“City of Pearls”, “City of Nizams”, “Cyberabad” – these adjectives are normally used for the densely populated metropolitan city of Hyderabad. However, after a certain point even these adjectives fall short to describe the rich cultural heritage, the regal historical inheritance and the bursting business tourism in this capital city of Andhra Pradesh. Distinctly demarcated as the Old City and the new upcoming technology hub, Hyderabad is a fascinating experience for every kind of traveler that should not be missed. Here is the list of best places to visit in Hyderabad.
The prime landmark that is synonymous with the city of Hyderabad is the monument of Charminar. Built in 1591 by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah in the heart of the city, this four-column monument of gigantic proportions derives its name from the four (Char) minarets (minar) sitting atop each column. Looming over the old city, the Charminar is an awe-inspiring sight that becomes even more spectacular when it is illuminated every day in the evening from 7pm to 9pm. Having a unique blend of Islamic and Persian architectural styles, the Charminar has two functional floors. While the first floor provides a bird’s eye view of the bustling city, the second floor is home to the oldest mosque in the city.
Dating back to the 13th century, this gargantuan fort is another impressive sight in Hyderabad. Situated 11 kilometers away on the western outskirts of Hyderabad, the Golconda Fort has witnessed several dynasties starting from the Kakatiyas, the Bahamani, the Qutb Shahi to finally the Mughals. And similar to these dynasties, a major portion of the Fort lays in ruins today, however, that does not stop it from exuding the powerful and rich regalia of its past. Apart from its majestic fortifications and stunning views, this Fort is particularly known for its ingenious acoustics – a clap at one point can be heard as an echo at another point that is a kilometer away. In addition to guided tours, this place hosts a light and sound show every evening recounting its rich past.
Located near the Charminar, the 200-year old Chowmahalla Palace is an evidence of the opulence of the Nizams of Hyderabad. From its tasteful architectural style, the grand Mahals, the beautiful gardens to the various exhibits, this palace oozes a charm that is peculiar of the royalty that resided here. This palace is large enough to accommodate four palaces (Aftab Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tanhiyat Mahal and Afzal Mahal), two huge courtyards, several gardens and a magnificent durbar hall – Khilwat Mubarak. The Khilwat Mubarak, the official ceremony house of the Nizams, is particularly famous for its Italian marble interiors and 19 Belgian crystal chandeliers that adorned this hall.
Another prime attraction in the old city is the Mecca (Makkah) Masjid which is one of the oldest mosques in Hyderabad. Also, one of the largest mosques in India, the construction for this mosque was begun by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah in 1617 and was later beautified and completed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1694. This mosque derives its name from the fact that the bricks in the central arch of the prayer hall were made from the soil brought from Mecca. With a length of 180 feet, the 220 feet wide prayer hall is so immensely vast that it accommodates 10,000 people at a time.
Qutb Shahi Tombs
Located at a distance of about 2 kilometers from the Golconda Fort, are the beautiful granite tombs of the rulers of the founding dynasty of Hyderabad – the Qutb Shahi rulers. Placed in Ibrahim Bagh on raised platforms, seven magnificent tombs are occupied by the Qutb Shahi Rulers themselves. The other tombs include the family members along with mosques built by the rulers. Displaying a distinctive blend of Persian and Hindu architectural styles, the intricately carved stonework in these tombs is an elegant and artistic sight. The most splendid of all tombs, is that of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah. For more information, you can also visit the exhibition near the entrance of these tombs.
Salar Jung Museum
One of the most popular museums in Hyderabad, is the Salar Jung Museum, which houses the vast collection cumulated by Mir Yousuf Ali Khan who was also known as Salar Jung III. Located on the banks of Musi River, this museum is one of the three national museums as well as one of the largest in India. This personal collection includes a plethora of Indian miniature paintings, Persian carpets, Indian bronze statues, Chinese porcelain and jade carvings, Arabic and Persian manuscripts, sculptures from Europe, Africa and various parts of Asia and much more. This collection of almost 35,000 antiques from all over the world is spread out over 39 galleries and is an art lover’s paradise. While here, do not miss the famous “Veiled Rebecca” which is marble statue sculpted by the 19th century Italian sculptor Giovani Battista Benzoni.
Hussain Sagar Lake
Interconnecting the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, the Hussain Sagar Lake is one of the largest man-made lakes – the Hussain Sagar Lake. Built during the period of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah on a tributary of Musi River, this picturesque lake is a major tourist attraction. Particularly known for its 16-meter-tall, white-granite Buddha Statue installed at the center of the lake, this place also known as Tank Bund. You can hire a regular local ferry and reach this statue at the centre of the lake. Apart from that, various other options such as boating, sailing and para-sailing and yachting are also available at this lake.
