bazaar and Pearl Markets. We visited this city in January 2010. We had taken a week off to visit Hyderabad and then go to Kabini. We spent 4 days and 3 nights in Hyderabad. It was a family trip consisting of my parents and a cousin. My sister, who at that time was working in Hyderabad, would also be joining us. I had done enough research about the place before going and was very clear about what I wanted to see. Ramoji Film City was not in our agenda at all since we wanted to experience the charm of Hyderabad namely its ancient monuments :) We had booked rooms in Hotel Geetanjali near Abids which is one of the older areas of Hyderabad. This is a very basic hotel but served our needs nonetheless.We took the Garib Rath train on a friday night at around 9 from Yeshwanthpur and reached the Secunderabad railway station at around 7 AM the next day. We had requested for cab from the hotel and it took us half an hour to reach the place. After refreshing ourselves we spoke to the hotel person and worked out an itinerary for the day. We set out from the hotel at around 11 AM.
Our first halt was at Salar Jung Museum. This is a huge museum with wide range of collections belonging to the Salar Jungs who served as the Prime Ministers of Hyderabad. There is a wide spread of crockery, furniture, jewelry, paintings etc. The most important exhibit in this museum is a clock in which every hour is chimed by a wooden doll who pops out of the upper part of the clock and strikes a gong as many number of times as the hour of the day :) We spent around 3 hrs here. By the time we came out,all of us were very hungry. We asked the cab driver (Mr Khan) to take us to some good restaurant. Luckily this city has no dearth of places where you get good food. He took us to Sukh Sagar restaurant which is pretty close to Birla Mandir which would be our next stop. We had Andhra meals here which was very good.
We set out for Birla Mandir after the hearty lunch. One thing about Birla Mandirs all over is that you are not allowed to take either cellphones or cameras inside. The views of the city that could be seen as we climbed the steps of the temple were awesome. Unfortunately it could not be captured in our cameras :( After offering our prayers to God, we spent some time walking around the temple and gazing at the views of the city all around. We did manage to take a pic of the temple from outside as we were leaving.
Since it was early evening, our driver suggested us to visit the Hussain Sagar lake which was nearby. This is a huge artificial lake whose water is from River Musi. This lake separates the twin joined-at-the-hip cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. There is a huge Buddha Statue on an island in the lake. We sat on benches in the park outside the lake and had ice cream :) Lot of boat ride options are available here including speed boats. My cousin who had already visited this place a few years back suggested that we take the ferry to the Buddha statue. Acting upon her words, we decided to go. It turned out to be a nice experience. The pedestal around the statue felt very nice. We got awesome views of the sunset from here.
The driver had told us that we could watch the laser show that takes place on weekends from 6.30 onwards in the Lumbini park which was right next to the lake. Nagesh went to get tickets for all of us. The crowd swelled as the start time of the show was nearing. We managed to get good places. The show started and we were mesmerized right from the start. The images looked so real. The history of Hyderabad was explained followed by images of Char Minar and others.
By the time the show got over it was around 8 PM. We stepped out and got some nice pictures of the Birla mandir which was lit. The road around the lake is called Necklace Road and is a superb drive. It looks lovely by the night with lights all around. We had dinner at Hotel Taj Mahal which is another good restaurant that we found near where we were put up. This was the place for breakfast and dinner for the rest of the days that we were there :)
We had planned to cover old Hyderabad on this day. Our first stop was at H.E.H. Nizam Musuem. When we reached there we were told that there was a power cut and visibility would not be great inside. So we decided to come back there later in the day.
We proceeded to the next destination which was Chowmahalla Palace. This is a beautiful place and houses the Car collection of the Nizam in addition to furniture, weapons. The Darbar hall is lovely with chandeliers all around it. The quaint courtyards and grounds of the palace were pleasant.
The next stop was at Charminar which is at the heart of the old city. It has two levels above ground floor. We climbed a rickety flight of stairs and reached the first floor from where we could spot the four arches (darwaazas) in the four directions which marked some of the important streets leading into the old city. The second floor is barred for the general public. After spending some time here, we went to the Mecca Masjid which was right across the road from charminar. This is the second largest mosque in India.
