City of Nizams – Hyderabad may look like any other city of south India, however, the city stands out due to the way it has welcomed and embraced the culture and people of other parts of the country. Believe me or not, it is far more than its scrumptious biryani and Nizam’s affiliation.
The city is a home of amazing architectural wonders and is fondly known as one of the biggest trading centres of pearls today. A place that has given birth to many innovative creations (that you will find out in this article), is the epitome of grandeur.
Way back in 2013, when my husband shared the news of getting shifted to Hyderabad from the metropolitan Delhi, it really broke my heart. I did not like the new city even after many months of our shifting until I visited the Hussain Sagar lake. It took me back to the childhood days where I used to sit in front of the beaches for hours and hours. It was then I decided to explore this IT hub as a tourist and do you know what I found out?
I was astounded to envision a number of fascinating places resting safely within the womb of this beautiful city of Nizam’s. I have to be honest with you all, Hyderabad is my second favourite city in the country today. The city includes a huge list of restaurants with fabulous themes and style that may blow your mind as it did to me. With great food (street food to non veg items) and excellent places to shop to wonderful places to visit, it has plenty of things to offer to its travelers.
As the name shouts for itself, Charminar is mainly a four-tower mosque that in true sense is the pride of the city. This gorgeous masterpiece is embellished with Indo-Islamic architecture style together with the Persian architectural influence. Tourists can have a view of the old city and many prominent places including Mecca Masjid (another popular masjid) and Chowmalla Palace from the top of the pillar.
It is the paradise for the female shoppers however, is supremely crowded place. The market has everything from designer sarees to pearls, footwears, home furnishing stuff, artificial jewelleries, perfumes and many other fascinating things. It’s lad bazaar is famous for the colourful bangles ranging from metal made to bangles fabricated from laad.
Word of Caution: Although Hyderabad is known for its authentic pearls, several native hawkers can be seen selling fake pearls.
Brief History: Quli Qutub Shah created the Charminar in the year of 1951. It is believed that the ruler had prayed to eliminate the plague, which was severely affecting his city. He built the Charminar after the end of this ferocious disease. As per the locals, it has an underground tunnel that connects it to the Golconda fort constructed for the emergencies.
Time to visit: Charminar can be visited anytime in a day however, the permission to enter the minar is only granted between 9 am to 5 pm.
Entry Tickets: It might come as a shock for many travellers, but the entry tickets for Indians is just Rs 5 and for its international tourists is Rs 100. There is no fee if you do not wish to explore this iconic monument from inside.
Chowmalla Palace happened to be the official residence of the Nizams, is undoubtedly the most astounding monument of Hyderabad. The palace that had once hosted myriads of royal guests is presently open for the general public as a museum. With intrigue architectural designs to the royal exhibits, the palace is truly a symbol of grandeur.
The name chowmalla consists of two words; chow which means four and malla refer to mahal. The most majestic part of the palace is that the Kilwat Mubarak or the Durbar Hall, that showcases an excellent collection of opulent chandeliers. The sight of these Belgian crystal-made chandeliers is unbelievably majestic together with the royal seat placed on the white marble floor. Additionally, the hall has dedicated rooms displaying the china crockeries, engraved furniture and the old weapons used during the time of Nizam’s.
The palace also has a clock tower that is believed to be functional for more than 250 years. With their vintage collection of decorative artifacts to their superbly designed royal garments, the royal collection leaves it’s visitors mesmerized. The palace also has a corner dedicated for its vintage cars, amongst that the Rolce Royce car of 1912 model effortlessly steals the show.
If I could say this that mere words won’t do justice to the wonder of this place. This splendid palace is a photographer’s delight and has a gorgeous lawn with carpet grass to slug around. A stunning fountain pool right at the center of this garden is another attraction that tourist can’t take their eyes of.
