The de jure capital of Andhra Pradesh, and a city where the north meets the south, Hyderabad is the fourth largest city in India. Built on the banks of the Musi River which flows through the city centre, the 400-year-old city is now a burgeoning IT hub, with a population of 7.8 million.
Around 1,000 years ago the region comprising modern day Hyderabad and its surroundings was known as Golkonda, meaning ‘shepherd’s hillock’, and Golkonda Fort became an important trading post in the 16th century as the capital city of the Qutb Shahi rulers. It was the only place in the world which traded diamonds, and soon it became home to Persians, Turkish & Arab traders, Abyssinians soldiers and French travellers. Golkonda was a fortified city for over 62 years, and today the magnificent tombs built for the royal family still stand, leaving behind a timeless architectural heritage. In 1591, the capital shifted from Golkonda to Hyderabad. Trade continued to flourish and people from all over continued to pour into this cosmopolitan city. In 1687, the Mughals attacked Golkonda and established the Asaf Jahi Dynasty, with the Nizams at the helm. The Nizam’s legacy is one of wealth and grandeur, and from 1724 to 1948 it became the largest princely state of India. This intermingling of several different cultures, and the liberal outlook of both dynasties, established Hyderabad’s multi-cultural society and harmonious syncretic culture as it remains today.
The city has undergone a renaissance, and has now become a leisure destination in its own right, particularly after the mass of publicity around the reopening of the Taj Falaknuma Palace in 2010. Relatively less popular compared to the Golden Triangle, Rajasthan or Kerala, it appeals far more to second time India travellers, and has varied offerings for people with different interests…
From the must-visit historical sites such as Golkonda, Qutb Shahi Tombs, Charminar and Mecca Masjid to hidden treasures like Paigah Tombs and Toli Masjid, the history lovers will not be short of things to do. Visit the magnificent Nizam palaces of Chowmahalla and Purani Haveli, or bring to life William Dalrymple’s novel White Mughals through the former British Residency and Raymond’s Tomb. Outside of Hyderabad is the ancient Buddhist site of Nagarjuna Sagar, and the historically significant towns such as Warangal and Bidar. For the lovers of arts there are important museums like the Salar Jung or the City Museum at Purani Haveli, and newer galleries like Kalakruti and Birla Modern Art Gallery. The city is home to village traditions and urban crafts; distinctive weaving styles such as ikkat, himroo and paithani, metal crafts like bidri and scroll paintings like cherial. Bustling bazaars sell colourful and inexpensive bangles, exclusive gems and pearls, shiny fabric, ittar perfumes and fancy lace borders. The rich Nizami cuisine is perfect for foodies too. One can try the famous Hyderabadi Biryani and succulent kebabs which are sold on every corner, or sample the fiery hot Andhra and Telangana dishes. Enjoy a rare moment of calm and watch the world go by in a local Irani café, whilst sipping sweet tea and melt-in-the-mouth osmania biscuits or explore the local spice and vegetable markets and savour the local street food.
>> Read our blog: Cars & Cartier: Ampersand goes to Hyderabad
Features in the following itineraries
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Leslie Siben, India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India