Now it was time for some authentic Hyderabadi cuisine. It was lunch time and we were eagerly awaiting the chance to eat some authentic biriyani. Our driver took us to Shadaab, a restaurant in the old city. We had a hearty lunch consisting of delicious biriyani (both chicken and Vegetarian) followed by Khubani Ka Meetha (a Hyderabadi dessert made of apricots topped with cream).
Our next destination was pretty unique. It was the Sudha Car Museum about which I had heard quite a bit. It is claimed to be the only museum in the world with custom cars in various creatively designed shapes by Mr Sudhakar. He has made it to the Guiness Book of World Records for making the world’s largest tricycle which was on display at the museum! Below you will see a “Nikon” car. And yes, these fancy cars at the museum are all fully operational!!
We ended our day’s travel by going back to the H.E.H.Nizam Museum which houses the wardrobe of the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad which is very long, purportedly the world’s longest. It also has relics and gifts given by various dignitaries to the Nizam. There are models of almost all important buildings of Hyderabad on display here. The amount of Gold and Silver used in the cabinets and other pieces of furniture is staggering. This museum is owned by the descendants of the Nizam who today live in Europe.
On heading back to the hotel,I saw that the entire street around had turned into a bustling second hand book market. My joy knew no bounds. It being a Sunday, this was Hyderabad’s book market at its best. The entire footpath was filled with books of all sorts. I couldn’t resist naturally. I went to check out the books along-with my dad and cousin. Got some rare books of Pearl S Buck for dirt cheap prices. Some amount of bargaining helped us strike out great deals and we got some good books :)
The shopping for dresses was still pending. All of us except Nagesh set out to the cloth shops to buy some dress materials for all of us. My sister gifted me and my cousins some lovely dress materials. If you can find the right shops and bargain a bit, Hyderabad is the place for buying clothes. The rates can be much cheaper than in Bangalore for sure. We ended the tiring but satisfactory day with dinner in Taj Mahal hotel again!
This day was dedicated for Golkonda and the Qutb Shahi tombs which were quite far from where we were staying. En route we stopped at the NTR memorial and spent some time here. The Necklace road looked so lovely during the daytime too.
The Qutub Shahi tombs are situated near Golkonda Fort and house the tombs of seven of the famous Qutub Shahi rulers. The domes of the tombs have intricate carvings in the shape of bangle and pineapple! A stone epitaph of a poem on the royal tombs of Golkonda written by Sarojini Naidu has been put up here.
After having lunch at a deserted restaurant which turned out to be utterly hopeless (the only time food disappointed us here), we proceeded to go to Golkonda fort. It was almost 3 PM. This fort is in a reasonably good condition and is a splendid example of the architecture of the Qutub Shahi kings. The sheer magnitude of the place left us spellbound. We were fortunate enough to get an old man as a guide who was so energetic and knowledgeable about the place that he kept us on our toes all the way up to the top of the fort. We were determined to make it to the top of the fort though the height and number of steps was making us feel skeptical about the whole venture. This place is also famous for many diamonds that have been mined here in history. The most famous amongst the diamonds is the famous Kohinoor diamond. The place where this diamond was found is called Kohinoor garden. Our guide explained to us about lot of the details of the fort including the system of guarding the fort, providing water supply, the echo system of communication between guards situated far away at various points of the fort etc. I would suggest that anyone who goes to visit Hyderabad should definitely go here and use the services of a guide provided at the ticket counter. The views of the city far away from the top were brilliant.
After 6.30 PM there is a light and sound show which runs for almost one hour at the fort with a narration of the history of the fort. The fort looked magnificent bathed in a rich hue of light of various colors. The show was good though a little too long possibly.
The day came to an end for us with a long drive back to the hotel followed by dinner at Taj Mahal hotel once more.
This was to be the last day in this city for us. It was Republic day and we were happy to see that patriotic songs were being played in the streets near our hotel and the whole city wore a festive look with the Indian flags fluttering everywhere. Our last visit was to the Nehru Zoo which is one of the largest zoos in India. We took a vehicle and did a complete tour of the zoo.
On the way back, we bought the famous biscuits from Karachi Bakery and sweets from Pulla Reddy Sweets. It was time to say goodbye! We checked out of the hotel, dropped my sister back to her PG and boarded the Garib Rath back to Bangalore. All in all this was a very good trip and will remain etched in our memories forever :)