It was about 20 years ago I visited Hyderabad for the first time. It was supposed to be a family vacation. Well, it turned out to be a great fiasco which I shudder to even remember. It was the month of May – peak Hyderabad summer – No proper hotel bookings, absolutely no idea what I would see or do during that vacation and to top it, my cranky 2-year-old in arms! Those were the days when I wasn’t into planning trips or travel itineraries. Well, that was in the past. The Hyderabad I visited this time and the time I spent there was spectacular.
With so much to offer to people who visit the place, Hyderabad is an instant hit as a holiday destination. Food, forts, monuments, lake, garden, museum, markets, malls, shopping – name it and you have it! In fact, it becomes difficult to visit all the interesting places and enjoy all the food in just one visit. It was necessary that I chalk out my local sightseeing program tidily as there was no way I could see or visit all the places of interest and do everything as expected of a typical tourist. One clear day and another half day at my disposal, I had to make the best of this time. A no frill post this, I will directly post the places that interested me and what I covered within the time I had with me.
A day full of walks and exploring the monuments and forts.
Qutub Shahi Heritage Park: Top on the list of must-see monuments when in Hyderabad was this Heritage park. Under massive restoration work in progress, Qutub Shahi Heritage park is spread across 106 acres. Mausoleums, mortuary bath, step-wells, mosques and garden scapes make this massive complex particularly interesting.
- Check the entry timings before visiting.
- Nominal entry fee and Camera charges are applicable. Hiring a guide would help.
- Set aside at least half a day to walk around the entire park.
- Restoration work in some part of the complex is still in progress.
Taramati Baradari: Located in Ibrahim Bagh, Taramati Baradari used to be the historical sarai (roadside inn) for the benefit of travellers. The monument is just a part of a huge complex under APTDC and can be reached by climbing up a flight of stairs. The Baradari is believed to be built by the 7th Sultan of Golkonda.
- Located on the Osman Sagar/Gandipet road, it’s closer to the Golkonda fort.
- There are no entry fees but photography is prohibited.
- Only commercial photoshoot is allowed at of course exorbitant cost. One can click pictures with a mobile camera, I was told.
Golkonda Fort: This popular fort which is in complete ruins (at least the major part is in ruins), is still worth a visit. Originally a mud fort, the history of this fort can be traced back to the Yadava and Kakatiya dynasties. The fort passed into the hands of Bahamani rulers and then to the Qutub Shahi Kings who are known to have rebuilt the fort. Sound and Light show is held everyday post sunset. Show timings can be checked online. Almost a 45 min show, it presents the glorious history of the fort through a narration. My personal opinion, it’s a bit lengthy. People tend to walk out after 20 mins into the show.
- Exploring the fort satisfactorily would take at least a half day.
- Nominal entry fee is charged.
- A guide would make the walk inside the fort interesting.
- Comfortable sneakers would be your best friend in this terrain.
- Separate tickets are to be bought for the sound and light show. The tickets are issued at the venue where the show is held (inside the fort). Alternately, the bookings can be done online too.
Mode of transport for the day – Based out of Secunderabad, I chose to travel in Uber cab and rickshaw. Secunderabad to Qutub Shahi Heritage Park (the heritage park entrance is on the main road, google map might not be accurate at times). From the heritage park to Taramati Baradari and then next to Golkonda fort, hired a rick. I paid about 350 INR (including waiting at the baradari).
Since morning 10, to almost 7.30 in the evening, I was on my feet visiting and exploring these places. Of course, photography was the major interest. Had a hurried lunch late at the Haritha restaurant located in the Taramati Baradari complex. Evening dinner was at this lively restaurant called ‘The Grand Trunk Road’, Madhapur. One surely gets to eat biryani in Hyderabad but in case you long for the typical Punjabi khaana makkhan maarke, I insist, try the food here.
A relaxed morning and a bit of packing before we checked out of the hotel and dropped our bags at a friend’s residence, we set out today to visit the next set of interesting places. Visiting the palace, walking the roads of old Hyderabad, enjoying some Hyderabadi special sweets and savouries. Comfortable cotton clothes and shoes would be appropriate to enjoy such a busy schedule.
Chowmoholla Palace: A luxurious heritage property, IT was built by the Nizams from 1857-1869. Located in a huge complex, there are 4 individual palaces built in the Moghul and European styles. Stunning durbar hall, a gallery of ancient photographs, textile gallery, arms and ammunition section, vintage cars on display all makes Chowmoholla palace a worthwhile visitl.
- Nominal entry fee is charged.
- DSLR camera not allowed. Digicam is allowed but at the Security guards discretion only.
There is a clear board at the entrance allowing the SLR camera and digicams but the security guards are the gods who decide your fate. The size of the camera matters a lot at this one place. Bigger the size, least chance of being allowed to take it in. Of course one can pack the camera inside the bag and not click the pics but still can carry!
- Pictures can be clicked from the mobile camera though.
After spending a substantial part of the day at this palace, it was time for a rickshaw ride through the bustling roads of old Hyderabad to reach the arch closer to the Charminar area. Well, if you can take a short break on one such rickshaw ride then trying out ‘Jouzi Halwa’ from Hameedi Confectioners is highly recommended (Jouzi is the Turkish spice more commonly known to us as Nutmeg).
Charminar: Does this even need any introduction? Synonymous with Hyderabad, Charminar is also the face of Hyderabad. Considered to be a charm that was built in the middle of the city of those time, to ward off the fatal epidemic raging at that time, the structure has 4 royal minarets. The monument stands right in the middle of the busy roads and crowded market area. Built by the founder of Hyderabad, Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah, Charminar can be viewed from all the four roads around it. The interiors of the structure can also be visited. During my visit, 2 of the 4 minarets were undergoing some maintenance work. Couldn’t walk into the structure since there was a long queue of visitors, I believe one needs to purchase tickets at the entrance.
Laad Bazaar: A shopper’s delight, this much-visited market lane has shops brimming with all fancy accessories that one could imagine. Known for lac and stone studded bangles, If one has a fetish for collecting bangles of different varieties, this is a place not to be missed. Also, shops selling pearls, jewellery, bridal wear, etc can all be purchased in this one place. A riot of colours in each one of the shop, if one is interested in street photography, this is the place to be.
- The place can be really crowded most of the times. Better to be careful with your belongings.
- Try out your bargaining skills and return happy with your loot.
The day came to a close in an interesting manner. A visit to a hep patisserie, Conçu, in Jubilee hills was the real cherry on the cake, literally. The advantage of moving around with my young kids, I get to visit some such cool joints. A leisurely tummy pooja and loads of desserts made the trip completely sweet and memorable. BTW, if you have a sweet tooth and happen to be in Hyderabad, don’t miss visiting this patisserie.
After collecting our bags, within no time we were on the road to the airport. The flight back to Mumbai was at 10.00pm. Reached the airport leisurely, waited for the much-delayed flight and boarded probably around 11.30pm. On the flight back home, one of the sweet memories (literally sweet) had to be devouring ‘Jouzi Halwa” from Hameedi Confectioners. Yes, the advantage of exploring the place with those who know the city well has its own benefits. One would be treated to such secret specialities that only the locals would be aware of. Extremely thankful to my kiddos Shreyas and Varun for accompanying us on the city tour and making it interesting and fun.