Brief History: The construction of the palace was originally started under the kingdom of Salabat Jung in 1750, however was finally completed by Afzal Asif in 1869. One of the most magnificent palaces of Hyderabad, this palace was initially built on 45 acres of land. Unfortunately, only 12 acres of the land can be seen as the palace premise today. It is also believed that the palace is inspired by the Shah of Iran’s palace in Tehran.
Time to visit: Opens at 10 am until 5 pm on all days except on Fridays and national holidays.
Entry Tickets: The entry ticket is Rs 80 for Indians and Rs 200 for the international guests. Separate tickets have to be compelled to be taken for photography.
A must visit place for all the art lovers, Salarjung museum is one of the largest museums in the world. Besides, it happens to be one of the three national museums in India. It has a huge collection of paintings, sculptures, carpets, engraved furniture from Japan, Burma, Nepal, India, Egypt, Europe and many other countries, lamps, manuscripts, textiles, crockeries and many more of ancient treasures.
The museum has a large musical clock that has a bearded old man who keeps popping out every time it completes an hour. It might sound weird to many; however, a heap of the visitors waits eagerly to watch this sight in the courtyard.
Entry Tickets: Rs 20 for Indians and Rs 500 for foreign tourists.
Entry Time: 10 am to 5 pm every day except on Fridays.
RAMOJI FILM CITY
One of the most visited place in Hyderabad, Ramoji film city is a dream world that offers a visual treat to its guests. It is covered over 2000 acres of land and is the largest film studio in the world. It enjoys the fame of being mentioned in the books of Guinness world record. Ramoji film city is built by the Telugu film producer Ramoji Rao and is used for many film and tv shootings.
Air-conditioned buses are available throughout the day that takes the guests to different locations of the film city including various sets of hospitals, airport, Hollywood sets, the royal gardens, sets of temples, forts and many more places. The studio features a section dedicated to the kids that organize magic shows. They even have a dancing space opened for all with the facility of a rain dance.
In addition to this, few technical hacks of shooting like how to get the sound of rain, etc are explained in one room. Viewers can also get pleasure from the cultural dance events during the opening and closing time of the studio and rest can enjoy the stunt shows.
It also has few statues of Charlie Chaplin, Angelina Jolly and few other celebrities where travelers love to get their pictures clicked. Many ravishing places can be captured in the cameras for memory sake. The bird section is my personal favorite with a variety of birds from beautiful parrots to big ostriches.
The tour to Ramoji certainly needs one entire day and demands a lot of walking so wearing a pair of comfortable shoes and carrying an umbrella is advisable. Although, one could get the refreshment shops inside, however, a glass of bottle handy is good.
Entry Tickets: Ramoji has many attractive tour packages but the basic ticket costs of Rs 1150 per adult and 950 Rs per children. They provide corporate discounts too. One can inquire about the package that includes private (Ramoji studio’s) vehicles to explore the studio instead of the shuttle bus along with the food. Additionally, there are a couple of hotels to stay inside the studio.
Opening Time: 9 am to 7:30 pm every day but the entry time is only till 2 pm
CHILKUR BALAJI TEMPLE – THE VISA TEMPLE
Hyderabad is a hub of IT companies and produces innumerable engineers annually, that gives birth to many dreams to work abroad. For which the city has a temple that when visited, sanctions your visa. Yeah! You heard me right. There is a temple that welcomes thousands of devotees, offering their prayers and doing parikramas (walking around the main temple making a circle), with a wish to get their visa approved to travel abroad.
It is suggested, to begin with 11 rounds and once the visa gets approved, then the devotee can revisit the temple to take 108 rounds for thanking the Lord. The fascinating part of this temple is its priests who not only recite the slokas and mantras but also motivates the crowd with his inspirational talks with a touch of humor.
This ancient Hindu temple is popularly referred to the visa temple or Chilkur Balaji temple and is found at the banks of Osman Sagar. This temple that worships Lord Balaji is almost 33 km away from Mednipattnam, Hyderabad, and witnesses over 1 lakh devotees every week. The temple does not encourage any sort of donations by its visitors, which is a rare thing these days.
