Hyderabad

Hyderabad is the capital of the southern India Telangana state. There are lots of things which comes to my mind when I hear Hyderabad: the famous Charminar, the pearl city; the historical Golkonda Fort; Mugal era; Chowmahalla Palace and many more. Weird as it may sound, for me the thing that comes foremost in my mind is the food. My flight to Pondicherry had a stop over at Hyderabad, so it seemed a perfect opportunity to satisfy my taste buds. I decided a 3 day trip to explore the city as well because hey one can’t eat the whole day.

TRAVELING TO AND AROUND HYDERABAD

We visited Hyderabad late March 2019 . Our holiday was planned with Pondicherry hence we chose the flight option. Depending on where you are coming from, you can reach by train, car and bus also. If your travelling from a nearby destination then car and bus will work. If you are coming from further away then plane is the best option. There are also many inter-state car hires where you can hire a car with a driver to reach the place.

Once in Hyderabad there are again various modes of transport. From the airport it’s roughly 1 hr to the city. Within the city there are local buses, rick and car hire (through tour companies and app). Our main mode of transport in this trip was OLA. Ola is a very popular car hire app in India where you can chose the start point and end point to reach a destination. Most of the bookings can be done for car and rick. Ours was a combination of both. We found the Ola option easiest to travel around.

WHERE WE STAYED IN HYDERABAD

We decided to stay at Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Conventional Centre as we wanted to stay close to Hussain Sagar Lake. There are various options you can chose from but we opted for this. I was very happy with the hotel, the staff were very courteous and made sure our stay was pleasant. We didn’t have any issues in check in and requested for a late check out which was also given without any hesitation. The concierge was also very helpful when we went to enquire about the things to do in Hyderabad. They also had a variety in their breakfast and since we prefer continental over India,  we were pleased with the options available. We also tried the  dinner at the hotel and were again not disappointed.

WHEN TO VISIT HYDERABAD

The best time to visit Hyderabad would be from November to February which is the winter season hence weather is pleasant and cool. We visited in March which is supposed to be the spring but we experienced temperature reaching 40 degrees celcius. Summer is from May to September where by monsoon also occurs from June to September. Its cooler in the evenings, which we also noticed during our trip, while enjoying our evening walks.

THINGS TO DO IN HYDERABAD

HUSSAIN SAGAR LAKE & BUDDHA STATUE

Built by Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah and named after Hussain Shah Wali, you can see this beautiful lake which is shaped like a necklace. In the middle of the lake there is a large Gautam Buddha statue which was erected in 1992 standing on Gibraltar rock. We enjoyed walks along the lake. Should you want there are also boat rides available where they take the boat to the statue. I, however, enjoyed the view from a distant.

NTR GARDEN

Built in memory of the former chief minister late NT Rama Rao. Again this is one which I couldn’t go because it was late night by the time we reached there. In my research I had read there are various recreational options like boat rides, Japanese garden, roaring cascade, fountains etc. Next day when we enquired more about it with our Ola driver he told us that it is not maintained very well anymore and has lost its charm. Personally I can’t share my experience as I didn’t get  a chance to see it.

NECKLACE ROAD

Adjoining the Hussain Sagar lake and connecting the NTR garden to Sanjeevaiah park is this boulevard. It ends up being in the shape of necklace hence the name. It is great for evening strolls around necklace road. However one stretch of this road can be very lonely so avoid late nights here.  The view of the lake at night with lights illuminating from the Buddha statues as awesome.

LUMBINI PARK

It is close to the Buddha statue and built in 1994.There is an entrance fee to the park and it’s mostly filled with kids. There are amusement rides inside the park and the main tourist attraction is the giant clock in the centre of the park.I couldn’t actually see the whole thing cause of my bag issues (explained below). The place seemed very crowded even in the evenings.

RAMOJI FILMCITY

It is the largest filmcity which is spread across 1666 acres of land. There are buses which run for tourists to take people from one spot to another. The highlights were the tour guides on the bus who gave funny commentary and would mention which movies were shot here, in their own unique style.Hyderabad people are very proud of Ramoji filmcity and they make it a point to put in every travel plan. I do have to mention if you are not into Bollywood or Tollywood movies then I would recommend you not to do this.

