The Pearl City, Hyderabad has an incredible assortment of things to do from cultural to business to tech to a burgeoning film industry. The following list certainly can’t contain all there is to do in the city. However, we pulled together 8 great things as a start for your trip through the city. It is certainly a city that has meant a lot to my heart and one that I’ve experienced with family, with injury, and with incredible memory.
Visit the Charminar
Address: Charminar Rd, Char Kaman, Ghansi Bazaar, Hyderabad, Telangana 500002, India
Hours: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm (daily except Friday); Friday 9:00 am–12:30 pm , 2:00 pm –5:30 pm
Fees: 5₹ Indians; 100₹ Foreigners
Built by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the 5th ruler of the dynasty in 1591. The Charminar was constructed to commemorate the eradication of the plague from Hyderabad. The Charminar with it’s distinctive “four pillars” is the most well known and iconic symbols of Hyderabad. On the upper floors of the tower (which one can visit) is a mosque. The Charminar is a centerpiece of the old city and overlooks the Laad Bazaar and nearby Mecca Masjid which was built by the same ruler. The monument is sometimes decorated especially for various holidays like Eid and the prophet’s birthday.
Shopping in Laad Bazaar
Located in the shadow of the Charminar, Laad Bazaar is the place to go for bangle shopping (Choodiyan). The bazaar and many shops are super popular for these and similar types of goods. The market, has supposedly been in operation since the time of Qutb Shahis who were the founders of the city and continued through the time of the Nizams as well.
Exploring the Salarjung Museum
Address: Salar Jung Rd, near Minar Function Hall, Darulshifa, Hyderabad, Telangana 500002
Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (Closed Fridays / Holidays)
Fees: 50₹ Indian Adults; 20 ₹ Indian Children; 500₹ Foreign Nationals; 50₹ Still/Phone Camera Fee
Website: Salarjung Museum Website
Called the collection of one man; the Salarjung Museum is a collection of incredible artifacts cultivated over the life of Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan. Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan served as the Prime Minister of Hyderabad during the Nizam’s rule and spent much of time and income collecting these antiques from across the world.
Some of the most famous artifacts in the collection include the veiled Rebecca which has incredible detail. Also several beautiful Indian paintings, Qur’anic artifacts, Japanese swords, and beautiful clocks. It is believed the current collection is only a fraction of the original.
Sample the Food
If you ask anyone what Hyderabad is famous for, they will tell you the food. And it’s true, as a confluence of north and south, Hyderabad has a mix of the best of both worlds. Be sure to check out the biryani, which Hyderabad is often most noted for. However, for those who want to try more, be sure to also dive into the haleem, paya, chicken 65, marag. Also for those who are vegetarian you’ll find an incredible variety of Idli, Dosas, Wada, pani puri that will satisfy those cases as well. And for a sweet tooth the double-k-mitha and well known Qubani-ka-Meetha (made from apricots) are all worth a try. Be sure to also find a nice café and try the local Irani chai and Osmania biscuits. You won’t go hungry in this city.
Wandering the Golconda Fort
Address: Khair Complex, Ibrahim Bagh, Hyderabad, Telangana 500008
Hours: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
Fees: 25₹ Indian; 300₹ Foreign Nationals; 25₹ Camera Fee; Light Show 80-140₹ Adults; 60-110₹ Children
You may not have known this, if you are not from India, but Hyderabad and in particular Golconda is famous for it’s diamonds. Actually many of those diamonds were mined here in the fort of Golconda. Before, diamonds were found in Africa, most of the world’s diamonds actually originated in India. Famous ones such as the Hope Diamond and Koh-i-nor trace their heritage to Golconda as well.
The fort was built by the Qutb Shahi dynasty, the fortress was expanded under various rulers. The fortress did eventually fall to the Mughal rulers during the 17th century. The fort contains several gates, housing, mosques, gardens, halls and stables. There is a plethora of beautiful architecture and carvings that still remain.
Be sure to check if the sound & light show is running as it’s worth taking a look if you visit.
Qutb Shahi Tombs
Address: Qutb Shahi Tombs, Hyderabad, Telangana 500008, India
Hours: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Fees: 10₹ Adults; 5₹ Children; 20₹ (Camera Fee)
Built between the 16th and 17th Century, the tombs inter the remains of the Qutb Shahi dynasty which is famous as the founders of the city of Hyderabad. The grounds contain various tombs and mosques dedicated to the various rulers. The grounds are well maintained and the tombs are in generally good condition, and it tends to be a popular place for folks from Hyderabad to sit and relax and enjoy the day. I have fond memories of visiting here during my childhood and flying kites among the ancient tombs. Although there are certainly more restrictions these days on where one can go.
The incredible heart shaped lake is an artificial lake that was built during the 16th century by one of the Qutb Shahi Sultans. Those folks were busy! It was also one of the main sources of water for the city as well. The famous buddha in the lake was placed there in 1992 and weighs nearly 200 tons. The lake also divides Hyderabad from its sister city Secunderabad which is on the opposite side of the lake from Hyderabad.
There are several parks and other places along the lake for visitors, families and tourists. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the water and the views. There are even dinner and other boat tours of the lake as well. The music and dancing is definitely one of the most interesting experiences on the lake myself!
Address: 20-4-236, Motigalli, Khilwat, Hyderabad, Telangana 500002
Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Daily (Except Closed Fridays)
Fees: 50₹ Adults; 10₹ Child (Indians); 200₹ Foreign Nationals; 50₹ Still Camera; 100₹ Video Camera
If you want to step into the regal, visit the Chowmahalla Palace, the Palace of the Nizams of Hyderabad. Construction of the palace began in the 18th century and finished in the early-mid 19th century. The palace also saw the crownings of many of the Nizams and where many of their wives lived as well. There was a special exhibit of Princess Niloufer on one of my visits through the palace.
The palace grounds and various rooms are worth a visit. Be sure to pay the fee for cameras if you plan to use one, they are pretty vigilant in enforcement.
Where to Stay
There is no shortage of amazing places to stay in Hyderabad. However, for there is more limited choice in the old city. Most of those places are a bit more basic, or require you to stay with a family. I’ve mostly stayed in the old city with families myself. I included several great options from budget to top-end luxury. The Falaknuma Palace listed below was an actual palace that was converted to a hotel.
- Hostel: Beehive Commune Hyderabad
- Budget: FabHotel Viraj Suites Gachibowli
- Midrange: Radisson Blu Banjara Hills
- High-End: Park Hyatt Hotel
- Luxury: Taj Falaknuma Palace
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