When to Visit: The temple is opened throughout the day from 5 am to 8 pm on all days of the week and has no entry fee for its visitors. I would suggest planning an early morning visit to this pilgrimage to avoid an excessive amount of crowd. After all, many of us who secretly wishes to travel overseas and visa certainly plays an essential role in that. No harm in trying your luck right?
How to Visit: The temple is built in the outskirts of Hyderabad and can be reached easily by cabs or personal vehicles. In case the parikramas make you tired, then you may satiate your hunger by trying the south Indian food in the local hotels outside the temple.
Another popular tourist destination of Hyderabad is this enormous ancient fort, built on a round shaped hill. In past years, this was the capital of Qutub Shahi. This massive fort has eight gates with 15-18 foot towering walls that have kept it protected by the attack of enemies and elephants.
Guides are readily available inside the fort at a nominal cost. As soon as you enter the fort, the guide will make you clap which can be heard at the highest point of the fort. This method was practiced as a communication mode to alert the majesty.
Additionally, the Fort was once used to be the hub of diamond market dealing with diamonds like Kohinoor and Hope diamonds. The Golconda fort also has terrific architectural designs making it an architectural treasure of our country. I found it little tiring to explore the entire fort so would suggest planning a trip either in the early hours of the morning or in the evening.
The fort also has a light and sound show with a voice-over by the legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan. The shows are shown in Telugu, Hindi and English languages.
Entry Time: 9 am to 5:30 pm is the time to visit the Fort. The first show of the light and sound show happens at 6:30 pm from November to February and its second show is at 7:45 pm. In the months between March to October, the show timings are 7 pm (first show) and 8:15 pm (second show)
Entry Tickets: Entry tickets are quite reasonable with 15 rs for Indians and 100 Rs for the foreign tourists. There is an additional charge of 25 rs for the still camera and 130 Rs for the light and sound show.
HUSSAIN SAGAR LAKE
Hussain Sagar is an unbelievably beautiful lake that is a sight to behold. This artificial lake is designed in the shape of a necklace and connects the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Around the lake is a beautiful Lumbini park that is a great place to relax and fun around with friends. Boating tickets can be purchased from this place to enjoy a boat ride.
The lake looks beautiful throughout the day; however, the beauty reaches its peak once the lights are on after the sunset. The statue of Gautam Buddha standing right at the center of the lake looks mesmeric. There are many close by tourist spots, including the famous Birla temple, NTR garden and Jalvihar water park that also attracts the guests to visit.
When to Visit: The Lake can be visited any time during the day; however boating time has some restrictions (it might gets smelly at times).
Ideal For: The lake is ideal for boating, parasailing, morning and evening stroll, suitable for a jog, photography and to sit and enjoy the serene ambiance. There are many eating joints and restaurants close to the lake, offering a great place to relax and enjoy the food with a captivating lake view. Ohris and waterfront are two of my favourite restaurants that I love to visit each time I am near this beautiful lake.
SUDHA CAR MUSEUM
If you crave to explore unique and new things, then Sudha car museum guarantees to not leave you disappointed. As it sounds by its name, this place has a crazy collection of various cars designed and created by K Sudhakar. Sudhakar who happens to be the owner of this extraordinary automobile museum also enjoys the fame of entering in the Guinness World Record book for his invention of the largest tricycle in the world of 41 feet and 7 inches.
In addition to this, he is also the proud owner of the smallest train in our country with a seating capacity of 10 people. What makes this place unique is the innovative designs that one can not even imagine. A not to be missed place, it has car models resembling daily used objects including pens, football, burger, billiard table, lipsticks, bridal dress shaped and many more.
The car museum also flaunts its collection of vintage cars and bikes that is loved by its viewers a lot. It is a great place to experience something different from the usual travel itineraries.
Ideal For: Car lovers and children would love this place for sure; however, it is one place that I would strongly recommend to visit by all.