GOLKONDA FORT

This is the early capital city of Qutb Shahi dynasty and because of its vicinity to the diamond mines, it flourished in diamond trade. The whole of the Golkonda fort complex and its surrounding is spread across 11 km. The fort reveals the architectural beauty in many of the pavilions gates, entrance and domes. We went early morning and explored each and every corner. It took us over 1.5 hours to enjoy the beauty of the place and also see Hyderabad from the top of the fort.

CHARMINAR

This four tower is a monument mosque which has globally been known as the landmark symbol in Hyderabad. The word Charminar comes from Urdu words Char and minar or meenar and it translates to Four Pillars. In order to reach the top you have to climb through the pillars, and come down from another pillar. The place is also known for its famous market which comes alive mostly at night. We visited the place during the day, I would recommend to visit it in the evening.

CHOWMAHALLA PALACE

Palace of the Nizams. The palace is located in the old city near Charminar which is walkable distance. The palace consists of courtyards, fountains and gardens. Inside the palace there are displays for tourists showcasing the mugal’s times.

Other Things to see which we couldn’t cover are

  • Birla mandir- a Hindu temple which took 10 years to complete and is found on Naubath Pahad (hill).
  • Mecca Masjid- largest and main mosque in India situated in the heart of old city of Hyderabad close to Charminar.
  • Qutb Shahi Tombs- located close to Golkonda Fort is the tombs and mosques built by various kings of the Qutb Shahi dynasty.
  • Salar Jung Museum- an art museum which holds a private art collection of the Salar Jung family.

OUR ITINERARY IN HYDERABAD

Day 1

  • Check in the Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Conventional Centre.
  • Went to Paradise hotel by rick for lunch. Booked a car for tomorrow from nearby tour company.
  • Strolled around Hussein Sagar Lake.
  • Saw the Buddha statue in between Hussein Sagar Lake during our stroll.
  • Walked to Lumini park but didn’t enter
  • Walked to NTR garden but skipped it cause it was getting dark.
  • Back to hotel and enjoyed dinner in the hotel.

Most of the above we did on foot as it was close to our hotel but you can also take a cab/ rick depending on where your staying.

Day 2

  • Morning hired a car from tour company and went to Ramoji Film City. Spend time till afternoon in the city. Had lunch inside Ramoji filmcity.
  • Back to hotel and then evening walk along necklace road.
  • Had dinner at Bawarchi.

Day 3

  • Early morning had breakfast at hotel and headed to Golkonda Fort in Ola cab
  • Walked along Golkonda fort. We walked to the top to enjoy the whole view.
  • Booked an Ola cab from the gate and headed to Charminar. Enjoyed Charminar from top view. 
  • From here walked to Chowmohalla Palace. Asking directions will help or you can use google map.
  • Had lunch at Shadab.
  • Headed back to the hotel by rick. Checked out and booked an Ola to the airport.

PLACES AND THINGS TO EAT IN HYDERABAD

Since my holiday was to try out the local cuisines, my journey started with exploring what are some of the things one must definitely try.  During my research I found out that Nizam had a love for slow cooked flavoursome food which were made up of meat, nuts and spices. Their food is a combination of mugal, turkish, Arabic along with influence of native Telugu (south)and marathwada (maharashtrian) cuisines. I have noticed most of their food is best enjoyed with lamb but if you are not a lamb lover then chicken is your other option. There are not much seafood varieties here. If you have a sweet tooth, like me, then no matter how stuffed you are definitely try out the desserts offered by this city.

Some of the dishes to try out include:-

  1. Lukhmi- square shaped almost looking like samosas is this maida (all purpose flour) based filled with minced meat which is usually served as a starter with hot chutney.
  2. Biryani- basmati rice mixed with mutton/ chicken along with yogurt, onions and various spices. This is the most popular dish of the city, I have seen people try this during any time of the day. I have tried Hyderabadi biryanis in my place also but have to admit the ones tried in Hyderabad are so much more tastier.
  3. Dum Pukht- another biryani cooked with loads of ghee in a low flame which has herbs that are found locally.
  4. Haleem- rich mutton stew with lentils, spices and broken wheat. Another slow-cooked delicacy which is especially enjoyed during Eid.
  5. Kebabs- a very popular barbecued meat which is usually served with mint chutney. These are again slow cooked which are succulent and juicy and can make you want more after the first bite itself. Boti kebab is a must try for all lamb lovers.
  6. Paaya- made from goat trotters and roasted spices.
  7. Mutton Dalcha- meat curry which is cooked with mutton and channa dal and species.
  8. Gosht Pasinde- made from lamb leg which is marinated in cumin, pepper and cardamom and garnished along with almonds and chopped tomatoes. This is another speciality during Ramadan.
  9. Qubani ka meetha – This is an apricot pudding which is topped with almond and cream
  10. Double ka meetha- This one is Bread pudding topped with dry fruits
  11. Sheer korma- vermicelli pudding with sweetened milk and dates, a specialty especially served during Ramzan.
  12. Phirni – rice and milk based desert  which comes in clay pots.

