Ever it happened to you that the place you visit with least expectations and meager planning surprise you with splendour hidden away in its ordinary looks..? It happened to me..in Hyderabad. A brisk walk down the memory lanes to recall — How this city of pearls swept me off my feet..? And 10 things that come to the top of my mind when I think of Hyderabad…
1. A day at Ramoji Film City
Ramoji Film city, Charminar and Golkonda Fort : with this sweet little agenda on our minds, we arrived in Hyderabad and religiously followed it by turning up at Ramoji film city on Day 1. “Filmy duniya” packed with Bollywood-themed activities, huge filming sets, gardens, scenic landscapes looked seductively promising on the brochure. Certainly a day was tooooo short and exhaustive to sample every pleasure it had to offer. Also the high-priced tickets allowed a limited indulgence in unlimited action/drama that unfolds there everyday. To do so, one has to be quick as lightening and sharp as a tack. As we hit the entrance, we quickly devised a list of things to cover in a day and putting first things first came up with an optimal tour path that covered almost EVERYTHING we wanted! 😀
2. Old Hyderabad’s iconic centerpiece – Charminar
There are many theories regarding why Charminar was constructed? Most popular and widely accepted one is that it was built to commemorate eradication of widespread plague.
Charminar in Urdu means four towers. It has two terraces out of which only lower terrace was open for public. While we had a panoramic glance at the city, three most spectacular heritage structures caught our attention. We needed more information.
While we were adoring the artwork and taking pictures, we noticed a security guard standing at a distance watching us, smiling with pride and curious to add to information simply waiting for a little nudge. Honestly we were too! We approached him and he was delighted to become our two minute tour guide. He went on and on about Charminar, other heritage sites and local peculiarities.
“From the upper terrace city looks far more beautiful but its banned for public as it has turned into notorious suicide spot..” he further added.
“Filmy logo ke filmy andaaz, Sahabji.. Aur kya?” he left with disgruntled whisper..
Another interesting thing we noticed is that on one side of Charminar there is Mecca Masjid maintaining its peaceful decorum and just in front of it lays a super-noisy market and as if the two are separated by imaginary wall.
3. Shopping spree at Chudi bazaar & Moti Bazaar
Just at the foot of Charminar..there’s huge market of pearls and churi’s (bangles). Though it wasn’t on our agenda, we went in. How a woman can say “no” to check out shopping place? At the entrance, a flock of marketeers besieged us.. showing off their fancy merchandises and bidding off their best deals. Looking at our inconveniece, a security guard (other than one from the terrace) standing around shooed them off and offered us free word of advice on how dubious stuff is being sold in the pearl shops around and we should visit relatively high-priced “MeenaBazar” a Government authorized dealer shop. Upon visiting MeenaBazar, we soon figured, he too was a part of whole marketing gimmick. 😛
We cautiously explored the market area..and found two “the best” shops to buy bangles and pearl sets. We bought quality stuff for a reasonable price.. and I haggled my way! 😉
4. Chau Mahalla palace — Legacy left behind!
After gratifying shopping experience, we decided to ditch our old itinerary and explore newly discovered monuments. We headed towards nearest one of them first —Chaumahalla Palace. And Golconda was long forgotten..
Chaumahalla Palace is stylish and elegant royal mansion.. from late 18th century. A well maintained heritage site.
It has two courtyards, Darbaar, a clock tower and huge fountain in the centre surrounded by flower garden and a lake. Southern courtyard is the oldest structure which has four palaces where Nizams lived. Northen courtyard has “Imambara“, a long corridor of rooms facing central fountain.
Darbaar hall is the most beautiful of all. Its luminous yellow walls adorned with intricate stucco work, muraled ceilings, pure marble floor, grand pillars and crystal chandeliars got me thinking about richness of its past.
The palace also maintains impressive vintage car collection used by Nizams.
I must say Nizams surely had a good taste!!
5. Sumptuous..nutritious Haleem and Nahari
At 5 in the evening, Chaumahalla was finally done seeing. Empty stomachs rumbled…. for Hyderabadi Biryani!!
We had heard a lot about famous Hyderabadi biryani. But thought of taking public opinion for fun and inquired localites about the best place/cuisine to eat. With that successful experiment, we discovered two not so famous but drool-worthy Hyderbadi cuisines – Haleem and Nahari.
Many of them recommended Shadab Hotel, few blocks away from Charminar. It indeed turned out the good place that served both.
6. Osmania General Hospital
Osmania General Hospital and High Court were the next two to be seen. These two structures and Hyderabad railway station were designed by British architect Vincent Esch for his exalted highness Osman Ali Khan (the last Nizam of princely state of Hyderabad) in early 20th century. Its the largest hospital in Telangana state and is now run by government.
It was almost 6 in the evening. On the way to high court we could see Osmania hospital shining brightly in the dusky golden light accross the Musi river. And that was it. A small rendezvous for time sake.
7. High Court
At the high court building entrance, we were stopped by police. It needed either a court case or special permissions taken beforehand to go inside. We had none, so we were sent back from the gate 😛 Nevermind that’s the glimpse we got from outside. Magnificent, isn’t it?
With falling night we had to wind up our sightseeing.
Hyderabad is developing at fast pace. Skyscrapers rising, metro rail network being laid and city is gearing up to imbibe mall culture but Hyderabad ‘s soul lies in its heritage. Its the real charm of this city. On this little note, day summed up!
8. Karachi Bakery – Best cookies I ate ever!
Hungry again. It was time for another round of popular Hyderbadi snacks. Fruit biscuits, Dilkush and plum cake. At Karachi Bakery, in Mozzam Jahi Market.
Bakery has its branches strewn all over the city. The one in the Jahi matket is the first and authentic one.
Day 2 loaded with touristy luck, surprises, happy accidents finally ended with scrumptious treat.
9. Finding peace at Hussainsagar
Sunday. Absolutely no plans and a train to catch in the afternoon.
After long laid-back morning breakfast, we hit the road for a quiet walk along breezy Hussainsagar lake. There is grand Buddha statue( 18 meter high, weight 450 tons, chiseled out of single granite rock ) right in the middle of the lake.. and ferries available from inside Lumbini Park can take you there.
We took the ferry.
Statue looked grim from the distance.. may be its grey shade in contrast with hazy skyline and turbid lake water made it so but surprisingly bright and beautiful from closer.
As we got down from the boat, on the red lotus petals pristine Lord Buddha stood tall in front us, blessing and gracing the city of Hyderabad.
On that breezy note we bid goodbye to Hyderabad..
Two days are not enough to explore the city thoroughly but good enough to get a gist of what Hyderabad is all about.
And from here begins starting points of our future trip to Hyderbad..
10. A really loooooooooong wardrobe (Purani Haveli)
Or call it Nizam’s museum. Old mansion that holds fabulous collection of articles presented to seventh Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan (the last ruler) and his really looooooooooooooooong wardrobe.
11. Falaknuma Palace
Another breathtaking pristine white stately residence. It’s now leased to Taj groups by royal family. You need table reservations to get inside look and a willingness to atleast spend 1000 bucks on a hot beverage. I do. I will.
12. Impregnable Golkonda
From the original agenda”Golkonda Fort”.
Hyderabad, we are definitely coming back some day!!