Located in Banjara Hills, the Jagannath Temple in Hyderabad is a replica of the original Puri Jagannath Temple in Orissa. Built in the same architectural style as well as using the same red sandstone that was used for the original, this temple is a departure from the usual Persian style monuments spread across Hyderabad. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, where his statue resides along with those of his siblings – Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra. Also, there are five other temples in the complex dedicated to different Hindu deities. The most notable features of this temple are the carvings of the nine incarnations of Lord Vishnu and 70-feet high Shikhara (central tower).
Sitting atop the Kalapahad (Black Mountain) hillock and offering a mesmerizing view of the Hussain Sagar Lake and the Old city is the exquisite Birla Mandir. Located on the southern side of the Hussain Sagar Lake, this beautifully carved temple, made out of white marble imported especially from Rajasthan, reflects a mix of South Indian and Oriya styles of architecture. Dedicated to Tirupati Venkateshwara, this temple house huge, imposing statues of Sri Venkateshwara along with several other Hindu deities. Also, there is a separate shrine dedicated to Lord Buddha. Spend your time looking out on the horizon from this vantage point or marveling at the beautiful marble carvings depicting scenes from the Hindu Mythology.
Ramoji Film City
The Ramoji Film City, as the name suggests, is a fantastic cinematic experience taking the travelers into the magical world of movies. Recorded as the world’s largest film studio complex in the Guinness Book of Records, this phenomenal place spread across 2000 acres was established by Ramoji Rao in 1996. Attracting movie buffs and other tourists alike, this film city centered around unique cinematic themes has Studio tours, a myriad of parks – Movie Magic Park, a bird park (Wings) and Kid’s park, Live shows, Adventure sports and a cinematic museum called Eureka. An entire day-trip is the best way to enjoy this cinematic universe.
Providing a cool respite from the scorching heat of Hyderabad summers is the Snow World – India’s biggest snow-themed park. Attracting the locals as well as tourists, this state-of-the-art park churns out fresh snow every single day of the year for the tourists visiting this place. Inaugurated in 2004, the Snow World maintains sub-zero temperatures making the experience even more authentic. The Snow World offers myriad of activities such as ice-skating, sledging, go-karting in the snow and snow sculptures. Apart from these, the Snow World also has an arena for kids complete with snow slides, snow merry-go-rounds, bumping cars and much more.
Birla Science Museum
Attracting all the science geeks is the Birla Science Museum in Hyderabad designed by civil engineer Mr. P. A. Singaravelu. Rated as one of the best science museums, this place is house to a planetarium, art gallery, science center, museum and a dinosaurium. Located on top of Naubat Pahad in the vicinity of Birla Mandir, the Museum is equipped with life-size models and exhibits / live projects based on scientific principles. Add to that, regular movie shows and a huge 160-million-old exhibit of a dinosaur and that makes this museum a great place for kids to develop their scientific know-how.
For a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of city, head towards the Shamirpet lake for some rest and recreation. Located on the outskirts of the city, Shamirpet is a man-made lake dating back to the Nizam reign. Surrounded by lush greenery, the calm waters of the lake rejuvenate those visiting this place. Apart from the regular crowd of humans, the lake also attracts a lot of avian population making it an ideal spot for bird-watching. Apart from birds, you can also visit the Shamirpet Deer Park which is home to deer and peacocks. In case you want to have an overnight stay at Shamirpet, a lot of resorts are available here.
Purani Haveli, as the name suggests, is a palace that was originally built to serve as the residential quarters of Mir Momen, who was the Peshwa of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah. The most distinctive feature of Purani Haveli is its U-shaped complex with the main royal palace at the centre. The main palace is a single storied structure flanked by two oblong wings, each of which comprises of two floors. Intricately designed interiors with antique furniture, elements of European architectural style combined with traditional Indian style courtyards, massive wardrobe home to royal attires and a museum exhibiting artifacts from the Nizam reign make this place a must visit.
Nehru Zoological Park
For wildlife enthusiasts, the Nehru Zoological Park, also known as the Hyderabad Zoo, is the perfect place to spend a day. Even though it was established in the year 1959, it was officially made open to public only in the year 1963. This 380-acre wide zoo serves as a habitat to almost over 1500 species of wildlife which includes the Asiatic Lions, Indian Rhino, Bengal Tiger and White Tiger, elephants, deer and panthers. In addition to the mammals, the neighboring Mir Alam Tank serves as habitat for flocks of migratory birds each year during winter. This park also boasts of a variety of safaris, a butterfly park, an aquarium, elephant rides, a Mini train ride, a Jurassic Park and a museum.