Entry Tickets: The tickets are only 50 Rs per adult and 15 Rs per child
Opening Hours: It is opened all days between 9:30 am to 6:30 pm
Shilparamam is a village themed park with a common platform to showcase the various art & crafts of India. One of my favourite place in Hyderabad, it is a heaven for shopping lovers. The park repletes a variety of shops, each representing various states of our country.
From Punjab’s phulkari to Gujarat’s kutch work, the market offers a massive collection of oxidized and other traditional jewelry, Kashmiri carpets, carved furniture, stylish décor items and a plethora of things that can blow your mind. Did I by any chance mention that this place allows you to haggle?
The market also has a dedicated corner highlighting the traditional art forms, including clay pottery and handloom work. This absolute gorgeous place has a sort of positive energy that makes you fall in love immediately. From sketch artists to the nameplate makers, Shilparamam can leave you spellbound in a jiffy.
With many selfie corners to the rock and sculpture museum, the place acts as a perfect place to hang out with friends. Boating is another prime attraction of this place that adds instant joy amongst its viewers. At the center of this place is an open Ampie-theatre where one could see many dance performances by the artists coming from all over the country.
Things to do: Shopping, Boating, Photography, Trying delicious foods, Exploring various handicrafts, Getting your sketches made by the artists, Lazing in the beautiful garden, Play area for the kids and a romantic walk.
The time needed to visit: The entire day might not be enough for people like me who adores the Indian artifact and love to shop. So, how much time one may like to devote to this place is absolutely on you; however, I can say for sure that 1 or 2 hours won’t do any justice to this place.
When to Visit: Shilparamam can be visited any day during the year however it’s beauty gets enhanced during the annual festival that happens in February and during the festivals of Makar Sankranti and Dushera.
Entry Tickets: It has a very nominal amount of ticket charges with 20 Rs for the children and Rs 40 per adult.
Opening hours: It remains open between 10:30 am to 5:30 pm on all days of the week.
There are many exciting places to visit in and near the city, but if you only got 2-3 days handy then you may follow: (my personal favorites are Ramoji, Chowmalla, Sudha car museum, and Shiparamam)
Dedicate one complete day to the beautiful Ramoji city as it will be too exhausting to cover any other place on the same day. You can enjoy your dinner enjoying the lake view of Hussain Sagar and rest for the day.
The second day can be utilized to explore the Chowmalla, Charminar, Golconda and Salar Jung. One must try the delicious Halim (you have to develop the taste, not many like it. But those who like it find the dish really yum.), it’s world famous biryani (Paradise biryani tastes good but you can also explore biryani from Bawarchi or try in Charminar), some street food especially in Sindhi colony or outside the IT companies in Hi-tech city.
The third day can be started with a quick visit to Sudha car museum and then head for shopping at Shilparamam or markets of Abid, Koti, etc. You can explore the Inorbit and Sujana Malls that have most of the brands in one place.
Few things you may like to shop from the city are pearls (you will be amazed by the number of shops selling pearls, but you can try Mangatrai, Amarsons, or you can also explore the Charminar). Hyderabad also has a vast collection of silk sarees that will be available in any South India Mall or Nallis (quite expensive though). You can also explore the wholesale saree market in Begum Bazaar.
Best Time To Visit: September to February
How To Visit: Hyderabad is well equipped by an international airport which gives you one more reason to fall in love with this city. Alternatively, it has good rail connectivity and two of its main train stations are Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
Travel enthusiasts can enjoy a road trip from any part of the country and if you are recently shifted to Hyderabad then give a read to our article on road trip to Goa from Hyderabad. Public buses and cabs are readily available to travel across the city and even a metro ride can be enjoyed in some routes.
Hyderabad seems to be blessed by pleasant weather and even the summer evenings are great. So, if it is the weather that was pulling you down, give it a shut up call and pack your bags right away. You will love the city and its people and if you get to stay here for a month or so then trust me you would want to settle down here for sure.
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