There are still more one can try and you may notice I have mentioned mostly non-veg dishes but there are many veg also which can be tasted. My visit however was to keep the non-veg palettes active.

Some of the restaurants which we heard were popular and tried out were:- 

  • Paradise restaurant oldest and well known restaurant in town. Celebrities also visit this place which they take pride in by displaying photos on their walls.
  • Bawarchi restaurant, another famous restaurant. We saw many of their outlets and many of them were popular as take away joints as well.
  • Shadab restaurant in Charminar. 
  • Karachi bakeries is very famous for its fruit biscuits. It was a nice souvenir to give back home.

THINGS TO NOTE IN HYDERABAD

  • Ola would be an excellent app to have on your phone as it’s very handy. Instead of  hiring a car I would advise booking Ola. 
  • Beware of the rick bookings in Ola. I noticed many times there were many Ola ricks available but after booking your ride gets cancelled and suddenly rick will come in your location. My advise is get a rough fare in Ola for rick option and then negotiate with the rick drivers who are in the area. I noticed rick people in general were not to be trusted.
  • Ola cabs on the other hand I would definitely recommend. Not only were they friendly but they would give their honest opinions about the places to visit and how to do it.
  • Most of local transport options like rick and Ola are available to get to tourist destination even if someone tells you otherwise.
  • At times I did find walks to be a little stressful as the place was too deserted or no local cabs or ricks were nearby but we didn’t experience anything bad.
  • Most strangest thing I found was the airport. For some reason one is not allowed inside the airport 3 hours before even if you have a valid travel ticket. I have never come across this anywhere. I made a mistake of coming 5 hrs before as we had an evening flight and we didn’t want to be stuck in the evening traffic. Plan accordingly. Maybe spend time in ur hotel itself instead of the airport. 
  • Most of Hyderabad is closed on Friday because of Muslim prayers. Don’t make our mistake as we didn’t know this and landed on Friday.
  • Ramoji filmcity is for Bollywood or Tollywood lovers. If your not interested in them then don’t go there as it will make no sense to you and you will be bored and feel out of place.
  • Ramoji filmcity is very big but can be easily done in 1 day even if anyone tells you otherwise. Return ola is available however we opted to hire a car for safety reasons as it is away from the city and we didn’t want to take any chances. Cost wise between hiring car and Ola there would be Rs 100-200 additional cost in hiring a car.
  • If you have professional cameras then you might struggle in many places. Ramoji filmcity for example my camera lens was big so they didn’t allow me to carry with me and I had to deposit it in a locker there. 
  • Golkonda fort I didn’t opt for guided tour as in some places I found the tour guy talking crap. I preferred to read it on the net instead. I could however be wrong and you might find a good guide so you can try your chances.
  • Lumbini park doesn’t allow bags in even if you say you have camera. On the net no information is given on the same. Even if you are willing to pay for the entry fee for the camera they won’t allow it and the whole management were very rude. Leave your bags and belongings in the hotel as their lockers also didn’t look safe.
  • Charminar is to be enjoyed in the evening so plan accordingly.
  • In case your claustrophobic then beware of the walk up Charminar. 
  • Beware of things you buy from shops near Charminar. I didn’t shop there much but was warned about the quality and price of the place.
  • Getting a table in Shadab hotel can be a challenge so be prepared for that.
  • There is a big Karachi store in the airport itself in case you miss out finding the place in the city. Not sure if all the varieties are available at the airport
  • Cleanliness I found to be an issue in Hyderabad. The places I visited weren’t very clean neither were the tourist spots. Saying this I do feel that there is definitely cleaner parts of Hyderabad which I didn’t visit as it is a place where many of the Tollywood stars resides, so I could be wrong.

Since Hyderabad was a detour in my holiday and my main aim was to try out the food I don’t think I have done much justice to the place. Should in life I ever do get a chance to visit the place again I would definitely update more on the sight seeing.