Hyderabad is like a giant melting pot of exquisite sights where the wonders of the past blend amazingly with many modern marvels. The 'city of pearls' conquers the visitors' hearts with its incredible old-world charm and mouth-watering delicacies.
There is an interesting legend behind how the city got its name. Sultan Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah fell in love with a courtesan named Bhagmati. He built a new city, Bhagyanagar, in Deccan in honour of his beautiful lover. It is believed that Bhagmati was later named 'Hyder Mahal' and the city built in remembrance of her began to be called as Hyderabad.
The Charminar could rightly be called the global 'face' of Hyderabad. This historical monument, which is situated in the old city, is one of the most significant and recognised landmarks. Roads lead to Charminar from all the sides. It is also a major commercial centre with thousands of shops, kiosks and make-shift shops drawing hundreds of visitors every day. The Charminar meaning 'four minarets' can be spotted from afar, and one cannot help but gape in wonder at the unique architectural style of this 16th-century mosque.
The monument was built as a memorial to commemorate the valiant efforts that was undertaken to eradicate the plague that downed major part of the population in the city. Charminar would generally be the first place that the tourists visit during their Hyderabad trip. One has to climb 149 steps to reach on top of this historical monument which boasts of the scintillating 'Nawabi' architecture. The view from top of the Charminar unravels the exotic charm of the old city and its bustling streets.
The famous Makkah Masjid is situated at the heart of the old city, close to the Charminar. Though the construction of this magnificent masjid, which is the oldest one in Hyderabad, was commissioned by Sultan Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah, it was completed during the tenure of emperor Aurangezeb. It is believed that the masjid is built using the mud bricks which were made with the soil brought from the holy land of Mecca. Hence it got the name Mekkah Masjid.
The mosque, which is one of the major tourist destinations in the city, has vast courtyards where visitors throng in large numbers. The splendid architecture, the pond where believers clean themselves before entering for prayers and the stone paved courtyards add to its vintage charm. Families gather here to spend a peaceful evening and children are often seen feeding hundreds of pigeons which cluster in huge numbers at the courtyards.
The Chowmahalla Palace, which was the official residence of the Hyderabadi Nawabs, is now a prominent tourist attraction in the old city. The name of this palace is derived from the Urdu term 'Charmahallattu' meaning 'four palaces'. The vast and spacious courtyards are a significant feature of the palace which was built in the 18th century.
The palace complex which is sprawled elaborately over a huge plot has spacious rooms, a front courtyard with lots of shade trees and sitting spaces. The four palaces in this complex are Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal.
The palace houses an incredible and rare collection of vintage luxury cars which were used by the Nawabs who had great love for the wheels. A 1906 Napier Type, Rolls Royce 1912 model, 1934 Ford Tourer are some of the rare vintage cars on display and they draw hundreds of automobile lovers to the palace.
Salar Jung Museum
The Salar Jung museum, which is just one-and-a- half kilometers away from the Charminar, is one of the most important museums in India. The museum houses many rare historical artefacts which forms a significant part of the history of our country. The museum is the right place to learn about the rich culture and tradition of Indian Hyderabad.
Most of the artefacts in the museum have been handed over by the Nawabs of the Salar Jung dynasty from their personal collection. Exquisite carpets, statues, paintings of renowned artists, unique furniture and artefacts which date back to 1st century AD could be seen here.
Hussain Sagar Lake
The Hussain Sagar Lake is one of the most vibrant parts of the city where people gather in the evenings to enjoy a nice time. The secretariat and the NTR Gardens are close to the lake. The lake, fed by River Musi, was built by Hazrat Hussain Shah in 1562 to solve the drinking water crises faced by the city. The lake, which once attracted tourists from all over the world with its incredible charm has now turned into a dumping site, and is almost on the verge of death.
The monolithic statue of Buddha, erected in 1992, on the centre of the lake is a prominent feature here. A boat ride and visit to the Buddha statue offer a unique experience to the tourists. The nearby Lumbini Park too is visited by lots of tourists. The park which has many play- areas for the kids, food courts and other entertainments is an ideal place for families to spend an amazing time together. It is at the Lumbini Park where the country's first laser projector auditorium, which can accommodate about 2,000 visitors, is located.
The Birla Mandir in Hyderabad is known as a 'marvel sculpted in marble'. Tourists from all over the world throng to see this beautiful temple which stands on the Hill Fort Road. The temple dedicated to Lord Venkateswara is built using tons of exquisite white marble brought from Rajasthan. The construction of the temple, which began in 1966, took 10 years to complete. The walls engraved with holy verses and the vast courtyards are the main attractive features of the Birla Mandir.
The Golconda Fort is undoubtedly the most marvelous destination in Hyderabad. The majestic stone fort which is situated just 11 km from the city was the administrative capital of the Qutb Shahi dynasty.
The fort which was built over different centuries, however, got destroyed later in the wars. But the eternal elegance and charm of the old fort is not lost. Many historically significant areas like the ministers' chambers, vaults where diamonds and other precious stones were kept, the main building on top of the hill, temple and masjid, which give important insight about many dynasties of the past can still be seen here.
The architectural style of the fort which creates a unique acoustic feature is major attraction here. The sound made at the entrance would be reverberated even at the highest point in the fort. The stone-paved pathways and a view of the city from the top are some of the highlights of the Golconda Fort.
The Lad Bazar adjacent to the Charminar is the 'shopping centre' of Hyderabad. Colourful bangles, clothes, beautiful pearl ornaments and many other things are sold at the bazaar where visitors throng in huge numbers. There are many eateries around the Bazaar where one can relish the most delicious and authentic Hyderabadi dishes.
As per the legends, Sultan Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah has built this street to exclusively shop for his daughter’s wedding. Visitors enjoy taking a stroll through the street which has thousands of small makeshift shops selling bangles that shining in the soft evening rays of the sun.